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Travels and Studies 



Nature's vast frame, the web of human things. 

Shelley, Alastor. 

Who can foretell our future? Spare me the attempt. 
We are like a harvest reaped by bad husbandmen 
amidst encircling gloom and cloud. 


Ariiicniati historian of the Xtli centmy 



with 197 illustrations, reproduced from photographs and sketches 
by the author, numerous maps and plans, a bibliography 

And a Map of 
Armenia and Adjacent Countries 





All rights rese>~'ed 

THb. LlliKAKl 





Descend into Turkish Territory . . . . i 

To Lake Van . . . . . . .11 


Across Lake Van . . . . • .35 


Van ........ 38 

From Van to Bitlis . . ■ . . .116 

Bitlis . . . . . . . .145 


From Bitlis to Mush — Mush . . . . .160 

From Mush to Erzerum . . . . .174 


Erzerum . . . . . . . .198 

VOL. II a 2 

vi Armenia 

Return to the Border Ranges — GaAarra, 6a\aTTa\ . . 225 



Revisit Armenia ..... 237 

Across the Central Tableland to Khinis . . . 245 

From Khinis to Tutakh . . . • .254 

Down the Murad to Melazkert . . • • 264 

From Melazkert to Akhlat . . . . ■ -76 



Our Sojourn in the Crater of Nimrud . . . 298 

Round Nimrud by Lake Nazik . . • .314 

Ascent of Sipan . ...... 3-6 

Back to the Central Tableland .... 34° 

Our Sojourn on Bingol . . . • -3 59 

Contents vii 



Home across the Border Ranges . . . -379 

Geographical ....... 383 

Statistical and Political ..... 408 


National Constitution of the Armenians in the Turkish 

Empire . . . . . . .445 


CHEiNiiCAL Constitution of some Armenian Lakes . . 468 

BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . . . . .471 

INDEX ........ 497 


Lake Van with Sipan from Artemid 

Plain of Alashkert from the Slopes of Aghri Dagh 

Croup of Kurd Hamidiyeh Cavalry 

(Jroup of Karapapakh Hamidiyeh Cavalry 

The Kuseh Dagii from the Plain of Alashkert 

VusuF Bey of Koshk ..... 

Kurd of Koshk in Gala Dress .... 

Sipan from the Plain of Patnotz 

V.\N FROM the Slopes of Mount V.arag . 

Van : In lERiOR of the Mosque of Ulu Jami 

Van : Frieze in Ulu Jami ..... 

Van : Cuneiform Inscription of Meher or Choban Kapusi 

Van : Mount Varag from the Heights of Toprak Kala 

Akhtamar : Church from South-East . 

Akhtamar : Church from North-West . 

Church at Akhtamar : Sculptures on North Wall . 

Crater of Nimrud as seen on the Road from Garzik to Bitlis 

Bitlis from Avel Meidan ..... 

Kerkur Da(;h from the South : Nimrud Crater in the 

background ...... 

Young Kurd Woman at Gotni, Mush Plain 

Well-to-do Inhabitant of Khaskeui, Mush Plain 

Mon.astery of Surb K.\ from the South . 

Church of Surb Karapet from South-West 

View South from the Terrace .at Surb Karapet 

The Two Chapels at Surb Karapet ... 

The Akh Dagh and the Plain of Khinis from the South . 

The Central Tableland, Bingol in the distance, from near 

Kui.Li ........ 

Kargabazar, across the Plain of Pasin, from the southern 

-margin of the central tableland 


Citadel in the middle distance and Eyerli Dagh in 

THE background ...... 

To face page 2 
Back to page 4 


To face page 10 





Back to page 106 

,, 107 

To face page 112 

Back to page 130 


To face page 132 




,, 166 

Back to page 1 76 


To face page 178 







Looking East-South-east from near iiie Kor Pass . 
Castle of Kalajik, Upper KiiARSiiur 
Monastery of Sumelas ..... 
Tekman and the Bingoi, D.\gh ifROM near Khedonun 
Khamur from the Pass heiween Ali Mur and Khinis 
Melazkert from the North : Sipan in the background 
Akhlat : Iki Kube — (the Kala, ok Ottoman City, i\ the 

p>ackground) ...... Isolated Tomu ..... 

Akhlai : The KHARAii-SiiEHR, OR Site of ihe Ancient City 
The Nimkud Crater from the Promontory of Kizvag 
Sipan : View from the Western Summit over the Summfi 

Region ....... 

Hamidiyeh Cavalry at Gumgum .... 

Armenian Village of Gundemir : Bingol Cliffs in the 

background ...... 

The Bingol Cliffs with the Head Waters of the Bingol 

Su from the Village of Chaghelik 
The so-called Crater of Bingol from about the centre of 

the Moraine from Kara Kala 
View from the \Ve.stern Summit of Bingol '^ 
Panorama from the Hill of Gugoghlan j 

To fai 









Caravan on the Black Sea — Tabriz Trade Route 

Karakilisa from South-West 

Akantz ...... 

Ruins of Arjlsh fro.m the Noriii 
Ruins of Arjish from the South 
Our Boat on Lake Van .... 

Scene on the Island of Ktutz 

Doorway of the Church at Kiutz 

Bronze Shield from Toprak Kala 

Bronze Fragment from Topkak Kala (British Museum)^ 

Ornament from Toprak Kala {Bkitish Museum) j 

House of an Armenian Merchant at Van 

Interior of Haykavank from the East 

The Rock and Walled City of \'an 

.Street in the Walled City 

The Crag of Ak Kopri .... 

Monastery of Yedi Kilisa (Varag) 







Interior of the Church at Vehi Killsa 

Van on the Road to Bitlis 

Mountain Range along South Coast of Lake Van 

Island of Akhtamar .... 

Promontory of Surb (on the left the back of the 

Crater ; in the distance Nimrud) 
BiTLis : Fortified Monastery 
Tunnel of Semiramis .... 

Looking down Valley of Bitlis Chai . 
Nimrud Crater from the Volcanic Plateau . 
Armenian Village of Khaskeui, Mush Plain . 
Terrace of Lava resembling Human Fortifications 
Looking down the Valley of the Upper Araxes 

Mejitli ..... 
Erzerum and its Plain from the South 
Armenian Youths .... 
Armenian Maidens .... 
Five Generations of an Armenian Family 
Range North of Ashkala . 
On the Banks of the Chorokh above Baiburt 
Armenian Cemetery at Varzahan 
Kurdish Dancing Boy at Gopal . 
Piece of Seljuk Pottery from Akhlat . 
Tombstone at Akhlat 
The Lake in the Crater of Nimkud 
Village of Uran Gazi with Sipan 
Grave on the Summit of Khamur 

Sheikh Ora 










I 'LAN oi' Van . 

BiTLis AND Environs . 

Plan of thk Ancient Fortificaiions of Melazkert 

Plan of Akhlat ... 

Interior of the Nimrud Crater . 

NiMRUD and Surroundings 

Plan of the Summit Region of Sipan 

The Bingol Dagh on the North 

The Bingol Dagh on the South . 

To face page 8i 







October 24. — The track which we were following winds for 
some distance along the spine of the range. You cross and 
cross again from the one to the other watershed, overlooking now 
the open spaces of the southern landscape, now the narrow and 
encumbered canon of the Araxes below the adjacent cliffs of 
the tableland. The rocky parapets and gloomy valleys appear to 
extend from basin to basin, at right angles to the axis of the 
chain. West of the crags about us, and isolated from them, 
rose a shapely mass with black but snow-streaked sides. Dark- 
ness was falling when we descended from this lofty position into 
one of the valleys of the southern slopes. In its recesses we 
came upon a" little Kurdish settlement, which seemed to promise 
shelter during the night. 

Kurtler — Kurds ! No sooner have we crossed the frontier 
than we find ourselves in their midst. The mountains of 
Kurdistan are more than 100 miles distant; yet these parasites 
fasten upon the countryside. Still their presence is appro- 
priate and is not unwelcome, so long as they are confined to 
alpine solitudes like those which surround the village of Chat. 
Tufts of grass, interspersed with an endless crop of stones, were 
the only pasture which we had seen for some time. Yet the 
shepherds were in possession of a considerable stock of hay, 
against the approach of a winter season which can scarcely lack 
rigour at an elevation of 6700 feet above the sea. Their 
habitations just protrude above the level of the ground ; and, 
once within the doorway, you proceed through narrow passages 
into the very bowels of the earth. In the darkness you stumble 
upon the forms of cattle or wake a ragged child. We took up 

2 Armenia 

our quarters in one of the largest of the subterranean chambers, 
lit our candles, and spread our carpet on the bare soil. We 
were surprised to discover that the roof of the apartment was 
artificial — layers of mud and straw, held together by laths of 
wood, and supported by huge beams. The walls, too, were 
built up of rough stones, plastered together ; it was evident that 
the room was only three-parts buried, and that it communicated 
directly with the outer air. In fact we could see an aperture, the 
rude counterpart of a window, above the opening to the winding 
passage through which we had come. On the side opposite this 
only entrance a square hole in the face of the wall nourished a 
smouldering fire. The smoke wreathed upwards to a vent in the 
roof, or was sucked inwards towards the tunnelled approach. 

When morning broke we were glad to issue from the fetid 
atmosphere of this human burrow into the pure mountain air. 
A {^\N gaunt figures were standing upon the higher stages of the 
eminence which had provided a suitable site for these under- 
ground operations, and which rose like a large ant-hill from the 
waste of stone. Women squatted before the doors of the 
straggling tenements, weaving the bright rugs for which their 
race is famed. We proceeded down the glen, along the banks 
of a little stream. It finds an easy exit from the heart of the 
mountains, threading the trough of one of the meridional valleys. 
After riding for an hour and a half, we opened out the southern 
landscape from some high ground above the village of A mat 
(Fig. 108). 

The great plain of Alashkert was outspread before us, 
bounded on the further side by the snow-capped mountains of 
the Ala Dagh, which stretched across the horizon from the east. 
Just before us, this lofty range was seen to recede into the misty 
background, the outlines bending away towards south-west. But 
the barrier was resumed at no considerable interval by a chain of 
hills, less distant, although of humbler proportions, called Kilich 
Gedik, or the sharp sword. We could just descry the site of 
Karakilisa, backed by the recess of the Ala Dagh. We knew 
that the Murad must be flowing through that nebulous passage in 
the opposite bulwark of the plain. The surface of the ground 
below us was level as water ; the expanse was greatest in the 
west. In that direction the spurs of the range upon which we 
stood plunged by a succession of promontories into the floor of 
the plain. We were reminded of the valley of the Araxcs in the 

Descend into Turkish Territory 3 

neighbourhood of Erivan. Both depressions have the appear- 
ance of inland seas at the foot of the mountains, the one on the 
northern, the other on the southern side. But that of Alashkert 
is much more elevated (5500 feet), and less sheltered ; you miss 
the presence of those extensive stretches of orchard and verdure 
which soften the landscape through which the Araxes flows. The 
eye wanders out over dim, ochreous tracts, broken by patches of 
fallow, and seamed by white rivulets. Just below the Armenian 
settlement we reached the margin of the level ground, and 
cantered along, almost on a compass course. We saw several 
insignificant villages ; but the district was wild, the soil for the 
most part unreclaimed. Flocks of duck and geese took wing at 
our approach ; cranes, with their long necks, sailed across the 
sky. In the course of an hour and a half we reached the street 
of Karakilisa, a distance from Amat, measured direct, of 9 miles. 
A motley crowd collected round us as we enquired for the 
government quarters ; a hundred curious faces were upturned 
towards us, and our ears were greeted with the cry of Ferengi ! 
Ferengi ! passed like a shuttlecock from mouth to mouth. The 
little town was full of stir ; new shops and houses were in course 
of erection ; it was evident that trade and traffic were on the 
increase. We had almost crossed it from end to end, when we 
were ushered into a modest building, of which the hall or outer 
chamber was thronged with people, for the most part peasants ; 
while an old servitor or usher, with white beard and a flowing 
robe, was marshalling the rows of slippers by the threshold of an 
inner door. At our approach he drew aside the quilted curtain 
which screened this sanctuary, and turned the handle and bade 
us pass within. The low divan, which on three sides followed 
the walls of the apartment, was already occupied by a full 
complement of seated figures ; they appeared to be engaged in 
deliberation when we broke in upon their seance. A little man 
with vivacious eyes was directing the conversation ; he sat on the 
only chair behind a table covered with faded baize. Although 
we could scarcely doubt that our arrival had been announced 
beforehand, we seemed to take these notables by surprise. The 
little man rose from his chair ; the assembly huddled together in 
order to give us place on the divan. Compliments were ex- 
changed ; coffee and cigarettes were provided ; the discussion was 
adjourned by tacit consent. One by one, after satisfying with- 
out displaying their curiosity, the councillors stole from the room. 

4 Armenia 

Meanwhile the figure at the table — it was the Kaimakaui, 
or district governor — had examined our numerous and weighty- 
credentials, and had directed a billet to be provided and prepared. 
Our effects, which arrived later, were not subjected to examination; 
no excisemen or policemen dogged our steps. Such officials are 
almost unknown in this happy country ! so we reflected with a 
sense of immense relief. The way they worry the people in the 
neighbouring empire passes the capacity of the uninitiated to 
realise. The Greek poet was certainly wrong when he gave 
expression to the sentiment that anarchy is the greatest of human 
ills. Here we were, enlightened observers, exchanging order for 
disorder with rapturous delight ! We were free to wander as we 
willed, to enjoy a British liberty without so much as the restraint 
of roads and walls. Coming from Russia, the contrast was 
indeed startling ; independence is far preferable to feeling 
reasonably certain that you will not be knocked on the head by 
a Kurd. 

The Kaimakam escorted us to the adjacent barracks, in 
which a whitewashed room had been made ready to receive us. 
It belonged to the quarters of the superior officer — with the 
rank of Miralai — a Turk of great stature and broad shoulders, 
to whom we were introduced. He wore a dark blue military 
tunic of European pattern and material ; but he had forgotten 
to fasten the lower buttons of this imposing garment, as well as 
the upper ones of the trousers beneath. His mouth and ears 
and nostrils were of unusual proportions ; the expression of the 
face was kind, and denoted a childlike, buoyant nature — dc bonne 
bete humaiiie, as one might say. In him we found an agreeable 
and a sensible companion. He bustled about the place, was 
accustomed to shave each Friday ; he settled every difficulty 
with eh, ivallah ! accompanied by a hearty laugh. From time 
to time the troops were visited by the Liva, or commandant, an 
aged figure with a beard of snow. He had been at Plevna, and 
had made the campaign of Bulgaria ; but nothing remained of 
him now but a worn-out body, made doubly infirm by an 
inveterate habit of getting drunk. 

The peculiar care and constant plague of these high officials 
were the newly-enrolled regiments which, under the name of 
Hmnidiyeh, flatter the vanity but sap the throne of the reigning 
Sultan. Am I guilty of indiscretion when I say that the pre- 
vailing opinion of them in official circles is one of contempt, not 

Fig. 109. Group of Kurd Hamidiyeh Cavalry. 

Fig. 110. Group of Karapapakh Hamidiyeh Cavalry. 

Descend into Tnrkisk Territory 5 

unmixed with alarm? Your high-placed Turk will quote at 
their expense his favourite proverb, tJie fisJi begins to stink from 
the head. The young men are the sons of their fathers, who are 
Kurds and brigands ; the example of the fathers is transmitted 
to the sons. Something might be done, if the process were 
arrested — if the recruits were removed from their homes. When 
I objected that the Tsar's Cossacks presented in some respects 
a hopeful analogy, I would be met by the reply that the Russian 
autocrat employed strong measures, the like of which the Turkish 
Government was too mild to enforce. 

Perhaps my reader is already aware that the Hamidiych are 
irregular cavalry, who owe their origin to the endeavour of the 
Sultan Abdul Hamid to emulate the example which gave to 
Russia her Cossack troops. They are recruited for the most 
part among the Kurdish tribes ; the name of yeomanry expresses 
the nature of their military service, but cannot be applied to the 
class to which they belong. The force is still undergoing the 
initial process of organisation. At the time of our journey it 
afforded the principal topic of conversation. Yiizbashis, or 
sergeants, of the regular army were being poured into the 
country, and distributed among the villages, to instil into the 
shepherds the rudiments of drill. Depots of arms were being 
established in convenient centres ; and it was the intention of 
the authorities to keep the weapons under lock and key, except 
when they should be required for the annual trainings in spring. 
Hundreds and thousands of suits of uniform were arriving in the 
principal towns, loaded on bullock carts. Each regiment had 
been allowed to exercise its own fancy upon the choice of a 
distinctive garb. The result was an incongruous mixture of the 
braids and gold lace of Europe with the Georgian finery of a 
serried row of silvered cartridge cases, banded across the breast 
of a skirted coat. How proud they seemed, and how insensible 
of their ridiculous appearance in our eyes — the long-beaked 
Kurds, the swarthy Karapapakhs, masquerading down the street 
of Karakilisa in these strange creations of the tailors of Pera or 
Stambul ! They did not require pressing to consent to be 
photographed — a group of Kurds (Fig. T09), a group of Kara- 
papakhs (Fig. I 10). Some of the principal officers of either 
regiment are represented in my illustrations ; and I would beg 
my reader to observe the seated Kurd in the Georgian dress — 
it is Eyub Pasha with his son and nephew. Behind him stands 

6 Armenia 

his principal henchman, who, although a Kurd, has seen service 
with regular troops. 

In the caza, or administrative subdivision, of Karakilisa three 
regiments of Hamidiyeh have been enrolled. Two are recruited 
from Kurds of the Zilanli tribe ; the third from Karapapakhs. 
This people — who take their name from their caps of black 
lambskin — are found on either side of the Russo-Turkish frontier, 
and are no doubt related to the Tartars of Azerbaijan. The 
Kaimakam informed me — but I question whether his statement, 
even if true, can apply to more than a small number — that the 
fathers of those among them who inhabit this district were 
followers of the famous Shamyl. According to his account they 
were at that time settled in Daghestan, whence they removed to 
their present seats. He added that their villages were 8 in 
number in this caza ; that their regiment had a strength of 
800 men ; and that they had branded no less than 650 horses 
with the military mark. Their chief, Ali Bey, is a man of 
hideous features, whom we recognised as the same individual 
who had been seated in the place of honour, when we broke 
in upon the deliberations of the Kaimakam. I now learnt the 
purport of their lively discussion ; it had been a question of 
fixing a price for grain. Months ago Ali Bey had made a 
contract with the Kaimakam to supply the cereal for Government 
purposes at a stated price. The time had just arrived for 
delivering it into the granaries ; but the price had risen, almost 
to famine rates. In the drawer of the green baize table was 
securely buried the precious document, behind a lock of which 
alone the Kaimakam possessed the key. How great was the 
dismay of the wretched official to find that it had been abstracted, 
and to recognise that the robbery might cost him his place ! 
His dcspoiler felt quite safe behind his Hamidiyeh uniform and 
his paper figures of Soo men-at-arms. 

But the Kaimakam was not the man to go to sleep beneath 
an injury ; he possessed both energy and brains. He and the 
Miralai would each evening repair to our quarters, and discuss 
the events of the day over coffee and pipes. On one occasion, in 
company with the Miralai, we had awaited to a late hour the 
arrival of the Kaimakam. When at last he made his appearance, 
his clothes were covered with dust and he was wearing his long 
top-boots. His eyes were bright with excitement as he narrated 
in vivid language the story of his day's work. Kurds from Lake 

Descend into Turkish Territory 7 

Baliik had made a foray into his district, and had plundered the 
village of Mangasar, inhabited in equal numbers b\' Armenians 
and Mussulmans. He had proceeded in person to the scene of 
their depredations, and at the head of his motley followers had 
forced them to retire after a sanguinary fight. What was the 
origin of this man whose animated face and supple character 
contrasted strangely with the wooden figures of officers and 
notables who attended his divan ? He told me he was an 
Albanian ; he was, of course, a Mohammedan ; but his whole 
appearance stamped him a Greek. Compared with Kurds like 
Eyub Pasha, with their resemblance to big birds, he stood on the 
opposite pole of human development. Although in point of years 
the youngest of the group, he led them all by the nose. A 
situation had scarcely been stated when he had already discovered 
the solution ; he shared the feelings as well as the thoughts of the 
individual to whom he was lending his ear. I have no doubt 
that he was far the superior of AH Bey in the successful practice 
of every kind of deceit. He professed himself my friend ; I am 
sure he took a pleasure in abusing the confidence which I was 
obliged to affect. We had almost exhausted our stock of money 
when we arrived in Karakilisa ; between us and the town of Van, 
where we might hope to replenish it, lay the wildest districts 
of Asiatic Turke)^ Semi-civilised communications are entirely 
wanting in those regions ; it was even impossible to hire a 
caravan. It was necessary to purchase horses ; three days were 
consumed in finding the animals ; having selected four, at an 
average price of £6 apiece, we were without funds to defray our 
expenses in the town, The Kaimakam might no doubt have 
advanced the few pounds in perfect safety ; but he had cast 
longing eyes upon my gun. Alleging that he had already spent 
the last instalment of his allowance, he insisted that the usurers, 
who would supply him with the money, required that I should 
leave the weapon in his charge. It was arranged that, the 
moment the debt had been recovered, he would despatch the 
valuable pledge to Erzerum. No sooner had we reached Van 
than I contrived to send him the amount by way of Ba}'azid. 
Weeks later, upon my arrival in the capital of his provincial 
government, the gun had not yet come to hand. The ]''ali, or 
Governor- General, was recently dead ; no successor had been 
appointed ; the fact that I was an Englishman was scarcely worth 
recalling to the petty authorities, daily witnesses of the feeble- 



ness of the British Government, and full of contempt for the 
British Power. When my property was at last restored to me 
through the good offices of Mr. Graves, the whole winter and 
part of the spring had gone by. The Kaimakam had wreaked 
his revenge ; the weapon came in broken pieces, and the barrels 
bore the marks of heavy blows. 

I was unable to ascertain with any accuracy the number of 
the inhabitants, whether of the district or of the town. The 
Kaimakam, although extremely communicative on other sub- 
jects, professed to have been forbidden to make them known. 
According to the most recent official statistics, the caza con- 
tains no less than 58 villages, and possesses a population of 5 377 

Fig. 111. Caravan on the Black Sea— Tabriz Trade Route. 

Mohammedans and 1902 Armenians. For the town in particular 
I have not had access to any information ; but I should judge 
that the residents might be put down at 1500 to 2000, of whom 
the Armenians would be nearly two-thirds. With the exception 
of the shops, the houses are in general little better than the usual 
village tenements, half buried beneath the ground. But Karakilisa 
is increasing in importance day by day, being situated on the 
great avenue of communication between Persia and the Black 
Sea. Strings of camels, with their finery of coloured tassels, were 
continually passing at a stone's throw from our door (Fig. i 1 1). 
They were bearing the multitudinous wares of Europe for distri- 
bution among the Eastern bazars. They proceed by way of 
Trcbizond, Erzerum, and Bayazid to the city of Tabriz. The 
place has also the advantage of being both a military and an 
administrative centre ; there is always something going on. The 

Descend into Turkish Territory 9 

fashionable amusement of the day were the Hamidiyeh. A 
luxurious coffee-house had just been built for their delectation ; 
their name was on every tongue. 

It was whispered in fear and terror by the poor Armenians. 
I visited their bishop, and found him in a state of blank despair. 
He was afraid to receive me, and sent me excuses — which, 
however, I refused to accept. After some parley with inter- 
mediaries he made his appearance — a stout figure, a thick-lipped, 
common face. He refused to listen to the simple questions which 
I addressed to him, and burst out into abuse. Europe, and 
especially England, had played the part of swindlers towards his 
miserable race. Their hopes had been incited by delusive 
professions, which had only served to alarm the Sultan and let 
loose the Kurds. Nor could they look to Russia, the arch- 
offender, fanning the agitation for ends of her own. The poor 
man continued in this strain until he was nearly beside himself ; 
I was obliged to leave him to his rage. His diocese embraces 
the districts between Zeidikan and Bayazid, and extends south- 
wards to the borders of the vilayet, or Government, of Van. His 
church at Karakilisa is little better than four stone walls. An 
ignorant priest imparts instruction in a wretched httle building 
which can scarcely be dignified by the name of school. 

One afternoon we made an excursion to the point where the 
Murad changes direction, and flows through the gap towards 
the south. Between the barracks in which we were lodged, 
on the extreme outskirts of Karakilisa, and the river, flowing 
placidly over the plain, there extends a considerable tract of 
marshy ground and low covert, the home of plover and in- 
numerable water-birds. We crossed a stream which, coming 
from Aghri Dagh, passes just beneath the barracks to join 
the Murad a little further west (Kor Suj, and made across 
the marsh in the direction of a little Armenian village which 
stands on the left bank of the principal body of water, almost 
due south of the town. Just below this settlement, called 
Klip Keran, we forded the Murad, which was winding at the 
foot of a gentle eminence of the southern border through a 
pebbly and many-channelled bed. Either shore was quite a 
museum of living wildfowl ; in especial we admired a beautiful 
species of golden duck of which the wings were flaked with 
white bands. Avoiding the swamp on the opposite margin, 
we followed this bank for some distance ; and a little later 



crossed back to the northern side. About a mile and a half 
below Klip Keran the river describes a beautiful curve, and 
enters the spacious passage of the hills. It is pushed southwards 
by rising ground at the base of the Kilich Gedik barrier ; but 
the higher outlines of that range, as well as those of the snowy 
Ala Dagh in the east, are several miles removed from its shores. 
It flows towards grassy hills, among which you lose the silver 
thread which the eye has followed as far as a village, named 
Dombat. The breadth of the Murad at the bend, where its 
errant waters had issued from the marsh, did not appear to 
us to exceed thirty yards. The intense stillness of the scene 

Fig. 113. Karakilisa from South-West. 

was in harmony with the quiet sunset which shed radiance 
over mountain, river, and plain. From the lofty bulwark of 
the northern chain, beyond the lake-like surface of the steppe, 
rose the form of a single summit, overtowering its neighbours — 
the shapely dome of the Kuseh Dagh (Fig. 112). The fantastic 
profile of the system was drawn across the horizon in hues of 
opal to the far east. In that direction we could clearly see 
the magnificent bastions of Ararat, mounting the sky behind 
these heights. The snowfields were flushed with a delicate 
madder ; we noticed that from this side they appear to gather 
to a single peak, the eminence upon which we had stood. 
We remarked the convex modelling of the lower slopes of the 
system along the opposite margin of the plain. A shorter 
way was shown us for the return to Karakilisa (Fig. 113), which 
leaves the river and crosses the head of the marsh. 




The principal artery of traffic in Turkish Armenia crosses the 
land from west to east. It follows the direction of a series of 
depressions : the plains of Erzerum, of Pasin and of Alashkert. 
It consists of a carriageable track, or rough road of unequal 
quality. The bulk of the transit trade between Europe and 
northern Persia is conveyed on the backs of camels along this 
route. The wall of protective duties which has been reared 
by the Russian Government compels this commerce to flow 
through a Turkish port and to adhere to Turkish soil. It 
has been stimulated by the efforts of a series of British consuls, 
resident at Erzerum, Robberies have been punLshed with 
great severity ; and, at the present day, the traffic is seldom, if 
ever, interrupted, although it passes through the Kurd-inhabited 
districts about Bayazid, and the lawless border of the Persian 
and Turkish empires. 

South of this beaten avenue are situated regions which, in 
spite of the researches of individual travellers, are still but 
imperfectly known. The lake of Van remains a centre of 
agriculture and primitive industry ; yet it lies beyond a zone 
of feebly governed country which, year by year, is becoming 
more difficult to cross. The pest of Kurds has settled firmly 
upon these richly favoured territories, destroying agriculture 
and banishing trade. What caravans there are travel in large 
bodies, and every man is armed to the teeth. Between Erzerum 
and the town of Van they choose between two routes according 
to the season of the year. In summer they cross the mountains 
behind the northern capital, and proceed by the plain of Khinis, 
crossing the Murad at Melazkert. During winter they make 
the round by way of Pasin and Alashkert, deviating on the 

1 2 Armenia 

confines of the latter district, and passing the river at Tutakh. 
The approach through the town of Mush is used only once 
a year, when the pilgrims journey from Erzerum to the cloister 
of Surb Karapet. On that occasion the caravan, according 
to my informants, continues its course as far as Van. By the 
two first routes it is usual to follow the eastern shore of the 
lake, which is reached near the little town of Akantz.^ 

VVe set out from Karakilisa on October the 29th, mounted 
on our newly-j^urchased horses, and accompanied by a .:aptich 
or gendarme. Our objective was this same Akantz ; the 
principal intermediate stations were Tutakh and Patnotz. I 
had thought it possible to accomplish the ride in the course 
of two days ; our friends laughed at the idea. I decided 
therefore to start in the afternoon, with the hope of arriving 
on the evening of the third day. At a quarter-past three 
o'clock we were making our way along the marsh to the point 
where the Murad leaves the plain. After reaching the bend, 
we proceeded down the passage which receives the river, towards 
Dombat and the grassy hills which I have already mentioned. 
On our left hand, at an interval of about 500 yards from the 
left bank, rose the first gentle slopes of the Ala Dagh system ; 
this high land was answered on the right bank, at about a 
similar distance, by the outworks of the Kilich Gedik. The 
Murad pursues its course between these two blocks of mountain, 
and, a little lower down, forces its way through the narrowing 
gap. Near Dombat both banks are of considerable elevation, 
and the ridges appear to cross the direction of the stream. 
Before arriving opposite the village we crossed the Sharian Su, 
a tributary which collects the drainage of the western portion 
of the plain, and which appeared to us to have a volume scarcely 
less than that of the principal branch. 

After passing Dombat — which was said to be inhabited by 
Kizilbashes — we sank to a valle}' in which is situated the 
Kurdish village of Zado, and ascended the ridge on its opposite 

1 The following are my estimates of the mileage distances along oiiv route from 
Karakilisa to Akantz : — 

Tutakh-Koshk . 
Koshk- Patnotz 
I'atnotz-Akantz . 


23 miles 
II ,, 
17 „ 

87 miles. 

To Lake Van 13 

side. From the summit we commanded a prospect towards 
Karakilisa, and were impressed by the serpentine course of the 
river, flowing towards us in a pebbly bed which it threaded by 
several channels. We were placed at a height of some 250 feet 
above its waters. On a hillside further south we could now 
discern our evening station, the little village of Avdi. It was 
signalised by a green patch, due to vegetable gardens ; its 
surroundings were bleak and bare. Arriving at half- past five, 
we selected the best of the fifteen tenements as quarters for the 
night. We were surprised to find a sergeant of the regular army 
established in this miserable place. He had come to recruit 
Kurds for the Hamidiyeh, and bitterly cursed his fate. 

Next morning we were anxious to reach Tutakh before 
mid-day in order to pass the night at Patnotz. At a quarter to 
eight we were in the saddle ; it had rained during the night, and 
heavy clouds hung over the hills. As we rose up the slope, we 
caught glimpses of the mountains which bound the plain of 
Alashkert upon the north. The plain itself had long been lost ; 
we were at some distance from the river ; we looked across high 
hills, which engulfed the invisible waters, to the summits of the 
Ala Dagh. The doubtful track commenced to wind between 
grassy slopes, strewn with boulders — a belt of country well 
adapted to guerilla warfare, and reputed the favourite haunt of 
Kurdish robbers. Horsemen would no doubt be completely at 
their mercy in the blind recesses of these irregular valleys. At a 
quarter to nine w^e approached the Murad, still high above it ; the 
hills rose from either bank. In another half hour we obtained 
our first view of the cone of Sipan, a gleaming object in the 
south. Some two miles further the landscape opened, and 
assumed the character of a vast steppe of broken and uneven 
ground. Distant ranges encircled the expanse with dim outlines ; 
Sipan alone was clearly defined against the sky. From the 
Kurdish village of Koshk we obtained a fine view over this 
country, with its waving surface featured by shadows from the 
clouds. We had got behind the barrier of the Kilich Gedik ; 
and the whole segment of the circle from north-west to south- 
west was filled by comparatively level land. We observed 
a prominent shape in the mountains of the furthest distance, 
which we identified with the Khamur Dagh. Beyond the 
Mussulman village of Okhan, the river, which had left us, took 
a sharp bend, and joined our course. We made our way 

14 Armenia 

along it at a rapid trot and reached Tutakh a little after eleven 

The little township does not possess more than about a 
hundred houses ; yet it is the seat of a Kaimakam whose 
administrative area includes Patnotz, and meets the boundary of 
the vilayet of Van. It stands on rising ground, at some little 
distance from the bank of the river, facing the lofty hills which 
rise on the opposite shore, and push the Murad towards the west. 
It is about equidistant from Karakilisa and from Patnotz, a ride 
of some twenty-three miles from the first, and of twenty-eight 
miles from the second. The inhabitants are for the greater part 
Karapapakhs, imported into the district after the last Russo- 
Turkish war. They can now boast of some 400 houses in the 
caza, or a population of about 3000 souls. Agriculturists by pro- 
fession, and by temperament robbers, they appear to be in an 
extremely prosperous state. Their aged chief conversed with me, 
and imparted several particulars which I had not known before. 
He told me that they had emigrated from the province of Chaldir, 
being dissatisfied with the Russian Government, who had not 
treated them well in the matter of lands. The Sultan had 
received them back, settled them in these fertile regions, and 
allotted to them as much ground as they required. I questioned 
him with some care about the original seats of his tribe ; he was 
emphatic that they had always lived in Chaldir.^ Taylor tells us 
that they became possessed of the villages and lands in that 
province, and in the neighbouring province of Kars, which had 
been abandoned by the Armenians who followed the army of 
Marshal Paskevich upon his evacuation of Turkish territory in 
1829. According to the chief, their original possessions in 
Transcaucasia extended from Daghestan to Chaldir. The tribe 
.supplies a regiment of Hamidiyeh for this caza ; the head men 
were resplendent in their new uniforms, of which they seemed 
very proud. Both here and at Karakilisa I was imprcsseci by 
the diversity of type which is found among them. Mingled with 
physiognomies of purely Tartar or Persian character were faces 
which, with their lighter hair and fairer complexion, might have 
belonged to a group of Circassians. With the exception of the 
shops, singlc-storeyed stone buildings, the in Tutakh are 

1 At the time of Taylor's journey (1868) there were some 13,500 Karapapakh.s in 
the mutcsarrijlik of Chaldir, which comprised the towns of Olti, Ardahan and Ardanuch. 
The mutcsarrijlik of Kars counted 12,900 of this people, and that of Bayazid 2500 
(Archives of British Consulate at Erzerum). 

To Lake Van 15 

the usual loose agglomerations of earth and rough stone. The 
great majority of the population in the caza are Kurds; a scatter- 
ing of Armenians are entirely at the mercy of their rapacious 
Mussulman neighbours. 

Our baggage animals, which had started from Avdi with us, 
arrived at one o'clock. They were in charge of a second zaptieh, 
to whom I had given instructions to find his way to Akantz as 
best he could. A little before two we were again in the saddle, 
making for the adjacent ford across the Murad. The river is 
fairly broad just opposite the town, having a width at this season 
of about 100 yards. It had spread beyond its average dimen- 
sions in this region, and the water did not reach higher than the 
horses' knees. We admired the clear, blue current, sweeping 
past us — a stream neither sluggish nor impetuous, as befits the 
beginning of a great river. From the opposite bank we proceeded 
at right angles to its direction, up the side of the line of high hills. 
At eighteen minutes after two we had wound our way to the 
summit ; w^e stood on the surface of rolling downs. A little later, 
when I thought we had reached the highest point of these uplands, 
I took the reading of my aneroid. We had reached a level of 
5800 feet, or of 560 feet above Tutakh. The exhilarating air, 
the easy ground, the magnificent prospects rendered our ride most 
enjoyable. Behind us was the outline of the Kilich Gedik, run- 
ning from east to west. We could just see the crest of the Kuseh 
Dagh beyond it, the summit of the dome. Towards the south 
rose the irregular mass of the Khamur, and the beautiful landmark 
of Sipan. That graceful mountain stood disclosed to three- 
quarters of its height. Such are the rewards which Armenia 
bestows upon the traveller, and which IMan is powerless to 

That insignificant creature lives in squalor amid scenes of 
desolation which are due to himself alone. The soil is rich and 
loamy ; but it is little cultivated, and lies idle beneath a covering 
of rough grass. The climate is more propitious than that of the 
corresponding highlands in the more northerly, or Russian portion 
of the land. The rainfall is probably less ; but this disadvantage 
may be balanced by the earlier maturing of the crops. We rode 
for an hour without seeing a village, with the heights of the Ala 
Dagh following our course away on the left. The first settlement 
which we passed was Milan, inhabited by Kurds, which we were 
careful to avoid. Those of their number whom we met were 

1 6 Armenia 

armed with numerous knives, and had rifles slung across their 
shoulders. A little further I called a halt on the requisition of 
the zaptieh ; he was very anxious that the plan of the journey 
should be changed. It was half-past three o'clock ; we could not 
reach Patnotz before nightfall ; if I persisted it was almost certain 
we should be attacked. In crossing from the territory of the 
Sipkanli tribe to that of the Haideranli, we should be obliged to 
run the gauntlet of the armed parties which scoured the frontier 
between these two hostile tribes. He pointed to a dot on the 
grassy plain about us which he identified with the village of 
Koshk. He said that it was the residence of the chief of the 
Sipkanli, who from his official relations with the Turkish 
Government would be obliged to shelter us. His counsel was no 
doubt sound if one could only trust his estimate of our distance 
from Patnotz. For some time we had been passing between two 
opposite hill ranges, one on our left front, the other on our right. 
On our point of course, in the middle distance, these outlines 
approached one another, leaving between them a wide gap. The 
ridge on the left, a spur of Ala Dagh, was said to bear the name 
of Gelarash Dagh ; that on the right was called Kartevin Dagh. 
It would be no short ride to the passage between the two ; and 
this gave access, according to the zaptieh, to the plain in which, 
upon its further confines, was situated Patnotz. Satisfied by his 
explanations, I deferred to his judgment, and directed our steps a 
few points off our true course, towards the village which he had 
indicated. A shower of soft rain was falling as we entered Koshk 
at four o'clock. 

I have already introduced my reader to a Kurdish village ; 
the description of one may be applied to all. But Koshk is 
distinguished by a single house in the proper sense, a two-storeyed 
building of stone. It is the abode of Yusuf Bey, chieftain of the 
Sipkanli, whose portrait I was allowed to take (Fig. 114). His 
followers gathered round us, a throng of Kurdish warriors, 
prepared at any moment for a fight. Besides knives, each man 
carried a rifle ; a band of cartridges was fastened across the 
breast. I examined several weapons ; all bore the Russian 
marks and letters. They told me that they were procured from 
the Russian soldiers, probably Cossacks, in the frontier districts of 
Kagyzman and Erivan. When a little later I questioned the 
chief about this traffic, he expressed surprise that the soldiers 
should be able to obtain firearms for the purpose of selling them. 

Fig. 114. YusuF Bey of Koshk. 

Fig. 115. Kurd of Koshk in Gala Dress. 

To Lake Van 17 

After some palaver we were ushered into his presence ; he 
happened to be engaged in prayer. A broad divan followed the 
bare walls of a spacious apartment, and rugs were spread upon 
the divan. Several tall, lank figures stood on these bright carpets, 
with stockings on their feet. They faced the window and the 
light ; at the head of one of the two lines was placed an 
individual whom we easily recognised as the mollah from his 
humbler stature, stouter person and ampler robes. Their backs 
were turned towards us as we entered ; we advanced a little, but 
not a muscle of the faces moved. Then the silence was broken 
by a deep, gurgling sound, which developed into the expression 
of a series of labials, half a chant, half a spoken prayer. At 
certain passages the figures bowed to the ground, or dropped to 
a seated posture, and were still. To us it seemed an ideal 
rendering of the solemn relation between man and the universe. 

The litany completed, our hosts at once turned towards us, 
with a sudden change of countenance which took us by surprise. 
Yusuf Bey extended to us his massive but almost fleshless hand ; 
his cavernous cheeks were lit by a smile. He and his brother are 
men of more than ordinary proportions, and both are true t}'pes 
of the Kurd. He told me that they were in daily expectation of 
attack from Hoseyn Pasha of Patnotz. This miscreant, although 
under the ban of justice, had been given the title of Pasha by the 
Turkish Government, partly in order to recruit their new irregulars 
among his tribe, and partly as a recompense for his bribes. He 
had quite recently burnt some villages of the Sipkanli, and had 
reduced the clan to poverty. Judging from the finery which was 
displayed by the inhabitants of Koshk (Fig. 115), I could only 
accept the latter part of this statement in a very relative sense. 
The seats of the Sipkanli extend to the territory of Bayazid ; they 
supply three regiments to the Hamidiyeh. After partaking of 
supper, we composed ourselves to sleep in the same apartment 
into which we had been introduced. The night was disturbed 
by the weird cries which were exchanged at frequent intervals 
between the patrols in the outskirts and the guard in the village. 

Among the forty tenements which constituted this particular 
settlement we were astonished to find that six were inhabited by 
Armenians. Imagine the condition of these poor people, in 
the very jaws of their enemy, who just allows them to exist and 
no more ! The Turkish authorities, a long way distant, would 
be quite powerless to assist them, even if they had the desire. 
VOL. II c 

1 8 Armenia 

A poor stableman told us beneath his breath that their lot was 
desperate, and that some of his countrymen had contrived to 
escape to Russia. 

The rawness of the climate in the plain of Alashkert had 
disappeared when we reached Koshk.^ The weather became 
mild, and the sun shone freely from a sky almost devoid of 
cloud. When next morning we were again in the saddle at 
twenty minutes after seven, the mown pastures looked green and 
fresh after the rain of the preceding evening, and it was a delight 
to breathe the crisp air. We could still see the distant dome of 
the Kuseh Dagh ; the ridge on our left hid the lower slopes of 
Sipan. We rode towards the still remote promontory of that 
grassy ridge, and the gap between the outlines in the hills. At 
a little after eight we had reached the passage ; it appeared to 
have a width of about a mile. It leads from the undulating 
plains about Koshk to the level plain of Patnotz. The ground 
falls away by a succession of inequalities to a spacious area of 
flat alluvial land. Beyond that lake-like surface rises the fabric 
of a single mountain, the broad base, the vaulted slopes, the 
massive crown. Sipan was at last exposed from foot to summit, 
recalling by many a characteristic the majestic Ararat." There 
was the same length of sweep, the same symmetry of structure, 
the same rounded central form. And if we missed the gardens 
and the immense expanse of the campagna of Erivan, this open 
plain seemed to repeat the surroundings of Ararat on a scale 
exactly suited to Sipan. 

Near the opening we passed the tiny village of Burnu 
Bulakh, inhabited by Kurds. We doubled the long promontory ; 
it was evident it had been pushing us away from our true course. 
Once rounded, we pursued a south-easterly direction, keeping to 
the base of the hills to which it belongs. In these solitudes a 
human figure is an unfamiliar object ; great was our surprise to 
perceive several men running towards us from a recess in the 
range. Stranger still was the discovery that they did not bear 
arms ; we collected together, and awaited their approach. 
When they had reached speaking distance, they unfolded their 
story, and begged for protection at our hands. They were Turks 

1 Temperature at 9 P.M. 53° F., and at 6.30 A.M. 41°. None of my readings at 
Karakilisa reached as high as the tirst of these, though some were taken in the middle 
of the day. 

''' The comparison was also suggested to Koch, as lie approached Sipan from the 
side of Melazkert [Keisc im poiitiscfuii Gebirge, p. 428). 

To Lake Van 19 

from the province of Kars who had deserted their lands and 
homes, taking with them all their portable wealth. They said 
that the Russian Government treated them very badly, favouring 
the Molokans, and annoying the members of their religion and 
race. They had resolved to seek new seats beneath the sceptre 
of the Sultan, and had crossed the frontier in pursuit of this end. 
Their journey had until yesterday been uneventful ; but last 
evening, as they were approaching the territory of the Haideranli, 
they had been savagely attacked. The Kurds had despoiled 
them of all their possessions, and had been induced with difficulty 
to leave them the clothes in which they stood. Poor fellows ! 
honest, sturdy peasants, returning to their old allegiance and to 
the stronghold of Islam, only to find the one insulted by robbers 
and the other a gaping ruin. All we could do was to take them 
to the prince of the bandits, in the hope that he would be more 
prudent than his wild bands. Inasmuch as they were without 
horses it was impossible that they should accompany us to the 
town of Akantz. 

Not less eloquent an illustration of the decay of the Ottoman 
Empire was the landscape through which we passed. Mile after 
mile, the eye ranged across the floor of the alluvial plain to the 
lower slopes of the great volcano which, with the hills circling 
towards them, compose a basin-like area of vast extent. The 
fertile soil lies idle, as though the waters had lately receded ; in 
the distance some goats and cattle browsed the burnt and scanty 
grass. Nature alone has made the most of exceptional oppor- 
tunities ; and Sipan, with this plain on one flank and the lake of 
Van upon the other, is worthy to rank among the most beautiful 
objects in the natural world (Fig. i 16). There can be little differ- 
ence between the level of the expanse on either side ; plain and 
sea have an elevation of about 5500 feet. The summit of the 
slowly -rising fabric which divides them attains an altitude of 
13,700 feet. The history of the mountain may be studied to 
advantage from this, the northern side. There can be little 
doubt that it possessed a central crater, of which the walls have 
fallen in upon the north. The southern rim still stands, pre- 
senting an almost horizontal outline of sharp rock, harbouring 
drifts of snow.' The processes of denudation have been busy 

^ Upon my ascent of Sipan during my second journey it was ascertained that the 
highest ridge of rock, as seen in this iUustration, is not actually the southern rim of the 
crater. It is merely the side of the flat-topped mass of lava, upon which is situated the 
eastern summit. The western summit is just visible in this illustration. 

20 Armenia 

with the slopes of this ancient cone, and have broken the surface 
into knife-like ridges. We stood for half-an-hour in full face of 
the pile. After crossing two little rivulets which wandered out 
from the hills behind us, we arrived at half-past ten in Patnotz. 

We found it nothing better than a wretched Kurdish village, 
with some one hundred huts and numerous stacks of dried manure. 
It is situated at the foot of the hill range which we had been 
skirting, and which had gradually been circling round towards 
Sipan. It overlooks the plain and the opposite volcano. About 
thirty of the tenements are occupied by Armenian families, and 
there is a row of shops which rise proudly from the ground. On 
the further outskirts a large stone building was in process of being 
erected ; the Armenian masons were busy with the work. It 
was to serve as a school and for other purposes, and was due to 
the policy in favour with the Sultan, of educating the Kurds. I 
understood that the funds were provided by the Turkish Govern- 
ment. W^e rode up to a group of people assembled before this 
palace, and enquired for the chief. Among them was an individual 
of heavy build and forbidding features, attired in a long coat of 
military pattern, and displaying the brass ensign of the Hamidiyeh 
on the sheepskin cap which he wore. It was Hoseyn Pasha, lord 
of the Haideranli, and ruler of the territory of Patnotz. The 
irregular mouth and nose, and the dull, sparkless eyes correspond 
with the reputation which he bears. But discontent as well as 
malice was written upon his countenance ; and the situation 
explained the humour of the man. His followers would no doubt 
argue that he was assisting at his own destruction ; this school 
was the visible evidence of the Ottoman yoke. I have no doubt 
that he would console them with the assurance of its futility ; 
and I am certain that he would be right. Meanwhile he had 
appropriated the completed apartments as a residence for him- 
self. I waited for him to invite us to be his guests in his new 
quarters ; but he beckoned to an attendant to find us a room 
in one of the huts. So I dismounted, and myself led the way 
into the schoolhouse, obliging him cither to affront or follow me. 
He chose the latter course. Continuing the same tactics, I bade 
him take a seat by my side on his own divan. In his company 
was a fine specimen of the Kurdish nation, whose mien contrasted 
with that of his chief; and a genial Turk who had travelled, and 
was at once a man of the world and a parasite of the lowest type. 
This gentleman was delighted to have an opportunity of con- 

To Lake Van 21 

versing about the affairs of the outside world ; it was to him that 
I addressed the conversation until the sullen temper of the chief 
relaxed. When I was able to put some questions in return for 
those which I had answered, the tongue of Hoseyn Pasha had 
commenced to flow. He told me he was the titular chief of 
the Hasananli Kurds, a tribe of which the Haideranli, Adamanli, 
and Sipkanli were offshoots or species. This widely-spread genus 
extended to the Persian frontier. I asked him why his people 
did not cultivate the plain, and augment their wealth and numbers. 
He replied that in the absence of communications and markets 
they were not encouraged to take such a course. We lunched off 
some wretched cheese, inlaid with herbs in Kurdish fashion ; and, 
after commending our companions to his sense of responsibility, 
took leave at a quarter-past eleven o'clock. 

I am sorry that I am not able to present a better description 
of the features of the country between Patnotz and the lake of 
Van. I hope that some future traveller will be able to ascend 
the sides of the hills along the trough of which we rode for many 
miles. I should advise him to devote at least three days to the 
journey between Karakilisa and Akantz. The first night would 
be spent at Tutakh, the second at Patnotz. Hoseyn Pasha was 
astonished to hear of our intention to push on to our destination 
by a single stage. But the zaptieh knew of no village in which 
we might safely sojourn, before reaching the territory of Akantz. 
The authority of the Turkish Government is little better than a 
name among the valleys of the Ala Dagh. I was assured that I 
had formed a wrong conception of the distance, which, measured 
direct on the map of Kiepert, amounts to no more than twenty-one 
miles. Arrived at Akantz, I computed that we had covered, from 
station to station, no less than thirty-six miles. An incident which 
occurred just after our departure contributed to hasten our steps. 
A Kurd, mounted on a swift Arab, cantered ahead of us and was 
soon lost to sight. The zaptieh was certain it was an emissary of 
the chief, whose treachery he feared. The word would be given to 
the bands in the district that helpless travellers were passing their 
way. I think it more probable that he was bearer of orders not 
to attack us on any account. 

From Patnotz we proceeded in an easterly direction towards 
the ridge which bounds the plain upon the east. It connects 
with the hills which we had so long been skirting, and which 
hollow inwards beyond the village. A few minutes before twelve 

22 Armenia 

we were on the summit of the low pass, and were leaving behind 
us the landscape of the plain. We entered a broad valley, which, 
with a grassy hill range on either side, stretched away towards 
south-east. The range on our right concealed from view the 
lower slopes of Sipan, and was distant about a mile. Its eleva- 
tion above the valley was at first not greater than from lOO to 
500 feet ; but, as we proceeded, it rose to a more considerable 
altitude, and, at the same time, came closer up to the track. On 
our left hand the barrier was more remote and loftier, some five 
miles off, and some 1000 feet above our heads. The heights 
were streaked with snow ; according to our informants, they belong 
to the system of the Ala Dagh. We rode for several hours 
between these two ridges, the ground rising as we advanced. Here 
and there a little brook threaded the waste soil, flowing towards 
the west. At one o'clock we came up with a long line of 
bullock carts, travelling from Erzerum to Van. We counted no 
less than seventy of these primitive vehicles, crawling over the 
ground with creaking wheels. Several horsemen accompanied 
the caravan, their persons bristling with arms of every kind. The 
leader was a Turk of quality and some importance. He told me 
that the journey occupied eight days, and that the Murad was 
crossed at Tutakh. Each of the drivers was said to be in 
possession of weapons, although they did not happen to be 
wearing them as we passed. 

Three-quarters of an hour later we crossed a nice stream 
which, according to the zaptieh, flows into the lake. The trans- 
parent current pursued for some distance a roughly parallel 
direction to the south-easterly course upon which we rode. It 
left us to diverge southwards towards the barrier on our right ; 
but we could not discover at what point it pierced the hills. A 
few horses were grazing upon its margin, and we wondered to 
whom they might belong. The track continued to approach the 
immediate foot of those hills, and they continued to increase in 
height. But it became evident that the average elevation of the 
ground had risen, for we were on a level with the higher slopes 
of the opposite range. At three o'clock we reached the end of 
the long valley, which narrows towards its head. The hills roll 
away ; you stand on a lofty platform which commands a distant 
prospect of the lake of Van. 

Dismounting on the rough soil, we stood for half-an-hour in 
contemplation of the scene. All our horses show^ed signs of 

To Lake Van 23 

fatigue ; that of the dragoman was quite exhausted, and his 
plump rider required to be h'fted from the saddle. We had 
covered, according to estimate, some 1 8 miles from Patnotz 
and over 33 from Koshk. The instruments were uncased, 
and the elevation taken, which I compute in round numbers 
at 1000 feet above the level of the lake. Below us lay 
spacious tracts of undulating country — friable soil, modelled into 
hummock shapes. We could follow the long profile of the hills 
on our left hand, dying away towards the still remote shore. 
The waters were scarcely visible beyond the detail of the middle 
distance — a glimpse of blue in the lap of the expanse. They 
represent the gulf-like extremity of the inland sea, of which the 
broad face is hidden from these slopes. But the scale and 
tendency of the land forms prepared us for such a presence, 
which they were aptly designed to usher in. We stood on the 
edge of a great half-circle ; the view ranged to some sharp 
summits, belonging to a ridge on the opposite side of the lake, 
which must have been some 40 miles away. Our zaptieh knew 
it under the name of Besh Parmak, or the mountain of the five 
fingers. The arc of the curve was composed by the heights in 
that direction, arresting the softness of the vaulted hills and 
shelving ground. We were shovvm a long bank which had the 
appearance of a mound, and was distinguished from similar shapes 
by its size. It lay in the distant trough of the landscape, and 
was said to overlook the town of Akantz. 

I placed the dragoman on my own horse, and was obliged to 
perpetrate the cruelty of riding his jaded animal. We had the 
benefit of the incline ; but the nature of the ground was against 
us, necessitating long winds. Deep gullies obstructed our 
course ; or we were turned aside by rising land. If I have 
estimated correctly, we were separated from our destination by a 
space of fifteen miles. We took to the saddle at half-past three ; 
we did not arrive until past seven ; and we must have covered 
some eighteen miles. At half-past four we crossed the first 
running water, and we were at the first village at a little before 
five. Karakilisa (Black Church) is well named, for it possesses 
a little church of black stone, with group of gables and conical 
dome. It is inhabited by Armenians, and has an air of 
prosperity ; we were refreshed by the rare sight ot a group of 
trees. The next settlement, Hipsinek, was also Armenian ; we 
had emerged from the wild Kurdish zone. As we neared the 

24 Armenia 

lower levels, the deep silence of the evening was broken by a 
loud, rumbling sound. It was a river, descending from the 
mountains, and flowing in a stony bed. They call it the Buyuk 
Chai or Erishat ; we crossed it, and arrived, soon after, at a 
village which bears the last of these names. It was half-past six 
o'clock ; the light was uncertain ; we were near water and on 
marshy ground. A villager was hailed ; he showed us the way 
with a lantern to the solid land beyond. We proceeded at a 
walking pace along the foot of a dark cliff to the houses of 



The Kaimakam of Akantz was in the company of his notables 
when we entered his reception room. Along the walls of the 
bare apartment stretched the usual cushioned seat ; a row of 
figures, serried upon it, lined two sides. It was with difficulty 
that place was made for us beside him ; and several minutes 
were occupied by the exchange of salutes, each man bowing and 
raising the hand to the chin and forehead. Coffee and warmth 
revived the drooping person of the dragoman ; such was his com- 
mand both of the Turkish and the German languages that it cost 
him little effort to perform his task. While supper and a lodging 
were being prepared for us, I was able to discuss plans with the 
Kaimakam. He promised that he would endeavour to procure a 
trading vessel to take us to Van on the following day. He 
engaged to despatch our horses thither, as soon as they should 
recover, by way of the southern shore of the lake. Unlike his 
colleague of Karakilisa, he proved faithful to his word ; but I 
regret to say that we never saw the dragoman's horse again. 
That night and the following day I attended him myself; but he 
appears to have died a few days after we left.^ It was arranged 
that on the morrow we should visit the ruins of Arjish. I 
enquired of our host whether he knew of the remains of a city on 
the table surface of the cliff above Akantz. He confirmed the 
information which is given by Vital Cuinet, and said that the 
place was known to the learned under the name of Kala-i-Zerin. 
The people call it Zernishan." 

1 Mignan tells us that he purchased a gelding at Sulimanieh which carried him 
from Baghdad to Tiflis across Kurdistan in 1 6 days, a distance of at least 800 miles 
{Winter Journey, etc., London, 1839). I have heard of similar feats in the East, but 
have not been anxious to place the veracity of my informants to the test. 

" La Tiirquie cfAsie, Paris, 1892, vol. ii. p. 710, "Tout pres d' Akantz, a 2 kilo- 


According to the Kaimakam there are no less than 500 
houses in Akantz ; but I am incHned to consider this figure 
excessive. A number among them are well built, with good 
walls and glass-paned windows ; and it was a change to erect 
our camp beds in a clean and airy room. The population is 
partly Mussulman and partly Armenian. I should say that the 
former have the preponderance, although not in the proportion 
which was assigned to them by the same authority of four- 
fifths of the whole.^ The Armenians possess two churches and 
a school, administered by a priest. Several regiments of 
Hamidiyeh have their headquarters in the town. They are 

Fig. 117. Akantz. 

recruited among the Haideranli and Adamanli Kurds. Their 
enrolment has been attended by the usual result — a general 
relaxation of the law. Robberies are committed under the eyes 
of the Kaimakam, and stealing is scarcely considered an offence. 
While our effects were being conveyed to the lake in a little cart, 
a clever thief made away with the yoke of the oxen. 

The morning of the next day was devoted to preparations, 
and the whole afternoon was occupied by our excursion to Arjish. 
The site bears a few points west of a line due south from Akantz, 

metres vers Test, se trouve una montngne qui renferme une carriere de pierre calcaire, 
de 3 kilometres d'etendue, large d'environ 300 metres. Le sommet de cette montagne 
se termine par im vaste plateau couvert des ruines d'une ville antique nommee Zernak 
qui fut ties florissante. Les rues de la dite ville sont larges et coupees a angle droit ; 
on retire de ses edifices de belles pierres siliceuses regulierement taillees dont on se 
sert pour les nouvelles constructions." 

' Cuinet [op. cit.) goes quite astray in his statistics both of the caza and town. He 
estimates the Mussulman inhabitants of the whole caza at only 5129. Akantz and the 
villages between it and the lake would alone contain as many or more. 

Across Lake Van 27 

at a distance of several miles. But the track across the plain is 
obstructed by channels of water which compel you to deviate. 
Leaving the town by the south side, we paused to admire the 
cluster of houses, embowered in trees, and backed by the high 
cliff (Fig. 117). A continuation of the same ridge rises behind 
the gardens and orchards, which are about a mile away, upon 
the east. Between us and the lake lay a broad zone of alluvial 
land, of sandy surface broken by green oases. We rode through 
two considerable villages, Hargin and Igmal. They are almost 
buried beneath the foliage of tall poplars and forest trees which 
are supported by a network of irrigation. The last of these two 
settlements can scarcely be less distant than an hour's walk from 
the shore. Beyond them the ground is patched with cultivation, 
which in turn gives place to a desert, cut by dikes. The ruins 
adjoin the lake, and accentuate the loneliness of the bleak waste 
from which they rise (Fig. i 18 from the north, and Fig. i 19 from 
the south). 

Little is left above ground of the once important borough 
of medicHEval repute. The crumbling walls of a castle, a ruined 
chapel, a minaret are the principal monuments still erect. The 
method of building is that of a more cultured age. A recent fire 
had converted the brushwood into black patches. We looked across 
the silvery waters to the opposite shore of the lake, from which a 
range of hills rise. Behind this barrier towers a rocky ridge of 
serrated outline, which, commencing at a point about east of the 
ruins, extends westwards and groups together with the magnificent 
chain on the southern margin of the sea. The arm beside which 
we stood stretched away by a succession of promontories, to 
spread towards those distant and snowy peaks in the south. 

Arjish played an important part in the history of the Middle 
Ages ; and there can be no doubt that these ruins are those 
of the mediiEval city.^ On the other hand it is quite possible 
that the name Arsissa, under which Lake Van was known to 
Ptolemy, may be connected with a much more ancient Arjish, 
which may well have stood on the high land overlooking the 
modern town of Akantz. I regretted at the time of my visit, 
and I have since had reason to deplore more keenly, our inability 

1 I do not think that Vivien de Saint Martin is justified in supposing that the town 
which was destroyed by the Georgians in A.D. 1209 was situated in a different locality 
from that occupied by these ruins {N'oiiveaii Diitioiinaire de Gt'ographie Uiiiveiselle, Paris, 
1879-95, ^"^' "^'Oi-'^ Ardjiz). 

2 8 Armenia 

Fig. 118. Ruins of Arjish from the North. 

to protract our stay in the neighbourhood, and to examine the 
site of the so-called Zernak, or Zerin, or Zernishan, of which I 
have already spoken. Its situation seems to correspond with 
that of the plateau of Karatash or Ilantash, where Schulz informs 
us that he discovered traces of the sites of numerous buildings, 
and at the foot of which, on the north-east, facing the plain, he 
copied inscriptions in the cuneiform character, which, according 
to the translation of Professor Sayce, record the planting of 
vineyards in this region by the Vannic king Sarduris III., who 
lived in the eighth century before Christ [c. 735 B.C.).^ The 
inscriptions are found upon a series of three tablets, hewn in the 
rock, some eight feet above the ground. One of the tablets is 
without any characters."' Close by is the cave where a nest of 
serpents or large lizards are reputed to have lodged since im- 
memorial times, and have been seen by modern travellers.^ The 
place is described as being situated about two miles east of Akantz 
near the road to Haidar Bey.'* Messrs. Belck and Lehmann, who 
have visited Akantz since I was there, were brought some objects 
in bronze, of which one represented a serpent, and another con- 
tained cuneiform characters. They were found by the natives 
among the ruins of this Zernak.^ It will be interesting to learn 

^ Schulz, in Journal Asiatiqiie, Paris, 1840, series 3, vol. ix. p. 322. Sayce, The 
Cimeifonn Inscriptions of Van, in Journal 0/ the Royal Asiatic Society, 1882, vol. xiv. 
pp. 649 se(j., and 1888, vol. xx. p]5. 3 and 19. 

^ According to Dr. Belck ( Verhandluni^en der Berliner Gesellschaft fiir Anthropologie, 
etc., 1895, Heft \'I. p. 599) the third tablet can never have possessed an inscription. 

•'' See especially Mliller-Simonis, Du Caiicase an Golfe Pcrsicjiie, Paris, 1892, p. 393. 

■* M tiller- Simonis, of>. cit. pp. 292 and 555. 

'' \'crhandluu!:;en der B. G. fiir Anthropoloi^ic, 1898, Heft \'I. \>. 591. These 
travellers add yet another name to the supposed ruins, viz. that of Sirnakar. 

Across Lake Van 29 

Fig. 119. Ruins of Arjish from the South. 

the result of the excavations which they appear to contemplate. 
In the village of Hargin, through which we passed, they have 
found a large stele, with a cuneiform inscription of Argistis II. 
(714-r. 690 B.C.). A second monument, containing records of 
the same monarch, has been discovered by them in the same 
district.^ The name Arjish agrees so nearly with that of this 
Vannic king that one is tempted to suppose that it is derived 
from it. And we may be rewarded by the bringing to light 
of a city of Argistis, buried upon the summit of that salubrious 
plateau of which the cliff backs the houses of Akantz. 

The mediaeval city of Arjish was sacked by the Georgians 
in A.H. 605, or A.D. 1208-9. The Arab historian, Ibn-Alathir, 
who chronicles this event, states that its outcome was the desertion 
of the place by the inhabitants, so that it remained in the ruinous 
condition to which it had been reduced.- But there seems to 
exist evidence to show that, like Ani, Arjish struggled on through 
the centuries during which barbarism was increasing its hold upon 
the land.^ It w^as known to Marco Polo (thirteenth century) as 
one of the three greatest cities of Armenia ; and at the com- 
mencement of the sixteenth century it formed one of the seven 
fortresses which encircled the lakeof Van."^ In the summer of 1838 
it was still peopled ; but in the winter of that year the waters of 

1 Verhaiidhuigen der B. G. fiir Aiithropologie, 1898, Heft VI. p. 573. 

2 See the extract from Ibn-Alathir in Fragments de g^ographes et d'kisiorieiis Arahes 
etPersaits uu'dits, by Defremery, in Journal Asiatiqtie, Paris, 1849, series 4, vol. xiii. 
p. 518. 

3 Saint Martin, M^titotres siir PArnuUiie, vol. i. p. 136. We know that Ani was 
a fairly populous town long after the date when it was formerly supposed to have been 

* Marco Polo, Yule's translation, London, 1874, vol. i. p. 47; and "Merchant 
in Persia" in Italian Travels in Persia, Hakluyt Society, London, 1873, p. 160. 
The other six castles were Tadvan, Vostan, Van, Berkri, Adeljivas and Akhlat. 



the lake rose, until in 1 84 1 they had attained an increase of 
some 10 to 12 feet. The foundations of the houses gave way 
and the supply of fresh water failed.^ Arjish was evacuated by 
its reduced population, and is at the present day not tenanted 
by a single soul. Marshes extend on either side of the ruins ; 
that on the east appeared to me to be the more extensive. 

We had been warned not to linger too long upon the site ; 
the district is inhabited by some Kurds of ill repute. One of 
them had been sighted making off to apprise his friends of our 
presence. Yet darkness had fallen before we were clear of the 
intricate dikes, among which it would have been easy for an 
armed man or two to cut off our retreat. The villages lay before 

Fig. 120. Our Boat on Lake Van. 

us — a mass of gloom in the dimly lighted scene. We were glad 
to pass within the fringe of their orchards ; and a little later 
we were again in safety at Akantz. Meanwhile the necessary 
preparations had been completed, and we were informed that a 
vessel would be ready to receive us after we had partaken of a 
meal. We set out at nine o'clock ; yet not a single light 
flickered among the houses of the silent town. The boats 
station at a point about south-east of the settlement, along the 
margin of the sandy shore. It was after ten o'clock by the time 
we reached the lake and our craft, from which the long stage 
was dropped upon the sand to let us in (Fig. i 20). The vessel 
was not decked, and we could spread our carpets within the 
hollow of her lofty sides. Scarcely a breath of air was stirring ; 

' Loftii.s, who visited .\rjisii in 1S52, has collected ihe fads relative to the inundation 
{Quarterly Journal of Geological Society, London, 1S55, vol. xi. p. 319). 

Across Lake Van 31 

but- the breeze was expected, and it was decided to await its 
approach. We composed ourselves to sleep beneath the stars. 

At midnight we set sail. When I awoke at half-past seven, 
the sky was blue in the zenith above my eyes. Set within that 
field of brightness, the pale crescent of the moon marked the 
boundary of a sheet of cirrus cloud. The gauzy tissues deepened 
as they neared the horizon, and gathered into long banks of 
heavy vapour, suspended about the summits of the chain of inky 
mountains which borders the lake upon the south. In that 
distant and gloomy range I at once recognised the features of 
the mountains of Kurdistan. It was the same chain that I had 
followed for weeks upon the waters of the Tigris, threading the 
vast plains between Diarbekr and the Persian Gulf Day by 
day those steep parapets, sharp peaks, and gleaming snows had 
accompanied the peaceful voyage of my little raft. 

How well I now recalled the longing I had then experienced 
to explore the famous lake on their further side ! What a thrill 
of pleasure I now felt to be floating upon its waters, expanding 
towards those mountains with the proportions of a sea ! The 
reflection of the blue vault above us paled and whitened as the 
flood approached that long black line. Bank upon bank, the 
clouds were serried upon the peaks, shot by the lights from the 
snows. Here and there the fretted outline of a pearly bed of 
vapour was drawn across the background of dull opal in the region 
of the middle slopes ; or wreathing forms, like smoke, clinging to 
the sides of some loftier eminence, broke the horizontal layers. 

The scene behind us contrasted the softness of a southern 
landscape with the stern grandeur of the coast above our prow. 
The northern shores of the lake were bathed in light ; and the 
hummock convexities of the Ala Dagh, streaked with snow 
towards the summits, rose against a sky of transparent turquoise, 
and sank to a surface of more solid substance, but not less pure 
and not less blue. From these heights, across the long sheet 
of azure water to dazzling snow in the heaven above our heads, 
the fabric of Sipan mounted slowly to the flat rim of the central 
crater, and, sweeping past us, declined, with equal majesty of 
outline, to low ground in the west. The great volcano composes 
one whole side of the lake, and faces full south. I observed 
that the snow-line was perceptibly higher than on the occasion 
when we had approached the mountain from the north. The 
western limits of the lake were vague, and, in places, invisible ; 

32 Armejtia 

the mass of Nimrud, dim and cloud-streaked, had the appearance 
of a long island, rising on the horizon between the sunny slopes 
of Sipan and the nebulous barrier of the Kurdish chain. 

It is this contrast — no chance effect of light and atmosphere 
— between the more northerly and the more southerly coasts of 
the vast basin that gives to the lake of Van its own peculiar 
character and a beauty quite its own. On the one hand, length of 
sweep in the form, and brilliancy of tone in the colouring — as seen 
in the curves of the bays, in the profiles of the mountains, in the 
texture of the soil ; on the other, startling steepness, black rocks and 
deep shadows — one long serration, made more vivid by the snows. 
Here a scene which recalls the luxuriance of the bay of Naples ; 
there the features, the austere features, of a Norwegian fiord, 

A fresh north-easterly breeze filled our huge lateen sail ; in 
the hollow of the white fold were painted large in a russet brown 
the emblems of a crescent and a star. The ship was heading 
for a low promontory which showed up yellow against the shades 
of the distance, and ended in a little island rock. That cape 
conceals the site of the city of Van, as you approach it from the 
east. The answering horn of a wide bay rose from the waters 
in our wake ; we were skirting the eastern shore of the sea, with 
its gentle hills and delicate hues. On the slopes we could just 
discern a single small village, the only sign of the presence of man. 

On we glide, and are soon almost abreast of the promontory, 
opening the expanse on the further side. The line of the shore 
curves inwards, and describes a wide half-circle, meeting the base 
of the stupendous barrier in the south. The whole long range 
is exposed to view, from foot to cloud-swept summit, from the 
waters in the west to beyond the waters in the east. The eye 
is arrested by a strange vision in the middle distance — a bold, 
black rock, starting from a bed of white mist on the surface of 
the sea. We learn from the sailors that it is the castled rock of 
Van. When the mist clears, and the object appears in its true pro- 
portions, it becomes a speck against the parapet of the great chain. 

We approach the little island ; I decide to land upon it ; the 
water shallows, and assumes a hue of pure cobalt. Then the bed 
of soft white rock shines through the crystal element, and the 
vessel takes the ground. One steps ashore with the feelings of a 
Greek manner, come from afar to a strange land. Gulls circle 
round us or rest tamely on the rocks ; surely we have sailed 
across the bosom of the high seas. 

Across Lake Van i^t^ 

Ktutz is the name of this enchanting spot, a name insulting 
to a Western tongue (Fig. 121).^ We walked across a narrow 
stretch of grass, strewn with boulders, in the direction of a crag 
of the same white limestone, weathered yellow,^ by which the cliff 
on the opposite shore of the islet falls away before reaching the 
point. Against that crumbling surface rose the conical dome of an 
ancient church, surmounting a picturesque group of gables, and, 
below these, a cluster of mud walls. Several almond-trees, of great 
age, spread their stippled foliage along the foot and up the side 

Fig. 121. Scene on the Island of Ktutz. 

of the cliff. We observed for the first time one of the primitive 
structures which the people use for drawing water from their wells.^ 
The figure of a priest advanced to meet us ; he greeted us 
kindly, and offered to escort us to the monastery. The finished 
masonry of the dome, the careful juxtaposition of black with 

1 It may help to advance the study of the changes of level in the waters of Lake Van 
if I record that at the time of our visit (November 2) the island of Ktutz was almost a pen- 
insula. The monks told us that in a few weeks' time the long neck of sand which almost 
joined it to the land would be exposed from end to end. In spring the waters cover it. 

- This rock, a specimen of which I brought home, may be described as a compact 
limestone, largely consisting of foraminifera and fragments of mollusca and other inverte- 
brate organisms. 

^ The long pole shown in the picture projecting against the sky serves as a lever 
for lifting the bucket. 




yellow stone in the roof, evinced the culture of a happier age. 
The church consists of an outer nave and an inner sanctuary, 
from which the former is separated by a solid wall. As at 
Khosha Vank, near Ani, this outer building or projiaos is of larger 
dimensions than the shrine to which it leads.^ It has probably 

been added at a 

later epoch. The 
nave is accom- 
panied by two 
broad aisles. The 
doorway through 
which you enter 
the inner chapel 
is richly carved 
in the Arab style 
(Fig. 122). You 
look from with- 
out the open door 
across deep 
shadows to the 
lofty dais of 
sculptured stone 
which supports 
the high altar in 
the apsp. 

The inner 
chapel must date 
back to a remote 
period, in spite 
of the ogival 
arches of the two 
little doorways in 
the apses of the 
influence of Arab 
pointed arches of 

Fig. 122. Doorway of the Church at Ktutz. 

narrow side aisles. These betray the direct 

architecture, and are a solecism among the 

which the rest of the edifice is built up. It is disposed in the 

form of a Greek cross ; the dome rises from massive piers. The 

apse on the north contains a chamber in which you are shown 

I The measurements of the interior .nre as follows : — JVonaos, length 36 feet 2 inches 
by 34 feet 4 inches. Church pro]ier, length to head of apse, 40 feet 7 inches (25 feet 
ID inches to the dais supporting the altar, and 14 feet 9 inches from the dais to the wall 
of the apse) ; breadth, 24 feet 8 inches. 

Across Lake Van 35 

the grave of John the Baptist, and a girdle which is said to have 
belonged to the Saint. Frescos after the taste of the Persians 
cover the smaller spaces — garlands and wreaths of bright leaves. 
The archways are painted in quiet blues and reds ; pictures of 
saints are suspended from the walls. Elaborate altar-pieces adjoin 
the entrance, one on either side of the door. The iloor is carpeted 
with rugs, and an air of comfort pervades the dimly-lit shrine. 
This twilight serves to soften the gorgeous decorations which the 
wear of time has assisted to subdue. Neither they nor the 
interior which they adorn are of striking merit ; yet you leave 
under the impression of a composite charm. We, as Englishmen, 
were much interested by an old standard clock which, to our 
surprise, bore on its face the name of Isaac Rogers, London. It 
ticked away in the heavy quiet, an object so familiar that our 
guide forgot to point it out.^ 

He was a pleasant individual, quite young, extremely ignorant 
and without ambition to learn. He was called the monk Peter, 
or Petros vardapct. Eight monks were on the foundation of the 
cloister ; of these only four were in residence on the island. We 
found them each in his cell, sharing the group of little buildings 
which cluster at the foot of the church. All appeared to be 
without work or occupation of any kind. They seemed to have 
passed their lives upon the cushions of their couches, looking 
across the tremulous shade of the almond trees to the Italian sea 
and the soaring fabric of Sipan. 

It was half-past twelve when we put off; the wind had 
dropped, and scarcely enabled us to forge ahead. For several 
hours we lay becalmed on the bosom of the lake, here at its 
widest, in full face of the murk)' chain on the horizon, which was 
reflected in hues of burnished steel. Banks of mist shrouded the 
landscape, especialh' in the west, where the mass of Nimrud 
seemed encircled by the sea. A pest of little midges covered 
our clothes and blackened our papers ; then a shower fell, and 
yet another, and the\' disappeared. About four o'clock a nice 
breeze freshened, coming from the shore of low hills upon our 
left. It brought with it rain ; but a little later the sun triumphed, 
and burst the canopy of clouds in the south and west. A double 
rainbow of great brilliancy rose from that near shore, revealing 
the site of a little village. Our head was pointed to the rock of 

' The reader of early travels in the East will be familiar with the figure of the 
European watch and clock maker, to whom he is introduced in some distant city of Asia, 

36 ■ Armenia 

Van, which, at this distance, shows hke an island, even without 
the assistance of mirage. The long barrier of the Kurdish range 
declines in that direction, and gives way to a less steep and less 
gloomy ridge ; but that outline again rises on the further side of 
the city, to culminate in a lofty parapet of saw-shaped edge, 
Varag — such is the name of this mass — commands the bay in 
which Van lies from behind a spacious interval of garden and 
field. In the landscape it strikes the last note of the tumultuous 
theme which is suggested by the mountains in the south — a final 
trumpet blast by which the procession marches onwards to the 
Persian plains. 

In the opposite quarter, across the lake, and against the 
declining slope of Sipan the gardens of Adeljivas might just be 
seen in shades of grey. Those of Artemid were more distinct — 
a stretch of softness and verdure along the summit of a low 
cliff of yellow substance near the foot of the black range. A 
fragment of rock thrown seawards from those mountains was 
identified as the isle of Akhtamar. But the site of Van engrossed 
us, surpassing our expectations, high as these were. The rock, 
which had appeared at a distance to be an island, projected 
almost into the waters from a background of plain and without 
visible connection on any side. Battlements crowned its horizontal 
outline ; while at its foot and along the shore luscious foliage, 
touched by autumn, covered all the inequalities of the ground. 
From rock and garden, and from the vague detail of the middle 
distance the eye was led upwards to the stony slopes of Varag ; 
a bed of cloud lay captive upon them ; but the jagged parapet 
stood out from a clear sk}-. Here and there, stray fragments of 
vapour, flushed by the evening, floated outwards from the dense 
canopy over the mountains in the south. The veiled snowfields 
of the range were revealed in fitful glimpses of yellow, unnatural 
light. . . . We moored our vessel by the side of a cluster of 
similar craft at the so-called harbour, and took the direction in 
which the town was said to lie. It is surrounded by a walled 
enclosure, and nestles at the foot of the rock. Darkness had 
fallen as we passed down its silent streets, made more gloomy by 
the shadows from the cliff The bark of dogs, the sad refrain of 
an Eastern song were the only sounds which broke the stillness 
of the night. Then we entered a broad chaussee which stretches 
inland to the suburb of gardens which usurps the importance of 
the fortified town. There are situated the Consulates of the 

Across Lake Van t^j 

European Powers, and the residences of the principal citizens. 
Poplars of great height rose from the irrigated ground on either 
side of the road. Side lanes led away from this broad avenue 
into the park of trees. After a walk which seemed interminable, 
and which occupied no less than three hours, we arrived at the 
British Consulate at half-past nine o'clock. 



Of the various sites which one might select upon the shores of 
the lake of Van, none would present as great advantages for a 
populous and self-contained settlement as that of the city from 
which it derives its name. The great range along the southern 
coast leaves little respite of even land between the waves and 
the parapet of rock. The opposite margin of the bosom of waters 
is filled with the fabrics of those huge volcanoes, Nimrud and 
Sipan. Sipan, indeed, upon nearer acquaintance, is robbed of 
some of his apparent extension ; and the low outlines on the 
west and east of the dome-shaped mass upon the horizon will be 
recognised to belong to a belt of limestone with intrusive igneous 
rocks which the traveller follows all the wa}' from Akhlat to 
Adeljivas, and upon which the volcano has built itself up. But 
those hills, which from the neighbourhood of Van seem to consti- 
tute the train of Sipan, are at once rugged and approach closely 
to the shore. Arjish alone is backed by a zone of fairly even 
and fertile country ; while, as regards the coast between Van and 
the mouth of the LJcndimahi Chai, I do not know that it has ever 
harboured a considerable city. On the other hand, the alluvial plain 
which is confined by Mount Varag upon the east, and which may 
be said to extend from a headland near the village of Kalajik on 
the north to the high ground just north of Artemid upon the 
south, affords a considerable area of rich soil, capable under 
irrigation of producing the choicest fruits of the earth. 

Of the beauty of the site it would not be possible to speak 
too highly ; Init I tremble to provoke in my English reader a 
nausea of descriptive writing. The Armenians have a pro\-erb 
which is often quoted : J^(t// in this n'orld and panxdisc in the next. 
The comparison might be justified under happier human circum- 

Va7i 39 

stances, the perversity of man having converted this heaven into 
a little hell. Its aptness may be recognised during the course 
of a walk in the neighbourhood, or from the standpoint of the 
rock which supports the citadel. In the north across the waters 
is outspread an Italian landscape — a Vesuvius or an Etna, with 
their sinuous surroundings, on an Asiatic scale. Nearer at hand 
and fully exposed, the long barrier of the Kurdish mountains 
recalls the wildest scenery of the Norwegian coast. From the 
city herself as from the extremities of the wide basin, the short, 
sharp ridge of Varag is seen with pleasure to the eye, lifted 
some 4500 feet above the waters, and, at evening, reflecting the 
sunset in the most varied hues. The lake is not sufficiently large 
to separate these various objects by distances which preclude 
under ordinary conditions the simultaneous enjoyment of the 
beauty of all from a single shore. And it is large enough to 
spread at their feet with all the qualities of the ocean — the depth 
and vastness and changing surface of the high seas. 

I. — The Lake of Van 

It is about six times as large as the lake of Gene^•a, 
having an area of some 1300 square miles. Its western shore is 
erroneously laid down in existing maps ; and this necessitated 
a particular survey of that region during my second journe}^ the 
result of which has been to invest the lake with a shape of 
greater symmetry — a central body with two arms, one on the 
north-east, the other on the south-west. The remainder of the 
outline I have borrowed from the best available sources, adapting 
them to the position of Van, of which the latitude and longitude 
are approximately known, and correcting them as well as possible 
by sketches, and readings to the principal points from the summit 
of Sipan. If my reader will turn to the map which accompanies 
this work he will, I think, be able to transfer, with the aid of a 
^Q\\ illustrations, the features which are there conventionally de- 
lineated into a picture visible by the mind's eye. 

How strange it seems that at the end of the nineteenth 
century one should be engaged in exploring and mapping this 
fine country, one of the fairest and most favoured of the Old 
World ! How should we be able to explain, still less to justify, 
the circumstance to some visitor from another planet? It lies 
about in the centre of the land area of our hemisphere ; the 

40 Armenia 

climate is bracing, water is abundant, the sun is warm. Yet it 
is so little known to the more civilised peoples that their 
travellers journey thither with the aid of a compass through 
districts which are now deserts, but which are well capable of 
supporting the races that are highest in the human scale. The 
case would appear to have been much the same during the period 
of the expansion of Greek culture and of the later and beneficent 
sway of Rome. The knowledge displayed of these regions by 
representative writers like Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy is, to say 
the best of it, vague and fabulous. Yet Strabo, the contemporary 
of Augustus, w^s a native of Asia Minor ; the countrymen of 
Pliny had carried the Roman eagles to the Araxes ; and Ptolemy 
wrote during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian whose statue, 
commemorating his journey through the interior, looked out upon 
the waves above Trebizond. The first of these authorities 
plainl}' confuses the position of Lake Urmi with that of Lake 
Van ; but he is well acquainted with the essential characteristics 
of both sheets of water, different and strongly marked as these 
are. The former is described as largest in area, and second in 
size to the sea of Azof; its name is interpreted to signify the 
deep blue (kvuv!} kp^i-jvevOelcra). The water is salt ; and there 
arc salt works in the neighbourhood.^ The peculiar properties 
which actually distinguish the latter exactl}' tally with the 
language of Strabo, who, speaking next of the lake Arsene or 
Thopitis, says that it is charged with nitre, which word would seem 
with him to signify carbonate of soda," and that it washes clothes 
as though thc}' had been scoured. He adds that the water is 
undrinkable and supports onh' one kind of nsh. And he pro- 
ceeds to relate a circumstance which is repeated and embroidered 
by Pliny, and which is so curious that I cannot refrain from extract- 
ing the whole passage from the work of the last-named writer.^ 

' Strabo, xi. 529. This account exactly corresponds to the phenomena presented 
by Lake Urmi, and it is impossible to apply it to Lake Van as Kilter (Erdkiiitde, ix. p. 
784) has done. It is quite true that Strabo has already six chapters back mentioned 
and described the former under the name of Spauta, which is quite likely a misprint for 
Kapauta, a corruption of the Armenian name Kapf)tan, which, in turn, is evidently 
derived from the .Armenian word kapoyt, signifying blue (Saint Martin, Mt'»toires, i. ]i. 59). 
In that passage he rightly places the lake in the Atropatian Media ; while in chapter 
529 he speaks of it under a difterent name, that of Mantiane, and says that it extends 
as far as .\tropatia. But that the .MaiUiane, as described by Strabo, is not our Lake 
Wan, and that the latter is in many respects most faithfully portrayed by him under the 
name Thopitis in sentences immediately following, there can, I think, be little doubt. 

- Liddell and Scott, stih voce virpov. 

' I'liny, Hisf. Natiiralis, vi. ch. 31, translated by Philemon Holland, London, 1635. 
I have myself added the sentences in brackets. 

Van 4 1 

'■'■ Meet also and convenient it is to say somewhat of the river Ti}:;ris. 
It begins in the land of Armenia the greater, issuing out of a great 
source ; and evident to be seen in the very plaine (fonte conspicuo in planitie). 
The place beareth the name of Elongosine (or Elegosine, Elosine, Elegos). 
The river it selfe so long as it runs slow and softly is named Diglito ; but 
when it begins once to carry a more forcible streame it is called Tigris, for 
the swiftnesse thereof ; which iti the Median language betokens a shaft 
f^sagittaj. // runs into the lake Arethusa, ~vhich beareth up aflote all that 
is cast into it, suffering nothing to sinke ; and the vapors that arise out of it 
carry the sent of nitre. In this lake there is but one kind of fish, and that 
entreth not into the chanell of Tigris as it passeth through, nor more than 
any fishes stvim out of Tigris into the water of the lake. In his course and 
colour both he is unlike, and as he goes may be discerned from the other : and 
being once past the lake, and incountreth the great mountain Taurus, he 
loseth himself in a certain cave or hole in the ground, and so runs under the 
hill, untill on the other side thereof he breaketh forth again, and appeares in 
his likenesse, in a place called Zoroanda. That it is the same river it is 
evident by this, that he carrieth through with him, and showeth in Zoroanda, 
whatsoever was cast into him before he hid himselfe in the cave aforesaid. 
After this second spring and rising of his he enters into another lake, and 
runneth through it liketvise, named Ihospites ; and once again takes his way 
under the earth through certain blind gutters, and 25 7niles beyond he 
putteth forth his head about NymphcEum. Claudius CcBsar reporteth, that 
in the country Arrhene, the river Tigris runs so 7ieere the river Arsania, 
that 7i'hen they both swell, and their ivaters are out, they joyne both their 
streams together, yet so, as the water is not mingled : for Arsanias being 
the lighter of the ttvain, swimmeth and floteth over the other for the space 
wel-neere of ^ miles : but soon after they part asunder, and Arsania turneth 
his course toivard the river Euphrates, into which he entreth." 

We need not discuss in this place the phenomenon last 
mentioned, except to remark that the story may well have been 
suggested by the propinquity of the sources of the Diarbekr branch 
of the Tigris to the stream of the Murad, the ancient Arsanias. 
The country of Arrhene is probably the same as that better known 
as Arzanene, which is comprised within the present vilayet of 
Diarbekr. Our present interest in the passage lies in the state- 
ments relative to the Tigris, that it flows through two lakes called 
Arethusa and Thospites. Strabo, in speaking of the same pheno- 
menon, attributes it to one lake only, namely that of Arsene 
or Thopitis. The river, according to him, rises in the Niphates 
mountains, by which name he seems to be referring to the 
Nepat of Armenian writers, the modern Ala Dagh. After 
flowing through Lake Thopitis it disappears in a chasm at the 
corner of the lake. It comes to light again in the province of 

42 Armenia 

Chalonitis ; and, although later on he attributes that province to 
the Zagros, I cannot help thinking that the sense which his 
informants wished to convey was that it came to light in the 
mountains of the peripheral region. The mention of two lakes 
by Pliny need not perplex us over-much ; for his Arethusa no 
doubt denotes the Arjish arm of Lake Van, and his Thospites 
the principal body of water with the city of Van, the Dhuspas of 
the cuneiform inscriptions, upon its eastern shore. Ptolemy, on 
the other hand, entangles the subject still further by separating 
the lakes of Areesa — no doubt the Arethusa of Pliny — and 
Thospitis by four degrees of longitude. This geographer does 
not give us any indications as to the properties of the lake waters ; 
but he tells us that the Tigris is partly a river of Armenia and 
that its sources constitute Lake Thospitis. The position which 
he assigns to the town of Artemita — ^which is probably the 
modern Artemid — is further evidence that in speaking of Lake 
Areesa or Arsissa he was in fact referring to Lake Van. One 
cannot help concluding that his Thospitis with the town of 
Thospia was actually the self-same sheet of water. The dis- 
crepancy in longitude finds a parallel in the degrees assigned by 
this writer to Lakes Sevan and Urmi. They are really upon the 
same degree. Yet Ptolemy, under the names of Lychnitis and 
Martianes, assigns to them the difference of over four degrees. 

I think it is plain that the names Thopitis, Thospites, xA.rsene, 
Arethusa, and xAreesa or Arsissa, are all applied to the great 
basin with the two immemorial cities, Dhuspas — the modern Van 
— and xArjish. Moreover, I should be surprised to learn that any 
lake exhibiting the same properties had been discovered in the 
belt of mountains south of Lake Van in which the present sources 
of the Tigris are found. Put together, the scraps of information 
retailed by the classical geographers go to show that in their days 
there existed a widely spread belief that the Tigris drew its 
waters from the tableland of Armenia, flowed through a lake 
strongly impregnated with soda, and disappeared in a chasm at 
its further and narrow extremity {\xv^o^) to come to light again 
on the further side of the barrier of Taurus or, in other words, of 
the parapet of mountains which arc aligned upon the south coast 
of Lake Van. The mention of two lakes by Pliny and Ptolemy 
may point to a former isolation of the Arjish arm. I have taken 
the trouble to set forth these accounts — though not with all the 
care that I should desire — because they have an important 

Van 43 

bearing upon the subject to which I now proceed — a brief notice 
of some of the peculiarities which distinguish Lake Van. 

It may not be out of place to cast one's look a little further 
so as to include the other great lakes. That of Urmi in the 
Persian frontier province of Azerbaijan has an area of 1823 
square miles. Its extreme length from north to south is about 
80 miles, and its breadth from east to west 24 miles. It 
resembles its neighbour on the west in constituting an isolated 
basin, many rivers flowing in but none out. On the other hand 
its insignificant depth invests it with the character of a lagoon ; 
the average being probably not more than 20 feet and the 
maximum some 45 or 50 feet. Evaporation must be very rapid 
over such a sheet of water ; and it is at once situated further 
south than the lake of Van and at a level which is lower by 
1500 feet (Lake Urmi, 4100 feet; Lake Van, 5637 feet). 
Abnormal salinity is the special feature about the waters of Lake 
Urmi ; and extensive beds of rock salt are found in their vicinity. 
It has been estimated that they are six times as salt as the 
ocean, though only three-fifths as heavily charged with saline 
matter as the waters of the Dead Sea. Viewed from a height 
they are coloured a deep azure, a characteristic usual with salt 
lakes. If they are allowed to dry upon the body of the bather 
it is as though he had been covered with flour, and neither fish 
nor molluscs can live within them. The shores of the lake, 
which are in general low, are impregnated with salt ; and the 
margin, upon which are found fragments of fossil coral and shell, 
shines like a white ribbon by the side of the blue. Three boats 
of not more than 20 tons burden compose the entire fleet of this 
inland sea.^ 

Very different is the description which may be given of Lake 
Gokcheh (the blue) or Sevan- — the Lychnitis of Ptolemy, the 
lake of Gegham or of Geghark in Armenian literature. It is 
situated at a level of 6340 feet, and is therefore the most 
elevated, if also the smallest, of the three great sheets of water 
upon the surface of the tableland. It lies at a distance of about 
130 miles north of the northern shore of Lake Urmi, and close to 

^ I have derived these particulars not from personal observation, but for the greater 
part from the notices of Abich ( Vergkichende chemische Untcrsuchungen der IVasser des 
Caspischen Meeres, Ui'mia itnd Van-See's, Mem. Acad. Sc. St. Petersburg, 1859, Series 6 
math, et phys. vol. vii. pp. 22 seq.) ; Loftus {Quarterly Journal Geological Soc. London, 
1855, vol. xi. pp. 306 seq.); and Mr. R. T. GUnther [Geographical Journal, November 
1S99, and Proceedings of the Koyal Society, October 1899). 

44 Armenia 

the barrier of the mountains of the northern peripheral region. 
Its waters are sweet and support delicious salmon trout ; they 
are said to attain a depth of 360 feet, or, according to another 
observer, of 425 feet.^ Gokcheh is in fact essentially an Alpine 
lake, lying restfully in the lap of a circle of mountains of which 
those on the southern shore are of eruptive volcanic origin. It 
has an outlet on the west to the river Zanga, and a portion of 
its waters find their way through this channel to the Araxes. 
The balance of opinion inclines to the view that this connection 
is of artificial origin ; and when the lake is low, especially in 
autumn, the stream will be almost dry." 

But both Urmi and Gokcheh sink into obscurity when compared 
to the lake of Van. Almost as large as the one and perhaps 
deeper than the other, it at once combines some of the character- 
istics of either basin and adds others essentially its own. Like 
Urmi its waters are heavily charged, though with soda rather 
than with salt. Its great elevation and its juxtaposition to the 
mountains of the peripheral region recall corresponding features 
in Gokcheh. But like a book which may borrow much from the 
work of other writers, and yet produce an effect on the reader 
which is wholly new, so one opens the landscape of Lake Van 
with that particular emotion which only very beautiful and 
original objects can produce. With the wondrous pieces of 
natural architecture about the margins of this inland sea my 
reader will become perfectly familiar as this work proceeds. My 
present object is to fly very low to the ground, and to notice 
such facts as appeal to the mind rather than to the eye. The 
extreme length of the lake would seem to measure 78 miles, 
and the breadth from north to south of the principal body about 
32 miles. To all appearance it is very deep except at the 
north-east and south-west extremities ; but no systematic sound- 
ings have been taken to my knowledge, though it would be 
extremely interesting to know whether indications can be traced 
of the Arjish arm having once composed a separate unit. The 
principal streams enter the easterly portion of the basin ; they 
are the Erishat or Irshat near Akantz, the Bendimahi Chai, the 
Marmed and the Khoshab. Several little rivers are collected in 
the delta below the old Akhlat, and quite a nice stream cascades 

1 Brandt and Wagner quoted by Sieger {Die Schwankiiiigen dcr hochannenischen 
Seen, Vienna, 1888, p. 22). 

2 Dr. W. Belck in Globus, 1894, vol. Ixv. p. 302 ; A. Owerin in Pelermann's 
Mittheiliingcii , 1858, p. 471 ; Professor Hughes in Nat tire, l'"ebruary 1898. 



into the lake at the neighbouring village of Karmuch, which 
probably collects a portion of the drainage of the plain between 
Nimrud and Lake Nazik. No issue of the sea has yet been 
discovered. None of the copious springs which feed the Tigris 
on the southern side of the parapet of mountain, quite close to 
the flood washing its northern slopes, has yet been shown to 
possess any of the strongly marked qualities characteristic of 
the waters of Lake Van. One of the most remarkable of these 
springs is situated near the south-west corner of the lake, at Sach 
in the Giizel Dere or beauteous valley— a valley with a specially 
appropriate name.^ It has been examined by Major Maunsell, 
who describes it as issuing from the base of a cliff and immedi- 
ately constituting a stream 50 yards wide and 18 inches deep. 
It is quite possible that this source of the Tigris may have given 
colour to the belief of the ancients that the river flowed through 
the lake and found an exit at its further end by an underground 
channel. Another scarcely less interesting fountain in the neigh- 
bourhood is that of Norshen at the head of the plain of Mush. 
It rises in a circular pool with a diameter of 105 feet, from 
which it wells over into a stream which runs to the Euphrates. 
The natives hold that it is in connection with the lake in the 
crater of Nimrud, and relate how a shepherd, whose staff, weighted 
with a small parcel of coin, had sunk below the surface of that 
deep mere, had one day been astonished to see the lost object 
eddying in the current of the pool of Norshen. Careful scrutiny 
of the spring during my second journey established the conviction 
that it affords no outlet to Lake Van. Moreover, its position and 
the delicious flavour of its water point to its being derived from 
the limestones of the range on the south of the plain. 

Analysis of the waters of Lake Van has furnished results 
which are described as remarkable by the eminent chemist to 
whom I submitted the sample which I brought home with me, 
and which I obtained by swimming out from the rocky shore at 
Erkizan, some distance east of the abandoned Ottoman fortress 
of Akhlat. The amount of suspended matter has been found to 
be very trifling ; while the proportion of solids in solution, princi- 
pally carbonates of potassium and sodium, chlorides and sulphates, 
is very large indeed. It is estimated that the alkalinity is equal 

1 The traveller journeying along the Giizel Dere on the way from Van to Bitlis 
cannot fail to be impressed by the insignificance of the water-parting between the small 
stream, called Sapor Su, tributary to Lake Van, and the brooks which find their way 
to the Tigris. 

46 Armenia 

to rather more than 3-j; ounces of ordinary soda crystal dissolved 
in a gallon of water. The presence of a little silica accompanies 
the alkali. The account given by Strabo of the cleansing 
properties of the lake is thus confirmed in a striking manner. 
Indeed, the bather issues from his swim as though his limbs 
had been rubbed with soap — but with a soap of extremely 
agreeable quality, leaving a velvety feeling upon the skin. The 
great buoyancy of the waves enhances the pleasure of such 
exercise, and they are at once pellucid and sparkling under the 
ruffle of the breeze. On the other hand they are most un- 
pleasant to the taste. The colour of the sheet of water cannot 
be given in a single word ; and indeed it varies with extraordinary 
range of scale. A cobalt of great brilliancy is perhaps the most 
normal hue ; but a certain milky paleness is seldom quite absent, 
becoming invested at morning and evening with an infinite 
number of delicate tints.^ 

Only one kind of fish is found in Lake Van, resembling a 
large bleak. But, often as I have bathed, I have never seen one 
gliding through the water, or surprised a shoal while following 
the shore. It is possible that they adhere to the estuaries of the 
rivers, up which they make their way in large numbers to spawn 
during the season of spring freshets. It is then that they are 
caught in great quantities by means of barriers placed at the 
mouth of the streams with baskets resting against one side. 
The fish leap the barrier and fall into the baskets, after which 
they are dried and salted. Seagulls and cormorants haunt the 
lake, but are not very numerous ; nor have I observed a pelican, 
although these birds are conspicuous on the adjacent lake of 
Nazik together with many varieties of smaller waterfowl. The 
main body of the sea never freezes over in winter, rigorous as 
that season is at this high altitude. 

A feature which has occupied considerable attention, especi- 
ally among German writers, is the fluctuation in level of these 

' To llie analysis of my sample by Mr. William Thorp I append that of Dr. Serda 
of .Strasbourg from one brought by M. Mliller-.Simonis from Van and published on 
p. 258 o{ Dit Caiicase an Golfe Persique, Paris, 1892. I have also thought it well to 
include the analysis published by Mr. Criinther of the water of Lake Urmi. These will 
be found in the appendix to this volume. 

Small lakes impregnated with soda have lieen found along the south-east foot of the 
Ararat fabric on the right bank of the Araxes. From sodas so derived an excellent soap 
used to be made in Alexandropol, and, for all I know, may be still manufactured there. 
The same practice is related of the inhabitants of \'an. See Aliich's article [op. cit. 
pp. 32 seq.), and Loftus {op. cit. p. 320). 

Van 47 

Armenian lakes. There can be no doubt that they are all three 
subject to more or less pronounced periodical changes ; and 
various reasons have been assigned. Do these fluctuations 
arise from the opening or closing of subterraneous issues or from 
movements of the earth's crust ? Or may they be accounted for 
by ordinary climatic conditions, such as the fall of snow and 
rain and the consequent variation in the volume of the rivers 
and in the activity of springs ? The economic state of the 
country and the extent of irrigated land within the watershed has 
been recognised as a factor, but a factor of insufficient importance 
to produce the recorded results during the period reviewed. In 
the case of Lake Van we are precluded from attributing these 
fluctuations to the agency of subterraneous issues. Not a single 
one of such has yet been discovered. Nor am I aware that any 
such outlets to Gokcheh or Urmi have been noted by any 
traveller. The evidence which may be collected in the case of 
all goes to show that the islands are as much affected as the 
adjacent shores. It may therefore seem unlikely that the changes 
arise from movements at the bottom of the lake ; for these would 
lift or depress the islands to some extent.^ If I venture to join 
in the discussion I would submit the suggestion that we should for 
convenience group the phenomena under two heads. Temporary 
variations should be distinguished from any differences of a more 
permanent nature the existence of which it may be possible to 

It cannot be expected that we should be able to collect 
evidence of a satisfactory nature in respect of the changes which 
would fall within the first category. We have to rely upon the 
statements and even upon the inferences which may be derived 
from the writings of travellers. Even if we could rest contented 
with the accuracy and sufficiency of such testimony in the case 
of lakes which are so much affected by the melting of the winter 
snows, it would not establish, except in a very approximate 

1 It must, however, be noted that certainly in the case of Lake \"an no islands are 
found far from the shore. The last rise in level took place about 1895 ; and in that 
year there was an earthquake at Adeljivas. The inhabitants of Uran Gazi on the slopes 
of Sipan assured us that this earthquake produced a rise in level of the Jil Gol, adjacent 
to the village. 

2 The subject is fully discussed by Abich (op. cit.) and by Dr. Sieger (^Di'e Schwan- 
kungen der hocharmeuischen Seen seit 1800, Vienna, 1888, and Globus, 1894, vol. 
Ixv. pp. 73-75). Notable contributions have been made by Loftus {op. cit.), by Strecker 
(Zeitsckrift der Gesell. fiir Erdkiinde, Berlin, 1 869, pp. 549 seq. ) and by Dr. Belck 
(Globus, vol. Ixiv. pp. 157 seq. and vol. Ixv. pp. 301 seq.; Zeitsckrift fiir Ethiwlogie, 
Berlin, 1898, p. 414). 

48 Armenia 

manner, the beginnings and ends of the successive phases. Still, 
the subject is so interesting that it is worth while to collate the 
observations of which record may be found. In the subjoined 
table I have endeavoured to perform this task ; and it has 
already been undertaken with great diligence by Dr. Sieger. It 
will be seen that a certain correspondence may occasionally be 
traced in the periodical fluctuations which have affected the three 
sheets of water.^ Perhaps the most remarkable evidence in this 
sense is that which is furnished by the almost simultaneous observa- 
tions for I 898. Messrs. Belck and Lehmann for Lake Gokcheh, 
Mr. Gijnther for Lake Urmi, and my companion, Mr. F. Oswald, 
and myself for Lake Van, all bear witness to a rise in quite 
recent years. Our own investigations were made during the 
month of July of that year, and were confined to the westerly 
inlets of the lake. A prominent feature about these inlets was 
the tendency of the streams to form shallow lagoons behind a 
narrow barrier of alluvial sand. On the margin or even in the 
bed of such lagoons one might often see a group of willows. 
Some had been immersed a foot or two by the rise in the waters ; 
and, while their neighbours on dry land were green and thriving, 
these were quite dead. The most notable example was observed 
by Oswald within the little broken-down crater on the southern 
shore opposite Akhlat. It receives the lake within its enfolding 
arms. • We have called it Sheikh Ora after a little village of 
that name which was discovered in its south-east corner. Oswald 
sailed across to examine this interesting spot while I was busily 
engaged at Akhlat. Between the village and the water he came 
across a small grove of willows upon which the lake had gained. 
Those above the water line were evidently flourishing ; but those 
which stood in the lake had been killed and their bark withered, 
so that many of the stems were quite gaunt and bare. The 
average diameter of the trunks of the dead and the living was not 
appreciably different. It was therefore not a question of an 
advance of the lake dating back very many years. On the other 
hand there had been time for the chemical properties of the 
water to exercise their destructive effect. 

The same phenomenon of a rise in level was apparent on the 

^ It will, however, be observed that there is a discrepancy between the condition of 
Lake Gokcheh and that of Lake Van during the seventies and eighties. The testimony 
of General Schindler and of Dr. Rodler is in favour of the view that Lake Urmi was 
in agreement with Lake \'an during the same period (Sieger, Die Schwaiikiingeu, etc., 
p. 18). 



Lake Van. 

Lake Urini. 

Lake Gokcheh. 



c. 1875 

Jaubert attests a gradual riSO 
in the waters, threatening 
Arjish and the suburbs of 
Van {l^'oyage en Arinenie, 
etc., p. 139). 

Brant attests a relapse which, 
according to the natives, has 
effected a gain of one mile 
in ten years to the plain on 
which Arjish stands (^Journal 
R.G.S. 1840, X. p. 403). 

Loftus records a rise on native 
authority, commencing dur- 
ing the winter. In twelve 
months, viz., by the winter 
of 1839, the lake is said to 
have risen nearly 6 feet. In 
the next two years, viz., by 
1841, it is said to have risen 
altogether 10 to 12 feet, 
necessitating the evacuation 
of Arjish by the inhabitants, 
the place becoming an island 
{Quarterly Journal Geol. 
Soc. 1855, p. 318). 

Hommaire de Hell attests a 
relapse ( / 'oyagc e>i Tiirquie, 
etc., quoted by Sieger, 
Sch'vankungeii , p. 6). 

Layard attests a rise "during 
the last few years." Many 
villages on the margin are 
partly submerged. Iskele, 
the port of Van, is still in- 
habited ; but the greater part 
of the village is under water 
(Nineiie/i anil Babylon, p. 
408). [Layard was perhaps 
only witnessing the effects of 
the rise which commenced 

Loftus attests a considerable 
relapse during recent years, 
said by the natives to have 
commenced in 1850. Arjish 
is connected by a passable 
isthmus to the mainland for 
eight months in the year 
{pp. cit. p. 318). 

Strecker records a continuous 
rise during the years pre- 
ceding his writing, as evi- 
denced by Turkish officials 
of his acquaintance {Feter- 
inanns Mitt. 1863, pp. 259 

A maximum at about this 
period may be inferred from 
the accounts given by Bishop 
Poghos of Lim to Dr. Belck 
{Globus, vol. Ixiv. p. 157), 
and by the Rev. Mr. Cole of 
Bitlis to Dr. Butyka {Globus, 
vol. Ixv. p. 73). From this 
period there appears to have 
been a gradual relapse until 
1892, and possibly later. 

Evidence of Oswald and my- 
self infers a rise during the 
last few years. 






Morier attests a relapse. 
The former island of 
Shahi has become joined 
to the mainland by a 
swampy isthmus during 
the last two or three 
years {Second Journey, 
p. 287, seg.). 

Progressive relapse of 
about 10 feet during this 
period attested by Mon- 
teith {J. R.G.S. 1833, 
vol. iii. p. 56). 

Relapse attested by Eraser 
since his last visit in 1822 
{Travels in Kurdistan, 
pp. 47 seq., and Narra- 
tive 0/ Khorassan, p. 

Autumn. Rise attested in 
general terms by Rawlin- 
son {J .R.G.S. 1840, vol. 
X. p. 8) and more pre- 
cisely in 1839, by Per- 
kins on native testimony 
{Residence in Persia, 
Andover, 1843, p. 394). 
Rise has been gradual. 

A relapse is attested by 
Perkins to Loftus {Quar- 
terly Jour7ial Geol. Soc. 
1855, p. 307)- 

Rise may be deduced from 
N. von Seidlitz who 
seems from a distance to 
have seen Shahi, an is- 
land in October {Peter- 
7nanns Milt. 1858, pp. 
228, 230). 

Giinther chronicles a rise 
during the last two years 
on native evidence 
(/ R.G.S. November 
1899, p. 510). 




A low level, perhaps 
a minimum, is at- 
tested by Monteith. 
The canal to the 
Zanga is an insignifi- 
cant runnel, supply- 
ing the river with the 
smallest portion of 
its waters (/.ye. a .S". 
1833, vol. iii. p. 43). 

Lieut. Owerin of the 
topographical staff 
of the Caucasus, 
estimates that nearly 
Jth of the waters of 
the lake find an 
egress through the 
canal to the Zanga 
(Petermann's Mitt. 
1858, p. 471). Other 
evidence goes to 
show that in the 
forties and fifties 
the lake was cer- 
tainly higher than in 
Monteith's time. 

Relapse during this 
period is assigned to 
the lake by Brandt 
{Zoologisclier An- 
zeiger, ii. 523 seq.), 
from whose obser\a- 
tions we may infer 

a minimum about 
1879. Islands had 
formed ; these again 
had become a penin- 
sula. The canal to 
the Zanga seems to 
have been scarcely 
operative at all. 

Relapse has con- 
tinued. Trees plant- 
ed thirty years ago 
on the margin of the 
water at the island 
of Sevan are now 
standing some 50 
feet away, and some 
7 to 10 feet above 
the lake level. (Belck 
in Globus, vol. Ixv. 
p. 302). 

Rise dating back 
several years is at- 
tested by Belck and 
Lehmann. The trees 
alluded to above are 
now. standing in the 
water {Zeitsclirift 
fiir Ethnologie, 1898 
p. 414). 


50 ArTfie^iia 

margin of the large lake in the crater on Nimrud. There the 
brushwood, representing the growth of many years, was submerged ; 
and much had already perished from want of sustenance. All 
the evidence points to the fact that such changes are of a tempor- 
ary nature, and that a period of increase is followed by one of 
decline. The most probable explanation is that they are due to 
climatic conditions, which, it is well known, are variously operative 
over cycles of years. In the absence of any observatory in these 
countries this question is largely a matter of surmise or, at best, 
of inference. The existence of such periodical fluctuations may 
be regarded as having been established ; it remains to consider 
the changes of a more permanent order. 

We must not forget that at a period relatively recent in 
geological time this lake of Van was but a part of an extensive 
inland sea, which appears gradually to have become divided up 
into a series of basins. There can be little doubt that down to 
quite a late geological epoch no such barrier had been constituted 
between this basin and that of the plain of Mush, which immedi- 
ately adjoins it upon the west. The waters have left their mark 
upon the rocky boundaries of that plain ; and to their action I 
do not think we should err in attributing the peculiar appearance 
of the basal slopes of the Kerkiir Dagh, where they face the great 
depression of Mush. To the same period perhaps belong several 
terraces which may be traced upon the bush-grown face of the 
southern coast of Lake Van beween Garzik and the Giizel Dere, 
The highest of these is perhaps the most conspicuous, and may 
be situated at an elevation of a hundred feet or more above the 
present level. Just as the waters of the plain of Mush were 
drained away through a narrow opening in the mountains which 
hem it in upon the west, so it is quite likely that a similar vent 
was offered by the gorge which cuts through the parapet of 
Taurus in the direction of Bitlis, and at the present day affords 
an easy passage to the caravans from the plains of Armenia into 
the defiles of Kurdistan. Loftus chronicles a tradition that the 
waters of Lake Van cover a plain that was once studded with 
villages and gardens. The streams of Arjish and the Bendimahi 
Chai — and presumably the Khoshab — are said to have met and 
formed one large river about midway between Arjish and Bitlis. 
His informants were under the belief that it had issued from the 
plain through a hole in the earth ; and that when this passage 
had been closed up by a sudden convulsion the present lake 

Van 5 1 

formed.^ This story is at least not lacking in verisimilitude, so 
far as the existence of a former river is concerned. This river 
would have probably flowed to the Tigris, of which it would have 
been the principal branch. The cause of its being dammed up 
was perhaps the outpouring of lavas from Nimrud, which have 
formed the plateau between Tadvan and the head of the plain 
of Mush — a plateau which rises to a height of 680 feet above 
the lake, and, extending across from Nimrud to the face of Taurus 
in the south, chokes the entrance to the Bitlis gorge. It is this 
barrier which actually maintains the lake of Van. No eruptions 
on this scale are recorded during the historical period ; and, of 
course, it is not impossible that they were originally submarine. 

These phenomena, which are partly attested by the ancient 
lake terraces and in part suggested by the general structure of 
the country, belong to an epoch which, if quite modern from the 
standpoint of the geologist, probably lies beyond the range of 
the archaeologist as well as of the historian. Much the same 
conditions as at the present day appear to have prevailed during 
the historical period — a vast sheet of water, deep and translucent, 
dammed up by the volcanic barrier at its westerly extremity. I 
think there can be no doubt that the permanent tendency of this 
sheet of water has been to rise in level. Moreover, all the evidence 
is to the effect that this tendency has been operative in the case 
of the other two seas. Dr. Belck has recorded that in the year 
1890 during the month of July he came across a little lake at 
the eastern end of Lake Gokcheh, separated from it by a tongue 
of land scarcely more than 5 5 yards broad, and connected with 
it by a stream descending from the mountains and piercing 
through the isthmus. On the margin of this shallow lagoon, near 
the outflow of the stream, he discovered an ancient Armenian 
graveyard of which the stones were under water. When he 
returned in August of the following year they were only just dry. 
His visit coincided with the latest stage of a period of decline ; 
and it seems certain that since the time when the cemetery was 
constituted the norm about which the fluctuations oscillate had 
risen in a marked degree. The same traveller draws our attention 
to the interesting circumstance that the three last lines of the 
cuneiform inscription of Rusas the First {c. 730-714 B.C.), cut in 
the face of the rock overlooking that same northern lake, have 
been almost completely destroyed by the erosion of the waters, 

1 Loftus, op. cit. p. 319. 

52 Annenia 

although placed just above their level in i 89 1. It seems incredible 
that the Vannic king should have engraved his memorial in a 
situation where it would be exposed to the periodical floods.^ 
As regards Lake Urmi I need only recall the important discovery 
of Mr. Glinther in 1898. In the islands of that sea he found 
many species of living animals which could not have crossed the 
stretch of salt water, amounting to a distance of some 10 miles, 
that at present separates their homes from the shore. In his 
opinion the zoology affords conclusive testimony of these islands 
having been joined to the mainland at no very distant date. 
Upon one of them he found the skeleton of a wild sheep.'^ The 
evidence which may be collected upon the shores of Lake Van all 
points in the same direction of a progressive upward tendency. 

Strecker has thrown out the suggestion that this process may 
be accountable for the junction of the Arjish arm to the main 
body ; and that we may therefore attach some credence to the 
statements of Pliny that in his time there were two lakes.^ How- 
ever this may be, we are not dependent upon such hypotheses, 
or upon the stories current of submerged causeways or bridges. 
The three old fortresses of Akhlat, Adeljivas and Arjish all bear 
testimony to a considerable rise in the level of the lake since the 
days when they were built. The walls of the first two on the 
side of the water have either fallen in or are being slowly under- 
mined. Arjish has been permanently abandoned by its inhabit- 
ants. Immemorial villages, like that of Kizvag between Akhlat 
and Tadvan, are being menaced by the latest periodical increase, 
which seems to have commenced about 1895. Nature herself 
speaks eloquently in the same sense. An ancient walnut-tree 
which stands on the rocky bank of the lake in the gardens of 
Erkizan, a quarter of Akhlat, had already been deprived of a 
great portion of its foothold when we encamped beneath its boughs 
in 1898. In the Sheikh Ora crater a giant mulberry, which may 
have been some 500 years old, was standing with half its roots 
in the water and was already doomed. The most obvious ex- 
planation of this gradual rise in the norm of the lake level is 
furnished by a cause, which must be constantly operative, namely 
the increase of sediment deposited upon the bottom. But 
whether this factor by itself be sufficient to have produced such 

1 Globus, 1894, vol. Ixv. pp. 301 and 303. 

2 Geographical Journal, November 1899, j). 513. 

3 Zeits. Gescll.f. I'.rdkuudc, Berlin, 1869, vol. iv. ji. 550. 



P'an 53 

important changes is a question upon which I am not qualified 
to pronounce an opinion/ 

II. — The Ancient Empire of Van 

Deep in the curve of the bay, which with minor indentations 
extends from the promontory and island of Ktutz to Artemid, 
lies the isolated rock with the mediaeval city at its southern 
foot and the long line of gardens stretching eastwards across 
the plain towards the slopes of Mount Varag. These various 
features are disclosed or suggested in my illustration (Fig. 123), 
which was taken from those distant slopes. But before I invite 
my reader to explore the ancient township, something must be 
said upon a topic which here fascinates the traveller's interest 
equally with the characteristics of the strange lake beside which 
he sojourns. I have already on several occasions remarked upon 
the insignificance of the human element in these Armenian land- 
scapes. At Van for the first time we become sensible of a 
different impression, derived, not indeed from the peoples who 
now inhabit the country, but from the monuments of a remote 
civilisation which abound in the neighbourhood, and of which 
the spirit is wafted towards us across the ages. Here the massive 
substructures of an aqueduct, there the Cyclopean masonry of 
the fragment of a wall tell the tale of man's mastery over Nature, 
and insensibly conjure the vision of the plains crossed by great 
roads, the rivers spanned by bridges, the fertilising waters brought 
from afar. Our curiosity is enhanced by the inscriptions in the 
cuneiform character which are deeply incised in the hard stone 
of the various works. But it rises to the degree of fervour when 
we survey the rock of Van, clearly recognised as the very navel 
of this old polity. Its precipitous sides are quite a library of 
inscriptions, carved upon their face in spaces polished by human 
hands. Square-cut shadows disclose the entrances of chambers 
hewn into the calcareous mass at a considerable height above 
the level of the plain. And something in the spirit of the works 
and in the choice of situation at once distinguishes them from 
the rock dwellings, such as those at Vardzia near Akhalkalaki, 
with which we have become familiar during the course of our 
journey south. It is evident that in their original purpose they 

1 Indications of a similar rise in the norm of the level of Lake Goljik in the southern 
peripheral region have been noted by Prof. Josef Wiinsch {Mitth. der K. K. geog. 
Gesellschaft, Vienna, 1885, vol. xxviii. pp. 15-17). 

54 Armenia 

were only a feature of a large design which mocks the scale of 
the existing fortifications. 

By what people were they inscribed, these regular lines of 
elegant characters ; and who were the kings who sojourned 
upon this delightful platform, which seems to have been raised 
by a freak of Nature in the midst of the plain with its westerly 
extremity almost reaching into the lake ? Armenians, Persians, 
Arabs, Seljuks, Tartars, Turkomans, Turks — all have come and 
passed or stayed, and none have been able to return an answer 
to the question invited by the writings on the citadel. They 
have had recourse to the resources of Oriental legend, or have 
been content with the explanation that these inscriptions are 
talismans, sealing treasures long since buried in the heart 
of the rock. The fame of the place is widely spread over 
all the surrounding country, forming as it does the kernel of a 
populous city on the confines of Armenia and Kurdistan. It has 
been described by the national historian of the Armenians in 
terms which in many respects portray the existing features in a 
singularly faithful manner. Moses of Khorene attributes the 
works to an Assyrian queen Semiramis, and relates on the 
authority of Mar Abas Katina and from Chaldaean sources the 
story of her fruitless passion for the reigning king of Armenia, 
Ara, and of the death of that monarch while resisting her endeav- 
ours to obtain his person by force. The queen is said to have 
accompanied her armies to the northern kingdom, and to have 
founded the city as a summer residence for her luxurious court. 
The tale is beset by incidents which reveal its fabulous nature ; 
and the historian informs us that several such legends relating to 
Semiramis were current among his own countrymen.^ At the 
same time he deplores the lack of culture among his ancestors, 
to which he ascribes the absence of native annals.'^ 

It has been reserved for our own age to penetrate the 
mystery, which, indeed, is only now as I write being dispelled. 
Quite early in the nineteenth century, while the future excavators 
of the Assyrian cities were either unborn or were still in their 
nurseries, a young French student, Jean Antoine Saint Martin, 
the son of a tradesman in Paris, was fired by the account of the 
inscriptions at Van contained in the pages of Moses of KJwrene^ 

1 Moses of A'/toi-eite, i. i8. - I/u'd. i. 3. 

^ See the memoir of Saint I\Tartin by Brosset prefixed to vol. xiii. of Lebeau's 
Histoirc dii Bas-Eiiipire, and Saint Martin's article in \\\<t Jour)ial Asialique for 1828. 

Vmi 55 

Mainly through his efforts the French Government- — always 
solicitous of the interests of culture — were induced to despatch 
a mission to Armenia in 1827, engaging the services of a young 
German professor, Friedrich Eduard Schulz. The first report of 
the explorer was published by Saint Martin in 1828.^ By a 
piece of misfortune, happily rare in the annals of travel in these 
countries, Schulz was murdered by the Kurds in 1829. But his 
papers were recovered and brought to Paris, where they seem to 
have awaited in obscurity the awakening of interest in Oriental 
antiquities which was consequent upon the discoveries of Burnouf, 
of Lassen, and of Rawlinson. An instructive memoir, together 
with copies of forty-two inscriptions at Van and in the neighbour- 
hood, appeared under his name in 1 840 in the pages of the 
Journal Asiatique. Schulz's copies have been found to be in the 
main remarkably accurate, although he had not the smallest 
knowledge of the language in which they were composed. Little 
by little the contents of the tablets in a similar character which 
are spread over Persia yielded up the secrets which they had so 
long maintained ; and the excavations in Mesopotamia furnished 
Orientalists with the necessary material to enable them to under- 
stand the languages of the cuneiform inscriptions furnished in 
such profusion by the buried cities of the plains. But with the 
exception of the great tablet in three columns and as many 
tongues which is such a conspicuous object on the southern face 
of the rock of Van (Schulz, Nos. IX., X., and XL), and an inscrip- 
tion on a stone in the remains of a wall at its base (Schulz, No. L), 
none of the Vannic records agreed with the syllabaries already 
discovered, or could be translated into any known language. 
Schulz had indeed perceived that the first of these monuments 
contained the names and titles of Xerxes, son of Darius ; and 
when Layard visited Van and took new copies in 1850, it had 
come to be recognised that this tablet of Xerxes resembled other 
Achaemenian inscriptions, and was very nearly word for word 
the same as those of this Persian monarch at Hamadan and 
Persepolis.^ The characters upon the stone in the wall were 
exactly the same as those of Assyrian writings ; and, although 
the inscription had not been satisfactorily deciphered when 
Layard's book was published, that investigator was able to dis- 
cern that the language also was x^ssyrian, while that of all the 

^ Journal Asiatique, Paris, 1828, vol. ii. series 2, pp. 160-188. 
2 Layard, Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, London, 1853, p. 394. 

56 Armenia 

remainder, in spite of the similarity in character, was pecuHar to 
Van, and baffled decipherment. In the meanwhile other equally 
perplexing inscriptions had been discovered in districts of the 
tableland remote from the city of Semiramis ; and a partially 
successful endeavour had been made by the English Orientalist 
Hincks to read the mysterious texts.^ But the problem remained 
unsolved for very many years, while the stock of inscriptions 
collected by travellers in various parts of Armenia was continually 
increasing. A great step forward was made by the discovery by 
M. Stanislas Guyard, announced in 1880,^ that the phrase at the 
conclusion of many of the Vannic texts represented the impreca- 
tory formula found in the same place in their Assyrian and 
Achsemenian counterparts ; and this enabled Professor Sayce of 
Oxford to proceed rapidly with their decipherment, upon which 
he had been engaged for some years.^ Mainly as the result of 
his labours we are now enabled to gather their meaning, and to 
add a new language and a new people to the museum of the 
ancient Oriental world. Since he has written, the number of 
known Vannic texts has been doubled by the German scholars 
and travellers, Professor Lehmann and Dr. Belck. They have 
also, in a series of most instructive articles, called up the vanished 
civilisation from the grave,* 

We now know who built Van and by whom these tablets 
were engraved upon the face of the citadel. As the horizon 
opens with each advance in our acquisition of the vocabulary 
and with each addition to the catalogues of texts, we are intro- 
duced to no obscure dynasty which slept secure behind the 
mountains, but to a splendid monarchy w^hich for at least two 
centuries rivalled the claims of Assyria to the dominion of the 
ancient world. The native designation of the imperial people 
was that of Khaldians or children of Khaldis, just as the Assyrians 
reflect the name of their god, Assur. The constitution of the 

' "On the Inscriptions of Van," Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1848, vol. ix. , 
two papers read by Dr. Hincks on 4th December 1847, and 4th March 1848. 

" JotiDial Asiaticpie, Paris, 1880, vol. xv. series 7, pp. 540-543. 

^ Professor Sayce's papers are contained in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 
vol. xiv. 1882; vol. XX. 1888; vol. XXV. 1893; ^ol- ^^^''- 1894. They should be 
referred to in the first instance by the student who wishes to penetrate further into 
the subject. 

* To the names of Belck, Guyard, Lehmann, and Sayce, should be added that of 
Professor D. H. Miiller of Vienna, the author of several papers on the suVjject, of which 
the most important is entitled " Die Keilinschrift von Aschrut-Darga, entdeckt und 
beschrieben von Professor J. Wtinsch, publicirt und erklart von Dr. D. H. Miiller," 
Vienna, 1886. 

Van 5 7 

State was that of a theocracy in which Khaldis occupied the 
supreme place. The company of the remaining deities were 
spoken of as his ministers, and the whole land appears to have 
borne his name.^ It was the wrath of Khaldis that was invoked 
against whosoever should destroy the tablets ; and with him 
were coupled in a kind of Trinity the god of the air and the 
sun -god. The seat of Khaldis was the city of Dhuspas, the 
modern Van ; and all conquests were made by the king in his 
name. Dhuspas was the capital of the territory of Biaina, from 
which the king derived his title. We can readily trace through 
literature the corruption of the word Biaina into the existing 
form, Van ; it figures in the shape of Buana in the writings of 
Ptolemy and in that of Iban as late as Cedrenus.' In the course 
of time it had come to be applied to the city ; while the name 
of the city was transferred to the province in which it was placed, 
and became the Dosp or Tosp of Armenian writers." The 
contemporaries and rivals of the Vannic monarchs, the rulers of 
Assyria, styled the northern kingdom Urardhu or Urarthu ; and 
this is the same name that appears in the Bible in the familiar form 
of Ararat. They make no mention of the local appellation of 
Biaina ; although it seems possible that the district called Bitanu 
or Bitani in the Assyrian inscriptions may be connected with 
the latter name.'* On the other hand there can be little doubt 
that the Turuspa of the Assyrian annals is the Dhuspas of the 
monuments of Van. 

The Khaldians take their place in this new chapter of history 
at least as early as the latter half of the ninth century before 
Christ. Their language was neither Semitic nor Indo-European ; 

1 So we read in the newly-acquired text of the stele at Topsana (Sidikan), near 
Rowanduz : — " Urzana, son of Shekikajana, fled to Khaldia ; I, Rusas (i.e. Rusas I. 
of Van) marched as far as the mountains of Assyria " (Dr. Belck in Zeitschrift ficr 
Ethnologie, Berlin, 1899, p. 1 16). [The translation of this passage appears, however, 
to have been altered by Messrs. Belck and Lehmann. See Sitzitngsberichte der K. K. 
Fretiss. Akad., Berlin, June 1900. It would appear natural that the Khaldians should 
have called their land after their god, and Dr. Belck [ioc. cit.) appears to entertain no 
doubt upon the point. On the other hand Prof. Sayce informs me that he has never 
found the name Khaldia in the Vannic inscriptions ; and that in Assyrian Khaldia 
signifies the god Khaldis.] 

^ Cedrenus, Hist. ii. 774. 

3 Saint Martin, Mimoires stir V Armenie, vol. i. pp. 13 1 and 138. Cp. Moses of 
Khorene, iii. 35, "inhabiting Van in the province of Dosp" with the title of the king 
in the inscriptions " king of Biaina inhabiting the city of Dhuspas." 

* Professor Sayce makes the suggestion [Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1882, 
vol. xiv. p. 394). The expression Bitani seems to have been loosely used ; but it 
appears to have been applied to the peripheral region south of Lake Van, and it may 
survive in the name of the river Bohtan. 

58 Annenia 

and it is therefore impossible to connect them either with the 
Assyrians, who were Semites, or with the Armenians, who belong 
to the Indo-European family. They ruled over the tableland 
which is now Armenia before the Armenians had appeared upon 
the scene ; and it was the movement of races with which was 
connected the Armenian immigration that seems ultimately to 
have occasioned their dispersal and the overthrow of their power. 
Their dominion appears to have been due in no small degree 
to the happy choice of Van as their capital. Assyrian history 
ranges beyond the probable date of that foundation, to a period 
when Urardhu was perhaps an obscure province in the neighbour- 
hood of the modern Rowanduz in Kurdistan. The Assyrian 
armies in their marches northwards were opposed by a con- 
federacy of petty princes whose country is called Nairi in the 
Assyrian inscriptions. That loose term evidently embraced a 
considerable portion of the Armenian tableland ; for it was in 
the plain of Melazkert that the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser I. 
{c. I 100 B.C.),^ overthrew the united forces of the kings of Nairi 
and erected a memorial tablet which has been preserved to the 
present day.""^ In a restricted sense the name Nairi was applied 
by the Assyrians to the province about the middle and upper 
course of the Great Zab ; and the lakes of Van and Urmi, 
between which that territory was situated, were both known as 
the Upper seas or seas of the land of Nairi, Lake Van being 
sometimes distinguished as the Upper sea of the West, and Lake 
Urmi as the Eastern or even as the Lower sea.'^ The kingdom 
of Urardhu is for the first time mentioned by the Assyrians in the 
reign of Ashur-nasir-pal (885-860 B.C.) ; but it is not before the 
ensuing reign of Shalmaneser II. (860-825 B.C.) that we have 
certain evidence of an Assyrian army marching into Armenia to 
attack the territories not of a league of Nairi princes but of a 
monarch of Urardhu. This prince, of whom no records have 
been discovered in Armenia, is called Arame. His capital, of 

1 Messrs. Belck and Lehmann adopt a later date, viz. c. looo B.C. See Vcrhand- 
hin^eti der Berl. Gesell. fiir Anthropoloi^ie, 1898, p. 569. 

^ Recently discovered by Messrs. Belck and Lehmann ( Vcrhandlungen der Berl. 
Gesell. fiir Anthropologic, 1898, p. 574). 

3 Great confusion has been caused by the f;ict that the Assyrians had no distinctive 
names for the two great lakes. The subject is elucidated by Schrader (Die Navien 
der Mcere in den assyrischeti Inschriftcn, Abh. Berl. Akad. Wiss., 1877, Berlin, 1878, 
pp. 169 seq. ; Zeitschrift fiir Assyriologie, 1886, pp. 81 seq. ; Sitzungsberichte der K. 
Pr. Ak. Wiss. Berlin, 1890, pp. 321 seq.) and by Dr. Belck in Verhandlimgen (tit 
supra), 1894, p. 4S5. 

Van 59 

which the site is at present unknown, but which certainly lay to 
the north of Lake Van, bears the name of Arzasku. Arame was 
signally defeated in 857 or 856 B.C. and abandoned his capital. 
His cities as far as the sources of the Euphrates (Murad ?) were 
taken by Shalmaneser in 845 or 844 B.C. When next we hear 
of a king of Urardhu we are able to recognise in his name the 
earliest of the rulers who appear in the Vannic texts. And this 
monarch, Sarduris the First, the contemporary of the same 
Shalmaneser and his antagonist about 833 B.C., was the founder 
of the fortress of Van. 

No better position for a stronghold against a Power operating 
from the lowlands in the south could have been discovered by 
the builders of an empire on the Armenian plains. In the later 
phases of the history of Armenia the movements of empires and 
peoples have generally proceeded between the east and the west. 
Against such currents the city of Van composes a minor obstacle, 
which they avoid on their more normal and northerly course. 
Always secure with a fleet on the lake and the passes of Mount 
Varag fortified, the true military value of the place only advances 
into first-rate importance when the centres of the hostile forces 
h'e in Mesopotamia. It is screened in that direction by perhaps 
the most impenetrable section of the entire outer or Iranian arc 
of the peripheral mountains which support the tableland.^ More- 
over, the circumstance that the arc has snapped and sent out 
a splinter into the districts on the north, represented by the 
mountains in which the Great Zab has its source, and, further 
north, by the elevated but not impassable waterparting between 
the basin of Lake Van and that of the Araxes, has had the effect 
of concealing Van within the fork of a twofold parapet where it 
reposes with its back against the complex barrier and defies 
attack from the south or south-east. The approach from the 
west along the southern shore of the lake is interrupted by the 
spurs of the great range ; and the Assyrian armies were compelled 
to make the detour by the plain of Melazkert, gaining the plateau 
by one of the passes north of Diarbekr and leaving it upon their 
return home through one of the passages east of Rowanduz where 
the sea of mountains settles down to a regular course. Such an 
immense circuit through a hostile country necessitated resources 
on a vast scale, the existence of which among the Assyrians fills 
the mind with admiration when we contemplate the squalor of the 
1 See Vol. I. Ch. XXI. p. 423. 

6o Armenia 

Oriental empires of the present day. But there can be no doubt 
that all the advantages lay on the side of their northern adver- 
saries, to whom was offered a reasonable chance of annihilating 
their hosts, or, in the event of defeat, the secure alternative of 
shutting themselves up in their capital and there awaiting the 
passing over of the storm. These considerations serve to explain 
the comparative immunity and the rapid development of the 
empire of the successors of Sarduris the First ; at a time, too, 
when Assyria was governed by such warlike monarchs as Shamshi- 
Ramman and Ramman-nirari.^ It was reserved for Tiglath-Pileser 
the Third to beard the lion in his den, and to appear before the 
walls of Van. But even this gigantic figure failed to capture the 
citadel, although he appears to have destroyed the garden town 
at its feet (73 5 B.c.).^ The ultimate effects of his campaign may 
be measured by the fact that the inveterate and sometimes 
successful adversary of Sargon (722-705 B.C.)* was the Vannic 
king Rusas the First. And the northern empire is still a force 
with which the Assyrians have to reckon as late as Ashur-bani- 
pal, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks (668-626 B.C.). 

So far as our knowledge at present extends we may regard 
Sarduris the First as the initiator of a remarkable and far-reaching 
revolution among the peoples of the tableland. The title which 
this monarch bears, that of king of Nairi, as compared with that 
of his successors, kings of Biaina,^ connects him with the earlier 
period of the confederacy of Nairi princes which his dynasty 
under the aegis of the god Khaldis was destined to supplant. 
His son, Ispuinis, and his grandson Menuas at once extended the 
empire and added to the works upon the citadel of Van ; and 
the latter was the principal author of that magnificient canal 
which to the present day under the fanciful name of Shamiram-Su, 
or river of Semiramis, conducts the waters of the Khoshab to the 
suburbs of Van."* Menuas may, therefore, be considered as the 

1 I retain the former spelling of the names of Shamshi-Hadad and Iladad-nirari. 

'■^ An admirable account of the operations of Tiglath-Pileser III. is given by Professor 
Lehmann in the Vcrhandltingen der Bcrl. Gese/I. ft'ii- Aitthropohg^ie, 1S96, pp. 321 seq. 
The scheme of the defences of the Vannic kings is al)ly elucidated by Dr. Belck (Zeit- 
schrift fiir Assyrioloi^ie, 1 894, vol. ix. p. 350, note). 

■* His next successor, Ispuinis, is styled king of Nairi in the Kelishin inscription and 
king of Biaina in that of Ashrut Darga. The succeeding monarchs are kings of Biaina, 
inhabiting the city of Dhuspas (Van). 

^ The best account of the Shamiram-Su or canal of Menuas is that given by Dr. 
Belck [Zcitschrifl fiir Ethnologie, 1892, pp. 137 u'q.). I am under the impression that 
the greater part of the waters of the canal still find their way to the quarter of Van 
called Shamiram. 

Van 6 1 

founder of the garden town ; although at that time it is probable 
that it was situated south of the citadel rather than, as is now 
the case, at some distance to the east.^ During the reign of the 
successor of Menuas, Argistis the First, the Vannic dynasty reached 
the zenith of its power. The kinglets of the valley of the Araxes 
had been dispossessed of their fertile territories, and the great 
city which was afterwards known as Armavir rose from the 
banks of the river in honour of the god of Van. The whole 
extent of the Armenian tableland, such as it is described in the 
present work, with the possible exception of some of the most 
northerly districts, was subject to the rulers residing on the shore 
of the great lake ; and their inscriptions recording conquests are 
found as far east as the province south of Lake Urmi and as far 
west as the Euphrates near Malatia. In that direction they came 
in contact with the Hittites ; while their neighbours on the east 
were none other than the Minni of Scripture, residing in the 
more southerly portion of the Urmi basin and the adjacent 
districts."' The inscriptions on the rock of Van enumerate the 
feats of arms of Argistis the First and Sarduris the Second. 
No records have yet been found further north than Lake Gokcheh, 
Kanlija, near Alexandropol, and Hasan Kala, near Erzerum. 
South of their capital the wild districts of Shatakh, Norduz 
and Mukus have been scoured by travellers in quest of such 
monuments, but hitherto without result. 

With one exception no systematic excavations have yet been 
made upon any of the sites of the cities and strongholds of the 
Vannic kings. When these shall have been undertaken we may 
expect to have drawn an impressive picture of the attainments of 
their people in the arts. The single instance of such efforts — and 
it is not one of which we need be proud '' — has been directed to 

1 Perhaps Dr. Belck, to whose penetration this discovery is due, has a little 
exaggerated his point when he assumes the necessity of an interval of 5 kilometres 
between the former site of the garden town and the rock of Van {Zeitschrift fiir 
Assyriologie, 1894, p. 350). It would seem, rather, that the present quarter of Shamiram 
represents a portion of the old settlement as watered by the Menuas canal. 

^ " Set up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the 
nations against her (sc. Babylon), call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, 
Minni and Ashchenaz . . ." (Jeremiah li. 27). The latter kingdom seems to have 
been situated between the Medes at Hamadan and the Minni. 

3 It must always be remembered that such enterprises are due with us to the energy 
of individuals, rarely encouraged and inspired by our learned societies or assisted 
financially by our Government. I trust, however, that the trustees of the British 
Museum will awake to the fact that excavations of the most comprehensive order can 
now be conducted in Armenia, and that the soil is practically virgin. With the assist- 
ance of the German Embassy at Constantinople Messrs. Belck and Lehmann were 



the low limestone hills which overlook the gardens of Van upon 
the north, and which in their neighbourhood bear the name of 
Toprak Kala. In or about the years 1879 and 1880 operations 
were conducted upon this eminence under the direction, as I have 
gathered, of Captain Clayton, then our consul at Van, and of Mr. 
Hormuzd Rassam.^ Tunnels were opened into that part of the 
site which disclosed the buried remains of an ancient settlement, 
and which was found to have been covered with buildings com- 

Fic. 124. Bronze Shield from Toprak Kala (British Museum). 

posed for the most part of sun-dried bricks. The most important 
result of the enterprise was the laying bare of a temple, still 
containing quite a number of bronze shields with cuneiform 
inscriptions, embossed and chased with ornamental designs and 
the figures of animals. Some of these may be seen in the British 
Museum and others in the Museum at Berlin. They represent 

enabled not only to dig down the hill of Toprak Kala to the solid rock, but also, as 
it would appear, to transport their finds to Berlin. 

1 I cannot discover that any report of these excavations has ever been published. 
But, since writing this chapter, Mr. Hormuzd Rassam's book, Asshitr and the Land of 
Nimrod (New York, 1897), has come into my hands. Mr. Rassam's excavations on 
the hill of Toprak Kala took place in 1880, and some account of them may be found in 
his work, pp. 377-S. 



Fig. 125. 

Bronze Fragment from Toprak Kala 
(British Museum). 

votive offerings on the part of the kings, and were suspended 
upon the walls in the manner shown by an existing bas-relief from 
the palace of Sar- 
gon at Khorsabad. 
Indeed that sculp- 
ture portrays the 
destruction by the 
Assyrians of the 
temple of Khaldis 
in the city of Mut- 
satsir, not very far 
from the present 
town of Rowan- 
duz. The dimen- 
sions of the edifice 
were small, only 
69 feet by 44 
feet, measured at 
the foundations. 
But the walls were built of great blocks of hewn stone, and 
traces of a pavement in a kind of mosaic were found. 
The doors appear to have been of bronze. Outside 
the entrance stood a block of marble which was 
hollowed out and was probably used for sacrifices. At 
the time of my visit little was to be seen of this in- 
teresting structure, for the vandal 
townspeople had removed its 
masonry for building purposes. 
Large faced blocks, taken thence 
and perhaps from other edifices, 
were being rolled down the hillside. 
Only a fraction of the objects found 
was brought away by Messrs. 
Clayton and Rassam ; their work- 
men abstracted the remainder, from 
whose hands some portions have 
filtered into Europe. Toprak Kala 
has quite recently (1898) been the scene of further excava- 
tions, this time on the part of Messrs. Belck and Lehmann. 
They have dug out the substructures of the temple to its 
foundations, cleared away the rubbish which obstructed a long 

Fig. 126. Ornament from 
Toprak Kala (British Museum). 

64 Armenia 

subterraneous passage, debouching into a large chamber which 
may have served as a reservoir, and which was fed by an 
artificial duct deriving its water from a neighbouring spring ; and 
discovered a wine-cellar containing colossal vats, some engraved 
with Vannic writing and one with a Persian cuneiform inscription. 
We also owe to their labours the discovery not far from the 
temple of a space which seems to have been set apart to receive 
the bones of the sacrificial animals and of the human beings, 
captives of war, who had been offered up to the god. They have 
acquired numerous objects, of silver as well as of bronze and iron, 
including weapons and ornaments of various kinds. But the 
principal service which they have rendered is the identification of 
Toprak Kala with the city of Rusas mentioned in the stele near 
Keshish Gol on the slopes of Mount Varag. The inscription on 
that monument, if rightly deciphered, leaves little doubt that King 
Rusas, probably the first of that name, made use of that little lake 
as a partly natural and partly artificial reservoir, and conducted 
its waters along the foot of the Toprak Kala heights to the region 
occupied by the present site of the garden town. The earliest 
ruler mentioned on the shields is Rusas the Second ; while we 
know from their contents that the temple was built or restored 
by Rusas the Third in honour of the god Khaldis. All the 
indications favour the assumption that in consequence of the de- 
predations of Tiglath-Pileser the Third some change was made in 
the disposition of the city. The heights of Toprak Kala seem in 
some degree to have usurped the importance of the citadel, and 
to have been used as defences for the extension of the gardens 
in that direction.' 

The culture of the Vannic kingdom was perhaps borrowed 
from the Assyrians and was certainly derived from the Meso- 
potamian plains. The legend of the passion of the queen of 
Assyria, the consort of the eponymous hero Ninus, for an 
Armenian king who suffers death at her hands and is restored to 
life," contains, so far as it expresses the intercourse of the pre- 

1 For the excavations at Toprak Kala the various writings of Messrs. Belck and 
Lehmann should be c<.m?,w\\.&<S.{l'\'rhaii(ilitugcn dcr Berl. Gescll. fiir Aiithropologie, 1895, 
pp. 612 scq., and 1898, pp. 578 scq. Cp. aXso Zeitsc/irift fiir Assyriologie, 1894, pp. 356 
and 357, note). For the canal and the city of Rusas or New Dhuspas see their remarks 
in Zcitschrift fiir Ethnologic, 1892, pp. 141 scq.; Verh. dcr Berl. Gescll. fiir Antli. 
1892, pp. z^"]"] seq.; 1893, pp. 220, 222, 223; 1898, p. 576; Zcitschrift fiir Assyr. 
1894, pp. 349 scq., and 1 899, p. 320. 

- This is evidently the older form of the legend of .Semiramis in Armenia. The 
Christian liierarchy softened down or obliterated the coming to life again of Ara. 

Van 65 

Armenian peoples, a considerable kernel of truth. xAra and 
Semiramis are none other than Tannmuz and Istar, the Adonis 
and the Aphrodite of the Hellenic myth ; and the advent from 
Assyria of the voluptuous queen in quest of a beautiful but 
reluctant lover may be connected with the introduction from 
abroad of the worship of Istar.^ However this may be, it is 
certain that the earliest inscriptions found at Van are in the 
Assyrian language and character ; while those of the successors 
of Sarduris the First, although composed in the Vannic tongue, 
show but slight deviations from the cuneiform writing as practised 
at Nineveh. There is evidence to show that long after the 
disappearance of the empire of the Khaldians Assyrian influences 
lingered on in the land. I shall have occasion to remark these 
traces in the study of the architecture of the church at Akhtamar ; 
and they compose a factor which should never be quite absent 
from the mind when examining the masterpieces of Armenian 
medieval art. The Vannic dynasty are not the symbol of 
resistance on the part of rude mountaineers to the approach of 
civilisation moving up from its immemorial seats. Far rather do 
they represent the beneficent spread of arts and letters over the 
Armenian plains. The favourite sites of their cities are not the 
recesses of the mountains of the tableland, but some small emi- 
nence from a wide extent of level and fertile ground, as typically 
embodied by the rock of Van and the mound of Armavir. They 
are builders of canals to irrigate the land, of roads to traverse 
even the scarcely passable ridges of the peripheral region, of 
bridges to span the great rivers. If we are still in the dark with 
respect to their ethnic affinities, we need harbour no doubts upon 
the character of the civilisation which they contributed to diffuse. 
Like Adonis they have been carried down the stream of 
time, and over them the eddy has long since closed. The spade 
of the archcEologist reveals the charred remains of their later 
stronghold on the heights of Toprak Kala overlooking the gardens 
of Van. But by what people and at what date were they stricken 
to the ground, and their temples and palaces given to the flames ? 
It is the disadvantage of a histor}^ which is derived from inscrip- 
tions, that issues as well as origins must remain obscure. I am 

1 The name of this goddess only occurs in one inscription, viz. Sayce, No. XXIV. ; 
and it is interesting to observe that this is an inscription of Menuas. The name is 
written ideographically like that of Istar in Assyrian and is rendered Saris by Professor 
Sayce. It is noticeable that Sariduris or Sarduris is the name borne by three of the 
Vannic kings. 


66 Armenia 

not aware that any certain answer can be given to the first part 
of the question, and the date of the supreme catastrophe which 
must have overtaken the city can only be approximately fixed. 
The Vannic records differ in one important respect from those of 
Assyria ; they do not contain a single date. The chronology is 
therefore dependent upon the mention in them of an Assyrian 
monarch or by the Assyrians of a contemporary ruler of Urardhu. 
The latest inscriptions hitherto discovered belonging to the 
northern kingdom are those of Rusas the Third, the son of 
Erimenas, who lived in the time of Ashur-bani-pal. But a 
successor of this prince is mentioned in the Assyrian annals as 
having sent an embassy to Nineveh about 644 B.C. His name 
is the familiar one of Sarduris, and he takes his place as the 
third king of that name. It would appear likely that at the 
time of his embassy he had only just begun to reign ; and we 
should probably be justified in protracting the span covered by 
the Vannic dynasty at least as late as the death of Ashur-bani- 
pal {c. 626 B.C.). This date brings us down to the dawn of 
Oriental history as contained in the works of Greek writers. 
In the pages of Herodotus the Armenian tableland as well as 
Assyria form portions of the great empire of Darius (5 2 1-486 B.C.) 
and Xerxes (485-465 B.C.), which had succeeded the loose rule 
of the Scythians. And this new era has left behind it one of 
the most impressive of the monuments upon the rock of Van. 
On its southern face, in full view of the walled town at its base, 
is inscribed the trilingual record of the Persian conquest. " A 
great god is Onnarjd, who is the greatest of gods, ivJio has created 
this earth, who has created that heaveti, who has created mankind, 
who has given happiness to man, who has made Xerxes king, sole 
king of many kings, sole lord of many. I am Xerxes the great 
king, the king of kings, the king of the provinces with many 
languages, the king of this great earth far and near, son of king 
Darius the AcJicemenian. Says Xerxes the king: Darius the 
king, my father, did matiy ivorks through the protection of Ormazd, 
and on this hill he commanded to make his tablet and an image ; 
yet an inscription he did tiot make. Afterzvards I ordered this 
inscription to be written. May Ormazd, along zvith all the gods, 
protect me and my kingdom and my zvork} 

1 The Ciiiuifonn hiscriplions of I 'an. Journal of Royal Asialic Soticty, 1 882, vol. xi\-. 
p. 678. The languages arc Babylonian, Persian and " I'rotomedic," placed in parallel 

Van 67 

Years before this noble pronouncement was engraved in its 
imperishable arrowheads the empire of Assyria had come to an 
end. Nineveh was laid desolate in 606 B.C. by her Babylonian 
subjects assisted by the hordes of the Scythian king.^ Within a 
very brief period of the history of these countries ethnic changes 
on a vast scale had taken place. New nations had appeared 
upon the scene. The Cimmerian nomads, followed closely by 
the wild tribes of Scythia, had penetrated southwards from the 
countries on the north of Caucasus and swarmed over the settled 
lands. Ancient kingdoms tottered and fell into the human surge. 
It is just at this period that we come to hear of the x-\rmenians. 
All the evidence points to the conclusion that they entered their 
historical seats from the west,^ as a branch of a considerable 
immigration of Indo-European peoples crossing the straits from 
Europe into Asia Minor and perhaps originally coming from homes 
in the steppes north of the Black Sea. Just as their kinsmen, 
invading Europe, drove the old races before them, such as the 
Etruscans, the Ligurians, and the Basques, so the Armenians seem to 
have filled the void which may have been created by the ravages 
of the Scythians and to have supplanted the subjects of the old 
Khaldian dynasty in the possession of the plains of the tableland. 

That this revolution was not accomplished until at least as 
late as the fifth century before Christ may be gathered from the 
pages of Herodotus. The Armenians are known to this father of 
historians as inhabiting the mountainous country about the sources 
of the Halys and those of the Tigris, extending round towards 
the Mediterranean in the neighbourhood of Cilicia, their boundary 
on this side being the Euphrates.^ On the other hand the 
Khaldians or Urardhians have not already disappeared, although 
they have obviously declined to a subordinate position. They 
are mentioned under the name of x-\larodians,^ and they are 

1 Professor Sayce (Early Israe/, London, 1899, pp. 238-239) adopts this date and 
considers that the classical writers confounded the Scythians with the Aledes. A priori 
this view would seem probable, having regard to the natural evolution of the history of 
the times. 

^ According to Herodotus (vii. 73) the Armenians were Phrygian colonists and were 
armed in the Phrygian fashion. The view of the ancients seems to have been that the 
Phrygians, as well as the Asiatic Thracians, had migrated from Europe into Asia Minor. 

•' Herodotus, i. 72 and 194 ; v. 49 and 52. In the catalogue of the satrapies of the 
empire of Darius Armenia is joined with the unknown district of Pactyica (iii. 93). In 
the Behistun inscriptions of Darius, the Persian and Scythic texts everywhere employ 
Armenia for the more ancient Assyrian title Urardhu. 

* For the certain identification of the Alarodians with the inhabitants of the kingdom 
of Urardhu or Ararat, see Sir. H. Rawlinson's essay in Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. iv. 
p. 245. 

68 Armenia 

joined with the Matienians and Saspeires or Sapeires in the 
eighteenth satrapy of the Persian empire/ Herodotus leaves us 
in the dark as to the exact localities in which they lived, although 
he indicates that the seats of the Saspeires lay to the south of 
the Kolchians, who inhabited the southern shore of the Black Sea 
in the neighbourhood of the Phasis."-^ He informs us that 
Alarodians and Saspeires were both armed like the Kolchians, 
and the fact that the satrapies were organised with a view to 
ethnic affinities suggests the possibility that the two names first 
mentioned had come to be applied to one and the same race. 
Other considerations seem to point in the same direction, Down 
to a comparatively recent period we find a people called Chald- 
ians (as written in the Greek character) or Chaldaeans occupying 
the mountains between Trebizond and Batum. There can be 
little doubt that they represented the remnants of the Vannic 
people, and they were almost certainly the same as the Alarod- 
ians of Herodotus and probably the same as the Saspeires, who 
have perhaps left their name to the present town of Ispir.^ When 
the Armenians had expelled the ancient inhabitants from the 
settled country we know from a most interesting chapter in the 
Cyropaedeia of Xenophon that the latter took refuge in the 
mountains. They fortified inaccessible peaks and lived by 
plunder, raiding down upon the plains."* Our knowledge of the 
geography may at this point assist our historical investigations ; 
and we may be reasonably sure that we shall find the relics of 
the dispossessed Khaldians inhabiting the fastnesses of the peri- 
pheral ranges which border Armenia upon the north and south. 

That this was the case in the northern region is proved by 
the long survival of the name Chaldia ( = Khaldia) among those 
inhospitable heights. Professor Lehmann has collected with a 
thoroughness of which his countrymen alone seem capable, a 
catalogue of passages in Greek and Byzantine writers making 
mention either of the Chaldian people or of the province to which 
they gave their name.'^ That people are sometimes called Chaldeans 

' Herodotus, iii. 94, and cp. vii. 79. - Ibid. i. 104. 

^ Professor Rawlinson would identify the Saspeires with the Iberians of later writers 
(Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. iv. p. 233). In view of the prevailing opinion that the old 
Vannic language has some affinity with modern Georgian, this identification is most 
interesting. Ispir is situated on the threshold of the northern peripheral region, on the 
river Chorokh. ' Xenophon, Cyropicdcia, bk. iii. chs. i, 2 and 3. 

^ Zcitschrift fiir Elhnoloi^ie, 1892, p. 131 ; Vcrhandlungoi der Bcrl. Gesell. fiir 
Anthropologic, 1892, p. 487, 1895, pp. 578 scq., 1896, p. 320; Zeitsclirift fiir Assyriologie, 
1894, pp. 82 seq., and p. 358, note I. 

Van 69 

in classical authors. But that this was an error seems sufficiently 
proved by the name of the province — Chaldia ; by the survival 
side by side of the variant form — Chaldians, and by the practice 
of Armenian writers to distinguish between the name of the tribe 
on their northern frontiers and that of the Chaldaeans. Chaldia 
with the capital Trebizond formed one of the military themes of 
the Byzantine empire ; and I should like to add yet another 
reference to the lists of Professor Lehmann, this one taken from 
the travels of the Castilian ambassador, Don Ruy Gonzalez 
Clavigo, in the year 1404. Setting out from Trebizond on his 
way to Erzinjan, we find him travelling on the third day out 
through the snowy mountains of the province of Chaldia to the 
castle of Tzanich which stood on a crag ; and on the morrow, in 
the evening, he arrives at the castle of the duke of Chaldia, where 
all caravans pay toll. The territory formed a part of the empire 
of the Grand Comneni ; and the name has survived to the present 
day as that of a diocese of the Greek Church with the capital 
Giimiishkhaneh on the road from Trebizond to Baiburt.^ 

It is not so easy to trace the remnants of this ancient people 
in the southern zone of mountains. Their presence there is 
attested by the march of Xenophon with the relics of the Ten 
Thousand. A body of Chaldaean or, more properly, of Chaldian 
mercenaries oppose his passage of the Bohtan branch of the 
Tigris.- They are described as of independent spirit and warlike 
nature, and, like the Karduchi, the modern Kurds, as still 
maintaining their political freedom. One is tempted to enquire 
whether the present so-called Chaldsean or Assyrian Christians, who 
are spread about the districts in the neighbourhood of Julamerik 
watered by the Great Zab, may not supply the necessary and 
missing link. But here we approach a thorny and difficult 
question, upon which the limitations of the present enquiry forbid 
us to touch.^ It will be better capable of discussion when some 
unanimity shall have been attained upon the origin and ethnic 
affinities of the subjects of the old Vannic kings. The Chaldean 
Christians are reputed to have fled into the mountains from 
Mesopotamia as late as the era of Timur. Baghdad and then Mosul 

1 Narrative of the Embassy of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, translated by C. R. Mark- 
ham, Hakluyt Society, London, 1859. 

- Xenophon, Anabasis, iv. ch. 3, v. ch. 5, vii. ch. 8. 

^ The remarks of Layard {Nineveh and its Remains, London, 1849, vol. i. p. 257) 
and Badger (The Nestoriaus and their Rituals, London, 1852, pp. 177 seq.) serve to 
iUustrate the complexity of this question. 

70 Armenia 

would seem to have been the earlier seats of their patriarchate. 
The name Chaldsean is not one which they apply to themselves, 
although they believe in their " Assyrian " origin. There is held 
by some scholars to be the widest etymological and original differ- 
ence between the name of the people who were called after the god 
Khaldis and that of the Babylonian Chaldees or Chaldaeans. But 
the question of a possible racial or cultural link between them 
cannot at present be regarded as already negatived.^ 

Although the whole subject of the Vannic kingdom has 
scarcely yet arrived beyond its infantile stages, the knowledge 
already attained serves to throw quite a flood of light upon the 
early history of Armenia and of the Armenians. In a former 
chapter- I had occasion to remark the obscurity of Armenian 
chronicles prior to the advent of their Arsakid dynasty. The 
people known as Armenians to Darius and to classical writers 
have always been accustomed to prefer the name of their reputed 
progenitor, Hayk, the son of Togarmah, great-grandson of Japhet. 
They call themselves the Hayk or children of Hayk. They 
believe that their ancestor emigrated from Babylon in a north- 
westerly direction and ultimately arrived upon the shores of Lake 
Van. They style the line of their primeval kings the Haykian 
dynasty, and they relate in a fabulous manner the early struggles 
of this dynasty with the Assyrian Power. Their historians admit 
that for this period they are destitute of native annals, and they 
deplore the illiterateness of their forefathers. It would almost 
seem as if they had presented us with a darkened and legendary 
account of the history of their predecessors, possibly mingled with 
the experiences of their own race. That the people of the Vannic 
kings were not Armenians is proved by the distinctive character 
of their language. That their empire continued to exist until at 
least as late as the latter half of the seventh century before Christ 
is a fact which is beyond doubt. Nothing which we might be 
inclined to attribute to the Armenians has been found at Toprak 
Kala. On the other hand, wc may gather from Xenophon that 
after a period of mutual distrust the Armenians intermarried with 
the Khaldians whom they had dispossessed.^ To this extent they 
may inherit the blood of that ancient people which gave to 

' Compare the remarks of Sir II. Kawlinson (Rawlinson's Herodotus, iv. p. 248) and 
of Professor Lehmann {V€rhandlitns,cn dcr Her!. Gcscll. fiir Aiithropoloi^ic, 1S95, p. 580). 
2 Vol. I. Ch. XVI. p. 286. 
^ Xenophon, Cyropicdeia, lik. iii. ch. ii. 23. 

Van 7 1 

Armenia a degree of civilisation which in many respects it has 
not been privileged since to enjoy. 

The Armenians, like all capable and conquering races, borrowed 
much from the culture and attainments of the older inhabitants. 
Their most ancient cities — Van, Armavir, and perhaps Melazkert 
, and Arjish — were foundations of the Vannic kings. The city of 
Hayk, as it has long been called, in the Hayotz-dzor, south-east of 
Van, has disclosed to the first essays of the modern archaeologist 
the familiar features of a Khaldian settlement.^ But Persian 
influences left upon them a more visible impression ; and their 
supreme god during the pre-Christian era was not the Khaldis of 
the Vannic texts but the Ormazd of the inscription of Xerxes, 
" who has created this earth, who has created that heaven, zvho 
has created mankind^ ' 

Sequence of the Vannic Kingsi^ 

Aranie. — No inscriptions. Known only through those of the Assyrian 
king, in which he is styled king of Urardhu. Attacked in 860 
or 859 B.C. by Shalmaneser II. and again in 857 or 856 B.C. in 

1 Ver/iandliingen der Berl. Gesell. ftir Authropologie, 1898, p. 591. I would 
especially refer my reader to Dr. Belck's remarks upon this subject in the same publica- 
tion, 1895, P- 606. 

2 WTiile this chapter is going through the press some further articles by Drs. Belck 
and Lehmann come into my hands. These deal with their recent journeys and researches 
in Armenia (Sitziingsberichte der K. P. Ak. Wiss. Berlin, 1899, pp. 116 seq. and pp. 
745 s^l- '■> the same publication for 1900, pp. dif) seq.). 

^ Messrs. Belck and Lehmann commence the sequence : i. Lutipris, 2. Sarduris I., 
3. Aranie, 4. Sarduris II., thus attributing to their Sarduris I. the inscriptions which 
record the construction of the walls from the rock of Van to the harbour. They suppose 
a Sarduris II., son of Arame, as the antagonist of Shalmaneser II., and suggest that 
Sarduris I. was the contemporary of Ashur-nasir-pal II. (885-860 B.C.) (Zeitsckrift fiir 
Assyriologie, 1897, p. 201). This arrangement throws back Lutipris to about 900 B.C. 
They promise us an essay upon the subject (see Verhandhaigeii der Berliner Gesellschafl 
fiir Anthropologic, 1894, p. 486; Z. Assyr. 1897, PP- 200, 201, 202). At present I 
do not feel convinced by the grounds they have brought forward. No inscriptions of this 
Sarduris II. have been discovered ; nor does any mention appear to be made of works 
by a predecessor of the same name or by Arame in the inscriptions near the Tabriz 
gate at Van which they have discovered (see under Ispuinis infra). Of Lutipris no 
inscriptions exist ; he is only known as the father of SarcUiris. Pending further enquiry 
the hypothesis of Professor Sayce seems to me to hold the field : "I am more inclined 
to conjecture that Sarduris I. was the leader of a new dynasty ; the ill success of Arrame 
in his wars with the Assyrians forming the occasion for his overthrow . . . the introduc- 
tion of a foreign mode of writing into the country looks like one of those innovations which 
mark the rise of new dynasties in the East. The consolidation of the power of Darius 
Hystaspis was, we may remember, accompanied by the introduction of the cuneiform alphabet 
of Persia" (f.R.A.S. 1882, p. 406). To this I should like to add that it seems conso- 
nant with the true order of. events that not until after the defeat of Arame was the site of 
Van most happily selected as a sure stronghold against Assyrian attacks — a choice which 
was largely instrumental in producing the extraordinary development of the northern 
kingdom under Ispuinis, Menuas, and Argistis. 

72 Armenia 

his capital, Arzasku (site?).^ His cities as far as the sources of 
the Euphrates were taken by the same monarch in 845 or 844 B.C. 

1. Sarduris I. — Son of Lutipris. Three inscriptions {Zeitschrift fiir 

Assyriologie, 1899, p. 315) on massive blocks of stone, forming part 
of a wall which extended from the western extremity of the rock of 
Van roughly in a northerly direction towards the harbour across 
the plain ( Verhandbingen der Berlijier Gesellschaft fiir Atithropologie, 
etc., 1897, p. 305). Appears to have been the initiator of the 
fortifications of the rock of Van. Bore the title : '■'•king of the world 
(Sar KiTsati), king of iVairi." Attacked about 833 B.C. by the 
general of Shalmaneser II. ; styled king of Urardhu in the Assyrian 

2. Isptdnis. — His son. Several inscriptions, in which he is more 

commonly associated with his son Menuas. The inscriptions are 
found as far apart as the Kelishin Pass between Rowanduz and 
Ushnei, the hill of Ashrut-Darga, east of the village of Salekhane, 
east of Van and the Van region, and Patnotz, north of Sipan. His 
title is given in the Vannic text of the Kelishin stele as : king of 
JVairi, king of Suras {i.e. of northern Syria -), inliabiting the city 
of Dhuspas ; and in the inscription of Ashrut Darga as: king of 
Biaina, inhabiting the city of Dliiispas. Is probably the Uspina 
from whom the general of the Assyrian king Shamshi-Ramman III. 
(825-812 B.C.) captured 11 forts and 200 villages during his 
campaign against Nairi. His newly-discovered inscription near 
the Tabriz gate at Van appears to ascribe the construction of the 
works upon the citadel to himself, his father Sarduris, his son 
Menuas and his grandson Inuspuas {V. Anth. 1898, p. 575). 

3. Menuas. — His son, associated with his father in the government, and 

afterwards with his own son, Inuspuas. To this king belong the 
largest number of the inscriptions yet discovered, ranging from the 
Kelishin Pass and the rock of Tashtepe, near the southern shore of 
Lake Urmi (Sayce, y.i?.^.-5. vol. xiv. p. 386; Belck, Z. Assyr. 
1899, p. 313), the latter of which commemorates his conquests in 
the kingdom of Minni {V. Anth. 1894, p. 481) in the east, to Palu 
on the Lower Murad in the west; and from Van and the Van 
regions in the south to Hasan-Kala, near Erzerum, in the north. 
Perhaps his most important conquest was that of a great portion 
of the valley of the Araxes on the northern side of the Ararat system. 

1 May Arzasku have been situated in the great plain at the southern foot of the Ararat 
system, now known as the district of Alashkert ? The inscription of Shahiianeser runs : 
" From Dayaeni (which Dr. Belck identifies with the district about the modern Delibaba) 
I struck camp and approached Arzasku, the capital of the Urardhian Arame. The 
I'rardhian Arame was filled with fear . . . and deserted his city. To the mountains 
Adduri he fled up ; behind him I followed ; a great battle I fought in the mountains. . . . 
Arame was compelled, in order to save his life, to take refuge in an inaccessible mountain." 
Dr. Belck suggests that Adduri may have been the name applied by the Khaldians to 
Ararat and the Ararat system ; and that it may survive in the modern Akhury or Arguri 
( r. Anl/i. 1893. p. 71). 

- /'. Antli. 1896, pp. 323 and 325. The translation is, however, open to question. 

Vail 73 

Menuas may be regarded as the founder of the original garden city 
of Van, which probably occupied a somewhat different position 
than at the present day, and extended to the borders of the lake, 
where it received the waters of the canal since called the Shamiram 
Su, coming through Artemid — a work on a great scale, which we 
now know to have been constructed principally by this monarch, 
and which provided the volume of irrigation necessary for an 
extensive settlement. Records his conquests. Extensively re- 
stored Melazkert (Z Assyr. 1892, p. 262 ; V. Anth. 1898, pp. 569 
seq.) and founded Arzwapert, north-east of Arjish. His title is : the 
great king, the king of Biaina, inhabiting the city of Dhuspas. 

4. Argistis I. — His son. Numerous inscriptions which show that he 

extended the conquests of Menuas, especially towards the north. 
These inscriptions are found as far north as Kanlija, near Alex- 
andropol, and Sarikamish, on the road from Kars to Erzerum, by 
which route he probably advanced or retired from the districts 
north of the Ararat system. From those at Van, which are in fact 
detailed annals of his conquests, we learn that he met and overcame 
the armies of Assyria on more than one occasion in the regions 
south-east of Lake Urmi. His reign represents the culminating 
point of Vannic empire. He ascribes to himself works upon the 
rock and in the city of Van ; and he was the founder of the city of 
Armavir in the valley of the Araxes (K A?ith. 1896, p. 313). He 
bore the title of: the great king, the king of Biaina, inhabiting the 
city of Dhuspas. 

5. Sarduris II. — His son. Numerous inscriptions, distributed over a large 

area of country, one being found in the south-east corner of Lake 
Gokcheh, another (discovered by us) near the western summit of 
the Bingol Dagh,^ and yet another as far west as the Euphrates 
near Malatia in Asia Minor. The first and last record conquests 
in those countries. Ascribes to himself works upon the rock and 
in the city of Van, and gives a list of his conquests, including 
some over the Assyrian monarch Ashur-nirari 11., 754-745 B.C. 
{V. Anth. 1898, pp. 570-77). But these successes were followed 
by disasters which dealt a severe blow at the Vannic kingdom. 
With the accession of Tiglath-Pileser IH. of Assyria (745-727 b.c.) 
a new area is initiated in the relations of these two great Powers 
of the day. The clash seems to have come in the year 743 and 
in connection with the endeavour of Tiglath-Pileser to possess 
himself of the strong place of Arpad between the present towns of 

1 The inscription is contained on one face of a recumbent stone which can with 
difficulty be distinguished from the boulders lying round. The stone has been well 
shaped and dressed. The characters have been much mutilated by the figure of a cross 
which has been incised upon the face of the stone. The first line evidently contains the 
name of Sarduris, while the second was probably occupied by that of Argistikhinis, or 
the son of Argistis. In line 7 a conquest is recorded, and in line 8 occurs the 
name of Alusia. Professor Sayce has kindly supplied this brief account of the contents, 
and I trust that he will publish the text. 

74 Arme7iia 

Aleppo and Killis, the key of northern Syria, a country over which 
the Vannic kings had for several reigns upheld pretensions. 
Sarduris headed the league against the Assyrians and drew off the 
king from the siege of Arpad. He was, however, signally defeated 
" near Kistan and Khalpi, districts of Kummukh " (Kommagene), 
and pursued as far as " the bridge over the Euphrates, the 
boundary of his kingdom." Subsequently, in 735 B.C., Tiglath- 
Pileser carried the war into the very heart of the Vannic country, 
and at length appeared before the city of Van. Sarduris was 
obliged to shut himself up in the impregnable citadel, while his 
adversary massacred his warriors and his people in the city at its 
feet, and erected a statue of himself in front of it. He then 
ravaged the territory of Sarduris over a space of some 450 miles, 
meeting with no opposition anywhere. (For the sequence of these 
events, made known to us by the Assyrian inscriptions, see V. Anth. 
1896, pp. 321 seq., and Smith's Assyria^ London, S.P.C.K. 1897, 
pp. 83 seq.). Sarduris increased the importance of the city of 
Armavir, and ascribes to himself works upon the citadel and in 
the city of Van. Bore the title : king of kings ^ king of the land of 
Suras, king of Biaina, inJiabiting the city of Dhuspas. Styled king 
of Urardhu in the Assyrian inscriptions. 
6. Ritsas I. — His son. The author of at least two important extant 
inscriptions, that of Kolani-Girlan (Alutshalu), on the face of a 
rock overlooking Lake Gokcheh, and that of Topsana (Sidikan), in 
the district of Rowanduz in Kurdistan, discovered by Rawlinson 
and recently examined by Dr. Belck (Zeitschrift filr Ethnologic, 
Berlin, 1899, pp. 99-132). The first records conquests and the 
restoration of a palace ; the second, which has, however, not yet 
been published, conveys noteworthy facts bearing upon the 
relations with Assyria. We know from the Assyrian inscriptions 
that the Vannic kingdom was by no means crushed by the campaign 
of Tiglath-Pileser ; for the son of Sarduris, this Rusas the First, 
displayed great activity in inciting the neighbouring principalities 
against the successor of the conqueror, Sargon (722-705 B.C.), 
among which may be specially mentioned the kingdom of Minni, 
south-east of Lake Urmi, and the almost impregnable territory of 
Mutsatsir or Ardinis near Rowanduz. Sargon tells us how, in 
714 B.C., he penetrated into Mutsatsir, which contained a temple of 
the god Khaldis, the god of the Vannic kingdom ; how its king 
Urzana fled, and how he plundered and burnt the city, rifled the 
temple and carried off the statues of the gods. He relates that 
Ursa, king of Urardhu {i.e. Rusas L), upon hearing of this disaster 
to his ally and of the carrying off of the god, committed suicide. 
The contents of the inscription of Topsana throw doubt upon this 
latter statement. They are to the effect that Rusas restored 
Urzana to his kingdom, led his armies as far as " the mountains of 
Assyria," and restored the offerings to Khaldis in Mutsatsir. 

If, as seems probable, the Rusas of the shattered stele of 

Van 75 

Keshish Gol near Van be this first king of that name, then we 
must ascribe to this monarch the various works which are mentioned 
in that inscription (Sayce, No. Ixxix.), and which, as Messrs. Belck 
and Lehmann have conclusively shown, should be referred to 
Toprak Kala, an eminence from the plain some little distance east of 
the rock of Van and close to the present garden town. These works 
appear to have been : the constitution of the Keshish Gol into a 
reservoir, the conduct of its waters to the Rusahina, or city of 
Rusas, as distinct from Dhuspas ; the laying out of this new city, 
with numerous vineyards and gardens, and the building of a 
palace there. Rusas I. may therefore be regarded as the author 
of the transference of the site of the garden town from the south 
to the east of the rock of Van, where it was protected by the 
heights of Toprak Kala. The necessary irrigation was drawn from 
the Keshish Gol instead of or in addition to that derived from the 
canal of Menuas. The change was probably made in consequence 
of the destruction by Tiglath-Pileser of the old town, although he 
was unable to effect the capture of the citadel or rock of Van (Z. 
Ethnologie, 1892, pp. 141 seq. ; V. Anth. 1893, p. 220; Z Assyr. 
1894, pp. 349 seq.; Deutsche Rundschau, Christmas 1894, pp. 411 
seq.; V. Anth. 1898, p. 576 ; Z. Assyr. 1899, p. 320). Rusas I. 
is styled Ursa, king of Urardhu, in the Assyrian inscriptions. Those 
of the Vannic Monarchy, hitherto published, do not furnish a title. 
Argistis II. — His son. The mention of this ruler in a Vannic text 
was discovered by Messrs. Belck and Lehmann in an inscription 
on a shield from the temple at Toprak Kala, now in the British 
Museum (Z. Assyr. 1894, pp. 82-99; ^p. Z Assyr. 1892, pp. 
263 seq.; V. Anth. 1895, p. 595) ; and two of his own inscriptions 
have recently been found by these investigators in the neighbour- 
hood of Arjish ( V. Anth. 1898, p. 573). They have not yet been 
published. This prince is alluded to in the Assyrian annals. He 
appears to have endeavoured to repeat the tactics of Sarduris IH. 
against Tiglath-Pileser III., and to have succeeded in inciting the 
king of Kummukh (Kommagene) against Sargon. But his efforts 
only resulted in the subjugation of Kummukh by the Assyrian 
monarch in 708 B.C. (Smith's Assyria, 1897, p. 116). 
Rusas II. — His son. So known to us from the inscription on the 
shield above mentioned (Z Assyr. 1894, pp. 82-99, ^^^d 339 seq.; 
V. Anth. 1895, P- 596)- 'Two new inscriptions of this king have 
been found by Dr. Belck at Adeljivas {V. Anth. 1898, p. 573), 
in which he is stated to have conquered the Hittites and Moschians. 
He is also mentioned on a clay tablet discovered by Messrs. Belck 
and Lehmann at Toprak Kala (Van). He was the contemporary 
of Esarhaddon of Assyria (681-668 B.C.), and is mentioned in an 
Assyrian inscription of that reign (H. Winckler, AltorientaHsche 
Forschungen, 2nd ser. vol. i. 1898, p. 41 ; and see Z Assyr. 

1894, p. 341)- , . ,j r T, 

, Erimenas. — Known only from an inscription on a shield from the 

76 Armenia 

temple at Toprak Kala, now in the British Museum, as being the 
father of Rusas III. 

10. Rusas III. — His son. Rebuilt the temple of Khaldis on Toprak Kala 

(shield inscriptions in the British Museum published by Prof 
Sayce, No. lii. \x\ J.R.A.S. 1882, pp. 653 seq. For Tuprak Kilissa 
read Toprak Kala, Van, and cp. Z. Assyr. 1892, p. 266; Z. Assyr. 
1894, p. 97 and pp. 339 seq.; V. A/it/i. 1895, p. 595). An 
inscription of this king has been found at Armavir (Sayce, Ixxxv.). 
Sent an embassy to Ashur-bani-pal of Assyria about 655 B.C. (Z. 
Assyr. 1894, p. 342). Bore the title: f/ie great king, inhabit- 
i7ig the city of DJuispas. 

11. Sardnris III. — Known through the Assyrian inscriptions as having 

sent an embassy to Ashur-bani-pal about 644 b.c. (Z. Assyr. 
1894, P- 342). 

III. — Van towards the Close of the Nineteenth 


With the single exception of the remains of a mosque en- 
riched with traceries and Arabic legends in a style worthy of 
the best traditions of Saracenic art, there remains no vestige in 
Van of any period of prosperity and splendour subsequent to the 
era of the pre-Armenian kings. It is true that the whole region 
is subject to seismic influences, and that many of the monuments 
of later ages may have succumbed through this cause. There 
exists a tradition that the isolation of the rock of Van itself 
is due to an earthquake in very ancient times, resulting in its 
severance from the heights adjacent on the east. Several 
visitations of considerable severity have probably occurred during 
the historical period; thus we learn that in the year 1648 of 
the Christian era one-half of the wall of the fortified city, as 
well as churches, mosques and private houses, were shattered by 
successive shocks and fell to the ground.^ But it is at least 
doubtful whether posterity has been deprived of many treasures 
by this agency or by the scourge of such a destroyer as Timur. 
Van must have occupied a subordinate position among the 
capitals of the Achcemenian empire ; and her ancient temples, 
together with the structures of her former magnificence, appear to 
have been demolished at a very early date. A restoration is 
ascribed to an xArmenian king of the Haykian dynasty, who is 
said to have lived a little prior to the Asiatic conquests of 
Alexander the Great. But the very fact that this monarch is 

1 Arakel, ap. Abich, Gcoloi;. Forsch. in dcii kaitk. f.aud. N'ienna, 1882, part ii. p. 440. 

Van 7 7 

named Van, and is related to have rechristened the city of 
Semiramis after himself, invests the story v/ith a fabulous char- 
acter/ Greater credit may be attached to the statement of 
Moses of Khorene that the place was rebuilt by the first ruler of 
the Armenian line of the Arsakid or Parthian kings. "^ A colony 
of Jews, with the high priest of their nation, were settled in Van 
by one of his successors, the contemporary of King Mithridates 
of Pontus and his ally against the Roman Power.^ These Jewish 
captives appear to have prospered in their new seats ; and about 
the middle of the fourth century of our era they are said to 
have numbered 18,000 families, who were again transported into 
captivity, this time into Persia, by the ruler of the new empire 
which had arisen in Asia, the Sasanian king Shapur.'* Neither 
Arsakids nor Sasanians appear to have laid much store by the 
city ; and, indeed, the centres of political gravity in the Asiatic 
world had undergone a marked change since Assyrian times. 
The tableland of Persia had become incorporated into the 
imperial systems of Asia, giving ready access into the Armenian 
highlands. Europe had already appeared upon the changing 
scene of Oriental despotisms, and the real struggle was between 
the East and the West. When the Mohammedan empire of the 
caliphs had supplanted that of the Sasanian fire-worshippers, 
Persia and Armenia formed parts of the new structure. With the 
decay of the edifice it might appear that a fresh era had dawned 
for the Christian Armenians, supported on the west by their 
co-religionists of the Byzantine dominions, and capable of forti- 
fying Van against the assaults of the Arabs operating from 
Baghdad and the lowlands in the south. In such circumstances 
was born the Armenian kingdom of Vaspurakan, which flourished 
for awhile during the Middle Ages, and of which this city was 
the capital. We have already glanced at its history while 
pursuing the annals of its contemporary at Ani, and have had to 
deplore the lack of cohesion among the Armenians at that period, 
which precluded them from playing a part of first-rate importance 
in the world movements of the time. We have seen the king-lets 
of Van bowing the head to the Seljuk invasion and creeping for 
safety into the bosom of the Byzantine empire.^ Perhaps we 
have not overlooked the picturesque interest of the pact they 

1 Saint Martin, Meinoires sttr PAniieiiie, i. 138. ^ Moses of Khorene, ii. 8. 

3 Ibid. ii. 19. ■* Faustus of Byzantium, iv. 55. 

- Vol. I. Ch. XVIII. pp. 357, 359. 

j^ A rv tenia 

concluded, under which the heirs of the Romans took over the 
city of Sarduris and Menuas as an outpost of the civilised world. 
After the Byzantines had been carried away by the storm of 
barbarism the annals of Van, in so far as it is possible to follow 
them, are of scarcely more than local interest. The place must 
have settled down to that long spell of half-conscious existence 
under which it sleeps and heaves and moans at the present day. 
Its garrison of Turkomans offered a prolonged resistance to the 
armies of Timur ; and, if the citadel was indeed virgin after the 
lapse of ages, to the savage Tartar belongs the boast of having 
torn her defences away. When Van was visited by a European 
traveller at the commencement of the sixteenth century, the 
Persian Shahs of the Safavid dynasty were in nominal ownership 
and a Kurdish chieftain in real possession of the fortress. This 
individual went so far as to coin money with his own stamp ; 
but he was ejected after a prolonged siege by the general of Shah 
Ismail the First (a.D. 1502-24) and the inhabitants brought 
over to Persian allegiance.^ In the year 1534 the keys of the 
city were brought to the vizier of the Ottoman sultan, Suleyman 
the First.- The Ottoman Turks thus became masters of a 
fortress on the side of Persia which they converted into one of 
the strongest places in their empire. In the seventeenth century 
it is said to have fallen to Shah Abbas I.,^ but it was recovered 
by the Turks. Their rule has perpetuated the abuses of the 
Kurds ; and in the forties of the nineteenth century Van was 
again in the tender keeping of a rebellious chief of that turbulent 
people. Khan Mahmud. 

In spite of all these revolutions the Armenian people still 
maintain themselves in large numerical preponderance in the 
city and neighbourhood of Van. It was about the shores of this 
lake that, according to their traditions, their ancestor, Hayk, 
established some of their earliest seats. For at least 2500 years 
they have kept their hold upon them, and have become accustomed 
and inured to see the empires come and pass, reaping their 
harvest of tears from the Armenian peasantry. Since the 
impressions which I am about to record were committed to paper 
a fresh massacre has decimated their community. And now, as 

1 Merchant in Persia {Italian 'I'ravch in Persia, Ilakluyt Society, 1873, PP- 179 
seq.). The Kurd is called Zidibec. 

2 Von Hammer, Geschichie des Osiit. Rciches, iii. 145. 

^ Kitter, Erdkiiude, ix. 980. But the date he gives, viz. 1636, will not suit the 

Van 79 

I put them together, comes a piteous appeal from the American 
missionaries, despairing of preserving the hves of the famished 
survivors who have lost their livelihood, but begging for help on 
behalf of their crowded orphanages. The perspective of history- 
helps to correct the sentiment of blank despondency engendered 
by the contemporary condition of the Armenian inhabitants. 
At the time of my visit they numbered two-thirds of the popula- 
tion of the town and gardens of Van. This proportion has no 
doubt been reduced by recent events ; but it is almost equally 
certain to be redressed. The fecundity of this people is not 
less remarkable than their persistency ; and their presence is 
needed by the officials who exploit the land. It would seem 
that the Armenian inhabitants of Van have been increasing 
during the present century. There can be little doubt that the 
proportion which their numbers bear to those of the Mussulmans 
has been tending to become greater. Consul Brant records that 
in the year 1838 Van contained not less than 7000 families, of 
which only 2000 are ascribed by him to the Armenians.^ This 
estimate represents a population of about 35,000 souls, of whom 
25,000 would be Mussulmans and 10,000 Armenians. The 
total agrees approximately with the most reliable statistics which 
I was able to obtain. At the time of my visit the town, including 
the gardens, was believed to be inhabited by 30,000 people; but the 
Mussulmans numbered only 10,000 to the 20,oooof the Armenians. 
I received the impression that these figures were correct in respect 
of the proportion of the Armenian and the Mussulman element. 
In the aggregate they appeared to be a little too low. If we 
include the population of the caza or neighbourhood of Van, we 
shall probably not err much in arriving at a total of at least 
64,000, made up of 47,000 Armenians and 17,000 Mussulmans. 
Consul Taylor in 1868 reckoned the inhabitants "of Van and 
the neighbourhood," by which he would appear to mean of the 
town and caza, at 17,000 Mussulmans and 42,000 Christians. 
For Christians one might almost write Armenians.- 

1 Brant mJou>-)ial of R. Gcog. Soc. 1841, vol. x. 

- Taylor in archives of the British Consulate at Erzerum. Report of March 18, 1869. 
The estimates of Jaubert in 1805 ( Voyage en Arrnhiie, etc. p. 138), and of Layard in 1850 
{Nineveh and Babylon, p. 392), appear to have reference to the walled town only. The 
former counts 15,000 to 20,000 souls, the majority Armenian. The latter says that Van 
may contain from 1 2,000 to 1 5,000 inhabitants. Shiel's figure for the population, including 
the suburbs, in 1836, of 12,000 people, "of whom 2000 are Armenians," is plainly in 
error (J.K.G.S. 1838, vol. x.). Vital Cuinet {La Turqiiie d''Asie, Paris, 1892, vol. ii. 
pp. 654, 691), whose statistics I have seldom found reliable, includes 500 Jews in the 

8o Armenia 

When one contemplates the vast extent of the garden 
suburbs and the closely-packed quarters of the walled town, it 
is difficult to believe that not more than 30,000 people inhabit 
so imposing a place. Let my reader refer to the plan which 
accompanies this chapter. I based it originally on one published 
in the fine book of M. Muller-Simonis,^ and I filled it in during 
my daily rides. It at once enables me to dispense with a tedious 
topographical narrative, and serves to show the distribution of 
Armenians and Mussulmans. On the left of the paper is repre- 
sented the rock of Van with the cuneiform inscriptions and the 
city or fortified town at its southern base. On the right extends 
the hill ridge of Toprak Kala, commencing on the west with the 
bold crag of Ak Kopri, and making a bay towards the gardens 
as it stretches in an easterly direction, presenting the side of what 
is actually a nearly meridional mass. Between the two lies the 
plain — a bower of leafy gardens, most dense along a line drawn 
south of Ak Kopri, but continuing westwards from the southerly 
outskirts of those thickly-planted quarters to the district of 
Shamiram or Semiramis, south of the citadel. Mussulmans and 
Armenians are distributed over the area of these suburbs, and 
they share between them the population of the walled town. 
Some quarters in the gardens are peopled exclusively by 
Armenians, some by Mussulmans, and some by both alike. 
The names which I have placed upon the plan are in some cases 
those of quarters, and in others of blocks of houses and enclosures. 
The citadel or rock of Van is occupied by the garrison alone, and 
none of the townsmen are permitted to ascend that delicious 

The tall poplars and luxuriant undergrowth hide the houses 
of the suburbs as you approach Van from the plain in the south. 
But penetrate within the foliage and you will find clusters of 
habitations which grow in frequency and importance as the central 
avenue is reached. Along that well-trodden thoroughfare — 

population of Van — the remnant of the colony transported thither by the Arsakid Tigranes. 
My enquiries in several quarters elicited replies that no Jews were known to inhabit 
either the town or the caza, but that there were 25 families at Bashkala. 

With regard to any special elements in the population of the town and caza of Van 
I was informed as follows : — -There may be some few score Circassians ; but there is no 
regular Circassian settlement here. The Armenians are practically all Gregorians. Of 
Chaldi:^;an Christians, whether adherents of their old faith or converts to Roman 
Catholicism, only a few stray individuals would be found in the town of Van. But I 
was informed of a settlement of them — Nestorians — about the shores of Lake Archag, 
north-east of Van. ^ Dii Caticase an Golf e Per siqtie, Paris, 1892, p. 190. 



Scale- 'approximatcH: 19.000 

Explanation : 
A Cif<tdei I au/nf?' 
B Mediipvni. watled a'ly, contuutint] 

baxarx and business quarters. 
C Garden town 

1 Tabrix tfate 

* Iskeir - 

5 Ctutrr/i oT Savkax'anii 

G • - Xorashm 

T Arakh 

8 - Jlanka.sin-r 

ft Place otShach F&ijhaii 

10 British Consulate < our residerttc t 

11 Dominican 3/issicn 

IW/;/rtv of tftiarters or htock.s- of 

Imildintjs in capitaLs. 

Van 8 1 

filled at morning or in the evening by a stream of pedestrians 
and riders, wearing the fez and more rarely the turban, some in 
flowing Oriental robes, others attired in European dress — a 
number of stately residences abut on the road with their gardens 
around them, and dissemble the squalor which for the most part 
reigns within. Extremely picturesque are some of these lofty 
houses, with verandahs disposed in various and fanciful manners, 
as may be seen in my illustration of the dwelling of a wealthy 
Armenian inside the precincts of the walled city (Fig. 127). The 
fact that a large number of the inhabitants of the garden town 

Fig. 127, House of an Armenian Merchant at Van. 

proceed daily to their different places of business in the city 
partly accounts for the paradoxical smallness of the population, 
which ebbs and flows between the two. Here in the gardens are 
the private residences of the Vali or Governor of Van and of 
the principal officials. Most of the rich Armenian merchants 
have their dwellings among these quarters, where are also situated 
the various European Consulates. It is here that are housed the 
principal schools, and are located the most considerable of the 
churches. It is therefore scarcely correct to speak of the garden 
town as a suburb ; far rather does it bear to the narrow and 
crowded streets at the base of the citadel a relation analogous to 
that of the ]Vest End of London towards the City and the Strand. 
Among these groves we spent a pleasant and fairly restful 

82 Armenia 

fortnight, housed in the empty apartments of the British Consulate 
near the cross-roads of Khach-poghan. There, in the great room 
containing the safe, and the scroll enumerating the consular fees 
payable by the only two subjects of Her Britannic Majesty who, 
besides the Consul, are resident at Van, my companions erected 
their camp beds. Mine was placed in a little chamber on the 
further side "of the spacious landing, which was open to the air. 
Here I could receive visits and read and write. My windows, 
paned with glass, looked out upon a sylvan scene of fairy-like 
character. All this verdure is produced by irrigation ; and it is 
the peculiar quality of such artificial sustenance that plants and 
trees preserve the perfection which in northern latitudes can only 
be admired in a conservatory. The storm clouds, dissolving in 
rain, do not disturb this southern climate and play havoc with 
the leaves. Moss and mildew are unknown beneath this dry, 
continental atmosphere and the rays of this brilliant sun. The 
air is saturated with light, streaming from a heaven which is 
always blue. Into the liquid canopy start the needle forms of 
the poplars, forced from the soaking earth with wand-like stems. 
Apples and peaches and pomegranates — all the hardier fruits 
which can withstand cold winters — attain a beauty of form and 
an excellence of flavour which would do credit to better gardeners. 
Here at Van they grow much as they please. Melons and 
cucumbers find just the conditions under which they thrive. All 
this pulsing and exuberance extends unchecked through the long 
summer ; and when the autumn is at length at hand, towards 
the end of October, the change is only marked by the gradual 
passing over of shades of green into shades of gold. The leaves 
remain on their branches until the withered stalks can hold no 
longer ; but of violence there is rarely a trace. The sky becomes 
black and rumbles ; some showers fall, and Sipan is clothed in 
white to his lower slopes. But the passing darkness of the day 
only enhances the goldness of a foliage which awaits the first 
coming of the snows. Such were the phases of the year, which, 
towards the middle of November, were silently being accomplished 
before our windows. 

These cross-roads, Khach-poghan, are situated almost in the 
centre of the most thickly-populated districts of the garden town. 
On the whole it is a painful impression which one receives from 
daily intercourse with one's fellow-creatures at Van. The salient 
feature of the situation is the war between two opposite elements — 

Van 83 

the one of restless energy, measured almost by a European standard ; 
the other passive, suspicious, fitfully aflame. Neither is endowed 
with the capacity of government ; and the least numerous and 
least capable rule. The Armenian subject majority spend lives 
which are certainly laborious and create whatever wealth the 
city possesses. The Mussulman dominant minority grow fat 
in the mostly highly-paid sinecures, or employ the most keen- 
witted among the Christians to devise ingenious schemes for 
robbing the public or the public funds. Over all presides an 
imported official of little ability and no education ; and a few 
troops, under the orders of an independent commander, who is 
a centre for intrigue, redress the balance in favour of the least 
enlightened and most corrupt. 

Things are in the habit of going on in this haphazard 
manner, jolting and creaking along. But within the last decade 
or two a new spirit has been born, which my reader knows under 
the name of the Armenian movement. Here at Van, no less 
than elsewhere, it has been a clumsy birth, as might be expected 
from its parentage. It springs from the two elements above 
indicated, and flourishes most in the circumstances described. 
In its ultimate origin it is at once a product of economical 
conditions and a reflection of the spirit of the times. It causes 
the old elements to ferment beyond recognition and to assume 
the most incongruous shapes. 

The phenomenon is most remarkable in the case of the 
Turks. One may remark, by way of parenthesis, that there does 
not appear to be any evidence of an actual settlement of Turks 
in Van or the neighbourhood. Among the Mussulman inhabitants 
of the town about six families or clans, comprising each on the 
average some fifty persons, may be classed as of Turkish descent. 
Of these the most prominent are the Timur Oglu ; then the 
Jamusji Oglu, or sons of the buffalo driver, and the Topchi 
Oglu, or sons of the artilleryman. From their ranks was formed 
a kind of oligarchy, which ruled the city in former times, and, as 
was natural, developed a fine taste for faction and had its counter- 
parts of Guelphs and Ghibellines. The passion for intrigue has 
survived among them longer than the ability to indulge it in 
methods of their own choosing. Their power has been much 
curtailed by the progressive centralisation of all government at 
Constantinople. But they still maintain their hold upon much 
of the machinery of the administration, filling the offices which 

84 Armenia 

are not under the direct patronage of the imperial authorities, 
such as the presidencies of the municipaHty, the administrative 
council, and the judicial courts. With the exception of these 
families there are very few real Turks in Van ; and in the country 
districts the Mussulman population are probably for the most 
part of Kurdish origin. They speak both Turkish and Kurdish. 
The more peaceable among them, who are accustomed to settled 
pursuits, disown the name of Kurds and affect that of Osmanli, 
or Turks of the ruling race. They do not belong to any Kurdish 
tribe. Their sympathies are on the whole on the side of law 
and order ; and their aversion to the turbulence of the tribal 
Kurds counteracts and perhaps outweighs their jealousy of their 
Christian neighbours. 

An enlightened Government would seize upon these points 
of union and forge from them strong links to connect society in 
defence of common interests against the excesses of the Kurds. 
Van is situated upon the threshold of the Kurdish mountains, 
close to the immemorial strongholds of Kurdish chieftains, whence 
they descend with their motley followers into the plains. No 
sooner had the centralising tendencies in the Ottoman Empire 
come near to establishing upon a permanent basis the unquestioned 
supremacy of Ottoman rule in these remote districts, than the 
Armenian movement commenced to make itself felt. The truth 
is that those tendencies were of impure origin. The officials 
at Constantinople were concerned with nothing less than the 
extension of good government. But they were clever enough to 
perceive that such modern inventions, as, for instance, the telegraph, 
gave them the means of controlling for their own purposes distant 
territories which in former times had been left more or less to 
themselves. The telegraph substituted the authority of a clique 
in the Palace at Constantinople for the rough-and-ready but often 
honest and, on the whole, well-meaning methods of a Turkish 
pasha of the old school. It is quite possible that the good old 
pashas would have brought about the ruin of the country, which, 
indeed, was in effect ruined long before they appeared on the 
scene. But things might have gone on longer ; their rule could 
not have cost one quarter the existing misery ; and the travelled 
person would at least have preferred spending his life in their 
shadow than within reach of the wings of the eagle of Russia 
and the quills of her bureaucrats. 

From one cause or another the whole character of Mussulman 

Van 85 

government has undergone a marked change within recent 
years. It is scarcely possible to recognise in the ruling circles 
of such a city as Van the Turkey of our fathers. Fear and 
suspicion are written upon every face. These passions are trans- 
mitted to the rank and file of their co-religionists; the air 
is full of rumours of Armenian plots. In the old days there 
would have been a riot and quite possibly a massacre ; and 
everything would settle down. At present a swarm of spies, 
under the direction of emissaries from the Palace, keep the old 
sores open and daily discover new opportunities for inflicting 
wounds. All the vices of the Russian bureaucracy have been 
copied by willing disciples in the capital, and sent down to the 
provinces to serve as a model. One may assert without ex- 
aggeration that life is quite intolerable for an inhabitant of this 
paradise of Van. 

The spies smell out a so-called plot and denounce its authors 
to the Governor, who, poor man, is tired to death with their 
reports. If he fail to follow it up, he is accused at Constantin- 
ople, and runs the risk of losing his post. If he interfere, his 
action may quite well lead to bloodshed at a time when his 
efforts at pacification were commencing to bear fruit. I gathered 
that a certain Vali of Bitlis had discovered a working solution 
of the difficulty. His principle was to go one better than the 
informers, and himself to organise a huge plot against himself. 
When this sedition had been quelled by his soldiers just at the 
time that suited him best, his zeal would be rewarded by the 
despatch of a decoration from the Palace, and he would be left in 
peace for some time. 

Of course the power of the Kurds is daily on the increase in 
such circumstances as these. The Palace leans towards them ; 
their petty leaders are taken to the capital and invested with 
high orders. The wretched puppet of a Governor does not dare 
to overawe them, as even his slender resources would well enable 
him to do. On the other hand, the former docile, cringing spirit 
of the Armenians has given place to a different temper. Partly 
they are goaded by the spies into so-called rebellion ; and, in 
part, they have been aroused to a consciousness of their own real 
miseries by the persecution of the most respected of their clerical 
leaders and by the spread of education. 

The Armenian movement has had the effect of resolving their 
community at Van into two distinct parties. The one is animated 

86 Armenia 

by the spirit of the present Katholikos, His Holiness Mekertich 
Khrimean. The memory of his noble life, spent so largely 
among them, outlives his long absence from their midst. The 
evidence of his work and example is spread over the city, and 
may readily be recognised in the demeanour of those who have 
shared his thoughts and aims. His last period of residence in 
this, his native place, would appear to have come to an end in 
1885. At that time he was bishop of Van as well as abbot 
of Varag. His labours were directed to the education of his 
countrymen ; " educate, educate " — the girls no less than the 
boys — may be said to have been his watchword. His personal 
influence and the power of the pulpit, when occupied by such a 
preacher, were thrown into the endeavour to awake those dormant 
feelings which few human beings, however much their spirit may 
have been broken, are entirely without. To realise their manhood, 
and what they owed to themselves and their race was the constant 
exhortation which ran through his sermons and penetrated to the 
inmost selves of his flock. Schools sprang up in abundance 
beneath the magic of his individuality, and teachers were imbued 
with that enthusiasm for their high calling without which their 
profession savours of drudgery and tends to produce a similar 
impression upon their pupils. But the spirit of truth is too often 
akin to the spirit of revolution, and there are bonds from without 
as well as from within. When the scales fell from the eyes of 
this downtrodden people, the naked ugliness of their lot as helots 
was revealed. Their native energies were transferred from the 
domain of money -making to that of social improvement and 
political emancipation. The craft of their minds, abnormally 
quickened by the long habit of oblique methods, exchanged the 
sphere of commerce for that of politics. What wonder if they 
infused their politics with a character at which your superior 
European would sometimes frown and more often smile ? He has 
been trained by a long spell of comparatively pure government ; 
while the Armenians have been a subject race for over nine cen- 
turies, are honeycombed with the little vices inherent in such a 
status, and are quite unused and as yet unfit to govern themselves. 
So the old Armenian nature underwent and is still experi- 
encing a process of fermentation and change. At the same time 
it threw off some of the characteristics which had been hitherto 
among the most pronounced. Rashness and contempt for calcu- 
lation took the place of the old qualities of servility and time- 

Van 87 

serving. In the domain of the community these discarded 
quah'ties were represented by individuals and by a party. The 
watchword of this party has been submission to the powers that 
are, and the soHd argument which underlies the counsels of those 
who inspire it is based upon the apparent hopelessness of resist- 
ance and the tragic failures which such resistance has already 
involved. But the sympathy of the impartial spectator can 
scarcely be enlisted on their side, even if his judgment incline to 
their views. They are not the new Armenians, chastened by 
sorrow and sobered by reflection, but, for the most part, the very 
dregs of the old. Their leader in Van is the bishop of Lim, 
commonly known as Bishop Poghos. This prelate has long been 
resident in the city. His talents have been employed to counter- 
act the influence of the present Katholikos ; and he has stood at 
the head of his opponents. When Khrimean departed from his 
see he named Bishop Poghos his vckil or deputy, it would seem 
in the hope of promoting peace. But the inhabitants do not 
appear to have favoured this solution, and the bishop has not held 
the office for the last several years. He did me the honour of 
coming to see me — a man of great bulk of body and in advanced 
years. His features are of the blunt order characteristic of so 
many Armenians ; and one might doubt whether he could ever 
have understood the personality of such a man as Khrimean. 

Such, perhaps, is not an unfair analysis of society at Van and 
of the transformation which the principal elements have been 
undergoing. Several massacres of the Armenians have done less 
to exasperate them than the importation of Russian methods into 
their daily life. The place swarms with secret police. Should a 
Mussulman harbour a grudge against an Armenian, he endeavours 
to excite the suspicions of one of these agents ; the house is 
entered and searched from roof to cellar. Perhaps some harmless 
effusion of patriotic sentiment is found in the desk of a son of the 
house, a student. The poem is seized and the youth thrown into 
prison. Arms are said to be concealed, and a pistol may be 
discovered. The whole family is at once rendered suspect. 
One might multiply these instances almost to any extent ; but 
my object is not to excite resentment against the Turkish 
authorities, only to show the folly of their procedure. If they 
would only return to their old traditions and try to govern less, 
the situation would be immensely improved. 

I feel sure that such counsel would be appreciated and even 

8S Armenia 

tendered by the Pasha if he were consulted by those from whom 
he takes his orders. But it would have been in doubtful taste to 
speak one's mind out to him, the intercourse between us having 
been confined to the courtesy of an exchange of visits. Nor was 
he the man to enter usefully into a discussion of the subject. 
He had come to Van in the pursuit of his profession of Governor 
some twenty months ago. A Mussulman Georgian of good 
family, whose ancestral estates lie in Russian territory, not far 
from the coast of the Black Sea, he could probably lay better 
claim to a preference for straight over crooked dealing than to 
any of the more special qualities of a statesman. The Moham- 
medans who emigrate from the Russian provinces into the 
dominions of the Sultan are most often those who are unable to 
sustain competition with stronger elements, given fuller economical 
play under Russian rule. The Vali of Van, notwithstanding his 
name and a certain dignity of presence, could scarcely hope to 
occupy a position of equal importance in the empire of the Tsar. 
I found in him a man of little or no education, about fifty years 
of age. Tall and of large frame, his features were almost hand- 
some, except, perhaps, the mouth. He habitually wore a smile 
upon his face. There he would sit in his long, bare room from 
morning until evening, sipping coffee with his visitors and puffing 
cigarettes. He appeared to encounter all kinds of difficulties in 
the vicarious management of his property in Russia ; but one 
could not doubt that the comely beard would grow white in the 
Turkish service, and the groves of Kolchis know him no more. 

We spoke of the Kurds and of the redoubtable Hamidiyeh 
regiments, of which, he assured me, no less than twenty had been 
instituted in his vilayet, including the mountainous region of Hak- 
kiari. He stated that their horses had already been branded, and 
that the prescribed strength of each regiment was from 600 to 700 
men. Passing from this magnificent topic to the sphere of prose 
and of reality, he lamented the want of communications in the 
country, ascribing most of the troubles of the time to this cause. 
But when I enquired whether it would be permissible to organise 
a service of transport on the lake, bringing out a steamer or two 
and the necessary craft, he replied, as I expected, that one must 
apply at Constantinople, and that he had no authority to sanction 
the possession even of a pleasure launch. He had himself em- 
barked upon the enterprise of constructing a road to Bitlis along 
the southern shore of the lake. But it did not appear to have 

Van 89 

yet got further than the village of Artemid, less than a half day's 
stage. The Vali called my attention to the peculiar hardness 
of the walls in Van, although built of nothing better than mud. 
They remain intact for years and years. He also sang the praises 
of a coal mine, a short way distant, which he hoped would be 
exploited some day. 

Commerce and industry find in the Armenian population of 
Van a soil in which they would flourish to imposing proportions 
under better circumstances. The city is not situated upon any 
artery of through traffic, and a trade with the Russian provinces 
can scarcely be said to exist. The imports from abroad are 
carried in bullock carts or on the backs of pack horses by stages 
of almost endless number. Perhaps the bulk of them are derived 
from the port of Trebizond, travelling through Erzerum. From 
that provincial capital there are two main tracks, the one, which 
is used in summer, by way of Tekman or the plain of Pasin, 
passing through Kulli and Melazkert ; the other, frequented in 
winter, making the detour along the plain of Alashkert and cross- 
ing the Murad at Tutakh. The journey from that township is 
not without danger as far as Akantz on Lake Van. The caravans 
are accompanied by armed men, and are constantly on the alert 
against attack by bands of Kurds. Communications with Persia 
are conducted principally through the town of Kotur, and, more 
rarely, through Bashkala. On the south the territory of Van 
is separated by almost impenetrable mountains from the lowlands 
of Mesopotamia. But some cotton goods find their way up from 
the Mediterranean and through Aleppo and Diarbekr along the 
passage of Bitlis and the southern shore of the lake. I was 
informed of a more direct route which, after leaving Bashkala, 
passes by way of Gever, Shemzinar (Shemdinan ?) and Rowanduz 
to Erbil and so to Baghdad. But it was represented as encoun- 
tering considerable natural difficulties between Shemzinar and 

Native industries, such as the production of various kinds of 
textiles, as well as a number of small handicrafts, are necessarily 
confined within very humble limits, owing to the poverty of the 
country. Wages are low, and the price of bread is apt to become 
high under a system of commercial rings which involves the 
Government officials in the artificial production of a famine. At 
the time of my visit wheat stood at an almost prohibitive figure ; 
yet large quantities of the cereal were reputed to be stored, and 

go Armenia 

no additional supplies were encouraged to come in. Many of 
my readers will be familiar with the circular wafers, resembling 
pancakes, which take the place of our loaves of bread throughout 
the East. Never very palatable, as I think, they are really 
unwholesome, besides being nasty, in the paradise of Van. They 
appeared to be compounded of a gritty mud with an admixture 
of dough. We endeavoured in vain to procure some white bread ; 
the bakeries were said to be forbidden to supply such a luxury 
to any but the V^ali's table. The wretched bakers are a class 
subject to constant persecution ; the officials have the right and 
even the duty of inspection ; and this is tantamount to asserting 
that the bread is sure to be bad and its producers at their wits' 
end to squeeze from the staple the necessary bribes. 

Corruption has wormed its way into every department of the 
administration. I enquired of a prominent citizen, who impressed 
me as a man of parts, and to whose house I was obliged to wade 
through mud which lay ankle deep upon the central avenue of 
the garden town, whether a municipality were an institution 
unknown to Van. He replied that, on the contrary, they possessed 
an elaborate machinery for the regulation of municipal affairs. 
Were Christians excluded from the body ? — By no manner of 
means. — Then what prevented him and those of equal calibre 
with him from attending to such important affairs ? The answer 
came that those Armenians who served upon the Board were 
mere robbers or abettors of robbery. No honest man with a 
reputation to lose could consent to co-operate ; should he make 
the endeavour he would rapidly be edged out. Such is the 
manner in which the paper reforms which tickle Europe are in 
practice transferred to the category of grave abuses. 

There must exist a trace of light in every gloomy picture ; 
and at Van the ray falls upon a little band of artisans and 
craftsmen as well as upon a few of the tradesmen and merchants. 
These elect are without exception Armenians. Our money 
matters were adjusted with a promptitude and a spirit of honesty 
which revealed capacities that came as a surprise after our 
experiences in Russian territory. Yet there is here no bank in 
the proper sense of the term. We were in want of warm over- 
coats, and gave a light cape as a model ; it was repeated in a 
thick cloth imported from European Turkey with a skill which 
would not disgrace a West-End tailor. My Van coat has since 
that day been my constant companion ; no wet has ever pene- 

Van 9 1 

trated the coarse but cunning texture, and not a stitch has given 
way. Work in metal is produced with a sleight of hand and 
sureness of eye which are nothing less than extraordinary. The 
jewellers bring you objects which, although fanciful rather than 
artistic, are little wonders in their way. And from the back- 
ground of such brighter memories shine the eyes of the great Van 
cats — as large as terriers, with magnificent tails and long fur, 
with the gait and fearlessness of dogs. 

If you could only forget the shadows or wipe them away like 
a picture-restorer, there would not be absent other elements of 
light and hope. But a very long vision would be necessary for 
their discernment, and senses in other respects keen. For one 
thing — in spite of the spies, and all the miserable stories of 
Armenian brides carried off by Kurds who go scot-free— a larger 
atmosphere seems to surround the immediate political environ- 
ment, disclosing vistas into freedom. There is none of that feel- 
ing of quite irremovable pressure, which in the Russian provinces 
is already sealing the springs of human activity as a noxious 
climate sits upon the lungs. Freaks there are, and wicked freaks 
on the part of Government ; nor does there exist any security 
for life and property. Officials and public bodies are woefully 
ignorant and hopelessly corrupt. In spite of these real miseries 
I should not hesitate to consent to endure them, were the alterna- 
tive the lot of an Armenian in Russia. But this is, perhaps, a 
purely personal impression which I need not expect my readers 
to share. 

Some acquaintance with the outside world is derived by the 
citizens as a result of the immemorial custom among the male 
Armenian inhabitants of migrating for a number of years to 
Constantinople and returning home when they have amassed a 
certain competence. Married men leave their families behind. 
Visits from Europeans are naturally few and far between ; but 
two or three political consuls are generally in residence, and there 
is a fairly numerous American Mission. The Americans are 
under the protection of the British Consul ; and it is pleasant to 
recognise these two elements working silently and unseen together 
in the van of humanity and civilisation. The British Consul 
deserves a special measure of esteem and sympathy. He fights 
the same battles as the devoted missionaries ; but he has no 
public, however much limited, to applaud his efforts and stimulate 
him with their enthusiasm upon his return home. He corresponds 

92 Armenia 

with an Ambassador entirely ignorant of the local conditions; his 
reports moulder iii the pigeon-holes of an impalpable Foreign 
Office ; and the least show of zeal is often rewarded by one of 
those snubs which your British official, and especially the younger 
diplomatists, have a natural talent for inflicting. The quality 
lacking to the average Englishman of a heart permeating manners 
is possessed in a marked degree by the Americans. Their 
Mission on the extreme eastern outskirts of the garden town is 
an oasis of human kindliness and light and love. It was presided 
over by Mr. Greene, assisted by Mr. Allen and by Dr. Raynolds, 
who was on leave of absence at the time of our visit. The lady 
workers included Dr. Grace Kimball, with a large medical practice, 
and Miss Fraser, a young and charming Canadian lady, who was 
at the head of a staff of Armenian teachers in the school for 
girls attached to the institution. In their society it was my 
privilege to spend several pleasant and profitable evenings, making 
drafts upon the varied experiences of Dr. Kimball, and realising 
what a blank is presented by social life in Mussulman countries, 
where freedom of intercourse with women would be regarded as a 
crime and where cultured women in the true sense are almost 

I received abundant testimony to the morality of Armenian 
women, even under circumstances which may be regarded as 
distinctly unfair. Although husbands leave their brides behind 
when they migrate to Constantinople, infidelity is uncommon. 
Were it otherwise, the fact could scarcely escape the observation 
of a lady practitioner. It often happens that a widow, about to 
marry again, will bring her young child to the feet of the 
missionaries, beseeching them to bring it up and educate it in her 
place, as their monument — for so she puts it — before God. But 
it never occurs that they are offered illegitimate offspring. For 
this reason, if for no other, they are disinclined to believe the 
aspersions which are usually cast by the authorities upon the 
character of Armenian women abducted by the Kurds. A less 
bright side of the Armenian character was, they said, their 
inveterate treachery towards members of their own race. In this 
respect, as well as in the domain of personal chastity, there appears 
to exist a rough analogy between the Armenians and the Celtic 
population of Ireland. But one must be careful not to press the 
resemblance too closely, the two peoples being fundamentally 

Van 93 

The gruesome stories, which we find it difficult to credit in 
Europe, of the miseries endured by the inmates of Turkish prisons 
were abundantly confirmed upon unimpeachable evidence. The 
most ordinary sanitary precautions are neglected, until the cells 
attain an unspeakable condition. Mussulmans are often able to 
obtain certain relaxations in the rigidity of their confinement. 
They plead that it is impossible for them to worship Allah upon 
floors which are in this state. Perhaps they will be accorded 
permission to emerge for a time into the open air. Christians 
are seldom favoured with similar indulgences ; and it often 
happens that an unhappy youth, immured upon mere suspicion, 
will be sent home in a dying condition, suffering from poisoning 
of the blood. 

The American Mission at Van is only one of the many 
establishments which have been spread over the face of Asiatic 
Turkey by the pious enterprise of the Protestant inhabitants of 
the New World. It is an established etiquette between the 
various Societies of the same faith, although not necessarily of the 
same nation, to avoid overlapping into one another's spheres ; and 
from an early date in the present century the Americans entered 
this field and made it their own, working their way into /\sia 
Minor and thence into Mesopotamia. Their Society is supported 
by the Congregational Church of America ; and this particular 
Mission was founded as late as 1871. Their activities are 
practically confined to the Armenian population professing the 
Gregorian religion. But I understand that the making of 
proselytes is no special or paramount- object of the teaching 
which they dispense. If, perchance, these lines should reach an 
American public, I would venture to entreat the supporters of the 
Mission to emphasise rather than to check this wholesome spirit 
of abnegation among the devoted men and women who serve 
their interests so well. The Church is at the present day the 
only stable institution which the Armenian people possess. No 
Armenian of education — whether priest or layman — doubts that 
it is in need of reform. Reform will come from within as the 
result of the growing enlightenment which the Church herself is 
engaged in propagating under extraordinary difficulties among 
her scattered communities. To wean her children from her, 
while she is still in the stress of a noble purpose, would be to 
promote that cruel spirit which lurks in all religions when they 
are assailed in their instincts of maternity from without. Such 



an endeavour would be at once in a high degree impolitic, and 
alien to the highest principles of Christianity — mutual tolerance, 
humility, love. 

The circumstances are not the same as when Luther reared 
the standard of rebellion ; nor are Americans sons of the 
Armenian Church. Their true mission is to compose rather than 
to accentuate the internal differences which the strong wine of 
their personality can scarcely fail to elicit among the congregations 
with whom they are brought in touch. The Armenians are 
scarcely less Protestant than themselves in their attitude towards 
the Church of Rome. I should hesitate to expound such 
arguments in a manner so didactic were I not convinced that 
they are recognised in their full force by the thinking minds who 
influence the aims of the Mission. Throughout the extensive 
field which is worked from this centre only seventy-five adults 
have been received into the Protestant Church. But the standard 
of wholesome living has been incalculably raised both in the 
material and in the moral sphere. The sick receive skilled 
treatment ; schools are opened in the most needy villages ; the 
alms of Europe, as well as of America, are distributed among the 
necessitous poor. The effect of a massacre is somewhat softened 
by the institution of numerous orphanages. Such are some of 
the results of over twenty years of labour, upon which the Society 
may look back with unmixed pride. In the eyes of the traveller 
they are likely to outvalue the long roll of converts which some 
of the constituents of the Mission might desire to possess. There 
is always a certain element of selfishness in proselytism which is 
peculiarly repugnant to the ordinary visitor to distant lands. 

The healthy absence or subordination of such an element 
among the Americans has contributed in no small measure to 
their success. The missionaries live on good terms with the 
Armenian clergy, and are sometimes invited to preach in their 
churches. They are loud in their praise of the tolerance of the 
Armenian hierarchy. They assured me that no attempt is made 
in their schools to convert the pupils from their ancestral religion. 
An early opportunity was afforded me of visiting these schools. 
They are two in number, one in the gardens and the other in the 
walled city. To both are attached companion institutions for 
girls. The school in the gardens was attended by i i o boys and 
I I 5 girls. That in the city had only a third of this number. 
The better-to-do among the people pay a small yearly fee, ranging, 

Van 95 

according to the standard of education which they may be receiv- 
ing, from 15 to 60 piastres.^ The highest class are expected to 
pay the last-named sum. Boys enter the school at seven years 
of age, and some remain as late as their sixteenth year or even 
into their eighteenth. The course consists of primary, inter- 
mediary and high-school classes ; and to each class it would be 
usual to devote three years. The curriculum of the highest class 
consists of English and French among foreign languages, algebra 
and geometry in the domain of mathematics, and physics and 
physiology in that of natural science. History is taught under 
certain drawbacks. I saw a copy of Xenophon's Anabasis which 
had been abstracted from the trunk of a teacher, and in which the 
name of Armenia had been erased with a penknife from the map ! 

Indeed, one of the greatest difficulties under which they 
labour within recent years consists in the enforced mimicry of 
Russian methods by the little Turkish officials. Their books are 
stopped on the road or sent back. Restrictions are placed upon 
the choice of books ; and both Milton and Shakespeare are 
suspect. The Bible comes through ; and a very handsome Bible 
it is, printed by the Society in modern /Armenian. They sell it 
for a small sum. The Armenian clergy prefer the old, classical 
Bible, which, however, few of their flock quite understand. The 
enterprise of the missionaries has also produced a Testament in 
the Kurdish language, which they dispense to those Armenians 
living in the recesses of the peripheral region who have forgotten 
their native tongue. 

Mr. Greene was of opinion that the sons of parents who possess 
some education are not inferior in natural abilities to the average 
x'\merican boy. In the English class I listened to some very fair 
reading, certainly as good as in the Russian seminary at Erivan. 
Some very practical theses were expounded ; why, for instance, 
should one sleep in a bed and not on the floor ? For four 
reasons : a floor is cold, dirt collects upon the floor, gases hang to 
the floor, damp affects the floor. There can be little doubt that 
the Armenian schools are greatly benefited by competition with 
the less fashionable American institutions. They at least receive 
a certain stimulus and some new ideas. This is notably the case 
in respect of their schools for girls, which owe their development 
to the x^merican example. 

During the course of our stay in Van I visited every school 

1 One lira or Turkish pound contains 100 piastres and is equal to iS shillings. 



both in the city and the garden town. In no better and surer 
way IS the traveller enabled to gauge the attainments of the 
community among whom he sojourns. The Armenians possess 
no less than eleven such institutions, each dispensing both primary 
and secondary education, and counting as many as 2180 pupils in 
all, of whom about 800 are girls. The majority, namely six, are 
purely ecclesiastical foundations, that is to say, they are attached 
to the churches and largely supported by Church funds. But 
four are owned and managed by private individuals, attracting to 
them the children of the wealthier parents. The single remaining 
unit is contributed by a school for girls which is due to the 
munificence of a wealthy Russian Armenian, the late M. Sanasarean. 
It has received the name of Sandukhtean. In numbers it is 
surpassed by the Church school of Hankusner, which has a roll 
of 250 maidens. These attend in the private residence of the 
present Katholikos, the author and patron of the college. The 
four private schools number about 400 scholars, of whom over 
100 are of the female sex. All these schools, with the single 
exception of Yisusean, are situated among the gardens. This 
last, of which the name signifies that it is dedicated to Jesus, is 
attached to the ancient churches of Tiramayr and Surb Paulos 
in the walled city and close to the foot of the rock.^ 

The ecclesiastical schools are housed in buildings adjoining 
the several churches to which they are attached. But they do 
not necessarily bear the same name as the church. Coming 
from Russia, it is curious to hear the loud grumblings which are 

1 I append the names and situations of the Armenian schools. Private schools are 
marked with a T'. 

No. of 

No. of 

Name of School. 



Where situated. 



I. Arakh 


Arakh quarter of the gardens. 

2. Norashen 


Norashen quarter of the gardens. 

3. Yisusean 



Walled city. 

4. Hankusner . 


Hankusner quarter of the gardens. 

5. Sandukhtean 



Norashen ,, ,, ,, 

6. Khach-poghan 


Central avenue of gardens. 

7. Lusavorchean P. 



)> )) > ) 

8. Haykavank . 



Haykavank quarter. 

9. Paragamean P. 



Norashen cjuarter of gardens. 

10. Pusantean P. 


,, ,, ,, 

II. Lukasean 



Norshen-Sufla quarter of gardens. 



Vail 97 

called forth among the Armenians by their obligation to pay to 
Government a tax of two per cent upon their incomes towards 
the expenses of education. Government pockets the money 
but fails to provide a Christian school. In Russia they do not 
complain of the imposition of the corresponding tax, but would 
be eager to throw away at least double the amount in considera- 
tion of being permitted to retain and develop their own unassisted 
schools. What the Armenians would desire above all things both 
in Russia and in Turkey is the refund by Government under certain 
conditions of the tax levied upon them for education. Taking 
into account the efficiency of their schools, the purely political 
nature of the opposition they encounter, and all the peculiar 
circumstances of the case, one is inclined to come to the con- 
clusion that both Empires would be well advised to accede to the 
wishes of their Armenian subjects upon this point. At least those 
wishes are likely to enlist the sympathies of impartial men. 

Except for the protection which is afforded in their relations 
with Government by the close connection with the ecclesiastical 
organisation, the Armenian schools display a detachment from 
hierarchical influences which no friend of true education can fail 
to admire. The teachers are almost without exception laymen ; 
and knowledge is allowed to pursue its own salvation. Formerly 
there existed in Van an institution for preparing teachers ; but 
it was closed by Government for political reasons some years ago. 
Its place might probably be taken by the Sanasarean college at 
Erzerum ; yet I only met one master who had been equipped by 
that wealthy foundation, and the fact deserves remark. The rest 
had been chosen from the ranks of the best-educated citizens ; 
and, in the absence of any other but a commercial career for 
young men thus qualified, the teaching staff attracts a fairly high 
class. No limits are placed by Government upon the standard 
of instruction — the sentence sounds strange ; and one requires to 
have come from Russia to appreciate the magnanimity of the 
concession. But Russian methods have crept in within recent 
years, and the private schools have already been regulated. In 
all schools gymnastics are rigidly prohibited, on the ground that 
the boys might be drilled and might rebel ! Such puerilities are 
balanced on the other side by the comparative latitude which on 
the whole the schools enjoy. 

Text -books, translated or compiled from European sources, 
are supplied by the printing presses of the Mekhitarist order in 

98 Armenia 

Venice and Vienna. I enquired why the Bible had not been 
issued in modern Armenian by the organisers of the Church 
schools. The reply came that the difference between the ancient 
and modern tongues was not so great as between Latin and 
Italian ; and that it was desirable that Armenians should be 
familiar with their best literature, written in the same classical 
speech. The curriculum comprises, besides the Armenian 
language, religion and literature, a fairly thorough study of the 
Turkish tongue, both written and spoken. French is also taught ; 
and two of the masters at Yisusean conversed in fluent French. 
The natural science course includes astronomy and physical 
geography ; while mathematics, anatomy, geography and general 
history figure in the routine of one or other of the grades. 
Leaving out of account the primary course, most of the schools 
have a higher as well as an intermediary grade. Li both a 
pupil remains some three to four years. He might complete the 
course in about his sixteenth year. But the majority are much 
too poor to be able to remain more than half this term ; and in 
the school of Arakh, the largest in Van, I counted only sixteen 
youths attending classes in the highest grade. Only five were in 
the last year. About one-half were competent to contribute a 
small payment, the highest sum being a couple of mejidiehs or 
40 piastres a year. 

The oldest of these schools are Yisusean and Arakh, both 
founded nearly fifty years ago. The latter may perhaps serve 
as a typical example of the scholastic institutions attached to 
the churches. Its proper name is the somewhat cacophonous 
one of Thargmanchatz, or the school of the translators — Sahak, 
Mesrop and their companions. It is situated in the Arakh 
quarter of the gardens and in the same enclosure with the church. 
You are shown into a reception-room of moderate proportions 
with a coarse divan at one end and a few chairs. Upon the 
walls are suspended a photograph or two, displaying the features 
of well - known ecclesiastics. A single priest and a bevy of 
lay teachers will be assembled to do the honours. On the 
occasion of our visit there were not less than twenty people 
present, and we were addressed in passable English by one of the 
teachers who had come from the x^merican school. Coffee was 
served and cigarettes. No matter what the subject of conversa- 
tion might happen to be, a certain middle-aged and sour-faced 
individual who sat in a corner would always insist upon putting 

Vail 99 

in his say. To the remonstrances of his companions he would 
retort with much vehemence that his only privilege left in life 
was freedom of speech. In that cause he had withered in prison, 
from which he had only just been set free, and to which he was 
likely soon to return. Then he proceeded to heap curses upon 
the Turks and their government, until I was obliged to say that 
one of us two must leave the room. As a guest in a Turkish 
city, it would ill become me to listen to treason against hospi- 
table and considerate hosts. The strange thing about this 
incident was the fact that these teachers should be willing to 
harbour such a suspicious character. He did not belong to the 
school. The reputation of the place was jeopardised by his 
presence. What children — so one reflected — these people are ! 

The younger pupils in the primary class will be collected in 
one vast room, seated on benches or on the floor. They are 
attired in nondescript and ragged cotton garments ; and few 
even of the older scholars are possessed of suits in cloth. A 
number of smaller classrooms, with forms and blackboards, are 
approached from a long passage. Although the windows are all 
open, an unpleasant odour pervades the air ; this is a character- 
istic which we deplored to our cost in every school at Van. It 
was evident that not even the American missionaries had yet 
succeeded in inculcating personal cleanliness. Perhaps some of 
the young people display the Jewish type — a relic probably of 
the colony settled in Van by the Arsakid king and said to have 
been removed into Persia by Shapur. These are by far the most 
favoured. The vast majority, however, have the less pronounced 
and more irregular features common among the youth of Europe. 
But their eyes are all very dark and very bright, shining like big 
beads. They look extremely intelligent. The little girls did 
not impress me as being very attractive ; though, again, among 
the older maidens some beautiful Biblical types may be seen. 
These betray Semitic blood. The teachers in the girls' schools 
were all very plain — broad as galleons, with round faces, straight 
hair and crooked eyes ; what was wanting in their busts seemed 
to have been added below the waist. 

Van, at the time of our visit, was the proud possessor of no 
less a dignitary than a Director of Public Instruction. What- 
ever may have been his full Turkish title, he was always addressed 
by the less ornate style of Miidir. By origin he was an Albanian, 
by religion a Mussulman ; he spoke French well, and impressed 

lOO . Armenia 

me strongly as a zealous and capable man. It is a pity, and 
indeed a shame, that such material is not employed to fill the 
higher administrative posts. Although the Turkish schools fell 
more particularly within his province, to him was assigned the 
regulation of the Armenian private schools. They were con- 
strained to submit their syllabus for his approval, and also their 
text -books. Changes or additions to their teaching stafif were 
subject to the same sanction. I am not quite sure that these 
rules did not equally apply to the Church schools ; but, however 
that may have been, they were in practice mildly enforced. The 
Turkish scholastic system, as it is operative in Van, comprises 
three grades. There is first the primary ; then the secondary, 
which is termed RiislidiyeJi ; and last the college or lycce, called 
Idadiych. Of official primary schools not one existed prior to the 
arrival of the Mudir, only a few months before ourselves. The 
Mussulmans were in the habit of sending their children to small 
schools attached to the mosques. This practice had only partially 
been discontinued since the institution by the new functionary of 
six primary schools, numbering altogether some 240 boys. Of 
these fresh foundations I was only invited to visit one. Second- 
ary education was dispensed in three institutions of the Rushdiyeh 
class to about 350 students in all. The Mudir was in hopes 
of opening an Idadiyeh during the following summer ; and it was 
also his ambition that Christians as well as Mussulmans should 
attend the course. The bringing together of the two elements 
would certainly work to their mutual advantage ; and the ex- 
periment might succeed if it were tried on social and educational 
grounds, and not as a political thrust against the Armenian 

Of the three secondary institutions only two deserve remark, 
the third being apparently in an inchoate state. Both are situated 
on the great avenue leading from the walled town and forming 
the artery of the gardens. So far as I could ascertain, neither 
dated more than a few years back. The spacious buildings in 
which they are housed, the fine classrooms, the dress of the 
pupils — everything contrasts to their advantage in external 
matters with the comparative squalor of the Armenian schools. 
We did not see a single untidy youth ; the air was sweet, the 
floors scrupulously clean. Scholars and teachers, with the 
exception of a mollah or two, were attired in a distinctive uniform. 
Such, indeed, was the case in both institutions ; but it was a more 

Va7t I o 1 

noticeable feature in the more numerously attended of the two, 
popularly known as the military school. The Mudir was careful 
to explain that it was not in fact a military school ; that it so 
appeared was due to the circumstance that they had been unable 
to obtain good civilian teachers, and had been obliged to have 
recourse to the military academy at Constantinople. I was the 
more inclined to give implicit credit to this statement after making 
the acquaintance of the staff of the purely civilian school. It was 
evident, however, that the instructors in the companion establish- 
ment had not abandoned any of their military methods. They 
wore their uniforms, and all their pupils, even the youngest, had 
been drilled. Here again we were introduced to a copy of 
Russian institutions ; and we might almost have been visiting the 
Russian High School at Erivan. The curriculum included the 
French, Persian and Arabic languages. The boys had evidently 
learnt by rote, but had learned well. They could draw maps of 
the countries of Europe on the blackboard. One of their number 
stood up and answered all geographical questions with an accuracy 
which no German boy could excel. The outline of England was 
rapidly sketched in from memory ; and, when I enquired the 
situations of even Greenwich and Gravesend, they were each 
assigned their proper place. The population of London was 
correctly given. Most of the faces one saw around one were 
extremely intelligent ; and only in a few instances were those 
dull, stupid features conspicuous which are not rare among the 
settled Mussulman population. All, without exception, were 
Mohammedans, and the majority the sons of officials. Unlike the 
Armenian boys, most of whom wear a shapeless cap, every youth 
had a clean fez with tassel upon his head. In the evening they 
would canter off on richly caparisoned horses ; but, to sum up 
the relative merits of the Arrnenian and the Turkish schools, 
while the first contemplate Knowledge, the second pursue her 
image, heedless of the resentment which the sensitive goddess 
keeps in store. 

While one is walking through the gardens, paying visits to 
the various schools, the attention will often be distracted to the 
very interesting churches, of a type which I have not seen in any 
other x'\rmenian town. It might not be inappropriate to call them 
log churches, although the outer walls are built of stone. The 
oldest is no doubt that of Haykavank, situated in the quarter 
of the same name. I was unable to ascertain its ag-e. But it 



represents a transition form from the usual stone edifice to the style 
of the other four churches in the gardens, in which the columns of 
the nave, the roofs and the interior fittings are exclusively of wood. 
The exteriors of all are featureless and plain. In Haykavank the 
nave is separated from the aisles by four stone piers as well as by 

sixteen wooden 
shafts, eight on each 
side. The face of 
the dais supporting 
the altar is also of 
stone. Light is 
thrown upon the 
interior through 
three box - shaped 
structures in the 
roof, each contain- 
ing four windows 
(Fig. 128). The 
shafts are in every 
church mere trunks 
of trees with the 
bark lopped off 
them ; and at the 
west end, seen in 
the background of 
my illustration, will 
always be situated 
a wooden gallery 
for the women. The 
floors are carpeted. 
The most attractive 
of the five is Norashen, remarkable for its two octagonal domes 
in wood. The largest is Arakh, with a length inside of i 3 5 feet 
and a breadth of a little over 56 feet. It appears to have been 
built as late as 1884 on the site of a smaller edifice. Nor is 
Norashen said to have been constructed more than about fifty 
years ago. It is remarkable that of these five churches of the 
gardens ^ — the remainder are known respectively as Hankusner 
and Yakob — all, with the exception of the last, are dedicated to 
the Virgin. The same may be said of two out of six in the 
walled town. The fact would seem to point to something approach- 

FiG. 128. Interior of Haykavank from the East. 

Van 103 

ing a cult of the Virgin, though plainly not for the reason for 
which, according to Voltaire, she was worshipped in old F'rance. 

One may be disposed to linger awhile in two of these churches 
— Haykavank and Hankusner. The first is filled with the musty 
memories of the dark ages, and the second with the vivid mag- 
netism of a personality which has not yet been removed from 
our midst. The ancient stone crosses inlaid into the dais of 
Haykavank, the painted reliefs of angels in the screen of the altar, 
and a most barbarous carved panel of the Last Supper are so 
many survivals of pure mediaevalism. The dingy logs and the 
rickety boxes in the roof, through the little windows of which the 
sweet light falls, are in harmony with the stiff figures, overlaid 
with gaudy but faded colours, which turn towards one from the 
shrine. From an adjoining apartment comes the sound of a chant 
by the choir at practice — a graceless music, sung through the 
nose. During a respite from this discord you hear the tick of an 
old standard clock ; and, moving towards it, read the name of its 
English maker years ago — Markwick Markham of the city of 
London. It has a companion of its own kind in this same church. 
Here they have stood and ticked in company for, I wonder, how 
many )-ears ! The colleague is by Michael Paieff of Vienna, and 
has a song chime, so sweet and clear and pure. . . . Hankusner, 
on the other hand, if devoid of any antiquities, is associated with 
a name which should always be honoured in Armenian history, 
and with a spirit which calls to the Church to throw off her 
mediaeval fetters and look into the light of the day. It was in 
that humble structure across the river, beneath the cliff of Toprak 
Kala, that Mekertich Khrimean was for many years accustomed 
to address his countrymen, standing upon the low dais by the 
altar beneath the roof of logs. His humble residence is situated 
on the Van side of the stream. You knock, and a man in the 
garb of a peasant steps forth and holds your reins as you dismount. 
Yet he is the nephew of the supreme pontiff of the Armenians. 
He informs you that this was the house in which the Hayrik was 
born. It is now tenanted by the girls' school. The rooms are 
neatly maintained, but their walls of mud are neither plastered 
nor papered. That which used to serve as his sleeping apartment 
contains a couple of wooden divans, used as seats by day and 
couches by night. Two pictures, one in oil and the other a crayon, 
portray the familiar face in youth as well as in age. What a 
handsome type, with the magnificent features and silky black 



beard ! The remaining frames, most, no doubt, due to the piety 
of his relations, display by the side of Armenian texts the title 
page of a journal upon which figures in all his splendour the eagle 
of Vaspurakan. 

It is quite a ride from the heart of the gardens to the walled 
city. The central avenue leads through great open spaces some 
time before the gate in the east wall is reached. On the left 
hand, across the fields, lie the less dense plantations of the quarter 
of Shamiram. The main entrance adjoins the rock which sup- 
ports the battlements of the citadel, and is called the gate of 

Fig. 129. The Rock and Walled City of Van. 

Tabriz. Extremely picturesque is the appearance from this side 
of the precipitous ridge, with the long serration of the mediaeval 
wall sharply outlined against the sky, and the ponderous towers 
crowning the hump of the mass (Fig. 129). It forms the 
northern side of the irregular parallelogram which is described 
by the walls of the city at its southern base. The area thus 
enclosed is of very moderate size, and the central and southern 
quarters seem pressed for room. These constitute the busy 
portion of the town, containing the bazars and the mosques. 
The former are, as usual in the East, thronged with motley 
figures ; and quite a crowd collected as I set up the camera 



inside a booth upon which were spread out a variety of cheap 
comestibles (Fig. 130). The mosques, of which there are three 
besides smaller places of prayer, are not, I think, worthy of 
remark. Only two, Kaia Chellaby and Khusrevieh, are at present 
frequented by the faithful. The third, Topchi Oglu, in the more 
northerly quarter, is now no longer used. Its minaret may be 
seen on the right side 
of my illustration de- 
picting the house of a 
rich Armenian in this 
district (Fig. i 27). In 
addition, there is at 
least one mosque in 
the garden suburb, 
known as the Hafizieh. 
Khusrevieh deserves 
attention for its cunei- 
form slab, built into the 
pavement upon the 
threshold of the build- 
ing. It was swimming 
in mud when we el- 
bowed our way towards 
it through a Friday's 
assembly of not too 
friendly bystanders. I 
had been informed of 
the existence of a 
not discover its where- 

FiG. 130. Street in the 
Walled City. 

second tablet, but could 

But there exists in the city a ruined mosque which mocks 
these Turkish edifices and is really a noteworthy example of 
Arab art. It is strange that it does not appear to have been 
mentioned by any traveller. The Ulu Jami, or great mosque, is 
situated in the western quarter, under the precipice of the citadel 
rock, which is here at its highest, and of which the sheer escarp- 
ments tower into the sky. The rareness and humility of the 
adjoining houses permit the view to wander from the remains of 
this beautiful building along the face of the upstanding limestone 

1 The text of the slab in this mosque (which he calls the Kurshun mosque) has been 
copied and published by Dr. Belck in \he Zeitschrift fiir Assyrioloi:;it', 1892, vol. vii. pp. 
257 seq. See also Vcrhandlnngen der Berl. Gesell. fiir Aiithropologie, 1898, pp. 570, 
575 (Sayce, No. \Xyj)^., Journal R. A. S. 1894, p. 707). 

io6 Armenia 

to the great tablet with the inscription of Xerxes some Httle 
distance east of where you stand. Two great periods of world 
history are embodied in these two monuments ; and, as we gazed 
upon them, the rock and tablet were bathed in the yellow light of 
evening, while the mosque was in shade. No one could tell us by 
whom it had been constructed, nor when it fell into decay. The 
pigeons build their nests in the crannies of the kiln-burnt bricks 
of which it is composed. In the centre rises a pillar, seen on the 
left of my illustration ; the angles are filled with the stalactite 
architecture dear to the Arabs (Fig. 131). The clay traceries upon 
the walls are as hard as stone and as delicate as ivory (Fig. 132). 

The Armenian churches are in general situated in the close 
vicinity of the overhanging parapet from which the works of the 
citadel frown. Although for the most part of considerable 
antiquity, none has any claim to architectural pretensions, such 
as one might expect in the capital of the mediaeval kingdom of 
Vaspurakan. Indeed in their original form they are small and 
quite plain stone chapels ; and the church proper has probably 
been added at a much later period, being furnished with the log 
pillars and plank boxes in the roof characteristic of the churches 
in the gardens. Access to the chapel is gained through an 
opening in the dais at the east end of the church. The entrance 
will usually be closed by a door with double folds. In some 
churches or on some occasions this door will be thrown open 
when service is being held. The priest will then stand with his 
back to the congregation upon the step on the threshold of the 
chapel. On the other hand, I have also attended when one 
would scarcely divine the existence of such an inner sanctuary. 
The priest performed his functions upon the dais of the church 
before an altar of the usual gaudy order. It is therefore evident 
that the uses of the larger building oscillate between those of a 
mere pronaos and a church in the proper sense. 

These edifices are six in number : Surb Tiramayr (the mother 
of the Master, i.e. Jesus Christ), Surb Vardan, Surb Paulos, 
Surb Neshan or the token, so called from a relic of the Cross, 
Surb Sahak, Surb Tsiranavor. The last is of almost tiny pro- 
portions, and is named after the Virgin with the purple robes. 
A seventh chapel, close to Surb Paulos, bears the name of 
Surb Petros, or St. Peter, but was severely shaken by an earth- 
quake a few years ago, and has been partially destroyed to 
prevent it collapsing. High mud walls, such as may be seen on 

Fig. 131, Van : Interior of the Mosque of Ulu Jami. 

Fig. 132. Van ; Frieze in Ulu Jami. 

Van 107 

the left of the photograph of the house in Van (Fig. 127), enclose 
the courts in which the churches are built. You enter through 
a low door of great weight after hammering with a ponderous 
knocker. The most interesting of all is certainly Surb Paulos ; 
and the teachers in Yisusean, who accompanied me on my visit, 
were inclined to ascribe it to the times of St. Thaddeus. I see 
no reason to doubt that certain parts of the chapel date back to 
an epoch before the advent of St. Gregory, when Christianity 
must have flourished in Vaspurakan. Surb Paulos seems to 
have served as a model to the other churches ; and the chapel 
is approached through the usual pronaos or church proper. The 
inside dimensions of the chapel are 57 feet by 27^ feet; and the 
thickness of the stone wall on the west side, where it is capable 
of being measured, is not less than 7 feet. Of rectangular shape, 
the disposition of the interior is not abnormal. You have an 
apse on the east side, preceded by a dais or raised stage in 
stone ; and the roof centres in a conical dome of great depth and 
admirable masonry, in which a row of loophole apertures admit a 
scanty light. The dome is supported by piers adhering to the 
walls. There is not a trace of plaster or ornament in the place ; 
and the dark hue of the naked stone enhances the gloom. We 
observed three blocks which had been built into the walls and 
were inscribed with cuneiform characters. But they appeared to 
have been hewn without any regard to the inscriptions, which 
must have suffered considerable mutilation. Better treatment 
had evidently befallen a large inscribed slab which had been 
used as a lintel or upper stone, roofing a niche in a recess of the 
south wall. The arrowhead writing was well preserved. In this 
same wall we admired a most beautiful Armenian cross, carved in 
bold relief upon a stone panel 5 feet high and 4 feet broad. We 
seemed to be able to read a date — 409 of the Armenian era or 
A.D. 960. My reader is already familiar with these crosses (Fig. 
59, Vol. I. p. 271) ; but I regret that the light in the sanctuary 
was much too dim to enable me to photograph the most artistic 
specimen of this form of ornament which I remember to have 

1 For the cuneiform inscriptions in Surb Paulos (Boghos) see Schulz's Memoir, pp. 298- 
99 ; Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, p. 400 (I do not know why he calls it the church of 
St. Peter and St. Paul); Verhandliingen der Berl. Gesell. ficr Anthropologic, 1898, pp. 570 
and 573, and Zeitschrift fiir Assyriologie, 1899, p. 320. They are being subjected to 
fresh examination by Messrs. Belck and Lehmann (Sayce, Nos. XXXI. and XXXII.). 
In addition to these I noticed a mutilated inscription on a stone in the doorway of Surb 
Vardan (sec Verh. Anthrop. 189S, p. 572), and two inscribed slabs in the apse of the 

io8 Armenia 

The citadel crowns the summit of the isolated ridge which 
forms the northern side of the fortified town. This is the famous 
rock of Van (Fig. 129). It rises to the height of about 300 feet 
from level land on all sides. The ridge is narrow in proportion 
to its length, and has a direction a few points north of an east- 
west line. In shape it has been compared to the back of a camel, 
the citadel occupying the hump. The sides of the mass, which is 
composed of a limestone so hard that it resists a knife, are most 
precipitous on the south. They are most amenable at the western 
and eastern extremities. The remains of an ancient wall with 
inscriptions of Sarduris the First may be discovered at the western 
end. The wall was probably protracted to the lake in the 
neighbourhood of the present harbour. There are no houses on 
the north side. The ground in that direction is waste or disposed 
for pasture ; and a little marsh adjoins in one part the base of the 
rock. We tried our best, but in vain, to obtain permission to visit 
the citadel. The Pasha was powerless and the Commandant 
obdurate. The majority of modern travellers have met with the 
same refusal, due, no doubt, to a desire to hide the nakedness of 
the place. The blandishments of Schulz, as well, perhaps, as the 
hopes he held out of discovering treasure, were successful in 
effecting a temporary breach in the tradition of official obstinacy. 
He was admitted within the gate of the inmost fortress, to find it 
occupied by a garrison of two living creatures — an old janissary 
and a tame bear. Later visitors, more privileged than ourselves, 
tell of a few obsolete cannon. The disappointment which is 
engendered by the attitude of the authorities may be appreciated 
by the fact that the caves of Khorkhor and other antiquities are 
included within the fortified area. I have endeavoured in the 
accompanying note ^ to offer some description of them, largely at 

ruined Surb Petros, one in fair preservation (Sayce, No. XLVIIL). I was unable to pene- 
trate into the chapel of Surb Sahak, into the walls of which similar fragments of the 
stelai of the Vannic kings have been inserted (Sayce, Nos. XLV. and XLVL). 

1 The most detailed, as well as the most lucid and impressive, account of the Gurab, 
or rock of Van, is still that of Schulz [Joiirrial Asiatique, 1840, vol. ix. ser. iii. pp. 264 
seq.). But the remarks of Layard {Nineveh and Babylon, pp. 395 seq., with woodcuts of 
the rock chambers), Tozer (Turkish Armenia, London, 188 1, pp. 347 seq.) and Miiller- 
Simonis [Du Caiccase an Golfe Persiqtie, Paris, 1892, pp. 246 seq.) may be consulted. 
The only entrance to the citadel is by a path which is conducted up the western 
declivities of ihc rock from a point closely adjacent to the gate called Iskele in the north- 
west angle of the fortitied town. In Schulz's time this path ascended in a north-easterly 
direction between a double row of modern walls, composed for the most part of mud. 
After following these walls for some little distance it arrived in front of a solid wooden 
door, studded with large nails and strengthened by bars of iron. This gate afforded 
access to the Castle, and was never opened except by an express order from the Pasha. 

Van I 09 

second hand. The general impression which we may receive is 
that the ancient works upon the ridge behe the hopes excited by 

The castle enclosure was flanked by walls of greater height and solidity than those 
without ; it contained a number of modern buildings, such as barracks, a small mosque, 
and a powder magazine. Mr. Tozer was shown a very deep naphtha well in this 
neighbourhood, running down vertically into the rock. The oil, which he describes as a 
brown, half liquid mixture, could be reached by means of a pole. The house of the 
commandant and the prison are situated within the enclosure, where may be seen a 
number of old bronze cannons, curiously ornamented and quite obsolete. Schulz 
describes the antiquities upon this portion of the rock as consisting of two groups of 
cave chambers. I. The southern front of a mass of rock which immediately adjoins 
the most elevated part of the whole formation — that part which lower down displays the 
tablet of Xerxes, and which is crowned by the powder magazine — has been hewn down 
in a vertical direction for a space of about 60 feet. Nearly in the centre is situated an 
open doorway, surmounted by a smaller aperture to admit light. Both openings have 
been damaged by human hands, evidently with intention ; and no trace of any ornaments 
or inscriptions remains. The doorway conducts into a vaulted cave chamber, some 45 
feet long and 25 feet high. The rock has been less carefully worked than in the case of 
the caves of Khorkhor. Nearly in front of the entrance, a second doorway in the 
opposite wall gives access to a smaller apartment, 20 feet long and 10 feet broad, called 
the Neft Koiou or spring of naphtha, the fumes of which fill the room. At the time of 
Schulz's visit this inner chamber was nearly filled up by a structure in kiln-burnt bricks 
and veiy hard mortar, of which the purpose was not apparent. 2. Quite close to the 
Neft Koiou, in the block of limestone, adjoining it on the left hand, which rises from the 
tablet of Xerxes to the powder magazine, may be seen a hole of irregular shape and some 
3 feet in diameter, through which one crawls into a group of five rock chambers, of which 
the largest is 30 feet long and 20 feet broad. The walls of these caves are rudely 
fashioned, without ornament or niches. In one of them Schulz found human bones. 

Perhaps the most remarkable and certainly the most famous series of such excavations 
upon the rock of Van are known by the name of the caveS of Khorkhor. They are 
situated in the steep south-west side of the mass, overlooking a garden which in Schulz's 
time belonged to the Pasha, but which is now in a desolate and weed-grown condition. 
The garden bears the same name as the caves — a name of which the etymology is neither 
Armenian nor Turkish, and which, according to Professor Sayce, may perhaps be taken 
back to the word Kharkhar, signifying to excavate, found in Vannic texts (J.R.A.S. 
1882, p. 572). The chambers are visited from the same side as the citadel, and at first 
by the same path. The remains of steps and of even spaces, hewn out of the rock, 
suggest that one of the principal approaches to the platform in antiquity was taken by 
this way. But, after following this avenue for some little distance, you turn to the right, 
leave the stairs, and clamber along the side of the rock, until you emerge through a 
fissure upon the southern face and see the garden at your feet. From here a staircase of 
twenty steps, almost obliterated in some places, slopes along the face of a mass of precipitous 
crags, in which is placed the entrance to the chambers. The limestone has been carefully 
flattened and polished, and is covered with inscriptions outside. At the commencement 
of the stair is seen a little grotto, containing a seat which commands fine views over town 
and plain. On the right of the grotto is a long inscription in three columns, separated 
from one another by vertical lines. It has suffered not a little from the impact of cannon 
balls ; but is still in a fairly legible condition. It records the conquests of Argistis I. 
(Sayce, Nos. XXXVU. XXXVIII. XXXIX.). The continuation of this record is found 
a little further on, at the end of the stair, and after turning an angle of the rock. It is 
incised upon the outer face of the polished limestone about the doorway to the caves 
(Sayce, Nos. XL.-XLIV. ; see also Hyvernat's memoir in Miiller-Simonis, op. cit. p. 531). 
This aperture, some 6 feet by 5 feet in dimensions, leads into a chamber 32 feet long, 19 feet 
broad, and lOj feet high, which again communicates with four lesser rooms. The walls 
are hewn out with extraordinary care, and ten niches or oblong recesses, 3 feet high and 2 
feet broad, are distributed over the sides of the principal apartment about 3^ feet above the 
ground. Incisions with holes in the centre are placed in the spaces between each pair 

iio Armenia 

the account contained in the pages of Moses of Khorene. They 
do not amount to much more than a few groups of chambers 
excavated in the rock. The purpose which these caves served 
was almost certainly that of tombs ; though they may also have 
been used as refuges in time of war. It must, however, be 
remembered that all the ancient structures upon the rock have 
long since been destroyed. The same fate has befallen even the 
staircases. Some of the recesses appear to have been destined to 
receive bas-reliefs ; and if such may have been the case, these 
images have been demolished. Yet enough remains, especially 
the elegant characters of the many inscriptions, to fill the mind 

of niches, and may have held metal lamps. The floor has been excavated in two places 
into squares a few inches deep. The smaller rooms are furnished with recesses similar 
to those described. One of them adjoins a space resembling the head of a pit or shaft, 
which, however, has been completely filled in with rubble. It probably represents a 
subterraneous communication with a spring which gashes from the foot of the rock in the 
garden below. 

The remaining excavations and inscriptions are disposed as follows over the 

circumference of the ridge : — i. East of the Khorkhor, but on the same south face, and 
approached from the side of the gate of Tabriz, you easily recognise a partly natural and 
partly artificial platform, fairly high up on the rock. A spacious doorway connects this 
ledge with a cave of which the dimensions, according to my own measurements, are 3 1 
feet by 21 feet. This chamber communicates with three smaller grottos, one approached 
by a door in the wall opposite the entrance, and the other two by similar apertures in the 
adjacent walls. The three subsidiary rooms are long and narrow. The one opposite 
the entrance contains a dais and steps at its narrow west end ; and that on the left hand 
is furnished with recesses at each extremity. Lower down on the side of the rock one 
observes a small aperture to which it is possible to gain access. It only measures some 
4 feet by 3 feet. In the stone above has been hewn a long but shallow recess, about 3 feet 
in width. One wonders whether it may have been destined to receive a coffin. The 
hole gives access to a chamber 23 feet 7 inches in length and 14 feet in breadth. Three 
sides are furnished with recesses 2 feet 6 inches in depth, placed 3 feet 4 inches from the 
"^round. 2. Inscription on the rock near the gate of Taijriz, much effaced, but copied 
and deciphered by Messrs. Belck and Lehmann. It contains the names of the kings 
Menuas and Ispuinis, together with those of the father of Ispuinis, Sarduris, and his 
grandson Inuspuas {Verhatidlnngen der Berl. Gesell. filr Anthropologie, 1898, pp. 571, 
575). The same travellers mention the discovery by them of three new inscriptions on 
the ridge, which appear, however, to be of minor importance {ibid. p. 571). 3. On the 
northern face of the rock, not far from the Tabriz gate and below the line of fortifications, 
are situated two artificial recesses at an interval of about twenty paces. That on the 
right contains a long inscription upon the wall which is on your left as you stand within 
the recess ; it records conquests by Sarduris II. (Sayce, No. XLIX.). This grotto bears 
the name of Kha/.ane-Kapusi or gate of treasure. 4. On the same side, a short distance 
further west, and upon a surface which has been hewn down vertically and flattened, are 
seen three tablets incised into the rock, one of them being on a level with the base of the 
rido-e. Each member of the group contains an inscription ; and the three inscriptions 
have one and the same text. It is of Menuas, and a])pears to commemorate a restoration 
of the tablets by that monarch (Sayce, No. XX.). 5. On the same side, near the summit, 
and almost directly above the grotto Khazane Kapusi (Hyvernat ap. Miiller-Simonis, op. 
tit. p. 548), is a large cave, at present comprised within the fortifications, and inaccessible 
from below. On the right of the entrance is an inscription of King Menuas, purporting 
that a series of chambers were constructed by him as tombs in this place (Sayce, No. 



with admiration of that old race and vanished culture. They were 
certainly not lacking in the instincts of imagination ; and, year by 
year, they must have taken pleasure in gazing out upon the 
landscape from the grottos constructed to receive them when they 
died. \ people of Cyclopean walls, embossed shields and chariots, 
they would almost 
seem to have be- 
longed to the race 
of giants, preceding 
the evolution of fox- 
like man. 

I must not close 
this chapter and dis- 
miss the memories 
of the paradise of 
Van without be- 
stowing some little 
space upon the 
surroundings of the 
city, which abun- 
dantly justify the 
Armenian proverb. 
The governing fea- 
ture of the nearer 
landscape is the 
lofty parapet of 
Mount Varag, dis- 
tant from the citadel 
some eight miles 
in an easterly direc- 
tion and nearly ten 
miles from the margin of the lake. The plain rises gradually 
beyond the limits of field and garden to meet and mingle with 
those slopes. Spurs connect the mountain with the irregular hill 
mass on the north of the suburbs, which in its totality appears to 
be known under the name of Zemzem Dagh. Like Varag itself, 
these hills are composed of a hard limestone ; and their south- 
westerly extremity is signalised by a very bold, detached crag, 
standing forth like a sentinel (Fig. 133, and see the plan). This 
portion of the mass is known as Ak Kopri, which means in 
Turkish " the white bridge." That is the name of a straggling 

Fig. 133. The Crag of Ak Kopri. 

112 Armenia 

quarter, inhabited by Mussulmans, on the north side of the Httle 
river and close to the crag/ 

The stream itself is also called Ak Kopri ; and, coming from 
Van gardens, we crossed it by a little bridge. Standing close to 
the crag, which we reached after a short ride, the view ranged 
widely in all directions except that of the cliffs at our back. 
Looking west and south we had the great plain before us, bounded 
only at an interval of many miles by low hills circling from 
Varag into the lake in front of the distant barrier of the Kurdish 
mountains. Turning round, we commanded a view of uncultivated 
flats, extending several miles to another line of bare hills ending 
on the west in a crag, called Kalajik. The only trace of verdure 
in that landscape were the gardens of the village of Shahbagh. 
But the outlines of the promontories, the blue lake, the distant 
fabrics of Nimrud and Sipan, composed into a picture it would 
be difficult to forget. 

The level ground in the direction of Kalajik forms the first of 
two extensions of the plain of Van, properly called. Retracing 
our steps for a short distance, we soon turned off in an easterly 
direction, and rounded the bluff of Ak Kopri. We found ourselves 
in the bay of cliffs which faces Van gardens ; and we were soon 
standing in front of the great cuneiform inscription, which contains 
such an interesting list of the gods worshipped by the Vannic 
people, and of the sacrifices which were appointed for each god.^ 
The tablet is hewn into the rocky slope of the cliff, about 50 
feet above the level and cultivated ground (Fig. 134). Some 10 
feet below it is a shallow cave. Three successive jambs recess 
inwards to the face of the tablet from that of the rock, which has 
been flattened on either side. The depth of the recess is 4 
feet 2 inches. The dimensions of the tablet or polished surface 
containing the inscription are a breadth of 6 feet 5 inches and a 
height of about 1 7 feet 6 inches. From a distance the recessed slab 
has all the appearance of a door giving access to a grotto behind. 

1 The Armenian gentleman in whose company I visited the locaHty regarded Ak 
Kopri as a Turkish misnomer for Ak Karapi, a word which he derived from Kar, a 
stone, and Ap, narrow way in Armenian. The word would signify the narrows of the 
white crag, or the narrow way separating the crag from the hill. That is a sample of 
Armenian etymologies. Another derivation is from Ak Kirpi, the white hedgehog. 

- Sayce, No. V. It is an inscrijition of Ispuinis and Menuas, and is known locally 
as Meher Kapusi (the gate of Meher, derivation unknown) or Chohan Kapusi (the 
shepherd's gate; so called from a shepherd to whom the "Open Sesame" of the 
treasure-house, which the slab is supposed to seal, is said to have been revealed in sleep. 
He entered ; but forgot the talisman, and never returned). 

Pig. 134. Yan: Cuneiform Inscription of Meher or Choban Kapusi. 



Va7t 1 1 3 

After continuing our direction for no great space we mounted 
to the summit of the cliff. It may be some 200 feet high. 
But the flat top rises at its southerly extremity to a level of 
about double that altitude above the gardens of Van. These 
are the heights of Toprak Kala. From a cleft in the mass we 
opened out the upper valley of the Ak Kopri Su, the second 
of the extensions of the plain of Van of which I have spoken 
(Fig. 135). The mountain in the background of my photograph 
is Varag. 

The monastery of Yedi Kilisa, situated on the slopes of that 
mountain, is the most frequented of the numerous cloisters in 
the neighbourhood ; and thither we made our way on a fine 
November day. The first snowstorm of the coming winter had 
raged during the night ; and the snow was lying in spite of a 
brilliant sun. A ride of some seven miles along the windings 
of the track brought us to the door of the enclosure. We had 
passed over rising ground, in places furrowed by the plough, but, 
except for the oasis of the village and monastery of Shushantz, 
entirely devoid of trees. A mere fleck upon the white canopy 
of the hills on our right hand had been named to us as the 
cloister of Surb Khach. Our Armenian friends in Van were fond 
of speaking of these foundations as centres of light and learning 
in the older and happier times. They have been scattered with 
a liberal hand over this magnificent landscape ; yet how they 
have fallen from their estate ! Two poor monks, who lived on 
gritty bread and salted cheese inlaid with herbs, received us at 
the gate. One was the abbot, or rather the deputy of the abbot ; 
for that office is still held by the present Katholikos, the Hayrik 
or Little Father of the Armenians. Daniel Vardapet — for so 
he was addressed — is a type of the better- educated priest. A 
delicate man some fifty years of age, his features were those of 
a Casaubon. I am afraid his attainments would not compare 
with those of that scholar ; yet he had the suavity and the speech 
of a cultivated man. His assistant was a monk of the peasant 
class. Some fifteen youths were housed in the cloister — the 
remnant of the school founded there years ago by Khrimean. A 
cloud of unusual gloom enveloped the destinies of the ancient 
place ; and one might doubt whether the gentle Daniel had ever 
experienced so many calamities during the thirty-five years which 
he had passed within these walls. The most severely felt of all 
the blows which the Turkish Government had been raining upon 



them was the loss of their printing press. Some short while back 
the officials appeared and walked off with the precious instru- 
ment, of which the voice had been mute for many years. They 
erected it in Van, and, having kidnapped an Armenian compositor, 
used it to publish an official gazette. In company with the 
Mudir I had happened to pass the building where it was lodged ; 
and my companion remarked to me that he was looking for- 
ward to obtaining some money for his schools with the proceeds 
of the sale of the paper.^ 

Fig. 136. Monastery of Yedi Kilisa (Varag), 

The site of the monastery is a dip or pass upon the outline 
of gentle hills which stretch from the more southerly slopes of 
the mountain to confine the plain upon the south (Fig. 136). 
From its windows only a vista of the lake is obtained. The 
church consists of a larger pronaos with the usual conical dome, 
communicating on the east by a richly moulded and spacious 
doorway with a chapel or sanctuary." The interior of this chapel 
recalls features in St. Ripsime at Edgmiatsin. It has four 
apses or recesses, one on each wall, separated from one another 

1 Since I have mentioned the name of Daniel Vardapet it is only just that I should 
add that he stated to me that the press had been hired. 

^ The inside dimensions of this chapel are : extreme length from recess to recess, 
38 feet 7 inches, and extreme breadth, 30 feet. 



by deep niches. The whole is surmounted by a conical dome 
(Fig. 137). In the floor of the pronaos are seen three stone 
slabs with inscrip- 
tions. They cover 
the remains of King 
Senekerim, of the 
Armenian mediaeval 
dynasty, his queen 
Khoshkhosh and the 
Katholikos Petros. 
The frame of an 
altar erected upon 
the site of these slabs 
has been stripped of 
all its ornaments. 
This act appears to 
have been commited 
by the Hayrik, and 
out of anger against 
Senekerim.^ The mild 
features of Daniel 
Vardapet contracted 
as ' we spoke of that 
monarch ; and he 
assured me with some 
vehemence that he 
would dig out his 
bones and cast them 
on the rocks were it 
not for his title of king of Armenia. The chapel of Yedi 
Kilisa is most interesting to the student of architecture, and is 
no doubt a work of considerable antiquity. A ruined chapel 
on the south of the building contains a much-effaced inscription 
to the effect that it was constructed by the lady Khoshkhosh, 
daughter of Gagik and queen of Senekerim.^ 

1 See Vol. I. Ch. XVI. p. 237. 

- The statement of Layard {Nineveh and Babylon, p. 409) that the church is a 
modern edifice is scarcely correct, and is quite erroneous if it be taken to include the 
inner sanctuary or chapel. 

Fig. 137, 

Interior of the Church at Yedi 

Fig. 138. Van on the Road to Bitlis. 



The journey from Van to Bitlis may be performed in four days ; 
it is a ride of about a hundred miles. But no traveller will 
desire to omit a visit to the isle of Akhtamar, which will occupy 
another day. Nor is it well to press in haste through a country 
of such manifold interest, and along a coast which for beauty of 
feature and grandeur of surroundings can scarcely have an equal 
in the world. It was at Van that, for the first time since setting 
foot upon Armenian soil, we had been introduced to a civilisation 
in any sense comparable to the scale and dignity of the landscapes 
through which we passed ; and, although the monuments of that 
vanished culture belong to a remote antiquity, they are well 
calculated to divert our minds from the contemplation of the 
works of Nature, or at least to recall us to a sense of the power 
of man. The spirit of that race of iron which held in check the 
Assyrians still lingers over the scene of their exploits. You 
leave the ancient city with an added element of interest in a 
country which was the home of so great a people, and which still 
retains the memorial of their sway. But that country was also 

From Van to Bit lis 1 1 7 

the centre of a mediaeval kingdom, the contemporary and some- 
times the rival of the dynasty which has left us Ani as an example 
of their craft and taste ; and, such is the concern of the modern 
Armenian in the history of his nation, that long before you will 
reach Van you will be familiar with the name and arms of the 
kingdom of Vaspurakan/ It was therefore with curiosity that 
we set out upon our journey, and with regret that we were obliged 
by the season to narrow the sphere of our wanderings to the 
regular stages of our prescribed route to Erzerum.' 

At a little before noon on the 1 6th of November we mounted 
our horses in the court of the American Mission, whither we had 
proceeded to take leave of our friends. We passed by the church 
of Arakh, and emerged from the zone of gardens upon the surface 
of the bare plain. The usual stoppages in connection with the 
baggage, which seldom fails to begin by slipping from the horse's 
back to beneath his girth, enabled us to fill our eyes with the 
vision of the bay and beauteous city which we might never 
contemplate again (Fig. i 38). We had purchased two new horses, 

1 For the history of the medinsval kings of Vaspurakan who flourished in the tenth 
centuiy, I would refer my reader to Vol. I. Ch. XVIII. of the present work, to the second 
volume of Chamchean {History of Armenia, translated by Avdall, Calcutta, 1827, pp. 65 
seq.), and to Saint Martin's translation of the history of John Katholikos, who was an 
eye-witness of the events which he records during this period, and one of the principal 
actors in them (Paris, 1 84 1. See the index, sub voce Gagig). The vivid narrative of 
the last of these writers transports us into that distant age. The eagle which was the 
emblem of the princes of the Artsruni dynasty appears to have been connected with 
the ancient prerogative of their family to be the bearers of the golden eagle before the 
king (see Saint Martin, Memoires siir PAniienie, vol. i. p. 424). I have already related 
how the present ruler of the Armenian Church has taken revenge upon the last of the 
kings of this dynasty for his cowardly cession of his dominions to the Byzantine emperor 
(see Vol. I. Ch. XVI. p. 237). 

2 The following are the intermediate distances along the track according to my 
estimates: — Van to Artemid, 8 miles; Artemid to Vostan, 15 miles; Vostan to 
Akhavank (Iskele), 8 miles; Akhavank (Iskele) to Enzakh, 13^ miles; Enzakh to 
Kindirantz, 17 miles; Kindirantz to Garzik, 9 miles; Garzik to Sach, 16 miles; Sach 
to Bitlis, 1 1 miles — Total, 97i miles. 

As far as the promontory of Surb the path either leads over little plains interposed 
between the lake and the mountains, or crosses the rocky spurs which descend from the 
range into the waters, forming promontories. Of these spurs the most formidable is 
that which is scaled beyond Enzakh (Pass, 7600 feet) ; but the descents to the plains of 
Kindirantz and Surb are both long and arduous. Beyond Surb the track for the first 
time follows along the base of an almost vertical parapet of mountain, rising immediately 
from the water's edge. This romantic course is pursued for some distance west of 
Garzik ; when the lake is left behind, the Giizel Dere is entered, and you pass almost 
imperceptibly from the basin of Lake Van into that of the Tigris. It now only remains 
to cross from the Giizel Dere into the valley of Bitlis, which is done by way of the Bor 
Pass, 7490 feet. 

On the whole the route along the southern shore of Lake Van is by no means an 
easy one. The principal difficulties to an engineer occur between Enzakh and the 
Giizel Dere. 

1 1 8 Armenia 

one for the dragoman and the other to carry our effects. You 
require a good animal for the last of these purposes, who will trot 
along by himself. But throughout our journey we experienced 
the greatest difficulty in obtaining serviceable beasts at any price. 
Even at Van my choice was narrowed by the various ailments of 
the other candidates to a sturdy four-year-old who had not known 
work. This youngster, an iron grey, was no sooner set at large 
than he set off at full gallop across the plain. His career was cut 
short by the rapid overthrow of his load, which dragged him 
panting to the ground. But we trained him to perfection before 
reaching the northern capital, and I sold him at a profit in 
Trebizond. Worse fortune attended our second purchase, that of 
a seasoned horse of milk-white hue. I noticed that he was 
limping about an hour out of Van ; and, to my surprise, when I 
came to examine him closer, he proved to be an ingenious 
substitute for the one I had bought. The colour was the same, 
and also the appearance ; but not the points which had influenced 
my selection, although they would not appeal to the dragoman's 
eye. The knave of an Armenian who had concluded the sale 
with me had abstracted his former property from my stable, and 
had put in his place this unsound hack. 1 sent him back in 
charge of the zaptieh with a letter to Mr. Devey ; but I do not 
knov/ whether our Consul ever recovered my stolen steed. He most 
kindly sent me on a fine horse of his own, which reached us safely 
at Vostan. Such are the tricks of these subtle Armenians, whom 
long centuries of oppression have ingrained with every kind of 
turpitude. As we rode along this shore, one regretted God's 
covenant, that He \\ould be patient with the hopeless race of man. 
To overwhelm them in these waters and people afresh the scene 
of their crimes, would, it seemed to us, be the kindest and wisest 

The weather was delightful — a climate mild as spring, made 
fresh by the expanse of sea. The rays of a hot sun flashed 
through a crystal-clear atmosphere, which disclosed wide prospects 
over lake and land. P'ragments of white cloud floated above 
the outline of the Kurdish mountains, less gloomy beneath the 
newly-fallen snows (Fig. 139). In the west, Nimrud was faithful 
to its appearance of an island, separated by a strait from the 
train of Sipan. But to-day we could see the walls of the vast 
crater — a caldron of which the rim appeared commensurate with 
the area of the island, risinij in a robe of white from the waves. 

From Van to Bit lis 1 1 9 

We were pointing towards the high land in the direction of 
Artemid, the southern Hmit of the spacious plain of Van. When 
near the village, we struck a road which the Pasha was building, 
with the avowed intention of extending it to Bitlis. Workmen 
were busy upon it, and there was quite a stream of little bullock 
carts, conveying stones and soil. It follows the margin of the 
lake, and the drive along it to Artemid will be a treat such 
as few cities can bestow. The castled rock, backed by the 
fabric of the great volcano beyond the distant headland of the 
ba}- ; the noble lake, intensely blue, expanding to the distant 

Fig. 139. Mountain Range along South Coast of Lake Van. 

Nimrud, yet plashing tamely with tiny wavelets on the sand — 
these are answered in the opposite direction, across the poplars 
which hide the village, by the precipitous walls, sharp edges 
and deep shadows, characteristic of the stupendous barrier in 
the south. Although the distance between Van and Artemid 
does not exceed eight miles, it was after two before we arrived. 
We mounted the side of the hill ridge which meets the lake at 
this point in a bold and high cliff. Gardens decline along the 
easier levels towards the invisible margin of the shore. You 
look across the foliage to the fabric of Sipan, no longer covered 
by the horn of the bay (Frontispiece). 

Artemid ! the Greek name, and the memorials in the neigh- 
bourhood of that early civilisation which is revealed by the 
inscriptions of Van, suggest, no less than the striking site, the 

I20 ArTnenia 

possibility of further discoveries, when the place shall have been 
thoroughly explored.^ A hasty examination would have been 
of small service, and we were anxious to reach Vostan. So we 
rode, without halting, through the straggling settlement, and did 
not draw rein until we had reached a point some two miles 
beyond it, where it was decided to rest our horses and take lunch. 
We were still crossing the barrier of hills which support the 
gardens of Artemid ; our situation was elevated, and the view 
superb. We were able to follow on the horizon the outline of 
the Ala Dagh, although those mountains were over sixty miles 
away. They were loftiest on a bearing a few degrees east of 

1 The compiler of the index to Ritter's Erdkiiude confuses this Artemid with the 
' kprejxira. i] iv rrj Bal3v\u)vla of Strabo xi. 5 1 9, which, according to Ritter (ix. 508), 
is probably identical with the Artemita in Apolloniatis of Isidorus Charax [Mansioiics 
Parthica, c. 2 in Geographi Gnrci jMiiwres, Paris, 1882), and is to be sought in 
the district watered by the river Diyala, which joins the Tigris near Baghdad. An 
Armenian Artemita is mentioned by Ptolemy (c. 13, section 21, and c. 8, section 13, 
edit. Nobbe, Leipzic, 1843). 

Schulz tells us that the present village was in his time sometimes called Atramit 
(he himself writes it Artamit) "par une transposition de lettres qui rappelle un nom fort 
significatif dans I'ancienne mythologie orientale " {Journal Asiatiqiie, 1840, ser. 3, vol. 
ix. p. 310)- The same traveller was rewarded for his researches in the vicinity by some 
interesting finds. 

In a little valley about ij miles west of the village (une demi lieue), and about a 
hundred paces from the lake (environ une centaine de pas au dessus du lac), among a 
quantity of blocks of stone, fallen from the hill above, he discovered a cuneiform 
inscription, engraved upon one of these blocks. Professor Sayce translates this 
inscription as follows : — " Belonging to Menuas of the mother Taririas, this monument 
the place of the son of Taririas she has called" {The ciincifovDi inscriptions of Van, 
Journal R. Asiatic Society^ London, 1882, vol. xiv. p. 529). Dr. Belck, on the other 
hand, would render it : — "This abode, which belongs to Tarias, daughter of Menuas, 
is called the palace of Tarias " ( Verhandhmgen der Berliner Gesellschaft fiir Anthro- 
pologic, 1895, p. 608). 

At a little distance from this block Schulz found another inscription, which, owing 
to exposure to damp, was scarcely distinguishable. He describes it as being engraved 
on a large stone on the left hand of an ancient aqueduct, built up of several layers of 
massive stones, several five or six square feet in height. They are irregular in shape 
and not connected by cement ; but are held together by their own weight. The 
conduit which they enclose is square in form, and of sufficient height and breadth to 
enable one to stand up inside it. Schulz endeavoured to penetrate within it, but was 
unable to proceed further than some twenty paces, the passage being obstructed by a 
large block which had fallen in from the colossal wall (Schulz, op. cit. p. 313). 

The hillside above this little valley separates it, he goes on to say, from a kind of 
upper terrace, over which runs the way from Van to Vostan, among masses of rock, 
detached from the adjacent heights. Between these rocks flows the Shamiram Su, 
an artificial channel which has its source some nine leagues south of Van, and which, 
after passing through the gardens of Artemid, has been conducted to the immediate 
neighbourhood of the city, where it debouches into the lake. So far as Schulz was 
able to follow its course, it was nowhere embanked by masonry {ibid. p. 313). It 
was on this terrace, at a distance of ij miles (une demi lieue) from Artemid in a 
south-westerly direction, immediately by the side of this Shamiram Su, and on the 
road between Van and Vostan, that he discovered the important inscription which 
reads according to Professor Sayce: — "To the children of Khaldis the gracious 

Fro7n Va7i to Bit/is 1 2 1 

north ; and in that direction there was a fine peak, overtopping 
the neighbouring summits which fretted the edge of the long 
wall of snow-clad heights. A little further west we could see 
those heights receding towards the south, to the passage of the 
Murad. In the ridges which bordered the gap we well recognised 
the outworks which the river pierces between Karakilisa and 
Tutakh — the same ridges which, from our standpoint on the 
slopes of the Ararat system, had composed a distant parapet, so 
faintly seen that we questioned the impression, between the two 
blocks of mountain on the southerly margin of the plain of 
Alashkert.^ The landscape south of Ala Dagh was now out- 

Menuas, the son of Ispuinis, this memorial has selected. Of Menuas the memorial 
he has named it. To the children of Khaldis, the multitudinous, belonging to 
Menuas, the king powerful, the king of multitudes, king of the land of Biainas, 
inhabiting the city of Dhuspas. Menuas says — whoever this tablet carries away, 
whoever removes the name, whoever with earth destroys, whoever undoes this 
memorial ; may Khaldis, the air god, the sun god, the gods him in public, the name of 
him, the family of him, the land of him, to fire and water consign " (Sayce, op. cit. pp. 
527-2S). Messrs. Belck and Lehmann render the word translated by Prof. Sayce as 
memorial : canal, aqueduct. The rock upon which the inscription was found is known 
under the name of Kiziltash from its reddish hue. 

In the village of Artemid itself Schulz saw the remains of the wall of an ancient 
edifice on the summit of the cliff. According to Armenian tradition it was formerly a 
residence of the Armenian kings. Below it he found an ancient conduit (Schulz, ibid. 
p. 311). I have summarised Schulz's account afresh because Ritter's summary of it 
(Erdkiuide, x. 294) misled me. 

The inscription on the Kiziltash has been photographed by M. Miiller-Simonis, 
and reproduced in his book (Dii Caiicase an Golfe Pcrsiqite, Paris, 1892, p. 252). 
Professor Sayce conjectures that these inscriptions served to commemorate the com- 
pletion of the works connected with the Shamiram Su, and even goes so far as to 
suggest that the monuments erected by Queen Taririas may have given rise to the 
traditions about a great queen which in the course of time became transferred to the 
mythical Semiramis {op. cit. p 529). 

Dr. Belck has within recent years found four more inscriptions in or near 
Artemid which have been translated by Sayce {Journal R. Asiatic Soc. 1893, pp. 8 seq.). 
Two are without importance ; the remaining two are in the sense of the inscription on 
the Kiziltash, and are therefore canal inscriptions. 

Among the notices of Artemid contained in the works of travellers, a few useful 
remarks may be gleaned. Shiel {Journey in i8j6) tells us that in his time it was a 
large Armenian village of about 350 houses. Brant (1838) speaks of it as populous, 
and alludes to the quantity of fruit which was grown there. He approached it from 
the side of Vostan and the Anguil Su, after crossing which he came upon the Shamiram 
Su, which he describes as an open canal, supported by a wall in some places. Schulz 
was impressed by the squalor of the houses ; according to him it was peopled half by 
Armenians and half by Mussulmans ; the latter dwelt below the cliff", on the border of 
the lake (Schulz, op. cit. p. 310). Ussher (before 1865) calls it an Armenian village, 
and adds — " The flat summit of the rocky hill, on the slope of which the village stood, 
was surrounded by an ancient wall, built of huge stones laid one upon another without 
mortar or cement of any kind, and resembling somewhat in appearance Cyclopean 
remains" {From London to Persepolis, London, 1865, p. 324). Miiller-Simonis {op. 
cit. p. 270) speaks of the " grandes substructions du caractere le plus ancien " which 
support the Shamiram Su at a certain point three-quarters of an hour on the further side 
of Artemid, coming from Van. ^ See Fig. 108, p. 2. 



spread before us ; it was indeed an instructive view. Whatever 
eminences broke the expanse were comparatively humble ; a 
zone of plains or vast steppes would appear to be interposed 
between that barrier and the lake of Van. Recalling the pro- 
spects about Tutakh, we arrived at the conclusion that those 
steppes are continued towards the west ; and subsequent travel 
established the fact that they extend from the foot of the plateau 
of Bingol Dagh towards the longitude of Bayazid in the east. 
The only object which arrested the eye in the direction of Ala 
Dagh was a high hill on the southern shore of the arm of the 
lake, with a village and gardens at its base. It was said to be 
the village of Alur. Ararat was not visible ; but for the first 
time we discerned land between Sipan and the crater of Nimrud. 
The two mountains appeared to be joined by some low hills. 

Proceeding at four o'clock, we commenced to descend after 
half an hour from the range of hills which we had now crossed. 
In the plain before us, bordering the lake, we could see a winding 
river which our zaptieh knew under the name of Anguil Su, but 
which, I believe, is more correctly spelt Enghil Su (Brant's Anjel 
Su). It comes from the territory of Mahmudia, where it is called 
the Khoshab.^ But we had not yet reached the floor of the 
valley before we were confronted by a swift stream which, 
fortunately for us, happened to be spanned by a bridge. It was 
the famous Shamiram Su, flowing towards Artemid along the 
slopes of the hills. I was informed that it has its source in some 
springs about two hours distant, near the village of Upper 
Mechinkert, and that a portion of its waters find their way into 
the Anguil Su at the neighbouring settlement of Lower Mechinkert. 
After irrigating the orchards of Artemid, it pursues its course to 
the gardens of Van, in which it is said to become absorbed." 
There can be no doubt that it is an artificial conduit ; left to 
itself it would join the lake at the foot of this plain. My 
informant attributed to Semiramis the conducting of it as far as 
Artemid. We remarked the exceptional pureness of the current. 
Soon after crossing it, we reached the right bank of the Anguil 
Su at a convenient bridge. The basin proper of the river may 
have a width of some two miles, and it is a distance of three or 

^ For Mahmudia and a striking photograph of the castle there, see Binder i^Au 
Kurdistan, Paris, 1887, pp. 123 seq.). 

^ The course of the Shamiram Su has been followed and described by Dr. Belck 
(Zeitschrift fiir Ethiioloi^n'e, Berlin, 1892, pp. 137 seq.). It is carried across the Anguil 
Su or Khoshab by means of a conduit, made of wood, which spans the stream. 

From Van to Bit lis 123 

four miles from the bridge to the lake. Looking up the valley, 
we could follow the outline of the Kurdish mountains as they 
circled round towards Varag ; that ridge itself was concealed by 
the hills behind Artemid ; but, although the range beyond had 
diminished in height after leaving the lake, it was still the same 
range of bold parapets and snowy peaks. The most elevated 
portion lay in the direction of Akhtamar, where there was a lofty 
mass, known as Mount Ardos. 

The stream, which had a greenish hue, was not more than 
some thirty feet wide ; a number of rivulets, driving flour-mills, 
come in on the left bank. We had left that bank before opening 
out the village of Anguil or Enghil ; it lies below the bridge, 
on the further side of the river, and consists of some sixty or 
seventy neat houses, inhabited by Armenians and a {&\v Kurds. 
On the same shore, about a mile lower down, is situated the 
village of Mesgeldek. Some high ground separated us from the 
plain of Vostan ; but it dies away before reaching the lake. 
Gaining the summit of this moderate eminence, we looked across 
some flats and marshes to a hillside which projects from the foot 
of the mountains, and forms a promontory of the shore. The 
foliage which softened the lower slopes of the headland belonged 
to the gardens of Vostan. We followed the bay of higher land, 
and reached the village of Atanon after over an hour's ride from 
the Enghil Su. Just beyond this Armenian settlement the zone 
of orchards commences ; in the plain below a swift stream flows. 
An isolated house on its right bank was indicated to us as the 
residence of the Kaimakam of Vostan. We reached this edifice 
at ten minutes before seven, having covered a distance from 
Artemid of about fifteen miles. In the place of the official, who 
happened to be absent, we were received with great kindness by 
his brother. We were invited to pass the night in the room of 
audience ; and quilted coverlets, filled with cotton, were spread 
on takJits or wooden couches, after the manner of the East. 
After supper and conversation we enveloped ourselves in them, 
and were not long in falling asleep. 

When morning came I commenced to explore and realise our 
surroundings. Vostan is no town, nor even a village, but is a 
district or zone of gardens at the foot of the Kurdish mountains 
about the spurs of Mount Ardos. On the east it extends to the 
village of Atanon, and on the west to the promontory. The 
orchards keep to the high land about the base of the range ; 

124 Armenia 

between them and the lake there is an extensive strip of alluvial 
soil which, in the neighbourhood of our quarters, had a width of 
about two miles. I was assured on all sides that there were four 
or five hundred houses within the limits of the district of Vostan ; 
but people get confused when dealing with an area of this 
description, and with the dispersed units of which such a settle- 
ment is composed. I doubt whether there could be found more 
than half that number. The Armenian families have emigrated ; 
their room, but not their place, has been filled up, at least in part, 
by Kurds. As a natural consequence, it is impossible to obtain 
the bare necessaries of a little corn, or a shoe for a horse. A 
small church still remains, a memorial of better times, which is 
said to have existed for many centuries. We could see its plain 
four walls and small conical dome to the east of the Kaimakam's 
house. We were told that it is still attended by a priest. 

It is only on the neighbouring slope of the bold promontory 
that Vostan can be said to assume a concrete existence ; and, 
even there, the group of buildings which feature the hillside are 
but the remains of the ancient town. You see the relics of an 
old castle, the ruins of a church, and a mosque where the faithful 
still pray. On the margin of the lake, below the headland, a 
little mausoleum of yellow stone still rises above the grassy soil. 
I set out on foot to visit the site, in the company of the doctor of 
law for the caza of Kavach. My companion — a man of middle 
age and intelligent face — bore the name of Mustapha Remzi 
Efifendi, and was known as the Hakim. After jumping many 
ditches, which often compelled us to deviate, we arrived at the 
mausoleum standing among the debris of an ancient cemetery, on 
rising ground, at an interval of a few hundred yards from the 
peaceful waters of the lake. It is indeed a charming monument, 
of highly-finished masonry, fresh and clean as on the day when it 
was completed. In shape it is dodecagonal, and it has an inside 
diameter of i 5 feet 8 inches. The surface of the roof of stone — 
in form a cone with twelve sides — is relieved by a moulding of 
geometrical pattern ; a sculptured frieze and a long inscription in 
Arabic character runs round the walls, just below the roof A 
familiar feature are the niches with stalactite vaulting ; a small 
doorway, surmounted by a moulding in this character, gives access 
to the interior from the side of the lake. The Hakim read to me 
an Arabic inscription which is placed above this entrance ; it was 
translated for me in the following sense. " This mausoleum 

Fi'oni Van to Bit lis 125 

belongs to the daughter of the ruler here in Vostan, Sheikh 
Ibrahim." According to my companion, the name of the lady 
was Halimeh. I doubt whether her remains still repose within 
the enclosure of this jewel which is her tomb. The door is gone, 
and the vault yawns as though it were unoccupied, except by 
a heap of rubbish and debris. One admires the taste of the 
architect, who refrained from decorating the interior and left 
intact the restful influence of the spaces of wall. 

From this cemetery we proceeded up the face of the hillside 
which juts out from south to north and meets the lake. The 
remains of the castle are situated upon the summit ; the mosque 
and the ruins of the church lie beneath it, upon the middle slopes. 
The castle has no pretensions to architectural merit, and very 
little is left of the church. Some stones engraved with crosses in 
the old Armenian fashion could still be seen in the masonry of the 
last of these buildings, a mere chapel rather than a church. But 
the mosque is an edifice of respectable proportions, having inside 
dimensions of 65 feet 7 inches by 64 feet 4 inches. From the 
outside it is nothing more than four walls of hewn stone, 
surmounted by a dome of clay. But when you enter the spacious 
chamber the eye is pleased by the vaulted ceilings, and by the 
double series of open arches which support the roof. These 
arches are three in number in each series, and between each there 
is a space of wall veil. In this manner one may say that there 
are a nave and two aisles ; but these aisles are of greatest length in 
the opposite direction to that of the altar, which faces the entrance 
door. In fact the arrangement is that usual in a Christian church, 
except for the position of the altar. The ceilings are built of plain 
kiln-burnt bricks, and neither they nor the walls are decorated in 
any way. A fine feature is the dome, in the aisle furthest from 
the door. The incjubair, or pulpit, on the right of the altar is a 
richly-wrought structure of wood. An inscription records that it 
was the gift of Khosrov Pasha, and that the donor restored the 
mosque in the year of the Hegira 850 (A.D. 1446), I have almost 
forgotten to mention that between this mosque and the castle is 
placed a little building with three windows, said to be the tomb 
of Sheikh Ibrahim. 

Who was Sheikh Ibrahim, who was Khosrov Pasha ? The 
answers which I received to these questions did not go far to 
dispel my ignorance. The Hakim called them Arabs, and 
connected them with the caliphate ; yet he admitted that they 

126 Armenia 

were a branch ot the family which reigned in Konieh, that is to 
say, of the dynasty of Seljuk Turks. To Sheikh Ibrahim he 
attributed the foundation of both mosque and church, with the 
intention of inducing his Moslem and his Christian subjects to 
tolerate and respect each other's creed. He added that the last 
of this line of rulers was one Izzeddin Shir Bey. 

We returned to the house of the Kaimakam, where I joined 
the remainder of my party. All were in the saddle by ten 
minutes to four o'clock. We mounted the slope of the hill 
which forms the promontory, and which we found to be a spur 
of Mount Ardos. It is crossed at a point behind, or on the south 
of the castle ; the ascent is steep and the decline none too short. 
Nearing the strip of shore on the opposite side of the barrier, we 
were impressed by the outcrops of red granitic rock and green 
serpentine, the beds lying side by side. At half-past four we 
gained the level, and proceeded at the foot of some hills which are 
interposed between the range and the shore. These recede after 
some distance, and circle away from the lake, leaving a spacious 
bay of low and, in places, marshy ground. On the further horn 
of the shore we were shown a group of trees and slowly-rising 
wreaths of smoke. It was Akhavank, known to the Turks as 
Iskele (the port), the residence on the mainland of the Katholikos 
of Akhtamar. Although the sand on the border of the water was 
rather powdery, we found it better than the broken ground inland. 
It was pleasant too to ride by the side of the crystal water, and 
look down into the blue depths. Several little villages could be 
seen at the foot of the hills ; they appeared more clearly from the 
lake next day. We reached Akhavank at ten minutes to six, and 
I estimate the distance from Vostan at about eight miles. 

A two-storeyed white-faced house, an upper room, built out, 
like a verandah, with large windows overlooking the lake ; stables 
and appurtenances of various application- — -the whole relieved 
against a background of poplars and fruit trees — such is 
Akhavank, the residence of His Holiness the Katholikos Khachatur 
(given to the cross) of Akhtamar. The house was full of people, 
and the stables of horses ; it so happened that the Kaimakam of 
Vostan was on a visit, accompanied by a numerous retinue. The 
interior of the building was bare and uncomfortable, rooms and 
passages alike. Full decadence was written large on the squalid 
furniture and cheerless walls. I was ushered into a long apart- 
ment, facing the bay, and composing one side of the first floor. 

From Van to Bitlis 127 

A fetid smell of garlic, and the want of ventilation, almost over- 
powered me. At the further end of the room, on a Kurdish rug, 
spread on the floor at the foot of the divan, sat or squatted a fat 
priest, attired in a black robe edged with sable, and wearing the 
usual black silk cowl of conical form, to which a cross of dim rose 
diamonds was attached. His back rested on quite a little nest of 
cushions ; a few papers and a little bag lay at his side. On the 
adjacent couch beside the wall were seated several persons of 
various types of physiognomy and styles of dress. 

I saluted, and received the salute of the figure on the floor ; 
it was the Katholikos of Akhtamar. He spoke of his advanced 
age and growing infirmities ; he was seventy-four years old, and 
had been possessed of his dignity for no less than thirty years. 
His tomb was already built ; nothing remained but to spend the 
interval and descend into the grave. This touching sentiment is 
often used as a becoming pretext for idleness by better people 
than Khachatur. But, as he spoke, the tongue lolled heavily from 
side to side, and the voice seemed to struggle with an advanced 
asthmatic affection. In reply to my enquiry why he did not 
reside in the island, I received the answer that at Akhavank he 
was in a better position to receive his guests and satisfy their 
wants. It is, no doubt, a paying business to keep such a 
monastery, provided always that you manage it well. You must 
personally superintend the arrangements for the picnic, or others 
of lesser station will abstract your clients. You must be careful 
to keep well with the Government officials, or pilgrims will be 
afraid to come. 

So the Katholikos of Akhtamar discards his pomp, is seen 
and eats with his guests in the same room round the same tray. 
On this occasion he was the centre of what was certainly a curious 
party, assembled against the evening meal. Servants entered 
with a circular platter on which were arrayed the various viands, 
and placed it before His Holiness. Requested to seat myself on 
the right of our host, I endeavoured, as best I might, to fold my 
legs beneath my body on a carpet by his side. Opposite me sat 
a Kurd, an old man who was still a giant, with bony hands more 
than proportionate to his size. From his sunken cheeks projected 
the beak of a vulture between small and deeply-caverned eyes. 
One of the pupils had almost entirely disappeared, leaving a patch 
of red within the hollow of the contracted eyelid, from which a 
mucous fluid was discharged over the parchment skin. Of such a 

128 Armenia 

face smiling could scarcely be expected ; my neighbour remained 
grave, taking his fill of each dish, and fixing me with his single 
eye. On my right was the Kaimakam, a little man of no 
particular characteristics, wearing a fez and European dress. 
Although a Georgian and a relation of the Pasha of Van, you 
would take him for a Turk. Towards myself he was profuse of 
compliments and attentions, expressing his regret that he had not 
been present in Vostan to receive us, and blaming the British 
Consul for not having written to announce our stay. An officer 
of zaptiehs whom I had brought from Vostan with me — a mad 
fellow who had lathered his pony by the wildest manoeuvres as 
we rode along the sands — and some of the principal attendants 
of the Turkish official, completed the company who were privileged 
to share the meal of the Katholikos and sit at his pewter tray. 

But on that tray my eyes discerned with ill-concealed fright 
a spectre invisible to my fellow-guests. The shade of Hunger 
floated over the messes of meat and unpalatable vegetables, 
swimming in oil or ghee.^ I could not eat the gritty pancake 
bread, or the salt cheese inlaid with pieces of green straw. Nor 
was I able with success to emulate the politeness of Julius Caesar ; 
a sickness came over me when I tried. The old priest was at 
liberty to dip his fingers into my dishes and pick the choicest 
bits. I could scarcely swallow a few morsels ; but >my host was 
much too stupid to see through the excuses which I made. 

I felt that the cross might have joy of Khachatur, and left his 
presence when the dishes had been removed. On my guard 
against the prejudice of a bad dinner, I reflected that at Varag 
the pangs had been the same ; yet what pleasant recollections 
remained of that visit and of the companionship of the quiet 
Daniel Vardapet ! I sought out the steward of His Holiness, and 
of him enquired for a sleeping-place. Zado was the name of this 
personage ; he was an Armenian, but looked like a Kurd. He 
was the most influential of the clerical officials, and certainly 
smelt the worst. With him came Avo, the trustiest of his 
henchmen, proud of his antecedents as crossing- sweeper in 
Stambul. We were by them desired to spread our blankets in 
the draughty antechamber ; but I made them surrender a large, 
unoccupied room. We were astonished to find within it a stack 
of cane -seated chairs, and puzzled our heads to discover the 
purpose for which they were used. Zado informed us that they 

' Clarified fat or butter, which is generally used for cooking purposes in the East. 

From Van to Bit lis 129 

were arrayed on great occasions ; but nobody was aware that 
they were objects of necessity to a European or even that they 
had come from Europe to these wilds. 

Dawn had not yet broken when the boatmen we had ordered 
entered our apartment, and summoned us to avail ourselves of 
the breeze. In spite of our entreaties over night, the tea and 
eggs were not forthcoming ; hungry we went on board the little 
bark. The sun rose above the horizon before we put off — a 
bright and joyous morning, the colours starting from land and sea, 
and the still waters of the lake becoming every moment more 
transparent and more blue. x\ light air, moving from the shore, 
just ruffled their even surface. The plank was drawn inwards, 
the broad square-sail set, and we glided easily away. 

The crag of Akhtamar lay before us ; behind us the sinuous 
shore at the foot of the parapet of the Kurdish range. Who 
would expect that these crystal depths should contain such 
nauseous elements, like a beautiful but poisonous flower ? The 
water of Lake Van is charged with chemical matter, and is briny 
and putrid to the taste. You remark the absence of fish, and 
recall the contrast of the teeming inlets of a Lake Geneva or a 
Lake Lucerne. Nor are the coasts alive with boats and the 
expanse with white-winged vessels ; you rarely find a shallop 
within the numerous creeks, although at times you may discover 
quite a fleet of lateen-sailed craft crossing the broad sheet of sea. 
They are manned almost exclusively by Armenian sailors ; and 
when I asked the eldest among our crew whether there were any 
of different nationality, he said that with the exception of about 
five Kurds, only Armenians pursued this calling. They are 
simple, hardy fellows, easy to get on with ; they conduct a small 
coasting trade. Those who had taken us from Arjish were at 
Akhavank when we arrived, and were full of joy, kissing our 
hands, to see us again. I had asked them to convey us to 
Akhtamar ; but they told me it was impossible, as their ship was 
loading and, besides, it was not their turn. 

The island is distant about two miles from the nearest shore 
and more from Akhavank. At its westerly extremity a bold cliff 
of hard grey limestone rises to a height of about eighty feet above 
the waters, in face of the monastic buildings on the mainland. 
From this crag the ground declines towards the east, and affords 
a level site for the church and cloister. The bight, where the 
vessels moor, is situated on the southern coast, not far from the 



bluff on the west (Fig. i 40). Within the space of an hour we were 
nearing the inlet, and, a little later, stepped ashore. 

Besides the cliff and the tiny bay there is not much of 
Akhtamar ; yet the little church looks small, even among such 
surroundings, the work of a jeweller rather than of an architect. 
In our company were two young clerics, deputed by His Holiness 
to escort us, the one a priest of the peasant type and with the 
ignorance of a peasant, the other a deacon who had been educated 
at Constantinople and who affected to despise his colleagues and 
superiors. In spite of his pale face, this second Khachatur (given 

Fig. 140. Island of Akhtamar. 

to the cross) was not less stupid or less indolent than the rest. 
Two more priests were in residence upon the island ; but neither 
belonged to a higher social or intellectual grade. None among 
them knew more about the place and its history than a few stereo- 
typed words, learnt by heart. Press them further, and they 
would burst into an inane giggle, the vardapet of Akhavank 
giving the cue. 

How one regretted the society of the well-read monks of 
Edgmiatsin, from which community and spiritual government 
this monastery became dissociated during the religious quarrels of 
the twelfth centur}-.^ We walked to the cloister on the south side 

' I would refer my reader for further information concerning the origin of the 
patriarch etc. of Akhtamar to Ritter {Erdkitude, vol. x. p. 261), and to the authorities 
there cited. 

Fig. 141. Akhtamar: Church from South-East. 

Fig. 142. Akhtamar: Church from North-West. 

From Van to Bit lis 1 3 1 

of the church ; the low mud wall joins the outer wall of the 
narthex on the west, and is produced so as to form a court. 
There is nothing interesting in the residence of the monks or in 
the apartments of the Katholikos. But the edifice which they face 
is indeed a remarkable monument and, so far as my experience 
extends, unique. Its dimensions are not large : a length of 48 
feet 6 inches and a breadth of 38 feet (interior measurements). 
The characteristics which impress the eye, accustomed to the 
beauties of Armenian architecture, are the height of the compo- 
sition with its lofty walls and central tower, and the elaborate 
mural decorations. As usual, the effect is marred by the additions 
of a later age. On the south side a belfry and portico, giving 
entrance to the interior, are due to the misplaced piety of a 
katholikos of the eighteenth century ; and the same personage 
contributed the spacious narthex or pronaos which adjoins the 
church upon the west.^ The eye is obliged to remove these later 
excrescences before it is enabled to seize the merits of the design. 
My reader will recognise the first of these features in the illustra- 
tion taken from the south-east (Fig. 141). The companion picture 
from the north-west corner exhibits the low narthex coming 
forward beyond the side of the church (Fig. 142). 

A work of the first quarter of the tenth century is disclosed in 
all the freshness of its original appearance." Some of the figures 
which project from the walls have sufifered partial fracture ; but 
the rich friezes are almost intact. Beginning at the base, we have 
first a broad space of plain masonry, enhancing the value of the 
sculptures above, from which it is separated by a band of deeply 
chiselled stone. This band, like the friezes, is both continuous 
round the building and in emphasised relief. It consists of a 
spiral geometrical pattern, representing the vine. Life-size human 
figures, interspersed with the forms of animals, compose a 
series of pictures rather than a procession, and rest upon the 
moulding just described. They are also in relief, and stare out 

^ An inscription over the door of the narthex is to the effect that it was constructed 
by Thomas, Katholikos of Akhtamar, in the year of the Armenian era, 121 2 (a.d. 

- In the geography ascribed to Vardan, a work of the thirteenth century (translated 
by Saint Martin, Menioires siir l\-irnienie, vol. ii. p. 429), it is said of Akhtamar : " On y 
trouve I'admirable monastere de la croix bati par Kagig, roi des Ardzrouniens." 
According to Chamchean, quoted by Saint Martin \op. cit. vol. i. p. 140), the monastery 
was founded in a.d. 653 by a prince of the Reshtuni family, named Theodore. 

We are informed by Thomas Artsruni (ninth century) that King Gagik brought the 
stone for building this church all the way from the province of Aghznikh, extending to 
the Tigris and now comprised within the vilayet of Diarbekr. 

I •;2 


at the visitor with all the naivete of the early Middle Ages. 
Subjects from Bible history succeed one another, varied by the 
gaunt figures of Christian saints. Here you remark the colossal 
figure of Goliath, armed with club and shield (Fig. 141) ; there it 
is Adam and Eve, standing naked beside the tree of life, and, a 
little further, the serpent tempting Eve (Figs. 142 and 143). The 
treatment of the human form is primitive and almost barbarous, 
recalling the Romanesque. One is impressed with the combina- 
tion of naturalism, nay of realism, subdued, and at times checked 
by hieratic convention. These sculptures pass over into a restful 
region of unworked stone, and are succeeded by a row of heads, the 
heads of animals and birds, jutting out at irregular intervals from the 
face of the building. Above them, again, you admire the freedom 
and extraordinary intricacy of the most elaborate of the friezes. 
Hunters and wild animals and strange birds are represented, 
woven together by branches of vine with clusters of grapes. 
Higher still another band is drawn along the eaves of the roofs, 
except on the north and south sides of the apse. Rampant 
animals are the principal subject ; but on the north side of the 
western arm you observe a row of human heads. A somewhat 
similar frieze is seen below the roofing of the central tower or 

It may perhaps be found that this exterior discloses elements 

which, blended together, are of high importance to the study of 

art. The form of the church, the geometrical ornaments are 

Byzantine in character ; on the other hand, of all the churches 

which we visited during our wanderings none other was decorated 

with bas-reliefs of human figures after the manner of this edifice. 

Such treatment would be repugnant to the chaster spirit of the 

architects of Ani, and may denote that the standard of culture in 

the southern principality was not so high as- in Shirak. The 

friezes partake of the nature of those with which we are already 

familiar ; but they are more daring and much more freely drawn. 

They may constitute an important link between the art of the 

ancient Assyrians and the art of the Arabs and the Byzantines, 

Layard, who visited Akhtamar, has most pertinently drawn our 

attention to the resemblance between the principal frieze and the 

embossed designs on some bronze dishes which were discovered 

at Nimrud (banks of the Tigris) ; but he has not noticed that 

the bulls' heads which adorned the ends of the arms of the 

king's throne at Nimrud are almost exactly reproduced in some 

Fig, 143. Church at Akhtamar; Sculptures on North Wall. 

From Van to Bit lis 133 

of the stone ornaments which project from the face of this 

I have said that a narthex of later origin adjoins the building 
upon the west ; it was from that side that we entered the interior. 
The facade of this narthex is as bald and plain as its inner walls 
and the rude flagstones of the floor. The ceiling is low ; in the 
centre a shallow vaulting rests upon four arches and piers. It has 
a length of 32 feet i i inches, and a breadth, from north to south, 
of 36 feet 5 inches. It does not contain an altar, and the only 
object which you remark within it is a large block of stone. Our 
companions informed me that it is placed over the grave of 
one Abdul Miseh, a king, as they supposed, of the Artsruni 
dynasty. If this block be the same as that upon which Layard 
saw some cuneiform characters, their Abdul Miseh may be a 
corruption of the name of the great king Menuas, revealed by the 
researches of Western scholars." 

Four steps lead up from the narthex to the little, undecorated 
doorway by which we entered the principal building. The 
interior may perhaps be described as consisting of four apses, the 
whole surmounted by the lofty dome. A feature are the deep 
recesses, narrow at the entrance, which are placed one on either 
side of each apse, and are seen from the outside between the arms 
of the cruciform figure. The apses on the west and east are 
deeper than those on the north and south ; the most southerly 
contains a gallery of which the face is adorned with images, two 
heads of bulls and two of rams, the head of an elephant and of a 
tiger, carved in full relief out of the stone. In this gallery we were 
informed that King Gagik had been wont to pray. The walls 
had been adorned b\^ rich frescos ; but little of these remained. 
The apse on the north communicates with a vaulted chamber and 
a little chapel, where is preserved the holy oil. 

A cemetery surrounds the church, from the south-east corner to 
the north side. Issuing by the portico on the south, we stopped 
to remark an ambitious tomb of which the stone was fresh from 
the chiseller's tool. On the sides of the recumbent portion 
were represented the figures of apostles — a frieze which had 
probably been copied from some rude work of the Middle Ages, 

1 Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, London, 1853, PP- '99 ^'^'^ 4^4- ^ would ask 
my reader to compare the illustration of the bronze bull's head with the head in my 
photograph (Fig. 141) on the right hand or north of the furthest recess of the apse. 

2 But the stone which Layard saw in the portico has probably been removed to the 

134 Armenia 

and which was coloured in gaudy reds and greens and blues. 
Upon the upper surface of the slab was engraved a long in- 
scription, and beneath the inscription the grand emblem of the 
double-headed eagle, with cross and mitre, the eagle of Vasp- 
urakan. The headstone was adorned with the portrait of a 
katholikos, wearing the cross of diamonds on his cowl. The 
features were those of our host ; it was the tomb of Khachatur, 
into which he had told us that he was preparing to step. The 
legend set forth that the grave had been dedicated on Sep- 
tember 12, 1893. Following this announcement, came a farewell 
message from His Holiness, conceived in the following terms : — 

/ approach thee, O fair grave, ivith a greeting ; my secrets to tell I have 
710 tongue, because they were lost before I came to speak with thee. The 
generations of my people 1 grieve to relinquish ; I Khachatur, given to the 
Cross, 7t'ill obey the Cross (es Khachatur i Khachis kupakchini). When I 
come to thee, all the manifold memories will have vanished. IVhatever I 
may leave behind me — the holy oils, the library, the cowl, the stole, the staff- — 
/ leave them to serve as a memory of me for my successors. Lastly I approach 
my people and ent^-eat them to be loyal to Siiltan Hatnid, the illustrious, 
because during my tvhole life I have found help from him and from his high 
officers. My soul will be protected by the weekly prayer of my pupils ; pray 
for me weekly for a while and forget me not. 

On the east of the building there is a little chapel, now in 
ruins. I was informed by the Katholikos that it is even older 
than the church. Returning to the monastic quarters, we asked 
to be shown the library, and were ushered into a small, white- 
washed room. Five little shelves, occupying a single side of the 
apartment, hold all the manuscripts and books which the monks 
possess. Neither the vardapet nor the deacon was conversant 
with their contents ; but the manuscripts, so far as we were able to 
examine them, were all concerned with Biblical subjects. Two 
stones, engraved with cuneiform inscriptions, are kept in this 
room.^ The treasure was carried off by the Kurds years ago ; - 
but our companions were able to produce several mitres and some 
rich embroideries, of which one piece, worked with the device of 
the double-headed eagle, appeared to be of considerable age. 

After a last look at the remarkable church, with its many 
faces of fresh pink sandstone, mottled by the subtle reliefs with 

^ Of these one was circular in form. If it be tlie same as Sayce's No. XXIX. (op. 
cit. vol. xiv. p. 537) it is an inscription of Menuas recording a visit to the island. 

- Ussher [op. cit. p. 332) tells us that the Kurds had carried off many manuscripts 
which they destroyed from sheer wantonness, using the covers to make soles for their 

From Van to Bit lis 135 

light and shade, our Httle party retraced its steps to the peaceful 
harbour, and embarked on the homeward voyage. The breeze 
had veered for our convenience to the opposite direction, and 
wafted us towards the mainland. We passed close to the bold 
crag, and to the tiny islet which, crowned by the remains of a 
fort and a diminutive chapel, juts out from the south-westerly 
extremity of the sea-girt cliffs. Before us lay the horn of the 
ba}' on the west of Akhavank, and in the foreground, a second 
islet, the rock of Arter, which, like its fellow, supports a little 
shrine. Sipan was seen in all his majesty, sweeping across the 
horizon, until the outline of the base was covered by the outline 
of the promontory. From that headland three little barks were 
stealing towards us, specks of white on the expanse of blue. In 
the south the snows of Ardos streamed with sunlight above hori- 
zontal layers of cloud. I could hear the heavy breathing of my 
fellow-passengers ; the water eddied softly in our wake. 

In the space of about an hour the plank was again lowered 
and the stern allowed to graze the sand. The Kaimakam and 
his retinue were assembled on the shore — the high officers men- 
tioned in the message on the tomb. I received their greetings 
and good wishes, and, promising to rejoin them, passed with the 
dragoman to the apartment of the Katholikos. I found His 
Holiness seated on the same rug at the foot of the divan, in the 
same posture and attired in the same ceremonious dress as when 
he had received us the preceding day. The same cowl with the 
diamond cross enveloped the forehead, which, judging from the 
thick lips, flat nose and little eyes, was better hidden than revealed. 
He beckoned his people to withdraw ; we were alone with the 
Patriarch ; Turkish contempt still shrinks from converting the 
chamber of a Christian prelate into a permanent lodging for a 
Kaimakam. So our host was free to answer the questions which 
I addressed to him without fear of being reported by malevolent 
tongues. He informed me that his patriarchate was quite inde- 
pendent, both of Edgmiatsin and of Constantinople. But he 
was in the habit of consulting with the Patriarch of Constantinople 
in respect of such Church matters in which collaboration was 
mutually useful. Artemid is the easterly limit of his spiritual 
kingdom, and is included within its area. On the west it com- 
prises a portion of Garchigan, but does not extend as far as 
Kindirantz. On the south, the cazas of Mukus and Shatakh are 
either its boundaries or contribute constituent districts. 

136 Ai'iJieiiia 

The practice of their religion he assured me was quite free, 
emphatically he repeated, " quite free." The political troubles 
which convulsed the country were caused by scamps {chapkinef) 
on the side of the Armenians, and by bad Kaimakams. I 
questioned him closely as to whether, when he was young, the 
Armenian population was not much more numerous along this 
shore. He answered that the country on the south was at that 
time inhabited by them in far greater numbers than now ; but 
there was no perceptible difference along the coast. He admitted, 
however, that during his youth there were Armenians residing at 

At this point in the conversation my host pronounced the 
name of Zado ; and forthwith divine fragrance announced the 
presence of the major-domo, attentive to the faintest call. 
Obedient to his master's behests, he proceeded to unlock a large 
wooden box, and to lay out upon the floor a number of tawdry 
State Orders and Firmans of investiture. Es Khachatur i Khachis 
ku-pakchim ! Some of these objects the Katholikos regarded with 
especial reverence, devoutly pressing them to his lips. Religion 
has become a trade with such as this prelate, and they themselves 
hotel-keepers and show-mongers. Each pilgrim leaves the equiva- 
lent of double what he costs. Placing a suitable present in the 
hands of his Holiness, which he accepted after many protestations, 
I took leave of Khachatur for ever. 

Resuming our journey at four o'clock, we crossed the high 
land on the west of Akhavank, and again descended to a strip of 
plain, bordering the shore. On the opposite side of the deep 
inlet, which was now disclosed to its furthest recesses, lay the 
arm of the long promontory which encloses the landscape in 
the neighbourhood of Akhtamar. About halfway in, along that 
coast, we saw a considerable village, said to be an Armenian 
settlement, called Mirabet.^ Further inland, at the head of the 
gulf, is situated the Armenian village of Norkeui ; while on the 
rising ground, at the extremity of the plain, a little to the east of 

^ I will not attempt to explain or reconcile with one another the maps of Kiepert, 
Cuinet, and Glascott {Journal R.G.S. 1840, vol. x.), and the surveys of Hommaire de 
Hell {Extrait dii Voyage en Tiij-quie, etc., Paris, 1859) and others. Such is the 
ignorance of one's guides that one cannot do more than question them closely as to 
the names of villages and put down the information without much confidence in its 
exactness. What is true of the names of villages is also true of mountains. That portion 
of the range which lies on the west of Mount Ardos is named Karkar in Kiepert's map ; 
a friend of mine who had travelled in the country knew it under the name of Varkar. 
I was not made acquainted with either of these names. 

From Van to Bit lis 137 

Norkeui, the Kurdish hamlet of -Sarik receives the torrent of a 
long cascade, descending precipitous cliffs. We turned our backs 
to the lake and passed between the two last-named settlements, 
towards an opening of the hills on the opposite shore. A stream 
or little river issues from the cleft and flows towards Norkeui, A 
single telegraph wire, taken across the plain, followed us on our 
left hand. At half-past five we were in the fork, entering a long 
and stony valley, with a main direction from south-east to north- 
west. It is well watered, and what soil there is has been rendered 
productive by artificial channels. The swirling current swept past 
us at the foot of a sparse grove of golden-leaved forest trees. 
The vista backwards was closed by the broad-shouldered Ardos, 
with gleaming snows and precipitous sides. Our destination was 
Enzakh, an Armenian hamlet of some dozen burrows, in a lofty 
situation at the head of this valley. It was nearly seven when 
we arrived, having covered a distance of some thirteen miles, 
and attained an elevation of about 6900 feet. 

When we issued from our fetid quarters on the following 
morning (November 19), a frost lay on the ground. At 
nine o'clock we were in the saddle, proceeding in a westerly 
direction in order to cross the wall of the valley. It is lofty, and 
is scaled by a precipitous path. Before taking the main ascent, 
we passed by a lonely chapel, surrounded by a stone enclosure. 
It is known to the Armenians under the name of Surb Yakob 
(or Agop), and to the Kurds under that of Gubudgokh. The 
interior consists of a dome, resting on four arches, and a deep 
apse. The priest was not forthcoming, having left his eyrie to 
purchase bread. It was nearly ten o'clock when we reached the 
summit of the ridge at an altitude of about 7600 feet. 

Although the ground was flecked with snow in the immediate 
neighbourhood of where we stood, the sun had already warmed 
the mountain air. We halted for half-an-hour in order to realise 
our position. We had come a little south of a westerly course 
from Enzakh. Our ridge appeared to be a spur from the 
barrier in the south ; but it increased in height as it approached 
the invisible lake. The mass of rock in that direction was 
called by our guides Ak Kul ; they knew nothing of Kiepert's 
Mount Gubudgokh. These heights compose the promontory on 
the west of Akhtamar, and, in a country of railways, would no 
doubt be pierced by a tunnel. In the east we could discern the 
summit of Varag ; a succession of ridges lined the west. 

138 Armenia 

pursuing an almost meridional direction, the most distant 
covered with snow. Continuing our march at the back of Ak 
Kul, I counted no less than six of these parapets, without 
including those of lesser significance. They appeared to be 
inclined a few points towards the east. I hammered off a 
fragment of the characteristic strata, a mica-schist, weathered a 
pale reddish hue. 

For over an hour we were involved in this sea of mountains, 
our course being clearly indicated by a line of telegraph posts, 
dipping and rising to the troughs and up the crests. But at a 
quarter before twelve we emerged from this wild and uninhabited 
district, and again overlooked the lake. We were approaching 
the easterly end of the beautiful bay of Baghmesheh (garden of 
oak), and were about to follow the upper slopes of the lofty block 
of hills which confine the narrow respite of the shore. Our 
present position w'as about two miles distant from the calm 
water, and at a considerable elevation above its level. We 
rode for half- an -hour along these slopes, through a bush of 
oak which nowhere attains the proportions of trees. A few 
boats were moored against the sand, and we could descry a 
few huts. Zenith and sea were intensely blue ; but grey 
vapours came floating towards us, concealing all but the shining 
summit of Sipan. From the further extremity of the bay we 
again saw the 'isle of Akhtamar, and, behind it, dimly perceived, 
the rock of Van. 

It cost us little effort to ascend from our track on the hill- 
side to the summit of the ridge which forms a headland on the 
west. The view from that eminence in a westerly direction 
recalled none of the landscapes through which we had passed. 
At our feet lay a plain of perfectly level surface, enclosed on all 
sides by hills. On the side of the lake a line of heights shut out 
this plain from the shore, resembling a huge dam. After a 
descent of half-an-hour we reached the floor of the formation, 
which is a little more elevated than the surface of the lake. 
Under this eastern wall lies the Armenian hamlet of Goli, while, 
on an opposite slope, at the head of the valley into which the 
plain narrows, is situated the village of Kindirantz. We rode for 
half-an-hour from the first to the last of these settlements, deviat- 
ing south of our direct course. I was anxious to visit in his 
capital the Kaimakam of Garchigan, For Kindirantz is no less 
a place than the seat of government for that caza, although it 

From Van to Bit lis 139 

cannot boast of more than thirty houses.^ We arrived before two 
o'clock, having completed a distance of some seventeen miles 
from Enzakh. 

The Kaimakam was at his post and delighted to receive us. 
We found in him an official who did honour to his country, active 
and strenuous in spite of his white hair. He had built himself a 
house with solid walls of masonry, a rare luxury in these wilds. 
It had of course been erected by Armenian workmen ; but he 
complained of the backwardness and laziness of the Armenians 
inhabiting his administrative district. He told me that it com- 
prised no less than seventy-six villages, of which only twelve were 
peopled by that race. But I noted that of the five settlements 
in the plain of Kindirantz, three, including his place of residence, 
were Armenian. The largest village in his caza was, he said, 
Kordikran, inhabited by Kurds. But it was not so well situated 
for purposes, of administration as Kindirantz. The Kurds in his 
district were all settled on the land, and formed the large 
majority of the population. They sent recruits to the Nizam or 
regular army. He assured me that since his arrival in the 
country complete security for life and property prevailed. I have 
no reason to doubt his word. 

Kindirantz must be five or six miles distant from the lake, 
and the plain may have a length from north to south of five 
miles, with an average breadth of about two miles. A nice 
stream descends from the hills in the neighbourhood of the little 
town. In connection with this plain I may mention a natural 
phenomenon which repeats itself every year. When the snows 
melt in spring and the torrents rush down from the mountains, the 
plain becomes completely submerged. The line of heights on 
the side of the lake prevent the egress of the waters, which 
attain in places a depth of about ten feet. The flood ultimately 
escapes through three principal subterraneous passages, besides 
several minor outlets. The water rushes through these natural 
tunnels in the dam formed by the cliffs, but it takes a considerable 
time for it all to disappear. When the land is again revealed, the 
peasants sow their crops, which, in some years, yield an excellent 
harvest. But it often happens that the}^ are withered by the 
fierce sun of summer, which has already commenced by the 

^ Cuinet places the population of Kindirantz at 4064 souls, which is absurd. Nor 
are there any Jews in the place. His statistics for the caza include 600 gypsies and 
some Yezidis ; but the Kaimakam assured me that 100 was a better figure for the 
gypsies, while he was not aware of the presence of any Yezidis. 



time that the lake has run out. To this cause the Kaimakam 
attributed the poverty of the neighbouring villages. I have no 
doubt that the little stream, if properly utilised, would go far 
towards irrigating their lands ; and if a proper tunnel were cut, 
and reservoirs constructed, the soil might be made as fertile as 
any in the world. 

We proceeded on our journey at four o'clock, accompanied by 
the Kaimakam, who rode a fiery grey horse. His saddle rested 
on a light blue cloth, bordered with a yellow fringe ; the trappings 
and bridle were adorned with yellow tassels. He himself was 

Fig. 144. Promontory of Surb. 

(Oil the left the back of the Sheikh Ora Crater ; in the distance Nimriid.) 

attired in the civil dress of Europe, and wore the fez. He could 
not control his steed, although a good horseman ; the youngster 
who carried our baggage became enlivened by the example, and 
set off at a canter with his load. The Kaimakam galloped after 
him ; but our colt was in condition, and showed him his heels 
until he was arrested at an adjacent village. This escapade cost 
us time, and it was nearly half-past five before we had scaled 
the heights on the west of the plain. At our feet lay the lake, 
about two miles away. It is the peculiar favour of this fascinating 
seaboard that, often hidden, it is always new and always fair. 
Not a patch of ragged coast disturbs the impression of ideal 
beauty, resuming and blending the choicest features of other 

From Van to Bit lis 141 

shores. Our landscape of this evening embraced the westerly- 
extremities of the white, unruffled expanse (Fig. 144). The 
sun was declining beyond the colossal crater of Nimrud, a true 
caldron rising from the lake on the opposite margin. Deep 
shadows clothed the promontories between our standpoint and 
the mountain, among which a bold headland, seen on the left 
of my illustration, jutted out in the form of a peninsula. It was 
named to us after a neighbouring village, the cape of Vanik. 
During my second journey it was found to conceal a small crater. 
In the foreground we overlooked the soft foliage of the village 
of Surb, with fertile fields and a little bay of U-shaped curve. 
It caught the light from the western sky,, and reflected the tender 
tints on the very threshold of the pale water and gloomy rocks. 
I was informed that it is inhabited by Armenians and Moslems. 
We left it on our right hand as we descended by a precipitous 

West of Surb the mountains descend to the immediate border 
of the lake, and the track is taken at no great height above the 
water along their steep and rocky sides. It follows every bend in 
the outline of the shore. This characteristic was new to us, a 
crowning variety of the manifold features which rendered memor- 
able our journey along the coast. As we advanced along this 
path we opened out the majestic Sipan, seen from foot to summit 
in the failing light. Night was closing when we arrived at a 
recess in the barrier, harbouring some fine chestnut trees. There 
is situated the village of Garzik, with thirty small tenements, of 
which twenty are inhabited by Armenians and ten by Kurds. 
The Kaimakam had sent forward a horseman, and our arrival 
was expected ; a stable of unusual loftiness had been prepared. 
Hay had been laid on crates, and rugs spread upon this primitive 
mattress, destined to be our bed. Our horses rested near us, 
my colt and the Kaimakam's show -horse munching peacefully 
side by side. Our kind friend of Kindirantz related stories to 
us, while we watched the smoke wreathing upwards to the central 
aperture in the roof of logs. 

One of these stories was suggested by a question which I 
put to him, whether monogamy was strictly practised by the 
Christians. He told me — and his statement was confirmed from 
Christian sources — that the possession of several wives was not 
an infrequent occurrence among them, in spite of the ban of the 
Church. Not that the priests were a model of chastity according 



to his experience, which agreed with the conclusion arrived at 
by a bishop of RumeHa, his friend and countryman. That 
prelate had told him that four wives were allotted to a Moham- 
medan, one to a Christian and all to a bishop. I asked whether 
the Armenians intermarried with the Kurds in a village of mixed 
population like Garzik. His answer, which was in the negative, 
explains the stories of abduction which make such a show in 
our Blue-books. A Kurd sees a pretty Armenian girl of his own 
village, and, as often as not, a mutual passion arises between them. 
The lady is not always an unwilling victim, as our Armenian 
friends would lead us to suppose. 

We slept soundly in spite of the fleas which made a meal 
upon us, and were again in the saddle at a quarter before eight. 
After taking leave of the Kaimakam, who returned to Kindirantz, 
we continued our journey along the path on the mountain-side. 
For three-quarters of an hour we made our way beneath the 
precipices, until we again emerged upon a strip of plain. Vanik 
it is called, after an Armenian village ; it has a depth of about 
a mile. We crossed it in a quarter of an hour, and entered a 
natural passage between a promontory of the lake and the main 
range. This passage became a valley of bleak and rugged 
aspect, and we did not see the lake again. At half- past nine 
we left the telegraph wires, which we had been following for some 
distance ; they stretched away on our right hand. They are 
taken by Elmali to Tadvan and Bitlis by a more northerly and 
less direct course. The prospect opened towards the north ; we 
were in face of the mass of Nimrud, no longer separated by an 
arm of the sea (Fig. 145). A little later we arrived upon the 
banks of a stream which flowed along with us for some way. 
We crossed it by a ford near an ancient bridge of hewn stone 
which had been allowed to fall into ruin. Pursuing a westerly 
course, we passed through a considerable village, inhabited by 
settled Kurds. It is called Gotok, and is distinguished by some 
caves, adjoining the track, with artificial niches and chambers. 
It contains no less than seventy tenements, and is included within 
the limits of the vilayet of Bitlis. It seems a prosperous place. 
Our stream, which they named Sapor, now flowed off upon our 
right towards Lake Van. We ourselves took an almost south- 
westerly direction, while our rugged valley became more spacious 
and more fair. It assumed the form of a strip of plain, between 
opposite ridges, stretching away to snow-clad mountains in the 

From Van to Bit Its 143 

south. It is known as the Guzel Dere, or beautiful valley ; we 
thought it deserved the name. We met and saluted a shepherd 
at the head of his flock ; as usual in the neighbourhood of 
Bitlis, he was armed with a rifle. At half-past eleven we entered 
a side valley, almost at right angles, on a course a little north of 
west. We could see our track, climbing the side of a lofty ridge 
of mountain at the head of this opening. The Guzel Dere was 
lost to view, extending towards the spine of the chain. A ride 
of a quarter of an hour brought us to the Armenian village of 
Sach, situated at the upper end of this side valley. It is 
composed of fifty houses and possesses a church ; but its in- 
habitants are extremely poor. They subsist on cakes of millet 
seed, and have little corn or barley, although the soil in these 
valleys is extremely rich. When I upbraided them with their 
indolence, I received the answer that labour was useless so long 
as the peasant was not permitted to enjoy the fruits of his toil. 

We halted in this village for three-quarters of an hour, and 
then commenced the ascent of the ridge. The pass has an 
elevation of about 1900 feet above Lake Van ; and one can 
readily appreciate the reasons which have influenced traffic to 
prefer the easier if somewhat lengthier route by way of Elmali. 
The actual scaling of the parapet occupied half-an-hour ; patches 
of snow clung to the rocks about the summit. It is called the 
Pass of Bor, from an Armenian village in the opposite valley. 
We reached that settlement at three o'clock ; it lies in the water- 
shed of the Tigris, to which a stream flowed from the further side 
of the ridge we had crossed, a tributary of the Bitlis Chai. The 
people of Bor appeared to us to be on the verge of starvation ; 
the women had for the most part been reduced to mere skeletons. 
It is a place of some size, and I afterwards heard of some 
interesting tombstones w^hich were said to belong to this town- 
ship. This upper portion of the valley has a breadth of three- 
quarters of a mile, and expands as you proceed. We pursued a 
westerly course, and arrived at the junction with the road from 
Tadvan. The telegraph wires are carried across the heights on 
the north of the valley, which at this point are insignificant. We 
stopped to visit an ancient khan, built of hewn stone and of 
considerable size. Beside it is a new bridge, also of finished 
masonry, recalling the grand old days. I was informed that it 
liad been constructed by the present Vali of Bitlis, though, heaven 
knows ! he has no excuse for such lavishness. The stream which 

144 Armenia 

it crosses and which flows in a deep gorge is spanned by a less 
presumptuous structure which might suffice for all ordinary needs. 
Further evidence of this childish but truly Oriental habit of 
embellishing your capital while your kingdom is quaking about 
you was furnished by a metalled road which commences at this 
point and puts the traveller in a good mood. After passing a 
second bridge, traversing the chasm of a torrent which came 
towards us on our right hand, we turned with the valley to a 
south-westerly direction, which was maintained for about i-|- 
miles. We then defiled into the deep recesses of the net- 
work of valleys in which repose the castle and town of Bitlis. It 
was after four o'clock, and I estimate the distance from Garzik 
at 27 miles. Between Kindirantz and that village we covered 
about 9 miles, which gives a total of just under 100 miles from 



Not far south of the Hne of junction of the volcanic plateau west 
of Lake Van with the first outworks of the main Taurus range, 
where the level spaces of the elevated tableland of Armenia break 
away to the crest and trough of Kurdistan, there, within the 
threshold of the chain but at the very head of the mountainous 
country, lies the picturesque town of Bitlis. Coming from the 
north, the traveller is impressed by a change of scene which is at 
once sudden and complete. In place of the great plains, divided 
by irregular mountain masses of eruptive volcanic origin, he is 
introduced to the regular sequence of ridge upon ridge and valley 
after valley, which are in fact the steps, or succession of mountain 
terraces with stratified formation, leading down to the burning 
lowlands of Mesopotamia. The clouds no longer float in tranquil, 
feathery beds, but sail across the sky, grazing the peaks. The 
rivers hiss in the gorges and are white with foam instead of 
winding with sluggish current over the flats. The glare of the 
open and treeless landscape is succeeded by the gloom of over- 
hanging parapets ; and, while the margin of the streams will be 
overgrown by willows and poplars, the forest trees, among which 
the walnut and the elm are conspicuous, flourish upon each oasis 
of deeper soil. Even the Kurdish shepherds have failed to destroy 
a vegetation favoured by moisture and shade. 

It is a place of beginning and ending, of ways radiating out- 
wards, of ways closing in. South of the town the valleys collect 
together ; slope approaches slope, increasing in acclivity and hold- 
ing the united waters as in a vice. About the site itself the 
walls of mountain recede, forming an amphitheatre of command- 
ing heights upon the north. Passages thread their way within 
the folds of that landscape, following side valleys of which the 

146 Armenia 

pleasant spaces caress the eye until they are lost to view in a turn 
of the fold. The sense of imprisonment, which soon outweighs 
the romance of a sojourn among the mountains, is a feeling 
foreign to the genius of these surroundings. Far rather is one 
diverted by the variety of the expanses which preclude the palling 
of this essentially alpine scene. 

Yet, in spite of the comparative openness of such a situation, 
you do not see Bitlis until you are well within her precincts. The 
body of the town — the mediaeval castle, the minarets and the 
bazars — lies in the trough of a deep gorge. The river which 
threads the valley is composed by the union of two main streams, 
the one coming from the north through a direct passage from the 
plains of the tableland, the other from the east, the direction of the 
Giizel Dere and the road to Van. The waters meet at some little 
distance above the settlement, to bury themselves on a south- 
westerly course in a ravine or canon with a depth of about lOO feet. 
From either side of the ravine rise the slopes of the mountains, 
leaving no great interval of level ground. The road is taken 
along the right bank upon the summit of the cliff ; and after 
a few winds reaches the commencement of the houses. They 
cluster on the cliffs on both sides of the stream and mount the 
first acclivities of the mountain walls. Of a sudden the valley opens 
and the river changes direction, settling down to a southerly course. 
Two side valleys with confluent streams enlarge the views. Tier 
upon tier the flat-roofed dwellings are terraced up the slopes, and 
are seen extending into the recesses of the hills. It will be about 
a quarter of a mile from where you reached the first buildings ; and 
still the castle and the bazars are hidden from sight. It is not 
until that venerable pile is already passed that the banks of the 
river flatten. It grazes the eastern side of the platform of rock 
supporting the battlements, and is soon joined by the tributary 
to the right bank. These are the most densely-built quarters. 
Stone bridges with a single span of arched masonry present the 
most charming prospects up the labyrinth of houses to the castled 
rock of which the figure is that of a wedge with the broad side 
facing south. The water bubbles over the boulders in its bed, 
which is not more than thirty or forty feet wide. From its 
margin rise the slender stems of willows or poplars. A little 
lower down the second tributary rustles in, this one to the left bank. 
But the river soon resumes its burrowing and boring tendency, 
and compels the houses again to take refuge up the slopes on 


Scale: 1 Mile = llnclx 
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o '^ ^ - ? Miles 

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Bit lis 147 

either side. The expanse narrows and assumes the form of a 
single trough in the mountains, threaded by a thin line of foam. 
The most comprehensive view of the city may be obtained from 
these southern limits, just before the entrance of the affluent from 
the east. It forms the subject of my illustration, which was taken 
from a position in the Avel Meidan (Fig. 146) — the quarter in 
which is situated the American Mission, and where, since the date 
of my visit, has been established the British consulate, the pioneer 
of the political and commercial intercourse of the states of the 
West with this remote Oriental town. 

I have endeavoured to portray the principal features in the 
topography of Bitlis on the little plan — hastily executed upon the 
spot — which accompanies this chapter.^ The old castle in the 
well of the expanse, towards which the valleys converge, suggests 
the appearance, when seen from a standpoint on one of the 
adjacent heights, of a gigantic starfish. The long feelers of the 
creature, represented by the valleys covered with houses, straddle 
somewhat about its slender body. Abundance of water and 
the shade of trees favour the place as a residence ; but these 
advantages are balanced by the heats which prevail in summer 
and by the quantities of snow which collect in winter. The 
southern aspect of the site makes it a trap for the fiery sun ; 
while its elevation of 5200 feet above sea-level enables the snow 
to lie during the winter months, when it accumulates to a great 
depth, as in a natural reservoir. On the other hand the houses 
are the best built in this part of Asia, and their solid walls are 
almost proof against extremes of temperature. It is quite s 
pleasure to observe their substantial masonry after the habitual 
rubble or plastered mud of Eastern dwellings. Here at Bitlis 
they are composed of blocks of hewn stone, broken by a layer or 
two of thick beams, to equalise the shock in case of earthquake. 
The walls are double, and the stone is faced on the side of the 
interior as well as upon that of the garden or the street. A layer 
of mud and rubble is sandwiched between the two walls. Very 
little mortar is used to bind the blocks together, which consist of 
a yellow lava weathering to a warm grey. This lava is found in 
abundance in the troughs of the valleys, having presumably 
flooded down them from the volcanic plateau on the north. A 
quarry of white marble in the western valley, some three miles 

1 It does not pretend to be more than a very rough sketch plan. It indicates the 
various niahallas or quarters. 

148 Armenia 

distant, supplies ornamental material. Window glass is brought 
from Europe and extensively employed. There are only wanting 
our open fireplaces and groups of stone chimneys to complete the 
resemblance to an English west-country town. In Bitlis the 
rooms are warmed most usually by braziers and more rarely by 
European stoves. 

The importance of the situation can readily be appreciated 
when we reflect upon the geographical conditions. The entire 
section of the Tauric barrier between the Great Zab on the east 
and this valley of the Bitlis Su upon the west is composed of quite 
a network of lofty mountains, extremely difficult to cross. To 
these natural obstacles, which have played an important part in 
the history of these countries, are added dangers to traffic arising 
out of the lawlessness of regions which it has never been easy 
to police. Bitlis commands the approach to the first important 
natural passage between the districts about Lake Van and the 
Mesopotamian plains. The avenue of communication is taken 
down the valley of the Bitlis Su, and, crossing thence into that of 
the Keser Su, to the town of Sert, a distance of about forty miles. 
Although this route has not as yet been rendered passable to 
wheeled traffic, it is well adapted to caravans. At Sert you are 
already upon the fringe of the lowlands and in a different climate. 
On your one hand lies Diarbekr, with its ready access to the Medi- 
terranean, and on the other Mosul, upon the navigable waterway 
of the Tigris, whence in any other country but Asiatic Turkey a 
service of first-rate steamers would afford quick access to the 
Persian Gulf West of Bitlis there are several passages, the 
routes converging upon Diarbekr ; but they are for the most part 
less accessible to the great plains of the tableland. It is therefore 
towards this avenue that the traffic is directed between widely 
distant centres of the plateau country and Aleppo or Baghdad. 

It is not so very long ago that this door between highlands 
and lowlands was in the keeping of a line of Kurdish princes. 
The Merchant in Persia, who travelled in the early portion of the 
sixteenth century, describes Bitlis as a town of no great size, ruled 
by a Kurd in only nominal allegiance to the Shah of Persia, and 
named in the peculiar jargon of these early adventurers Sarasbec. 
The castle, with its spacious area, high walls, turrets and towers, 
was occupied by this petty feudal sovereign.^ A century later the 

^ Merchant in Persia, in Italian Travels in Persia, Hakluyt Society, London, 1873, 

V- 157. 

Bit lis 149 

Bey of BitHs impressed Tavernier with, his show of power ; he 
could place in the field no less than 20,000 to 25,000 horsemen 
besides a quantity of good infantry. He resided • in the castle, 
approached by three successive drawbridges ; and his private 
apartments were situated in the last and smallest of three courts 
through which the visitor made his way on foot to audience. The 
Bey acknowledged neither the Sultan of Turkey nor the Shah of 
Persia, and was courted by both on account of the strategical 
value of his city, barring the communications between Aleppo and 
Tabriz.^ When the Jesuits founded a mission in Bitlis in the 
year 1685 they were kindly received by the ruling Bey. But 
that prince was in nominal subjection to the Sultan, each succes- 
sive ruler paying to the Porte a small present as a matter of form 
upon the occasion of his accession."- In the eighteenth century 
the padre Maurizio Garzoni, who sojourned for eighteen years 
among the Kurds in the interests of the Propaganda at Rome, 
speaks of the dynasty of Bitlis as one of the five considerable 
principalities which divided between them the Kurdistan of his 
day. The remainder were respectively located at Jezireh, Amadia, 
Julamerik and Sulimanieh.-^ The last of this old order of princes 
at Bitlis was a man of many-sided and remarkable character, 
whose romantic history one peruses with breathless excitement in 
the dry reports and correspondence of Consul Brant, the eye and 
ear of the famous Stratford Canning. His name was Sherif Bey; 
and he built a fortified palace on the heights which confine the 
valley on the east. The site of his residence I have indicated on 
the plan, although it has long ago been razed to the ground. 
After a life of chequered fortune and fox-like resistance to the 
Turkish power he was finally overwhelmed by the operations of 
Reshid Pasha and taken a prisoner to Constantinople in 1 849. 
It appears to have been this prince who first deserted the ancient 
castle, which has now fallen into complete ruin. Since his over- 
throw Bitlis has been governed by a Turkish pasha, and it forms 
the capital of a vilayet bearing its name. 

The derivation of that name does not appear to be known, 
although it was prevalent in the time of the i\rab geographers,-^ 

1 Tavernier, edition of Paris, 1679, vol. i. book iii. p. 303. 

- Fleurian, Estat p7-esent de FAnndnie, Paris, 1694. 

•^ Grammatica e vocahulario della lingua Kiirda composti dal P. Maurizio Garzoni, 
Roma, 1787. See Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. ix. pp. 628, 630. 

* Abulfeda quotes Ibn Hauqual and Azizi to the effect that Bitlis was a small and 
prosperous town seven parasangs distant from Akhlat. He adds that in his time it was 
surrounded by a semi-ruinous wall. 

150 Armenia 

The place seems to have borne the earlier appellation of Baghesh, 
and to have belonged to the Armenian province of Beznuni.^ 
Local tradition ascribes the origin of the castle to the campaigns 
of Alexander — a persistent belief which has no foundation upon 
any known facts. A laughable story is gravely related in this 
connection. The King of Macedon was impressed by the 
advantages of the site as he journeyed past it at the head of his 
army. Detaching one of his generals who was called Lais, or 
Lis, he ordered him to erect a stronghold at the junction of the 
two streams and to endeavour to complete it against the return of 
the royal forces. The general executed these commands to the 
very letter ; and when the King retraced his steps to the valley 
which had excited his admiration, he found it defended against 
his entry by a formidable fortress. After in vain employing all 
the arts known to the besiegers of his day, he contrived to 
possess himself of the person of his revolted subject. When that 
rebel was introduced to the royal presence, he defended his 
action against the vehement reproaches of his master in the 
following brief speech. " My lord ordered me to build him a 
strong castle, the strongest which should yet have been con- 
structed. How could I better convince my lord of the obedience 
of his servant than by successfully resisting in that castle the 
greatest warrior of the world ? " Alexander was pleased by the 
words, but playfully observed in the Persian language that Lis 
was a very naughty man, bad Lis. The epithet adhered to the 
name of the general and survives in that of the town to the 
present day. This is a good example of an Oriental yarn. 

The connection of Bitlis with Alexander is probably 
apocryphal ; but the number of Greek coins that are dug up and 
offered for sale to the traveller argue the extension of the later 
Hellenic culture into the recesses of this distant valley. During 
my stay at Akhlat in the course of my second journey several of 
these pieces in silver, derived from Bitlis and the neighbourhood, 
were brought into my tent. One of them, a coin of Antiochus 
the Sixth of Syria, lies before me as I write. Greek inscriptions, 
perhaps of the Roman period, are said to be forthcoming in the 
vicinity. But such hearsay should be received with considerable 
caution ; and the same remark will apply to the statement made 
to Shiel by an aged native that there had existed an inscription on 
the wall of the castle ascribing its foundation to a date 300 years 

^ Saint Martin, M^nwircs sur P Armi!iiic, vol. i. p. 103. 

Bit lis 1 5 1 

before the prophet Mohammed.^ The Arabic writings seen on 
the ruins, but unfortunately not copied or translated by modern 
travellers, have most likely, almost without exception, disappeared. 
The population of the town appears to have increased during 
the present century. In 1814 it was believed to consist of not 
more than i 2,000 souls, one-half Mussulman, and the remainder 
Armenian." Brant computed the number of families in 1838 
at 3000, or from 15,000 to 18,000 souls. • Of these, two-thirds 
were Mussulman, and one-third Armenian, besides 50 families 
belonging to the Jacobite persuasion.^ In 1868 Consul Taylor 
speaks of 4000 families, of which 1500 were Christian, that is 
to say Armenian.'* At the time of my visit the population of 
the town probably amounted to close on 30,000 souls, 10,000 
Armenians, 300 Syrians or Jacobites, and the rest Mussulman 
Kurd. The official figures for the town and caza, comprising 
Tadvan and the head of Mush plain, showed a total of just over 
44,000 inhabitants, including about 15,500 Armenians. If we 
would equalise the number of the females to that of the males, 
1 5 per cent must be added to these figures.'^ Bitlis owes its 
somewhat flourishing state mainly to its position as a provincial 
centre ; but it does a trade in gall-nuts and gum, collected in the 
surrounding country, as well as in loupes or whorls found on the 
trunks of the walnut trees and exported to France for veneering 
purposes. The nuts of these trees furnish an oil which is also 
marketable, and madder root is found in the district and used for 
dyeing purposes. From the leaves of the oak and other trees, 
the villagers in the neighbourhood collect manna — an old-world 
practice still in vogue in Kurdistan. 

I would now invite my reader to accompany me in a ride through the 
town. Our starting-point will be a fine house on the heights of Bash 
Mahalla, immediately adjoining the road from Van. A stone bridge 
crosses the road from the precincts of the mansion to the dwelling of the 
ladies of the family, surrounded by a pleasant garden. The best rooms 
of the salamlik or larger residence had been placed at our disposal by one 
of the notables of Bitlis, by name Shemseddin Bey. Adjoining this 

1 Shiel m /oiintal R.G.S. 183S, vol. viii. p. J t,. 

^ Macdonald Kinneir, Journey through Asia jMiiior, Ar/neiiia, and Kurdistan, 
London, 1818, pp. 393 scq. 

^ Brant mJ.K.G.S. vol. x. pp. 379 seq. 

-* Archives of British Consulate at Erzerum. 

'■' In detail the figures are: Mussulmans, 27,673; Gregorian Armenians, 15,317; 
Armenian Catholics, 130 ; Armenian Protestants, 647 ; Syrians, 342. Males and females 
are given separately in the rough census on which these statistics repose ; and, owing to 
the difficulty of access to the women, the latter are always in an apparent minority. 

152 Ar7nenia 

quarter are the open spaces of the Gok Meidan, where you may admire 
an old medresseh, now used as a miUtary store — a fine square building in 
hewn stone with four turrets at the corners, and a rich fagade in the Arab 
style on the south side. The place is overgrown with weeds. Ancient 
elm trees spread their shade over the ruins of a mosque not many feet 
away. Adjacent is a cemetery with numerous headstones and two 
considerable mausolea. In this same district, not far from the residence 
of the Pasha, is situated the small mosque called Meidan Jamisi. A 
mollah dispenses instruction to some twenty little boys in a small den of a 
room close by. Descending the cliff-side to the main valley by a paved 
way, we pass the little mosque of Dort Sanduk, and the Armenian church 
of Karmirak. The latter, although presided over by the bishop of Bitlis, 
is an unpretentious building of four plain stone walls, with two rows of 
three stone pillars in the interior and crowned by a small dome. The 
bishop — poor fellow — will probably be in prison ; that was his residence 
on the occasion of our sojourn. Attached to the church is a school with 
four teachers and over a hundred pupils, who certainlji impressed us as 
better-to-do than at Van. Quite a number were wearing cloth clothes. 

The prison, full of Armenians, frowns out from the edge of the cliff. 
We make our way down the trough of the valley and past the castle. It 
is nothing better than a shell, the inner structures having fallen in or 
yielded their masonry to serve as material for other buildings. On an 
eminence, overlooking the pile, is placed the Turkish High School or 
Rushdiyeh, with seventy scholars and four instructors. Our visit was ex- 
pected, but no preparations could conceal the squalor and general decrepi- 
tude of the institution. Most of the pupils were quite small boys. Where 
was the Mudir or Director of Public Instruction ? It transpired that he 
too, although a Mussulman, was in prison. He had been complaining to 
Constantinople that the military authorities had turned him out of the 
building destined to serve as a High School, and had converted it into a 
store. The officers retaliated by locking him up.^ 

The Syrian church is situated in the same quarter — that of Kizil 
Mejid, or the red Mejid. Mejid is said to be a proper name. A plain 
little whitewashed chapel nestles under the cliff, and here the service is 
read in the Syriac language, and a Syriac Bible lies upon the desk. Not 
that any of the congregation understand that tongue ; they speak 
Armenian and are familiar with Turkish. The Bible is expounded to 
them in Armenian, which may be said to be their native tongue. When 
we reflect that the services of the early Armenian Church were celebrated 
in the Syriac or the Greek languages, this transformation in the old order 
of things is not without interest. The attendant priest, a charming man 
who had come from Diarbekr, seemed half aware of the irony of the 
situation. He went so far as to say that the Armenians had usurped the 
Syrian religion and then set up a separate Church. But the differences 

' Vital Cuinet [La Tiirquie (TAsie, Paris, 1892) gravely asserts that there exist' 283 
scholastic establishments in the vilayet of Bitlis, with 309 teachers and 18,858 pupils of 
either sex ! 

Bit lis 1 5 3 

between the Churches amounts to little more than a divergence in the 
preparation of the consecrated bread. The Syrians use leavened bread. 
There was sadness in his voice when he related the fortunes of the 
Jacobite community. In old days he maintained that they had been 
much more numerous ; and he believed that the principal mosque in 
Bitlis had originally been a Syrian church. Some had emigrated ; the 
greater number had become Armenians. A Jacobite marries an Armenian 
wife whom he leaves a widow; the woman brings up the children in the 
Armenian faith. I enquired why the faithful remnant spoke Armenian to 
the exclusion of any Syrian dialect. He replied, " Because this earth is 
Hayasdan (Armenia).' He added that there were some 1500 Syrians in 
the sanjak of Sert, mostly in the districts of Sert and Shirvan. Their 
spiritual ruler is the patriarch of Mardin. 

The Armenian Catholics are a mere handful among the inhabitants of 
Bitlis. amounting to not more than fifteen families, of which only three or 
four represent the converts of the former Jesuit Mission, founded here in 
1685. The remainder have becom# Catholics during quite recent years. 
Persecution and schism have dealt hard blows at the Catholic community. 
In 1838 they did not number more than fifty citizens, and their priest had 
been taken a prisoner by the Gregorian Armenians and cruelly beaten at 
the monastery of Surb Karapet above Mush plain. ^ In the eighties that 
well-informed and genial ecclesiastic. Father Rhetore of Van, speaks of 
them as the most neglected and disorganised body in Bitlis, which had 
dwindled during the Kupelianist movement and from other causes from 
thirty to nine families.- The advent of an energetic pastor, who had 
studied in the Jesuit college of Beyrut, has infused new life into the flock. 
He speaks French fluently, has travelled widely, and is an accomplished 
man. A school has been recently opened. The Catholics of Bitlis have 
had good reason to resent their treatment at the hands of the Gregorians ; 
but their spiritual leader displayed an antipathy towards the Armenians of 
the national persuasion in which religious hatred had overcome the bonds 
of race. 

Very different is the attitude of the American Protestant missionaries, 
whose flourishing establishment is situated in the Avel IMeidan within the 
angle formed by the confluence of the stream from the eastern valley with 
the main Bitlis river. If their conversions excite the jealousy of the 
Gregorian hierarchy, their proselytes display no tendency to divest them- 
selves of their nationality, but, on the contrary, remain Armenians to the 
core. This fact does not increase the goodwill of the Turkish official 
classes towards the Americans. Founded in 1858, their Mission en- 
countered the same opposition on the part of the Armenian clergy as had 
formerly been experienced by the Catholics. It was not until after the lapse 
of seven years that a nucleus of five professed Protestants was formed : and, 
once a start had been made, progress was rapid. Of late years the labours 
of the missionaries have been wisely directed to the extension of their 

1 Bore, Corr. et Meiiioires, Paris, 1S4O, vol. i. pp. 39S, 399. 
2 Rhetore, Lcs Missions Catholiqiies, Paris and Lyons, 1881, pp. 565-567. 

154 Armenia 

schools rather than to the propagation of Protestant doctrine. Debarred 
from working among the Mussulmans, they have supplied the Armenians 
with priceless advantages in the shape of a college in the provincial 
capital, and no less than fifteen schools in the smaller towns and villages 
comprised within the limits of the vilayet. About one- half of the 
attendants are and remain Gregorian. The college dispenses three grades 
of education : the High School, the intermediate and the primary grades. 
At the time of our visit twenty scholars were included in the first of these 
categories, fifty in the second, and about sixty in the third. There were 
fifteen boarders living on the premises. The teachers numbered four, 
besides the missionaries, the principal teacher having graduated at the 
important American institution in Kharput. Some eighty girls, some of 
them boarders, were receiving instruction. Of these the residents were in 
most cases inhabitants of Bitlis, parents preferring that their daughters 
should avoid passing to and fro in the streets. The majority pay for 
their maintenance in kind. They impressed me as being very neat and 
clean. The Mission was under thf direction of Messrs. G. C. Knapp, 
R. M. Cole, and George Knapp — all zealous, experienced, and amiable 
men. Their Board have constructed a large church in the quarter, the 
community supplying a small portion of the funds. There are about 
loo professed Protestants in Bitlis, and about three times this number 
of attendants at service. The Protestants of the whole vilayet may be 
counted at 1200, including those who have made no public profession. 

The valley which stretches eastwards from the quarter of the mission- 
aries is only sparsely built over. The houses belong to the Avekh 
ward. Fields of cabbage occupy a considerable portion of the level 
area, which is dotted over by poplars and other trees. At a distance of 
about two miles from the confluence of the stream is situated among 
lonely surroundings the x\rmenian monastery of Astvatsatsin and an ad- 
jacent church which belongs to the Jacobite community. The buildings of 
the cloister have fallen into ruin, and are tenanted by a single priest wear- 
ing the dress of a peasant and not distinguishable in other respects from the 
lowest of the peasant class. When we alighted at the entrance, a figure 
stepped forth to hold our horses, whose full, round face, large eyes and 
sturdy limbs, clad in loose trousers, impressed us as belonging to a good- 
looking youth. But the shirt, happening to open, displayed the bosom 
of a maiden. The church was so little lighted, one could scarcely 
discern the architecture ; but one may say in general of the monastic 
churches on the outskirts of Bitlis that they are well-built stone structures, 
with four plain walls on the exterior, unbroken by any projection on the 
side of the apse. The interiors display features typical of Armenian 
architecture — the lofty dome, supported upon arches rising from detached 
pillars, and the stone dais at the eastern end in front of the apse upon 
which the altar is reared. Their peculiarity is a partiality for Arab 
stalactite ornament, as seen in the capitals of the pillars and in the altar 
pieces. The most remarkal)le is Surb Joannes, belonging to the 
monastery of Amelort in the western valley, or Koms Mahalla. Other 
examples are Astvatsatsin, in the village of Koms at the head of that 



valley, and the church of the fortified cloister of this same name among 
the hills bordering the main stream upon the east. A track from Van and 
the Giizel Dere, leaving the village of Bor on the north, comes in over the 
hills at the extremity of the eastern valley. 

Issuing again from this minor trough and regaining the principal 
artery, we may extend our ride to the fortress enclosure of the monastery 
last mentioned — a curious receptacle for a sanctuary dedicated to the 
mother of Christ (Fig. 147). In spite of its massive walls, it was rifled by 
Kurds during the last Russo-Turkish war ; and you may still see the 
imprints of the large stones which they hurled at the door communicating 

Fig, 147. 

SiTLis: Fortified Monastery. 

with the treasury adjoining the apse of the church. The ignorant 
peasant who was priest in charge informed us that the cloister had been 
in possession of charms wherewith to raise the dead to life ; with these, 
too, the marauders had made off. A sheep was bleating in the yard ; 
his fat tail had been bitten off by a wolf, while he grazed upon the sward 
outside. . Wolves enter the streets of the town during winter and have 
been known to carry away the dogs. 

Returning by the right bank of the Bitlis river, we may thread our 
way through the crowded bazars. They are nothing better than roofed 
passages, narrow and low. An old Khan with a fine doorway in the 
Arab style, adorned with the figures of two snarling lions, varies the 
monotony of the shabby booths. The Arab facade with inlays of marble 
of the Sherifieh. mosque adjoins the masonry of the bridge over the 
western confluent. We were unable to penetrate within the walls of the 



principal mosque, at the foot of the castle ; but it did not appear to offer 
interesting features. There is a persistent tradition that several of the 
mosques in Bitlis were formerly Christian churches. A question of still 
greater interest, but which I regret I have failed to elucidate, attaches to 
the age of the various edifices. One cannot help remarking a strong 
family resemblance between them, all being markedly under the influence 
of the Arab style. They are evidently the outcome of a period or periods 
of building activity, which I have been unable to locate in the history of 
the city. 

Not the least interesting among the experiences of a sojourn at 

Fig. 148. Tunnel of Semiramis. 

Bitlis will be the excursion to the so-called tunnel of Semiramis. You 
follow the course of the river for a distance of some four miles below the 
castle along the avenue of communication with Sert. A metalled road 
has been constructed for some portion of the way, representing the 
abortive attempts to connect the two centres by a carriageable chaussee. 
It breaks off within li miles of the tunnel, to be succeeded by sporadic 
patches of levelled inclines. These fitful reminders of the puny civilisa- 
tion of the present day struggle forward for no great space into the 
alpine scene. Limestones on the heights above, dark lavas in the 
trough below accompany your course. Mineral springs well up in 
abundance along the path. The tunnel is an artificial work, attributed 
to the Assyrian queen, which pierces a wall of rock blocking the narrow 
valley and completely cutting off the path (Fig. 148). The barrier has 
been formed by deposits of lime and other ingredients left by a spring 



bubbling in a basin some 150 feet above the track and over 300 feet 
above tlie right bank of the river. The water in the pool is clear as 
crystal to the eye, but it tastes strongly of iron. Iron rust reddens 
portions of the surface of the rock, and is conspicuous on the huge 
boulders in the bed of the river, detached by the hissing torrent from 
the base of the parapet. The tunnel has a depth of 22 feet and a height 
of about 18 feet. It seemed to constitute the only egress from the 
gorge. The view from this standpoint, looking down the passage of 
the mountains, is in the sternest vein of alpine landscapes (Fig. 149). 

Fig. 149. Looking down Valley of Bitlis Chai. 

Bitlis, like Van, was in the throes of a Reign of Terror when 
we were guests within her precincts. The storm was then 
brewing which was to burst in the Sasun massacre, the fore- 
runner of the whole series of butcheries. The town was full of 
tales relating to a notorious Armenian conspirator, who not many- 
months ago had been captured in the Sasun region, some said 
by treachery and others at the hands of a Kurd disguised as an 
Armenian. His name is Damadean, and he was lodged in the 
jail at the time of our visit. Sasun is comprised within a section 
of the same zone of mountains as those which rise about the site 
of Bitlis. In other words, it is a district of the southern peripheral 
ranges of the Armenian tableland, and it lies to the south of the 
plain and town of Mush. The Armenians who inhabit it are on 

158 Annenia 

terms of subjection to the Kurdish chiefs, to whom they pay sums 
fixed by custom for protection against other Kurdish tribes. 
Each chief has his own Armenian dependants, who are in posses- 
sion of arms. Being a race of mountaineers they are noted for 
their courage and stubbornness ; and there can be little doubt 
that Armenian political agitators, such as Damadean, fixed upon 
them as suitable material for a conflagration. The object of these 
men is to keep the Armenian cause alive by lighting a flame here 
and there and calling : Fire ! The cry is taken up in the 
European press ; and when people run to look there are sure to 
be some Turkish officials drawn into the trap and committing 
abominations. On this occasion the scene of the trouble had 
been the village of Talori or Talvorik — the same village which 
played a part in the later tragedies. Its inhabitants earn a live- 
lihood by the primitive exploitation of mines of iron, and there 
is sufficient wood in the neighbourhood for smelting purposes. 
Damadean had for some time been busy in the district, and he had 
endeavoured to effect a coalition between Kurds and Armenians 
to resist the levy of taxes for Government. At the same time the 
Vali of Bitlis, Tahsin Pasha, happened to be on bad terms with 
the authorities at Constantinople, It was said in Bitlis that he 
was delighted to be afforded an opportunity of recovering favour 
by suppressing a so-called rebellion. The result of these opposite 
tendencies was a little piece of warfare, in which Turkish troops, 
accompanied by the Vali in person, appeared before Talori. 
Taxes were demanded and refused. The villagers, who had fled 
to a strong place in the vicinity — where they had already 
successfully resisted two tribes of Kurds friendly to the Govern- 
ment — stated to the official envoy with much reason that they 
could not afford to pay a double set of taxes, one to Government 
and the other to Kurds. If they yielded to the present demand, 
was it likely that the chiefs would forego payment when the 
Turkish force had turned their backs upon Sasun ? The Vali 
appears so far to have acted with good sense, that he avoided 
bloodshed. He recovered the cattle which had been carried off 
by his Kurdish allies and liquidated his claims from the proceeds 
of their sale. His services were rewarded by a decoration from 
Constantinople ; and he was able to pose as the restorer of the 
authority of Government, the ringleader being in his hands. 
These events occurred in the month of June. 

Damadean is a good type of the Armenian revolutionary 

Bit lis 159 

He received a sound education in the school of the Mekhitarists 
at Venice, and he is said to speak both the French and the 
Enghsh languages. Some ten years before our visit he came to 
Mush as a teacher in one of the Armenian schools. The real 
miseries attendant upon the social and political lot of his country- 
men are nowhere more eloquent than in that remote town. They 
spoke to the soul of an Armenian who had tasted the liberties 
of Europe without succumbing to the vices on the surface of 
European life. The actions of such a neophyte are in so far 
misguided that they operate upon much too low a plane. They 
produce disturbance rather than wholesome change. The 
despairing usher shook off the dust of Mush from his feet ; and, 
when he returned after a protracted absence to pursue his old 
vocation, the profession was only a cloak to the designs he had 
matured in Constantinople as a petty conspirator and correspondent 
of European newspapers. When his plans were sufficiently ripe, 
he exchanged the dress of his office for that of a peasant in 
Sasun ; and the disguise enabled him to pass to and fro between 
the town and the adjacent mountains in the capacity of a seller 
of firewood. Disposing of his logs in the houses of the principal 
officials, he had ready access to their confidential servants. No 
move was made of which he had not been apprised. His career 
was cut short in the doubtful manner already indicated ; but it 
was not calculated to accomplish abiding results. 



At twenty minutes past eight o'clock on the morning of the 25 th of 
November we set out for the neighbouring town of Mush. It is the 
capital of a sanjak, or larger administrative division, belonging to 
the vilayet of Bitlis. It is situated on the further side of the wall 
of mountains which divide the watersheds of the Tigris and the 
Euphrates, and at a distance by road from the provincial capital 
of rather over fifty miles. You retrace your steps towards the 
valley of Bor and the telegraph wires, in order to cross by an easy 
and almost imperceptible ascent to the volcanic plateau on the 
western side of Lake Van. The lavas from Nimrud, and perhaps 
from lesser volcanic fissures near the base of the Kerkiir Dagh, have 
levelled the inequalities of the ground in this direction, and have 
risen, as it were, to the rim of the basin in which the tributaries 
of the Tigris have their source. Indeed, as you diverge from the 
valley on a northerly course through a side valley or opening in 
the hills, you skirt the margin of a shallow stream, an affluent of 
the Bitlis Chai, which has its origin on the very lip of the volcanic 
plateau. We made our way up the current babbling over the 
rocks, through a bleak but comparatively open scene. On our 
risfht was an ancient khan in a ruinous condition, of lesser dimen- 
sions than the one on the road from Van to Bitlis which we had 
already passed. In its neighbourhood the track bifurcates, one 
branch maintaining a northerly direction, and the other inclining 
a little eastwards in the direction of Tadvan. Sipan now came 
in view on our right front, seen from the summit to the middle 
slopes above the outline of the plateau. A little later, we stood 
upon the actual floor of this table surface, at an elevation of 800 
feet above the higher quarters of the town of Bitlis. 

It was ten o'clock. I called a halt, and took a photograph of 


From Bit lis to Mttsk — Mush 1 6 1 

the Kerkiir Dagh, which rose in front of us, hiding Nimrud (Fig. 
150). You just obtain a peep of the crater of the giant volcano 
on the west of that bold elevation. We could not discover traces 
of a crater on Kerkiir, which appeared to compose an isolated 
mass. The level ground upon which we stood extended in both 
directions, towards the west and towards the east ; but the con- 
figuration of this high land was such as to conceal completely the 
waters of Lake Van. We now commenced a more westerly course, 
and in another hour had passed the Kerkiir Dagh and were in 

Fig. 151. Nimrud Crater from the Volcanic Plateau. 

full face of Nimrud (Fig. 151). The heights of the Kerkiir are 
seen on the extreme right of my illustration, descending by bold 
bastions to the steppe. After a second halt we arrived upon the 
edge of the plateau, where it overhangs the great plain of Mush. 
We had been walking or trotting along for a space of nearly an 
hour, excluding stoppages, from the point at which my first photo- 
graph was taken. 

The prospect from this position was at once far-reaching and 
instructive. On our right hand, a few miles off, rose the caldron 
of Nimrud from the table surface upon which we stood. Behind 
us there was nothing but the undulating steppe. Our barometers 
were now sensible of a slight decline in elevation^ — a decline of 
about 350 feet. We were placed at a level of 5500 feet; 
abruptly before our eyes the ground fell away to the head of 
the plain, 1000 feet below. The appearance of the plain of 
Mush recalled our view from the slopes of Aghri Dagh over the 

1 62 Armenia 

district of Alashkert. Both depressions are in fact the beds of 
former lakes, to which the mountains descend in bold promontories. 
On that occasion we were overlooking the breadth of an even 
area ; to-day we were commanding the length. And what a 
curious commencement of the plain that feeds the Euphrates, this 
colossal dam, looo feet in height and several miles across! The 
boundaries of the depression are, on the north, the train of Nimrud, 
which extends for a short distance towards the west. Further on, 
the line is continued by a range of lofty hills, which, as we looked, 
extended across the horizon, their summits topped with snow. 
The Kurdish chain contributes the southern and continuous 
barrier. Our course was indicated by a distant headland of that 
southern border, bearing about west-north-west. 

The descent to the plain occupied nearly an hour, and it was 
one o'clock before we were again on level ground. The first 
steps of the declivity led us past a little village, and along a torrent 
which contributes its waters to the Euphrates. The name of 
Morkh is applied both to the hamlet and to the stream. Looking 
backward, we observed a little conical crater on the flank of 
Nimrud, resembling a boil, and facing the Kerkiir. Eruptive 
volcanic stones were strewn upon our path. Lower down we 
threaded our way through some low bush of oak. When we 
reached the head of the plain, a hill mass of no great height, and 
evidently of volcanic origin, rose between us and the descending 
train of Nimrud. We could see the trees of the Kurdish village 
of Norshen, beneath the mountains of the southern border, and 
scarcely more than half-a-mile away. 

In less than half-an-hour we arrived at a handsome mauso- 
leum, standing in the midst of an ancient cemetery, and now 
fallen into a ruinous state. It was circular in shape. I was not 
aware at the time of the existence in this neighbourhood of the 
spring of which Mr. Ainsworth speaks.^ But at Erzerum I learnt 
that I had passed by it,- and was made acquainted with an 
interesting theory of its origin. It is said that a shepherd, 
pasturing his flocks on the slopes of Nimrud, happened to lose 

1 The Sources of the Euphrates, \r\. Journal R.G.S. 1895, pp. 173 seq. Mr. 
Ainsworth conjectures that the water of this well, which he describes as a crater fountain 
having a basin 220 feet in circumference, comes from Lake Van. I should doubt it. 
The same careful observer is not quite right in speaking of it as " the source " of the 
Kara Su. It is no doubt one of the sources, but the Morkh Su, already mentioned, is 
the first of these westward-flowing streams. For further particulars in regard to the 
pool of Norshen see Chap. XVIII. p. 317 of the present volume. 

Fig. 152, Young Kurd Woman at Gotni, Mush Plain. 

From Bit lis to Mzish — Mush 163 

his staff, which was weighted with a purse, in the waters that 
collect in the caldron of that great volcanic mass. A little 
later the same staff was found on the bank of the stream which 
issues from this well. Such an occurrence is not improbable on 
a priori grounds. It is only necessary to recall the connection 
generally accepted as subsisting between the pool on the summit 
of the Little Ararat and the Sirdar's well in the valley at its feet. 
While in Erzerum I was also given a copy of the Arabic inscrip- 
tion on the mausoleum just described. It records that it is the 
tomb of a certain emir, Karanlai Agha, who died in the year of 
the Hegira 689, or of our era 1290.^^ 

Our mid-day stage was the Kurdish village of Gotni, which 
we reached at two o'clock. It is situated at the foot of the 
southern border range. With the greatest difficulty we obtained 
some hay for the horses and a little milk for ourselves. My 
Swiss had gone in pursuit of the grey colt with the baggage and 
provisions, and had ended by losing his way. He did not 
appear before we were all very anxious about him ; but the 
Dutch cheese and white loaves, a present from the missionaries, 
were not less relished because they arrived after our scanty meal. 
This was the first village inhabited by Mohammedans in which 
I was allowed to photograph the women. I obtained this favour 
by dint of considerable cajolery and judicious presents to the 
elders and to the ladies themselves. But my success cost me 
dear during the subsequent journey, and was one of the causes 
of our bad treatment at Mush. One of my models was a damsel 
of no little beauty — a full-blooded, strapping girl. It was evident 
that she was the belle of the whole settlement, and she was 
certainly an exception and a contrast to the lank creatures who 
were her comrades (Fig. i 52)." The zaptiehs spoke of the women 
of Gotni as little addicted to prudery, and, indeed, as amiable 
sinners. They told me that in exchange for a mirror or kerchief, 
purchased for ten paras in the bazars, they were in the habit 
of receiving the supreme favours of these fair ones ; and, once 

1 I am indebted to the excellent Yusuf, dragoman of the British Consulate at Erzerum 
and my friend from childhood, for a copy and translation of this inscription : " In the 
name of God, the merciful and most compassionate, this is the tomb of the great emir, 
Melik-ul-Umara, Karanlai Agha, who was taken from this place of corruption to the place 
of mercy and immortality, a Moslem, believer in one God, on the 5th day of Ramazan 
in the year 689." 

2 My photograph of the belle of Gotni displays such a lack of good features that I 
must refrain from reproducing it for fear of belying my impression. In its place I offer 
a picture of one of the best -looking of her less flourishing comrades. 

164 Armenia 

contracted, the alliance could always be resumed. A feature of 
the bargain, upon which they did not fail to lay emphasis, was 
that their companion provided them with food during their stay. 

Proceeding at four o'clock, we arrived in half-an-hour at the 
promontory which had been our point of course. We were 
obliged to cross the neck of this rocky cape, in order to avoid 
a marsh. Nor was the surface of the plain less boggy to which 
we descended — such is the neglect or inability on the part of the 
natives to profit by the natural advantages so lavishly bestowed. 
We were obliged to hug the headlands of the southern barrier 
for some considerable time. When at last we struck into the 
open plain on a more north-westerly course, the village which 
was our goal proved to be completely destitute both of barley 
and of hay. We were therefore escorted by a peasant to a 
neighbouring settlement, in the recesses of the spurs. It consisted 
of some thirty miserable tenements, of which ten belonged to 
Armenian families and twenty to Kurds. No grain was possessed 
by this village, but, after much wrangling, a little barley was 
produced. This sufficed to feed the horses, and we decided to 
spend the night there ; the name of the place was Zirket. 

But which of these underground hovels was the least re- 
pugnant as a lodging for the night ? The first I entered 
displayed the flicker of a fire of dried manure, and was almost 
filled by the dim forms of cattle. But I could hear a human 
cough and the wheezing of sick people ; and, as I advanced, I 
stumbled upon a prostrate figure. It was muffled in a ragged 
shawl, and I could not see the features ; when I touched it on 
the bare feet it did not move. No better fortune attended a 
visit to a neighbouring hut ; it was more lofty, but it was 
tenanted by a huddled group of women, one of whom was unable 
to move from the ground. Returning to my first choice, I 
ordered the cattle to be ejected, and the sleeper to be taken to an 
adjacent stable. We slept beside our horses and were attacked 
in force during the night by a formidable army of minute 

The ride to Mush on the following day occupied four-and- 
a-half marching hours. Our average course was a little north of 
west. The plain in the neighbourhood of our station was some 
five to six miles broad, and villages became both larger and more 
frequent. The same line of high hills still composed the northern 
barrier, and the Kurdish mountains that on the south. Ice lay 

From Bitlis to Mush — Mush 

i6 = 

upon the puddles during the early morning, but was soon melted 
by the sun. The marshes continued but were less obstructive ; 
they afford food to large flocks of wild geese. The villages in 
the plain appeared to be for the most part Armenian, but some 
Armenian villages are in part inhabited by Kurds.^ We halted 
for a meal in one of the largest of these, the Armenian settlement 
of Khaskeui (Fig. 153). It is a typical Armenian dwelling-place, 
resembling a series of ant-hills ; but my illustration does not 
comprise the knot of venerable trees which adjoin it, an unwonted 

Fig. 153. Armenian Village of Khaskeui, Mush Plain. 

landmark in the expanse. In Khaskeui there are no less than 
300 houses and 2 churches, besides ruins of more ancient 
sanctuaries. But the school had been closed by order of 
Government, and only one per cent of the peasants could read or 
write. I found the priest an ignorant man ; — poor fellow, he had 
been lately imprisoned on a summons for withholding taxes. If 

1 It would probably be safe to .say that the Armenian element predominates in the 
plain proper, and the Kurdish element in the villages bordering upon the plain along 
the southern border range. Writing in 1838, Consul Brant reported as follows : "In 
the whole plain of Mush there are not any Mohammedan peasants intermingled with 
the Armenians : a fact which would clearly point out this country as belonging rather 
to Armenia than to Kurdistan ; indeed the tent-dwelling Kurds are evidently intruders, 
and the stationary Kurds, it cannot be doubted, belonged originally to the nomad race " 
{J.R.G.S. 1840, vol. X. p. 347). 

1 66 Armenia 

only Armenian patriots would see to the reform of the rural clergy, 
what an inestimable harvest the race would reap ! The inhabit- 
ants of this village were a good example of Armenian peasantry 
— such broad shoulders, and massive hips ! They were fairly 
well-to-do, some in easy circumstances (Fig. 154). One is im- 
pressed by their resolute look. 

Khaskeui has an open site on the floor of the spacious plain, 
while Mush nestles under the wall of the southern range. Our 
course was again directed to one of the headlands of the barrier, 
bearing about west-north-west Proceeding at a rapid trot, we 
reached our landmark in three-quarters of an hour, and, after 
doubling it, turned due west. We were riding across the fork of 
one of the deepest and most spacious of the valleys formed by the 
spurs descending from the chain. High up on the hillside above 
the head of this opening we admired the position of the famous 
cloister of Arakelotz Vank — a walled enclosure surmounted by 
a conical dome.^ The windows of that eyrie must command an 
immense prospect, for the chain of hills had declined to less 
significant proportions on the opposite margin of the plain. We 
ourselves could see the shining summit of Sipan above their long 
outline. They almost die away at a point about due north of 
this position, but are soon succeeded by a still more lofty and 
snow-capped range. The valley is dotted with several villages, 
and crives issue to a stream called the Arakh. Where we crossed 
it, the water was trickling over a stony bed which must have been 
nearly a quarter- mile broad. As we closed the view of this 
valley, we passed the large Armenian village of Tirkavank, on the 
side of the hill. 

But this recess was no sooner passed than it was succeeded 
by another inlet of this coast of hills, backed by snow-clad heights. 
Scarcely less spacious and not less fair than the valley of the 
/\rakh, that of the Garni Chai is enclosed by two protecting 
promontories, opening towards the expanse of plain. At the 
head of the western arm, a rocky spur projects into the bay at an 
angle from the promontory. Increasing in height as it proceeds, 
it takes the appearance of a rounded hill, rising isolated from the 
floor of the valley. Screened by the headlands from the winds, 
yet in full possession of the plain, it is indeed an enviable site. 

^ I refer the reader with some hesitation to Cuinet's account of this monastery {La 
Titrquie d\4sie, Paris, 1892, vol. ii. p. 584, vilayet de Bitlis). See also Saint Martin, 
Miiiioires sicr PArnu'iiie, vol. ii. pp. 431, 467- 

Fig. 154. Well-to-do inhabitant of Khaskeui, Mush Plain. 

From Bit lis to Mush — Mush 167 

The hill is encircled by tiers of houses — horizontal lines of flat 
mud roofs — -which lead up the eye, like steps, to the vaulted 
summit. In former times a castle rose from that proud eminence 
— probably a work of the Armenian Middle Ages. It has been 
razed to the ground, and the simple houses usurp the space once 
embellished by the city's crown. We were soon within the pre- 
cincts of the town of Mush. 

It was evident that our arrival had been expected. Groups 
of people were collected in the street up which we passed, and 
were occupying posts of vantage along the route. I have little 
doubt that their interest in us was due to the attitude of the 
authorities towards our visit, rather than to curiosity on the part of 
such semi-animate individuals to see a European enter their town. 
The presence of the chief of the police, attired in a new greatcoat, 
from the brass buttons of which flashed the device of the crescent, 
was alone sufficient to attract a crowd. He stood in front of his 
office, facing the main street, and saluted us gravely as we wound 
up the steep ascent over an irregular pavement towards the 
central bazar. In the foreground of the picture before our eyes 
rose a massive minaret with a spacious gallery ; and we admired 
the rambling design, composed of the admixture of yellow and 
brown blocks of stone, which varied the surface of the circular 
column of masonry. It belongs to the mosque of Aladdin Bey. 
The humble houses straggle down the side valleys, from which 
the stalk-like trunks of poplars rise. Looking backwards, the 
eye rests upon the green of tobacco fields in the main valley ; 
and we noticed that the large leaves had already been gathered, 
leaving the stems of the plant almost bare. The gaunt sticks 
were preparing to wither under the first severe frost. Little 
foliage remained upon the trees in the gardens, and the poplars 
were already stripped of leaves. 

The dwellings are constructed of rubble -stone, faced with 
mud. Some are whitewashed ; but in the case of the greater 
number lapses of the mud coating reveal the rudeness of the 
structure behind. The flagstones in the bazar were swimming in 
filth of every description as we picked our way through the 
accumulation of heterogeneous objects — bullock carts, piles of 
straw, the skins of slaughtered animals with the entrails gathered 
up within the skin. The bazar of Mush is a mere aggregate of 
miserable open booths, clustering about the base of the minaret. 
The richest merchant — an Armenian — owned a stall which was 

1 68 Armenia 

not much larger than that of a costermonger. In this booth we 
observed the figure of a general in blazing uniform, squatted on 
the boards and gossiping with the shopman. It was none other 
than the Commandant of the troops. The place was crammed 
with sightseers, clad in red and blue cottons ; their loose shirts, 
open to the waist, revealed the breasts of the men and the 
bosoms of the women, in whom bad diet, unwholesome tenements, 
and ceaseless toil had destroyed the graces natural to their sex. 
It was painful to see such a collection of miserable human 
beings ; and the lank features and dishevelled locks of the old 
women haunted us for many a day. From the bazar we were 
escorted to the government house, in order to be received by the 
Aliitesarrif ox chief civil official of the sanjak of Mush. 

A wooden staircase, reeking with filth and scattered with the 
debris of the tumble-down edifice, gave access to the first floor. 
A vagrant, nondescript crowd thronged the stairs and landing, 
from which a thick curtain, drawn aside, allowed us to pass into 
an inner apartment. Seated on the divan before us were several 
figures, to one of which — a fat old man with a fez and a shabby 
European coat — we were introduced as being the Mutesarrif. 
His coarse features, abnormally large ears, and the heavy lobes 
of the wrinkled under-lids of his dull eyes, prepossessed us against 
him at first sight. His stomach had become distended with 
continual sitting, and the scanty hair upon his head was quite 
white. A smart young man, wearing a fez, was seated upon his 
left hand, and a mollah with a white turban and dark robes upon 
his right. The first was his secretary ; and the second — a thin- 
featured, little man, who never moved a muscle during the whole 
interview — was no less a dignitary than the Mufti of Mush. On 
either side of this central group were serried the other notables, 
members of the Mejlis. 

Even the Mutesarrif himself appeared afraid to utter a word. 
No topic of conversation would unloose their tongues. Why had 
we come? What untowardness would result from our visit? — 
that was the question buried in those gloomy souls. I elicited 
the interesting fact that not one of them had ever heard of the 
code of Napoleon. When I mildly remarked that it was said to 
be the civil law of Turkey, the Mutesarrif broke in with the 
observation that he now remembered to have been told that there 
was such a code. 

Bystanders eyed us curiously as we issued from this visit, and 

From Bit lis to Mush — Mush 169 

I quite expected to be escorted to the jail. We were agreeably 
surprised to be conducted to the best house in the place — stand- 
ing by itself in a sunny situation overlooking the valley on the 
east. I expressed a desire to go to the bath. The answer was 
that in a couple of hours it would be at our disposal. When we 
arrived, there was not a single soul within the building except 
a couple of attendants. Incense had been burnt in the really 
spacious and comfortable chambers, which were newly swept and 
fragrant and clean. We were ministered to by an Armenian boy 
of unusual comeliness — the curves about his sash made it difficult 
to distinguish him from a girl. When we stepped forth into the 
night we were awaited by a muffled policeman, who took us home 
and joined in the circle of our visitors until we retired to rest. 

The chief commissary of police with the new coat and the 
brass buttons — office and uniform modelled on a Russian 
pattern — had a busy time during our stay. Happily he was by 
nature an agreeable man ; but he was fresh from Constantinople. 
His poor brain had been crammed with all those irksome regulations 
which have been spread over the Russian Empire and a great 
part of Europe, presumably from a Prussian source. An English- 
man, it is true, should perhaps endure them with complacency ; 
for does he not owe his wealth and his colonies to the prevalence 
of this cancer among his neighbours, and to his own complete 
freedom from the disease ? Passports were examined at Mush 
for the first time since our arrival in Turkey — a country in which 
the traditionally liberal treatment of travellers is gradually giving 
place to measures of exclusion. My letters of introduction were 
read with mingled feelings — disappointment that they rendered 
necessary very special and delicate treatment, and relief that they 
clearly placed the responsibility for our visit upon officials in a 
high place. 

We were rarely left alone — not even in our own apartment ; 
for we slept and ate in the principal room of the residence allotted 
us, from which it was impossible to exclude the master of the 
house and his companions ; and the presence of a single visitor 
was always accompanied by the entrance of the commissary or his 
adjutant. One of the two was never absent from our side. The 
anxiety of such a novel charge sat heavily upon both of them ; 
both looked quite worn out by the time we were ready to depart. 

Early on the morning following our arrival we were quite 
ready to sally forth ; but the lesser official was already astir, and 



besought us to postpone our walk until he should have apprised 
his chief. The commissary was not long in coming, his toilette 
half completed ; and no sooner had he saluted us than his sleepy 
eyes fell on the camera case, and he enquired what it might 
contain. A camera ! had we received an u-adeJi from the Sultan 
to take photographs of what we saw ? All photography was for- 
bidden unless such a permit were forthcoming. So we abandoned 
the camera with good grace. 

Well, whither shall we direct our steps ? Let it be to the 
Rushdiyeh — the Turkish official school. We are informed that 
the building is under repair. It is actually in a ruinous condition, 
and no such institution really exists. Then to the remains of the 
old castle. — There is no such thing as an old castle. — Well, to 
the site upon which it stood. The climb through the town is 
really quite worth while. The view from the summit of the hill 
is extremely pleasing — the bold walls of the valley expanding to 
the level plain, the mountainous background soaring upwards and 
white with snow, and in the folds of this expanse the little hill of 
Mush — a mere button upon which you stand. The neck which 
connects this eminence with the arm of the main valley is dotted 
over with the headstones of deserted graveyards, seeming from a 
distance like bleaching bones. You look down into the glen 
between the two elevations through which trickles the Garni Chai. 
In its lap lies a white edifice which is indicated as the barrack, 
and towards its head you admire the form of a second minaret, 
resembling its companion in the bazar. The summit of the hill is 
flat ; and, although the houses rise up to the margin, the platform 
itself is still bare. The debris of the old castle are strewn upon 
the grass, but not one stone remains upon another. Most have 
been taken away as building material. 

Let us proceed to the school of the Armenian Catholics. — Yes, 
certainly, if such be our desire. — We wind down the town towards 
the valley on the east, and arrive before the enclosure of a newly- 
erected church. That is the Catholic Church ; — but where is the 
school? It is situated just opposite; — oh! but it is closed. — • 
Certainly, the school is closed. — The church at least is open ; let 
us pass in. — Certainly, and we enter the building. The first to 
enter is the commissary, followed by four policemen in military 
dress. The bleak walls of the brand-new edifice echo the clank of 
their boots. A single figure is present — the black-robed figure of 
a priest ; and it crouches on the high altar, visibly trembling, such 

From Bit lis to Mush — Miish 171 

as we may imagine some male Hypatia of olden times. While I 
greet the priest from the doorway, a soldier walks across, and 
dares the wretched creature to address a word to us. On our 
part there is nothing to be done but to keep our tempers. 

A very interesting church ! — Now let us visit the remaining 
churches. That building close by is the principal church of the 
Gregorian Armenians ; it is withal a very poor place. The door 
is open ; we have been expected ; not a soul is present. Pursuing 
our way, we meet an Armenian priest — a young, broad-shouldered, 
open-faced man. He seems inclined to speak, so we ask him 
how many churches there may be in Mush. He answers, seven ; 
but the commissary had said four. A soldier addresses him in 
Kurdish ; the poor fellow turns pale, and remarks that he was 
mistaken in saying seven ; there cannot be more than four. I 
turn to the commissary and ask him to take us to the teacher in 
the school of the United Armenians — a philanthropic institution 
with some schools in the provinces and headquarters in the capital. 
The reply comes that he is absent from town. The school is 
enjoying a holiday. There can be no doubt that they have all 
received orders to close their schools ; but it is not probable that 
many schools remain in such a place. The Protestants have 
closed theirs. 

Such are a few of our experiences during our short sojourn at 
Mush. We were not merely shadowed by the police, but prevented 
from enjoying any of the profit and pleasure which a traveller 
seeks in return for all his trouble and expense. To protest to the 
Mutesarrif would have been worse than useless ; and the policy of 
the British Foreign Office is so weak in these countries that we 
lose the advantages of our Consular system. When I called upon 
the chief official to take farewell, I congratulated him upon the 
possession of such an energetic commissary, and begged that he 
would recommend him in the despatch which no doubt he was 
preparing for a suitable reward. His efforts had, indeed, been 
completely successful ; we had scarcely communicated with a 
single soul in Mush. I thanked him for the politeness with which 
our seclusion had been effected ; and the old man rose, and 
accompanied me to the door. . . . W^hat iniquities had they been 
committing and were desirous of screening ? Terror, the most 
abject terror, was in the air. We drank it in from the very atmo- 
sphere about us — a consuming passion, like that of jealousy — a 
haunting, exhausting spectre, which sits like a blight upon life. 

1/2 Armenia 

Such a settled state of terror is one of the most awful of human 
phenomena. The air holds ghosts, all joy is dead ; the sun is 
black, the mouth parched, the mind rent and in tatters. 

Mush is the most mis-governed town in the Ottoman Empire. 
Ever since the inauguration of closer relations between Europe 
and these countries, the testimony of the few Europeans who have 
realised and noted such facts bears out this judgment almost to the 
letter. It is less easy to assign any definite cause. The disease 
has become chronic ; and its symptoms are so familiar that the 
inhabitants have grown callous to their condition. It is only 
Damadeans, and such imported members of the community, that 
such deeply-rooted evils impress. 

The Mussulman majority are probably almost all of Kurdish 
origin ; and since the enrolment of the Hamidiyeh irregular cavalry 
they openly profess the name of Kurd. The slopes of the hills 
around Mush are covered with vineyards and gardens ; and in each 
garden there is a small, two-storeyed house, resembling from a dis- 
tance a scattering of bathing-machines. The Mussulmans retire 
to these gardens during summer, and superintend their cultivation. 
The whole winter through they sit idle in Mush. There they 
consume a great quantity of tobacco ; and all this tobacco is con- 
traband. It is their custom to buy their wives, the best-looking 
and best-born women sometimes fetching not less than a hun- 
dred pounds. All are obstinate in their belief that it was the 
Prussians who enabled the Russians to conquer Turkey in the last 
war. Their hope is that this assistance will not be forthcoming in 
the future, and they are therefore confident of success in the con- 
flict which they foresee. And they pit their Hamidiyeh against 
the Cossacks. 

The Armenian minority are artisans, smiths, makers of 
everything that is manufactured in Mush. They are carpenters, 
plasterers, builders. All the keepers of booths which we passed in 
the bazar plainly belonged to this race, I am unable to supply 
any reliable statistics for the town itself; but my impression 
was that the population was certainly less than 20,000 souls. In 
the cloister of Surb Karapet it was believed that Mush contained 
nearly 7000 houses, of which 5000 were occupied by Mussulman 
and 1 800 by Armenian families. Although this estimate is 
certainly too high, it would appear that the population has been 
increasing. In 1838 Consul Brant speaks of 700 Mussulman 
families and 500 Armenian, which would give a total of not more 

From Bit lis to Mitsh — iMusk 173 

than some 6000 or 7000 souls/ Thirty years later, Consul 
Taylor, who also visited the place, computed the inhabitants of 
Mush and the vicinity, not including the plain, as numbering 
I 3,000 souls, 6000 Armenians and the rest Mussulmans.- In the 
plain of Mush the Armenians are in a large majority, the official 
figures for the caza allowing them a total of 35,300, as against 
21,250 Mussulmans. Some 2500 of their number are Catholics 
and about 500 Protestants.^ 

The origin of the name of Mush is wrapped in obscurity.* 
It formed the capital of the old Armenian province of Taron 
under the rule of the princely family of the Mamikoneans.° 
At the present day it contains two considerable mosques with 
minarets, four churches of the Gregorian Armenians and one of 
the Catholics. The Gregorian churches are named Surb Marineh, 
Surb Kirakos, Surb Avetaranotz, and Surb Stephanos. None are 
of any size or of much interest. There are three fine khans in the 
neighbourhood of the bazar. Our host informed us that not less 
than thirty-six Hamidiyeh regiments had been enrolled in the 
sanjak ; but he added that none had yet been constituted in the 
sanjaks of Bitlis, Sert and Genj. These four sanjaks compose 
the vilayet of Bitlis. The first portion of his statement was 
almost certainly false, even on a nominal basis. 

1 Brant \n Journal R.G.S. 1840, vol. x. p. 351. Koch in the forties estimated the 
population at 1000 Mohammedan and 415 Armenian families, or a total of about 8000 
souls {Reise im pontischen Gebirge, etc., Weimar, 1846, p. 405). 

2 Archives of the British Consulate at Erzerum. 

^ For the Catholics of Mush and Mush plain, see Bore {Correspondance et Aldmoires, 
Paris, 1840, vol. i. p. 398), and Smith and Dwight {Missionary Researches in Armenia, 
London, 1834, p. 429). They have evidently increased in numbers since the time of 
these writers. 

* The subject is discussed by Ritter, Erdkiinde, vol. x. p. 816. 

® Saint Martin, Meinoircs snr rAri/ic^nie, vol. i. p. 102. 



In travelling from Mush to Erzerum, you cross, the block of the 
Armenian highlands from their southern margin almost to their 
northern verge. Should the season be that of summer, it is 
possible to perform the passage on a course nearly as straight as 
a bee-line. For the mountains which face the traveller from the 
depressions of this region are, for the most part, but the sides of 
a higher table surface over which he may ride for miles without 
drawing rein. But this higher surface is much too elevated to 
render the journey pleasant, or even safe, at the commencement 
or during the progress of an Armenian winter. It is more 
prudent to adhere to the great plains at a lower level, through 
which the tributaries to the Murad wind their way ; and from 
these to cross to the deeply-eroded bed of the Upper Araxes, 
which affords a luxurious approach to the northern districts. 
This route once adopted, two deviations are suggested which will 
not lengthen the journey by many miles. The first is a visit to 
the ancient cloister of Surb Karapet (John the Baptist), on the 
northern border range of Mush plain ; the second, a short sojourn 
in the ancient burgh of Hasan Kala, not far from Erzerum. The 
northern capital will be reached by convenient stages in six 
travelling days, the distance covered being about i6o miles.^ 

; total is distributed, acco 

rding to my estimates, as follows : — 

Mush-Surb Karapet 

25 miles 

Surb Karapet-Gumgum 

28^ ,, 


24" „ 


23h » 



Mejitli-IJasan Kala 

22i „ 

Hasan Kala-Erzcriini 


Total . 159^ miles 

From Altisk to Erzeruin 175 

It was the 29th of November, just after half-past nine in the 
morning, when our party of four Europeans and four Turkish 
soldiers defiled into the plain from the hill of Mush. The 
iron-grey colt was being led by one of our new companions, the 
more docile that he anticipated release. Were we prisoners and 
these our jailers ? I asked the question of the principal man, 
who was a sergeant with the name of Mevlud Chaoush. A black 
shawl, reaching to the shoulders, was wound about his head as a 
protection from the weather. His irregular and forbidding features 
never broke into a smile, nor did his lips move except to utter 
a command. We passed several deserted burying fields, with 
fallen headstones, and forded the Garni Chai, a mere torrent in a 
wide bed. More than half-an-hour had passed before we doubled 
the western promontory, and struck our true course across the 

We skirted or could see several hamlets — dots in the expanse, 
which had the appearance, usual in this country, of a sea. No 
hedges or artificial boundaries parcel the ground ; no leafy trees 
blend in the distance to a soft, grey mass. The harvest had been 
gathered, and you could scarcely tell the difference between the 
cultivated and the unreclaimed soil. Marshes, instead of a net- 
work of irrigation channels, received the waters babbling down 
from the southern range. After several halts, rendered necessary 
by the freaks and misfortunes of the baggage horse, we reached 
at half-past twelve the considerable Armenian village of Sheikh 
Alan, near the ford of the Murad. About a mile beyond the 
village we approached the margin of the noble river which we 
had followed from Karakilisa to Tutakh. 

It appeared to be flowing in two channels through a bed 
having a width of 200 yards or more. After fording the first of 
these branches, which was about 30 yards across,, we made our 
way over a beach to the second branch. It was some 100 yards 
in breadth, the water reaching to the horses' knees. When we 
had gained the opposite bank, which was firm and well-defined, 
we prepared to say good-bye to the Murad. What was our 
surprise to meet a third and magnificent river, sweeping towards 
us in an independent bed ! It was buffeting its high left bank, 
at the extremity of a beautiful curve, and the flood was much too 
deep to venture in. So we followed the current until the bluff 
sent it swirling to the opposite margin, diffused over a wider space. 
Even at this point the passage was not without risk ; but an 

1 76 Armenia 

experienced villager piloted us safely to the further side. From 
bank to bank was a distance of about 80 yards, and the wavelets 
wetted our horses' flanks. The confluence of the Kara Su, the 
stream which collects the drainage of the plain of Mush, is 
situated some little distance above the ford.^ 

Following with the eye the course of the river, we searched 
in vain for a gap in the mountains among which it disappeared. 
These describe a bold half-circle at the western extremity of the 
plain, not many miles from where we stood. The heights on the 
north join hands with the heights upon the south, and appear to 
prevent all issue from the plain. From the ford we proceeded 
in a north-westerly direction to the village of Ziaret. It is an 
Armenian settlement with 150 tenements, and possesses a church 
but no school. The kiaya'^- or head of the village, was quite a 
civilised individual ; and such was his politeness that he sent his 
own son with me, to wait on me during my sojourn at Surb 
Karapet. He informed me — the usual story — that there had 
been a teacher in the village, but that last year he had left 
(euphemism), and his place had not since been filled. 

After a stay in this settlement of an hour and three-quarters, 
we continued our journey at a quarter before four. Our course 
was about the same, and we reached the foot of the northern 
barrier at half- past four o'clock. Although the level of the 
ground had risen, the ascent to the monastery occupied over an 
hour. It is situated among the uppermost recesses of the wall of 
mountain, at an elevation of about 6400 feet, or of 2200 feet 
above the trough of the plain. ^ We wound our way up a cleft in 
the face of the rock, through a bush of low oak. The temperature 
fell, and we became enveloped in banks of cloud. A drizzling 
rain turned to snow before we reached the cloister, and next 
morning the adjacent slopes were cloaked in white. The monks 
informed us that it was the first fall of snow which they had 
experienced during the course of this brilliant autumn. 

1 I should like to refer my reader to Mr. Ainsworth's valuable book (Travels and 
Researches in Asia Minor, etc., London, 1842, vol. ii. p. 383) for a description of the 
twfo interesting old bridges which he found, one spanning the Murad, some distance east 
of our ford, and the other a former bed of the Kara Su. See also Koch, Keise im 
pontischen Gebirge, etc., Weimar, 1846, pp. 410, 411. 

2 The head man in a Christian village is called kiaya, and in a Moslem village 
mukhtar. He is responsible to Government. There is no official chief of agglomera- 
tions of villages, like the Russian Pristav. 

'■' The accepted average elevation of the plain of Mush appears to be 4200 feet. 
The readings of my barometers agree fairly well with this figure. 


^t/flSM ' ' ^ SR 


7 * ' 


Mg^mi 99 



'""■«• ^ 






^ i 


^^^^^^^^^v . *' 

'■ \ 


B ^B "^ 





> • 






*. .^ 


V "^^. 




hic. 155. Church of Sure Karapet from South- West. 

From Alusk to ErzcTuin 177 

A walled enclosure, like that of a fortress, a massive door on 
grating hinges — such is your first impression of this lonely fane 
(Fig. 155). My illustration shows the long line of monastic 
buildings on the south ; the gateway is on the west. You enter 
a spacious court, and face a handsome belfry and porch, the 
facade inlaid with slabs of white marble with bas-reliefs (Fig. i 56). 
We were conducted to a long chamber, with walls of prodigious 
thickness, recalling our Norman refectories. It was nearly six 
o'clock ; the monks received us without surprise, and had probably 
been forewarned by the Mutesarrif When I asked for a separate 
room, it was pleaded that none was vacant ; and the preparations 
of Mevlud to sleep by our side in the long chamber convinced me 
that resistance would as yet be vain. With the best humour we 
joined in a meal of extreme frugalit)', which was spread upon 
trays and partaken of by all the monks. Of these there were six 
in residence and six absent, one being confined in a Turkish 
prison. Four deacons were also of the company ; but conversa- 
tion was difficult in the presence of the silent Mevlud. Our hosts 
were superior people, judged by the standards in this country ; 
and after supper, over the glow of a number of braziers, we 
were drawn together by common sympathies. In particular I 
was attracted to a well-read monk of quiet demeanour, whose 
personality and name I hesitate to disclose. 

The morning broke serene and clear; a brilliant sun embraced 
the landscape which from the terrace outside the walls, where is 
situated a little cemetery, was outspread at our feet (Fig. 157). 
The eye sank to the floor of the plain or was lifted to the 
summits of the mountains, which were seen in all the variety of 
their many forms and myriad facets above beds of vapour, 
clinging captive to the middle slopes. This sea of clouds con- 
cealed the river where it issues from the expanse to be buried 
in the amphitheatre of heights. But my companion, the mild- 
tempercd monk, told me they could sometimes hear from this 
terrace the hissing of the waters as they enter the passage. They 
call the place Gurgur, a name imitative of the sound which, when 
the air is heavy with cloud towards the end of winter, is loud and 
long-maintained. Then they say that spring is near at hand. 
He added that the ruins of an Armenian fortress may still be seen 
within the gorge. Its ancient name was Ha}'kaberd. 

I must regret the loss of a great portion of my notes, made 
during the course of this day. The monastery is one of the 

lyS Ar7nenia 

■oldest in .Armenia, and was certainly founded by the Illuminator 
himself. He came hither after his famous conversion of King 
Tiridates, when many of the princes of the land had espoused his 
religion and his sacred cause. But that cause and religion had 
become divested of their peaceful character ; and it was rather 
with torch and sword than with the lamp of the teacher and the 
staff of the missionary that the Christian saint appeared on the 
threshold of this beauteous plain. He had been apprised of the 
existence of two heathen temples, standing on the spot where now 
the cloister .stands. They were an object of especial reverence 
by a colony of Hindu refugees, long since established under the 
sceptre of the Armenian kings. They worshipped two idols, 
which were made of brass, with colossal proportions, and were 
known in the country under the names of Demeter and Kisane. 
These interesting figures, with the ancient cult which they re- 
presented, were doomed to destruction at the hands of the 
Christians. The attendant priests raised the alarm among their 
lay brethren, and St. Gregory and his friends were obliged to 
reckon with a hostile force. But the Hindu warriors with their 
Armenian allies were defeated in two battles, and their sanctuaries 
were razed to the ground. A Christian church was erected upon 
the site which they had occupied ; and the body of St. John the 
Baptist, translated from Cassarca, took the place of Demeter and 
Kisane, These events are related by the Syrian Zenobius, an 
eye-witness and a lieutenant of the Saint. I had perused his 
narrative overnight in the pages of Ritter, and I was anxious to 
know whether it were known to my companion. I found him 
conversant with every particular of the story, and he expressed 
his conviction that these heathens were Hindus. He was equally 
certain that the gypsies, who may still be met with in the country, 
were descendants of this colony. He told me that their language 
was known as Sanskrit among the Armenians.^ He led me 
within the enclosure, and showed me a little chapel situated upon 
the west of the church. In that chapel he assured me that St. 
Gregory had said his first mass, and it stood on the site of the 
temple of Kisane. That of Demeter had been, he said, the 
larger of the two shrines." 

' I have already mentioned the presence of gypsies in the caza of Garchigan. I did 
not meet willi any during my first journey. 

- See the account of Zenobius of Glak as given in the pages of Ritter [Erd/citiide, 
vol. X. pp. 553 seg. and 703), and of Langiois {Collection des historiens dc PAniidnie, 

From Mush to Erzcrum i 79 

What portion, if any, of the present edifice is the work of 
that remote age, I am unable to pronounce. My impression 
is that earthquakes are held to have destroyed the original 
structure. The two chapels on the east, with their polygonal 
towers and conical roofs, are probably the earliest in date of the 
existing buildings. I reproduce them on a larger scale, my 
picture having been taken from the gallery of the monastic 
buildings on the south (Fig. 158). The body of the church 
immediately adjoins them ; it is spacious, but not remarkable 
for architectural beaut}' or richness of ornament. It is in the 
character of a large conventicle, and the roof is flat. Slabs, 
inlaid in the floor, cover the graves of princes and warriors, of 
whom we read in the pages of Armenian historians. The bloody 
wars against the Sasanians are recalled by the tombs of Mushegh, 
of Vahan the Wolf and of Sembat. The grave of Vahan is 
denoted by a slab of black stone, before the entrance to the more 
southerly of the two chapels. That of Sembat is said to be 
situated near the threshold of the companion sanctuary, which 
is dedicated to St. Stephen. Near the wall on the south repose 
the remains of Vahan Kamsarakan.^ Slabs are wanting in the 
case of the two graves last mentioned. Inscriptions are found, I 
believe, on some. The porch and belfr}' on the west are of no 
great antiquit}', as the reader can see for himself. 

What with the Kurds and the suspicions of the Turkish 
Government this once flourishing monastery has been stripped of 
much of its glamour ; indeed the monks are little better than 
prisoners of State. The new buildings on the west, erected by 
Bishop Mampre, have never }-et been used. They were destined 
to receive the printing press, and the relics of the library. But 
the printing press — the wings of knowledge, said my companion 
— was placed under the ban of Government as early as in 1874. 
The library was pillaged by Kurds during the first half of the 

Paris, 1S67, vol. i. pp. 344 scq.). Zenobius is reputed to have been the first bishop of 
this monastery. 

I must add that the work purporting to have been written by Zenobius and called 
History of Taron, from which Ritter quotes and which is translated in Langlois — and 
which the monks of Surb Karapet prize so highly — is regarded by modern scholars as a 
collection of legends made in the eighth or ninth centuries, and valueless as a historical 
document (see Gelzer, Die Anfiinge der an/ic/iischen Kirche, in ]\'rha)idlniigeii der koiiig. 
Sachs. Gesellschaft der Wiss. zti Leipzig, phil.-hist. Klasse, 1895, P- 123). A much 
more trustworthy account of the doings of St. Gregory in this neighbourhood is that given 
in the Agathangelus treatise. I have summarised it in Vol. I. Ch. XVI. pp. 295, 296. 

1 For some account of the doings of all these worthies see the history of John 
Mamikonean (translated in Langlois, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 361 scq.'). 

i8o Arnienia 

present century, and its contents burnt or littered about the 
courts. Nor is it possible for the community to pursue their 
studies, since any book which deals with the history of their 
nation is confiscated by the authorities. I think I have alread}' 
mentioned that the same officials seize and burn our Milton and 
our Shakespeare. And yet the ambassadors of Europe dally on 
the Bosphorus, powerless to redress these wrongs and avenge these 
insults. It is because in Russia they practise similar iniquities, 
and because Europe stoops to sit at Russia's feet. Upon such 
matters we conversed when the air was a little clearer, after a 
fierce encounter between Mevlud and myself. That sinister 
personage had presumed to accompany me to my host's room ; 
but I peremptorily ordered him out. 1 told him that if he 
ventured to invade the privacy of a priest's apartment I would 
undertake to have both the Mutesarrif and himself dismissed. 

We left the cloister — which is generall\' known under the 
name of Changalli, from its bells, heard in the plains from afar ^ — 
on the morning of the first day of December, a little before noon. 
Snow lay thickly upon the ground ; but the thermometer at 
eleven o'clock stood at four degrees (Fahrenheit) above freezing 
point. The atmosphere was free of vapour, and a kind sun 
shone. We made our way to the heights behind the monastery, 
and kept zigzagging up and along them for over two hours. 
When the process had been completed after a tedious ride to the 
pass, during which the horses would often flounder in the snow, 
we had not ascended to a difference of level of more than 1500 
feet, nor had we progressed more than 3^ miles. The better 
course, I feel sure, would have been to proceed in an easterly 
direction along the level terrace or open valley in which the 
cloister stands, leaving the neighbouring hamlet of Pazu just on 
our right hand. We could then have climbed the parapet which 
shelters these lofty uplands ; or we might have scaled it in the 
immediate vicinity of Changalli. The black chaoush and his three 
myrmidons were indifferent guides." 

Because the pass is no pass in the ordinary sense ; it is merely 

' The older names are Glak Vank (fiom its first abbot), and Innaknean A'ank 
(nine sources). 

^ The moment that I placed my route on my map, I discovered that not the chaoush 
but my compass had misled me. The direction, as plotted, was quite wrong, as also 
were the shoots to known landmarks. Happily I was able to fix the position of 
Dodan with some confidence during my second journey ; and the route has been 
adjusted accordingly. It is evident that the rocks of the plateau behind Surb Karapet 
must be heavily charged with magnetite. 

Fig. 158. The Two Chapels at Surb Karapet 

From Mttsli to Erzcrum i8i 

the edge of a tableland. Mile after mile towards the north 
stretched the undulating snow-field, swept by the winds, pierced 
by spinous blades of grass. We stood at an elevation of nearly 
Sooo feet. Below us, infinitely deep, lay the magnificent plain 
of Mush, bounded on the further side by the barrier of the 
Kurdish mountains, crossing the landscape from the invisible waters 
of Lake Van. In one continuous wall they swept across the 
horizon, serrated, sharply chiselled above the deep valleys opening 
transverse to the line of the wall. Taurus they call the range, 
adopting a nomenclature which the West must have borrowed 
from the East. Taurus was very high where the Murad dives 
into the mountains ; nor did the peaks appear less lofty on its 
right bank. We saw them circling towards the river from behind 
the plateau upon which we stood ; but I was unable to trace the 
origin of this northern chain. It formed a marked exception to 
the outlines north of Taurus, which were vaulted or horizontal. 
Nimrud was seen to join the two contrasting landscapes, placed 
across the head of the plain. The neighbouring Kerklir looked 
more rounded than when we had first observed it, while, north of 
the Nimrud caldron, the swelling contours of the Sipan fabric 
were doubly soft in a robe of recent snow. 

This was our last complete prospect over that great depression 
which is know'n as the plain of Mush.^ We proceeded at half- 
past two, and rode at a trot over the plateau, first on a northerly 
and then on a north-easterly course. The rock appeared to be of 
an eruptive volcanic description. By half-past four we arrived 
upon the opposite margin, where the ground abruptly sank to a 
wide trough of broken country, with a small plain, level as water, 
at its western end. We ascertained that this fresh depression had 
an elevation of about 5000 feet, or a difference in height of 3000 
feet from the pass at which we measured that of the plateau. 
On the further side rose a cliff of such gigantic proportions that, 
when we reached the middle slopes of the descent into the hollow, 
it reminded me of the landscape in the narrows of the Araxes, 
with those cliffs raised to double their size. From a distance we 
had wondered at the strange appearance of this flat-edged mass, 
which seemed to embrace us in a wide segment with precipitous 
sides. A nearer view disclosed the direction it was pursuing, and 

1 From Norshen in the east to the passage out of the Murad at Giirgur is a distance 
of about forty-five miles. Brant, adopting different results, and possibly different measure- 
ments, ascribes to the plain of Mush a length of " nearly forty miles" [J.R.G.S. 1S40, 
vol. X. p. 352). 

1 82 Ar})wnia 

enabled us to trace, although in a most imperfect manner, its 
connection with the orography of the eastern districts. That 
direction was approximately latitudinal, but inclined a little 
towards the south. The further east the mass proceeded, the 
more it lost its cliff-like character, the nearer it approached to 
the characteristics of a mountain range. In this form it was 
protracted to dimly visible limits, joining the distant outlines 
of Sipan. 

I had read many accounts of the famous Bingol Dagh, the 
parent mountain of the Araxes and of the principal tributaries of 
the Euphrates, and, in some sense, the roof of Western Asia. 
None had prepared me for the vision before our eyes. The actual 
walls of the crater were not, I imagine, visible ; but those cliffs 
had no doubt been covered by deep beds of lava which had added 
to their height. The greatest eminence on the extinct volcano is 
that of Demir-Kala, which must be situated not far from the edge 
of the cliff It has an elevation of 10,770 feet.^ But the 
mountain proper is but a wart on the face of the lofty tableland 
from which it rises, and which it has contributed to shape. I 
tried to examine the relation of this tableland to the plateau 
which we had crossed, but was prevented by the lie of the land 
upon the west. 

While descending into the plain, we passed through a Kurdish 
village of some size, called Randuli. We now opened out the 
whole extent of the even surface — a floor at the foot of towering 
cliffs. The plain may have a length, from west to east, of about 
three miles and a breadth of two miles or less. Water serpents 
through it in all directions, to collect in a little river which our 
people knew under the name of Dodan Chai, but which is 
apparently more generall}' known as the Bingol Su.- Four 
villages of some importance are situated in the plain — Baskan, 
Gundemir, Diyadin and Dodan. The last-mentioned is placed at 
its eastern extremity and close to the river which bears its name. 
All four are inhabited by Armenians. Having gained the level, 
we forded the stream above the village, and at six o'clock rode 
through Dodan. Night was falling ; we followed a track which 
had been made by the bullock-carts, at some little distance from 
the left bank of the river. We were skirting on an easterly course 

' This altitude was ascertained, and tlie natural features, described with so much hesi- 
tation in the present chapter, were elucidated during the second journey (see Ch. XXI.). 
- Brant, op. cit. pp. 347 scij. 

From Miish to Erzcriun i8 


the base of the northern heights, along the trough of irregular 
surface which we had overlooked. The soil was deep and black, 
covered in places by a crop of stones. It seemed as if the valley 
were choked by the shapes of hills. We were over two hours in 
reaching Gumgum. 

The village or little town — for it is the ca[)ital of a caza, the 
caza of Varto, belonging to the sanjak of Mush — is situated in 
the long valley of which I have been speaking, between the 
Bingol and the block of mountain on the north of Mush. A 
small river flows below it at some little distance, which joins the 
Bingol Su some two or three miles south of the town. The 
united waters issue into the Murad or Eastern Euphrates about 
eight miles south-east of Gumgum. The direct road to Mush 
is taken along the Murad, which, after the confluence, finds a 
passage through the hills. It reaches the plain at the village of 

We were received by the Kaimakam, who lodged us in his 
room of audience, a chamber of which the stone walls were daubed 
with whitewash, while the massive logs of the ceiling were left 
bare. A single window, with panes of greased paper, difiused a 
dim light by day. A little lamp revealed the burly figure of our 
host, seated on the divan. Beside him, but in shadow, we might 
just discern a face and features which were recognised as familiar 
to us. We identified this pleasant countenance and chiselled 
lineaments with those of the silent chess-player at Mush. It was 
in fact the Hakim Effendi, learned in the law ; though for what 
purpose he had travelled to these unruly wilds we were unable to 
ascertain. He had brought his law books with him in a kluirjiii, 
or little saddle-bag, which was placed by his side on the couch. 
So he travels from place to place, the name and shadow of a 
dispensation which he has not the power to enforce. Even under 
the eyes of the Kaimakam cases of theft, and even of robbery, are 
of daily occurrence and go for the most part unredressed. Enter- 
ing the stable allotted to our horses, I was by an Armenian 
woman, a poor old hag with bare feet and in rags. She moaned 
and wrung her hands, explaining, in answer to my enquiry, that 
her cows had been displaced to make room for us. She would 
never see them again — and, in fact, next morning I was grieved 
to learn that two had been stolen. 

The town occupies a fairly high site in the valley, having an 
elevation of about 4800 feet. A few houses, in the more proper 

184 Armenia 

sense of the word, serve to magnify the appearance of the place. 
But the tenements are for the most part the usual ant-hill 
burrows ; and I do not think that in all there can be more than 
eighty dwellings, of which ten may be inhabited by Armenians. 
The Kurds have a large preponderance in the caza ; they are, for 
the most part, of the Jibranli tribe. This tribe furnishes three 
regiments of Hamidiyeh cavalry, recruited in Varto. The tribes- 
men spend the summer on the pastures of the Bingbl Dagh, and 
the winter in villages of their own in the plains. They travel as 
far as Diarbekr, and even Aleppo, taking their vast flocks to those 
markets. Or they sell the sheep to middlemen who travel from 
all parts of Turkey, and establish their headquarters in Khinis. 

During the night it froze hard ; but on the following morning 
the air was warmed by a brilliant sun, shining in a clear sky. 
The thermometer stood at 2)7' before we again set out. Leaving 
at a little after eleven, we proceeded on an easterly course, 
towards the heights which rise behind Gumgum. I was unable to 
ascertain the exact connection of these hills with the block of the 
Bingol ; but, whereas we could still perceive that distant outline in 
the west, it was lost to view as it came towards us, stretching 
east. The northern barrier was now composed by the hill range 
already mentioned, which, at this point, appeared to be inclined 
towards south-east. After crossing a considerable stream, flowing 
down to the trough of the valley, we commenced at twelve o'clock 
the ascent of these hills. 

Looking backward, one was impressed by the uneven char- 
acter of the ground from which we rose. The valley is choked 
with hills, especially on the south-east, and it may have a width 
of about eight miles. The soil is covered with tufted grass, which 
must afford fine pasture in spring and early summer. The 
southern border consists of the mass of mountain which we had 
crossed from Changalli ; but it had sensibly declined and w^as still 
declining in height. Beyond its sheet of snow the peaks of 
Taurus commenced to be visible ; and when we reached the pass, 
before one o'clock, we could see the broad ribbon of the Murad 
lying in the plain of Mush. The river had passed the gap in the 
barrier on the north of that plain, which, it was evident, becomes 
much lower at the point where the passage is effected, the outlines 
sinking towards either bank. 

We were standing in snow, at an elevation of 6600 feet. On 
our left front rose the cliffs of the Bingol plateau, that mighty 

From Mush to Erzeriun 185 

presence which for awhile had been concealed. They were still 
stretching from west to east, but were seen to turn towards 
north-east, in the direction of where we knew Khinis to lie. The 
eye pursued their long perspective into the distance, where, at a 
point about north-north-east, they broke away into a range of 
mountains, the range which bounds the plain of Khinis on the 
north. I was still unable to define the relation of the heights 
upon which we were placed to the mass from which they appeared 
to come ; but they must contribute to compose the long line of 
heights which we had seen extending from the Bingol towards 

How great a part has been performed by the action of water 
in shaping the relief of this land may be realised by the frequent 
occurrence of perfectly flat depressions between the masses of 
higher ground. Thousands of feet below those levels lie these 
sheltered spaces, rendered fertile by winding streams. Such was 
the nature of the little plain to which we descended, appearing 
land-locked on every side. It is known as the Bashkent ova, 
or plain of Bashkent, from a Kurdish hamlet through which we 
presently passed.^ Jt is situated at the comparatively lofty 
level of about 6000 feet. On the east it is enclosed by that 
irregular lump of mountain which we had first seen on the 
furthest horizon from before Tutakh. Khamur it is called. The 
ridge was some miles distant ; but its outworks, a succession of 
sand-like convexities, rose from the margin of the plain. The 
western limit were the cliffs of Bingol, frowning above the ova, 
and sending out a spur towards the Khamur on its northern 
verge. Towards that spur we made our way across the plain, 
on a north-easterly course. The flat surface has a length of 
about 3^ miles, and is covered with marshes or rank weeds. 
Besides Bashkent we could only see a single other hamlet, said 
to be inhabited by Kizilbash Kurds. We reached the summit of 
the rounded and opposite heights at half-past two o'clock. They 
may be described as flanking outworks of the Bingol plateau, 
and they have an elevation of about 6550 feet. A little later, 
while still following along the side of these slopes, we came to a 
halt and partook of a scanty meal. 

At a quarter-past three we were again in the saddle. Our 
course remained easterly, at about the same level ; and at half-past 

1 But I must reconl the fact that the people of Bashkent, wlien asked the name of 
their plain, replied, Khinis oz'a. 

1 86 Armenia 

three we were on the top of one of those bulging spurs which 
project from the side of the cHffs. The horizontal edge of the 
lofty tableland was now just above us ; and, inasmuch as we 
were now able to pursue a north -north -easterly direction, it is 
evident that the mass must recede towards the north. Indeed 
it is probable that it describes a curve, concave to the plain of 
Khinis ; we seemed to get behind the cliffs. On our right hand 
we were followed by the deformed shape of Khamur, now many 
miles away. The horizon was fretted b\' the long outline of the 
Akh Dagh — a fine, bold range with connections circling towards 

In a short time this mountain landscape was seen in fuller 
significance ; a vast expanse of level depression was opened out. 
The black chaoush and his three myrmidons had taken their 
departure at Gumgum ; and I was able to unpack the camera. 
I directed the lens to north-east, towards the plain and the 
distant Akh Dagh (Fig. 159); and next to south-east, upon the 
Khamur.^ We reached the level at about five o'clock, after 
crossing a spur of the plateau, strewn with volcanic stones. 
Khinis was seen, a speck in the lap of the- plain, towards which 
we rode at a rapid trot. At a quarter to six we arrived upon 
the deeply-eroded banks of the river of Khinis, which we forded 
and entered the town. 

By directions of the Kaimakam we were lodged in his own 
office ; he made his appearance early on the following day. A 
burly old man, with a head of great size and a massive fore- 
head, with huge dimensions below the waist. This habit of body, 
which seemed to aggravate an advanced asthmatic affection, was 
due to continued sitting rather than to intemperance of diet. 
Our conversation was soon directed to the condition of the 
country — a subject upon which he held strong views. The 
people of his caza were, he said, almost without exception, liars, 
rogues and thieves. The Government did what it could ; but 
the officials were not competent, being ignorant men like his 
humble self Schools ? There was supposed to be a Rushdi}'eh in 
Khinis, but it was a Rushdiyeh only in name. As for the Kurds, 
they were the plague of his existence ; you reaped them where 
you had not sown. Five houses - here, there fifty people — im- 
possible to count or to bring to count. If you wished to get 

1 I have not reproduced my photograph of Kliamur, for a view of whicli I may refer 
my reader to Ch. XII. Fig. 177, p. 252. 

Front Mitsh to Erzcrtnn 187 

anything out of them, }'ou must borrow a stick from a bear- 
tamer and beat them about the head. 

He proceeded to inform me that the town was the principal 
centre of the trade in sheep, fattened upon the pastures of the 
Bingol Dagh. ^Merchants come from the great cities, notably 
from Damascus, and make their arrangements in Erzerum. 
They bring their own shepherds, whom they send to Khinis 
when their agents there have concluded the purchase and received 
the flocks. It is at about the present season — that of early 
winter^that the trade is at its height. The sheep are driven 
across the mountains to Diarbekr, whence they are despatched 
through the plains to the Syrian centre. My host added that 
it was no very easy matter to get them safely through the snow 
to the head of the Mesopotamian plains. To me it seems a most 
remarkable feat. 

I asked the Kaimakam whether he could tell me the number 
of the inhabitants ; and, forthwith, he most kindly consulted his 
registers. According to his figures there are 387 houses in 
Khinis, besides numerous shops. Of the dwellings 250 are 
inhabited by Mohammedans and 137 by Armenians. The 
former are censused at 1350 and the latter at 586. But there 
is a large discrepancy between males and females in the case of 
both denominations in favour of the males. He was of opinion 
that the figures for the Armenians were too low ; they evade the 
census in order to avoid the militar}- tax. Small and large, he 
put the total of villages in his caza at 287. It forms part of the 
vilayet of Erzerum, and its borders march with those of the caza 
of Erzerum.^ 

He knew of no Yezidis within the limits of his district ; but 
g}'psies wander through it in summer. Of Kizilbash Kurds he 
believ'ed there to be about fifteen villages. The principal tribes 
in the neighbourhood are the Haideranli and Zirkanli, besides 
about eight villages of Jibranli Kurds. Four battalions of 
Hamidiyeh are said to be enrolled in the caza. 

I am sensible of the defective standpoint of my photograph 
of Khinis, taken, to avoid suspicions, before entering the town.^ 
But it clearly shows the mingling rivers, with their cavernous beds, 
sunk into the volcanic soil. It shows the castle — of which the 

1 In Consul Brant's time (1838) Khinis belonged to the pashalik of Mush, and was 
supposed to contain no more than 130 houses. It is described as "a most wretched 
town" [op. cit. p. 345). 

- I have decided, after all, not to reproduce this photograph. 

1 88 Armenia 

ruins display a face of hewn stone upon a structure of agglomerate 
rubble — and, in the background, behind the picturesque disorder 
of the clambering township, the distant terrace of the Bingdl 
plateau. At eleven o'clock on the 3rd of December we were 
winding our way in the shadowed gorges, about to issue upon the 
plain on the north. 

The day was fine, with a warm sun and a blue sky ; the air 
was fresh and strong. Before us, and on every side, stretched the 
undulating surface, of rich and friable brown loam. It is subjected 
to primitive methods of cultivation ; but at this season it was 
difficult to trace the hand of man. We saw no villages ; what 
there are must be hidden in laps of the ground ; and Nature, a 
kind and bountiful Nature, is allowed to revolve her seasons 
almost in vain. Bright streams come bubbling down from the 
distant framework of mountains, and wind on a south-easterly 
course to the far Murad. We passed no less than three of these 
tributaries to the river of Khinis. The first was flowing between 
high banks of volcanic rock, and sheltered a beautiful church in 
the old Armenian style, called Kilisa Deresi, or the church in 
the valley. Around this monument were grouped the tall head- 
stones of a disused cemetery, some engraved with the elaborate 
crosses which were so dear to the ancestors of the unhappy people, 
now the bondsmen of parasite Kurds. Even as we stood in 
admiration of this charming building, an active Kurd in a showy 
dress stepped into the path. He vaulted upon the back of a 
graceful chestnut Arab, which was being led to and fro. We saw 
him cantering off to the neighbouring Armenian village, and we 
wondered upon what errand he was bent. At a quarter-past one 
we commenced to ascend to a passage of the hills which confine 
the plain upon the north. 

In the space of half-an-hour we had reached an elevation of over 
6000 feet. We stopped for some little time to fully realise the 
scene which we were now about to leave behind. The terraces of 
the Bingol plateau had been following our steps at some distance 
on our left hand. We had come in a northerly direction from 
Khinis ; and the heights we were preparing to cross were an 
immediate spur from that table surface, linking it to the long range 
on the north of the plain. Both that spur, or connecting ridge, 
and the range which it joined, tended to incline south-west from a 
latitudinal course. The plateau itself was now close up ; indeed 
it rose immediately above us, on the west of our winding track. 

From Mush to Erzerum 


It is therefore plain that it must have pursued a north-north- 
easterly direction, since it had formed a distant background to the 
town. I turned the camera upon the flanking ridge (Fig. 160), 
and then mounted to an adjacent eminence, almost on a level 
with the surface of the plateau. My illustration shows a formation 
characteristic of the edge of the terraces, great blocks of stone 
welded together as if 
by a human hand. 
The surface is flat and 
is covered with rough 
grass, of which the 
higher stalks pierced 
the covering of recent 

So little interest 
is taken b}' the people 
in their surroundings 
that even the Kaima- 
kam was unable to 
tell me the name of 
this adjacent range, 
which forms a loft\' 
barrier to the plain. 
He was of opinion 
that it was called the 
Akh Dagh (white 
mountain) or Tekman 
Dagh ; to some it 
was known as the Kozli Dagh. I prefer to retain the name 
which I heard the most often, that of Akh Dagh. East of these 
linking hills it assumes lofty proportions ; but it appears to die 
away in the remote south-east. 

In the south, far away, rose the mass of Khamur, with hill 
ranges circling round the plain. Above those humble outlines 
was revealed the whole fabric of Sipan, some sevent}' miles distant 
from where we stood. Such is the extension of these vast depres- 
sions ; you cannot define their limit ; they render easy the traffic 
of peace or the passage of war. And we may reconstruct in fancy 
the remote period, when many of these bold landmarks were 
wreathed in smoke and reflected fires, and thundered with the 
energy of the Globe. 

Fig. 160. Terrace of Lava resembling 
Human Fortifications. 

190 Armenia 

Proceeding at two o'clock, we reached the pass in twenty 
minutes ; it is just under 7000 feet. We were now in the basin 
of the Upper Araxes, approaching the districts on the north. 
The passage into a new sphere could scarcely have been accentu- 
ated with more emphasis than on this day. We dived into a 
dense fog ; the cold was intense ; and, whereas not a single flake 
had hitherto lain on the track, it was now all strewn with snow. 
Nor was the change of a merely local application ; it was the 
commencement of a new order of things. 

We rode on a northerly course through beds of vapour over 
lofty uplands at an elevation of more than 6000 feet. The track 
had been worn by traffic, tracing upon the snow-fields winding 
furrows of rich brown soil. A Kurdish village was passed, where 
our zaptiehs changed with others ; and, a little later, we overlooked 
a considerable depression of the surface — the wide valley of a 
river it appeared to be. It was clothed with snow and wreathed 
with mist. We descended into this valley, said to belong to the 
district of Tekman, and crossed the river, called the Bingol or 
Pasin Su. It was flowing due north, and had a breadth of about 
I 5 yards. On the opposite margin of the depression is placed 
the Kurdish village of KuUi, where we arrived at a quarter-past 
four. It is situated at a level of about 6000 feet ; and, whereas 
at Khinis (5540 feet) we had enjoyed a temperature of 32° at 
10 P.M., the thermometer now registered at 7 P.jM. no less than 
7^ of frost (Fahrenheit). 

The settlement consists of about fifty tenements, of which 
six or seven belong to the Zirkanli tribe and the remainder to 
sedentary Kurds.^ These latter are liable to service in the regular 
army. A single house is conspicuous among the huts of mud 
and stone ; it is used as a receptacle for travellers. We found it 
in the occupation of a detachment of Turkish soldiers, on their 
way from Melazkert to Erzinjan. Horses and men alike were 
quartered in the building ; but, after some parley, room was found 

' It is interesting to compare Brant's account of Kulli in 183S. Mis words are : — 
" It formerly contained a great many Armenian families. I was told that 200 emigrated 
to Georgia, and only about 15 Mohammedan families now reside among extensive ruins" 
{op. cit. p. 344). In 1893 the transformation has been completed, and Kulli has become 
a Kurdish village. The successive steps of the process, which is of general application, 
may be defined as follows : 

1. Emigration or disappearance of Armenians (friends of Turkey make excuses). 

2. Lapse into barbarism : enrolment of Hamidiyeh (friends of Turkey exult). 

3. Standing nuisance at the doors of Russia (a heavy calm). 

4. Russian conquest (Turkey disappears, her friends having preceded her). 

I %J,. 


^^^^> ■ :;:^ 



From Jllusk to Erzcrum ' 191 

for us. We joined in the circle of officers collected round the open 
fireplace, in which cakes of tezck glowed. Among other things I 
learnt that four regiments of Hamidiyeh are enrolled in the caza of 
Melazkert. They are furnished by the Hasananli tribe. 

Next morning before eight we continued our journey, the 
temperature registering 14' of frost. Mist still hung over the 
valley ; but we soon were raised above it, again ascending to the 
table surface which borders the depression on either side. Full 
sunlight streamed upon the undulating snow-field, and was re- 
flected in tin)' rays from a thousand little crystals, placed, like 
diamonds, on the heads of encrusted flowers. It was, indeed, 
over the face of an immense block of elevated country that our 
course was directed for some little time. Here and there, especi- 
ally in the north, it appeared to be broken by chains of mountain; 
but the closer you approached such an apparent barrier, the more 
it assumed the familiar features — the flat edges, and the fanciful 
castles with their Cyclopean walls. At half-past nine we obtained 
a view of the Bingol Dagh itself, in the furthest horizon of the 
south (Fig. 161). We stood at a level of 7130 feet. 

At ten o'clock we turned off eastwards to the bed of mist 
suspended above the river, which lies in a deep trough. Following 
for awhile along the sides of the lofty cliffs which confine it, we 
admired the play of the vapours, wreathing like jets of steam. 
From the edge of the cliffs on either bank, the table surface of 
the higher levels was seen to stretch east and west, and back to 
the peaks of the Akh Dagh — a sheet of snow, only broken by 
the gorge. The Bingol Su was pursuing a north-north-easterly 
direction, which became more northerly as we progressed. The 
fog lifted and disappeared ; we descended into the bottom of the 
gulf, which opened on either side the further we rode. At a 
quarter to twelve we arrived in the Kurdish hamlet of Mejitli, 
where we decided to make our mid-day halt. We had come a 
distance of about i 3 miles from Kulli. The river, which had a 
breadth of about 20 or 30 yards, was flowing some 50 feet below 
the village, with a rapid current, flashing over the rocks. The 
site of the village is a little plain on the left bank of the stream 
having an elevation of about 5800 feet. 

It has already been said that the valley of the Bingol Su, or 
Upper Araxes, offers an easy approach to the districts on the 
north. The river pierces a wintry region of the table surface, and 
traffic is carried along its bed. But some 2\ miles below the 

192 ' Armenia 

village of Mejitli it enters a deep and impassable gorge. You 
mount to the summit of the lofty precipices which overtower its 
serpentine course. Again in the saddle at half-past one, we 
reached this commanding eminence at a quarter-past two. Nor 
did we descend afresh into the trough of the stream, which pro- 
ceeded to thread a chaos of mountains in the east. 

The view from any point was one of savage beauty (Fig. 162). 
By slow degrees the flat surface of the elevated plateau was 
becoming riven and broken up. You could still discern the level 

Fig. 162. Looking down the Valley of the Upper Araxes 


snow-fields, burying the stream in the south, and coming towards 
you on either bank. But the cloak of winter had not yet hidden 
the yellow grass on the adjacent slopes ; while in the east the 
scene was changing to a wild landscape of hill and mountain, 
upon which the snow had not yet effected a hold. A few miles 
further these features inci"^eased in definition. The layers of lava 
gave place to hard limestones, forming peaks which had weathered 
a soft white. Masses of rock, of a hue which was green as the 
rust of copper, or red like that of iron, were exposed on the sides 
of the hills. From a foreground of tufted herbage, sown with 
yellow immortelles, we looked across this troubled region in which 
the river wound its wav — a ribbon of changing colours, skirting 

o , 


From AIus/i to Erzeriun 193 

the foot of sweeping hillsides or confined in narrow clefts of 
stupendous depth. In the far east we caught a glimpse of the 
snowy dome of the Kuseh Dagh, which overlooks the plain of 

At four o'clock the track diverged, and led us over the 
undulating plateau which still continued, but with less regularity, 
in the west. A short turn towards north-west brought us almost 
to the threshold of the broad depression of Pasin. The ground 
fell away by a succession of convexities to a level surface, deeply 
seated at our feet (Fig. 163). But far in the north, on its 
opposite margin, again appeared the cliffs of a plateau, exalted 
thousands of feet above the plain. It represents the extreme 
extension of the tablelands of Armenia, to be succeeded by the 
peripheral ranges in the north. It w-as carried west and east, 
across the horizon. In this neighbourhood it is known as 

We descended into one of the long valleys by which the 
heights we were leaving meet the plain. If Erzerum be the next 
objective, you cross to its western side and proceed by way of 
Ertev. Our own point was Hasan Kala, a more northerly course, 
leading through the village of Ketivan. That considerable 
Mohammedan settlement is situated at the end of the valley, 
whence you issue upon the spacious expanse. We rode at a 
rapid trot from this southern verge of the plain to the opposite 
margin, upon which is placed the castle and town. It formed a 
welcome landmark, which we reached in just an hour, arriving 
beneath the dusk at half-past six. 

The town, which has a population of several thousands, clusters 
at the foot of a long ridge of volcanic rock which projects from 
the towering background of mountain into the floor of the plain. 
The southerly extremity of that precipitous ridge is crowned by 
lines of battlements, a work ascribed to the Genoese.^ But the 
present masters of the country have neglected the fortifications, 
and have fallen back upon Erzerum. Pasin lies at the mercy of 
their good neighbours, the Russians, who already hold its doors. 
After fording the river of Upper Pasin, the Kala Su, as it is called 
— -a sluggish stream, flowing in a divided channel — we passed 
through a feudal gateway within a wall which was in ruins, 

^ See Ritter [Erdkimde, vol. x. pp. 390 si-q.), and Brant (op. cit. p. 341). Hamilton 
(Researches in Asia Minor, etc., London, 1842, vol. i. p. 185) throws doubt upon the 
popular belief that this and similar castles were built by the Genoese ; but I know not 
upon what foundation he may have based his scepticism. 

VOL. II b 

194 Armenia 

and groped our way through irregular lanes heaped with filth. 
Quarters were at last discovered in a new and well-kept coffee- 
house — a room of some size, with a wooden stage or dais erected 
around the bare walls. Upon this stage, behind the half-screen 
of an open balustrade, a number of loungers in various dress, some 
wearing the turban, others the fez, others again the Persian lamb- 
skin cap,^ were gathered in groups, sipping coffee from delicious 
little cups, and drawing the fragrant fumes of the Persian tobacco 
from hubble-bubble or kaleon. In a further corner, away from 
the light, one could not mistake some tall, lean figures, and 
features of big birds of prey ; we were indeed in the presence of 
some officers of Hamidiyeh, conspicuous by the brass ensigns on 
their lambskin caps. They were spreading their coverlets for the 
night, or were turned towards the wall, bowing the head and then 
the body in prayer. 

We slept in an inner room of this clean little tavern, and 
resumed our journey at eleven o'clock on the following day. The 
streets were alive with people, a motley band of human beings — 
for Hasan Kala, with its warm baths and numerous khans and 
shops, lies on the main road to Tabriz. It is lifted a little above 
the face of the plain and has an elevation of about 5600 feet. 
You look back upon its crumbling walls with a certain sympathy 
for its fallen greatness, and wonder whether it will again rise, like 
Kars, from its fallen station under a further advance of the 
Russian Empire towards the Mediterranean. Behind this deserted 
fortress — which, nevertheless, I was forbidden to photograph — we 
admired the huge bulwark of the mountain barrier, mocking the 
works of man. There was the same flat edge, which had so often 
excited our wonder, to those formidable cliffs. East and west, in 
a long and horizontal outline, they were drawn beyond the range 
of sight. The corresponding features on the south of the plain 
were less emphasised, the long valleys softening the abruptness of 
the higher ground. 

Pasin — the reader may remember — is one of the principal 
links of the chain of depressions which connect the extremities of 
western Asia, and facilitate intercourse between east and west. 
From the narrows of Khorasan to the fantastic parapet of the Deveh 
Boyun, it has a length of no less than forty-four miles. Our way 
to Erzerum led us along this spacious avenue, and, after crossing 
the humble barrier which I have just mentioned, debouched upon 
^ Which, by the way, is, I believe, made in Eiitflaiidowi of cloth. Qiioiisqite tandem ! 

From Musk to Erzeriuu 195 

the city on the opposite side. We were able to ride at leisure, 
along a course direct as an arrow, free to observe the stream of 
traffic on the highway. 

An element of special interest were a number of bullock-carts, 
laden pell-mell with heaps of Hamidiyeh uniforms, destined for the 
rank and file. They slowly made their way towards Hasan Kala, 
groaning and creaking as they went. Long strings of Bactrian 
camels — huge, large-humped, shaggy animals — -defiled with a 
lulling symmetry of movement and measured, noiseless tread. 
By their side walked the drivers, Tartars with skins of parchment, 
their features scarcely visible beneath their sheepskin caps. Of 
wayfarers there were many, and of the most divergent types. 
Some were mounted on little hacks, here and there a whole family 
— turbaned Mussulmans, astride of their overhanging mattresses, 
to which were attached a jangling cluster of cooking pots. A led 
horse would be encumbered by a still more formless bundle, which, 
as you approached, displayed a pair of human feet. Brawny 
Armenian peasants, a scattering of thick-set Lazes, a Kurdish 
horseman or two swelled the throng. 

There are several large villages in the plain of Pasin ; but to 
what race or mixture of races do the Mohammedan inhabitants 
belong } I was impressed by the difference in the physiognomy 
of these people, which was quite unlike the type prevailing among 
settled Kurds. The question of the racial composition of the non- 
Kurdish element, inhabiting the districts on the north, remains a 
subject for further research. The Armenians are in a decided 
minority in Pasin.^ 

A broad chaussee with flanking ditches is carried along the 
plain, almost in a straight line. But many of the culverts have 
fallen in, forcing vehicles off the road into the soft soil on either 
side. Still our horses liked the change, wearied by their long 
journey and much clambering over rocks. The ground was free 
of snow, even on this fifth day of December, and the air was 
comparatively mild.^ The further we proceeded, the more the 
expanse narrowed and the perspective of the two long barriers 

1 I will again cite Brant's account, written in 1S38 : — "The greater portion of the 
Armenian peasantry emigrated into Georgia when the Russian army evacuated Turkey, 
after the peace of Adrianople ; in consequence of which emigration, the population "of 
the villages has been much diminished, and there is a great deal of ground uncultivated 
for want of hands" {op. cit. p. 341). 

- The season was, it is true, rather exceptional. But it is a noteworthy fact that all 
these great plains — Mush, Khinis, Pasin — were without snow at this advanced date. 
Already in March the snow begins to melt. 

1 96 Armenia 

closed. From afar we fixed our eyes on what appeared to be an 
artificial earthwork, thrown across the narrow head of the plain. 
At half-past one we were at the foot of this apparent fortification, 
with broken ground on either hand. The muzzles of cannon were 
turned towards us from the flat top of the colossal mound, and 
from two hills which rose on the south of the road. Indeed we 
seemed to face a completely impregnable position, impossible to 
circumvent. And from a distance one would think that the 
meeting walls of mountain were joined together by a transverse 

Approaching closer, the road is seen to find a passage between 
the hills on the south and the adjacent flat-topped mass. The 
width of this passage may be about half-a-mile. Once within 
the answering horns you cross a spacious amphitheatre, in which 
the secret of the formation is revealed. The two hills belong to 
the southern wall of mountain, but so also does the mound. And 
a line of heights circle inwards from behind the two hills, to 
protract the circle outwards to the horn of the mound. Hills and 
mound are left behind before those heights are breasted ; or, to 
continue the figure, you scale the tiers of the amphitheatre at the 
point most remote from the narrow opening on its eastern side. 

Such is the position which, due not to man, but to a freak of 
Nature, arrests the flow of traffic or the tide of battle. The 
linking heights — the opposite curve of the circle- — are widely 
known through the literature of travel and of Asiatic warfare as 
the Deveh Boyun, or the camel's neck. The humps and head 
are represented, the first by the two hills, and the second by the 
mound. The pass, to which the road climbs, is situated on the 
neck of the camel ; but a second ridge must be surmounted, 
which is a little higher, and has an elevation of about 6850 feet. 

From the Deveh Boyun to Erzerum must be a distance of 
several miles, since, although we rode at a rapid trot, we did not 
reach the city in less than fifty minutes. Two facts, which were 
unexpected, became clear as we proceeded. In the first place, 
the position is by no means so strong as it might appear, even to 
a near view, from the eastern side. There is at least one, and 
there are probably more than one passage between the mound 
and the northern wall of the plain. This circumstance, and the 
peculiar character of the ground on the west of the barrier, which 
is broken up into precipitous heights, are in favour of the attack, 
in so far as they necessitate the employment of a considerable 

Fro7n Ahish to Erzeruni 197 

defensive force. The second surprise was perhaps more personal ; 
I had formed the conception of a transverse parapet leading 
immediately into the plain of Erzerum. But the parapet is 
succeeded by the broken ground of which I have spoken, and of 
which the heights are crowned with batteries. The road is taken 
along the face and among the recesses of the southern barrier ; 
and you are already above the picturesque site of the famous 
fortress before you overlook the full expanse of the level land. 
We arrived within the enclosure of the circumvallation at a few 
minutes before three.' 

1 Branl estimates the distance between Hasan Kala and Erzemm at only eighteen 
miles {op. cit. p. 341). If he is speaking of the distance by road he makes, I think, a 
considerable error. My own estimate is twenty-three miles. 



We rode through empty spaces, Httered with ruin and refuse, 
haunted by miserable and filthy dogs, to a street of some width, 
bordered by substantial stone houses, down the incline of which 
we checked the pace of our mounts. It leads to the north- 
eastern quarter of the city — a quarter which is numerously in- 
habited by Christians, and where are situated the Consulates of 
the European Powers, notably those of Great Britain, France and 
Russia. The British Consulate is housed in a small but comfort- 
able residence at the northerly extremity of the street. There 
we were received with emotion by the principal dragoman — an 
Armenian with a handsome, frank and engaging face, whose curly 
black hair had become tinged with grey. I had not seen the 
excellent Yusuf for many a long year, not since the time when 
he used to delight the fancy of childhood with dainty boxes, or 
the figures of various animals, which he would fashion with 
exquisite skill in a kind of silver wire — an art practised by the 
silversmiths of the East. What tales he would tell us in England 
of this distant Erzerum ! We used, as children, to try and realise 
the features of the scenes of which he spoke — the great Mesopo- 
tamian deserts, the encampments of the Arabs, the khans on the 
roads to the highlands in which the traveller rested, the mountains 
and the snow-clad plains. Alas ! for the powers of description ; 
how different it all looked, when after many years these various 
landscapes were successively unfolded before the eyes ! Yet they 
spoke to the very soul of the child grown to manhood, perhaps 
reviving hidden germs in the lengthy process of heredity, or 
recalling those early efforts to make pictures of them, or appealing 
in virtue of none of these causes, but by the magnetic power 
inherent in themselves. And here at last was Erzerum, with 

Erzerum 1 99 

Yusuf standing before the door and running forward with open 
arms ! My reader will, I feel, pardon this little personal digres- 
sion, embodying, as it does, one of my most permanent memories 
of the northern capital. 

Another link of a not less personal nature must be mentioned 
in order to explain the length of the sojourn which the present 
writer made in Erzerum. It extended from the commencement 
of the really cold weather to the approach of spring. Wesson and 
Rudolph were committed to the kind offices of the Russian Consul, 
M. Maximoff, who furnished them with the necessary facilities for 
returning home through Russian territory by way of Sarikamish 
and Batum. The Swiss had been experiencing the discomforts of 
home-sickness ; and the resourceful Wesson, who would make a 
most excellent campaigner, was obliged for private reasons to 
abandon a nomad life and resume his habits as a Londoner. It 
was my intention to work up my material in Erzerum, and to 
devote a fortnight or more to this end. Our Consul, Mr. R. W. 
Graves, most kindly placed two rooms at my disposal, and insisted 
upon my being his guest. A friendship sprang up between us, 
born of similar age and many common tastes ; and, speaking for 
myself, I may say that our solitude a deux in this corner of Asia 
formed one of the most agreeable experiences of my life. I do 
not remember having spent a single dull hour. His conversation, 
charm of manner and kindliness of disposition were a resource 
which was never wanting to revive one's intelligence after long 
hours devoted to writing and to books. I was so happy and he 
so hospitable that the weeks had become months before all the 
excuses which waved away the round of duties in England had 
one by one become exhausted, and I tore myself from his side. 

This lengthy stay, followed as it was by two subsequent visits, 
has made me feel quite at home with the subject of this chapter. 
And the fact that I have approached Erzerum from the three 
directions in which it is most accessible, from the east, from the 
west and from the south, enables me to speak, in so far as a 
civilian traveller may judge such a question, of the strategical 
importance of a city which is probably destined to play a leading 
part in any future struggle between the Russian and the Ottoman 
Empires. For an Englishman this side of the subject has a 
special interest ; since the possession by Russia of this strong 
place would mean her control of the head waters of the Euphrates, 
which issues in the Persian Gulf. It is a maxim of peculiar 

200 Ar7nenia 

appropriateness to such a country as Asia that he who is master 
of the sources of a river is master of the lands through which it 
flows. On the other hand, such an event would closely affect all 
Europe ; for there would then exist no important barrier between 
the Asiatic provinces of Russia and the shores of the Bosphorus. 
Indeed Erzerum resumes in herself the importance of Turkish 
Armenia as a factor in the world movements of the near future. 
Mistress of this spot of ground, Russia is mistress of these vast 
provinces. It is plainly the duty of a writer who has enjoyed the 
advantages which I have mentioned, not indeed to pander to the 
feeling of blind animosity against Russia, but to place his readers 
in possession of the essential facts, in the hope that at least they 
may not be taken unawares by any advance of the northern empire 
in this direction. 

Our large map will, I hope, make clear and preclude the 
necessity of minutely describing the topography of the site with 
its surroundings far and near. What the basin of Lake Van 
and the plain of Mush are to the southern districts of Turkish 
Armenia, that are the plains of Pasin and Erzerum to those on 
the north. They represent depressions of the surface of the table- 
land and constitute arteries of communication between east and 
west. The northerly is separated from the southern string of 
depressions by a block of elevated plateau country, which is most 
compact and continuous on a line between Mush and Erzerum, 
and more broken into irregular lines of heights with intervening 
plains between the northern shore of Lake Van and Pasin. An 
invader coming from the east and desirous of forcing his way 
westwards will find all his roads converging on either one or 
other of the two strings of depressions. The block of lofty table- 
land, seared by the action of ice and water, and covered for the 
greater part of the year with snow, causes them to be deflected 
as by an impassable obstacle, though it is in fact by no means 
impervious to an army during summer, when the principal 
difficulty would be the absence of supplies. The geographical 
position of Russia is decisively in favour of an advance by 
the most northerly of the two main avenues. She might 
detach a column to move upon BitHs ; but the objective of this 
force would be the lowlands of Mesopotamia rather than Asia 
Minor west of the Euphrates. There can be little doubt that the 
weight of her onset would be thrown into the northerly channel ; 
and Pasin would fall without a blow beinsr struck. At that 

Erzeruni 201 

moment she would be confronted by the defences of the Deveh 
Boyun — an impregnable barrier if only held by a sufficient 

We have seen at the close of the last chapter that the Deveh 
Boyun consists of a composite ridge, thrown across a narrow 
portion of the northerly depression, and dividing it into two. It 
is due to an outbreak of lava — a hard trachyte — which has 
pursued a direction almost at right angles to the general structure 
of the country, its elevation being nearly meridional. Similar 
outbreaks are readily recognisable in the northern border heights 
of the plain of Pasin ; but those ridges are of little geographical 
importance, losing themselves on the confines of the plain. On 
the other hand the Deveh Boyun, the most westerly of the series, 
determines the drainage of the great basin. From its eastern 
slopes the waters flow to the Araxes, and from those on the 
west to the Euphrates. On the one hand lies Pasin, and on the 
other the plain of Erzerum. The height of the pass over the 
parapet is not more than some 500 to 800 feet above the level 
of the adjacent plains. But the ridge is defended by a line of 
modern forts ; and, if these were captured, the invading army 
would find itself enclosed within a space which, while it can 
scarcely exceed a width of about four miles, can be swept by the 
fire from hei"-hts on the north and heights on the south. These 
positions, which have all been fortified since the last Russo- 
Turkish war, rest against the slopes of the parallel walls of 
mountain, confining the depression on either side. 

There does exist, I believe, a narrow passage through an 
irregular valley between the Deveh Boyun main ridge and the 
northern wall. But this approach by the flank is commanded by 
some of the forts already mentioned. Nor would the fate of 
Erzerum be necessarily determined if both the ridge and the 
works which protect it had been occupied by the enemy after a 
series of frontal attacks and great loss of life. There would 
remain the defences of the Top Dagh, a hill mass, or, as they 
would say in South Africa, a series of kopjes, separated from the 
Deveh Boyun by the valley of a small tributary to the Euphrates 
derived from the wall of mountain on the south. The Top 
Dagh bristles with forts, of which the most conspicuous are Forts 
Mejidieh and Azizieh. It immediately abuts on the enceinte of 
the city which it screens from attack from the east. The city 
lies with its head upon the talus or accumulated rubble which 

202 Armenia 

fans out from the heights on the south. Its feet touch the floor 
of the plain. 

Under modern conditions Erzerum is by far the most im- 
portant strategical position throughout the length and breadth of 
the country described in this work. The heights confining the 
plain on the south are in fact the edge of the great block of 
tableland interposed between the plain of Mush and the northern 
capital. Although the ground mass of that lofty stage is 
composed of stratified and old igneous rocks, yet more recent 
eruptive volcanic action has played an important part in its 
configuration. To this agency are due the bold mountains along 
its northern edge which constitute such a noble background to 
the town. The most conspicuous peak is that of the Eyerli 
Dagh, or saddle mountain, so called from the shape of its 
summit. The loftiest is situated a few miles further east, and 
stands a little back from the line of heights. It has an elevation 
of 10,690 feet above the sea, or of 4500 feet above the city. 
It bears the same name as that of the steep ascent to the plateau, 
and is known as the Palandoken, or saddle shifter. Between 
these two commanding peaks is placed a cirque or huge basin 
from which the detritus is emptied into the plain. It has been 
supposed that the peaks are only the upstanding sides of a huge 
broken-down crater represented by the cirque. It seems more 
probable, however, that this great hollow is due to erosive 
agencies, and it may originally have been commenced by glacial 

Standing on the roof of your house in Erzerum, you can 
scarcely conceive the approach of an invader by a turning move- 
ment across those heights. It is, indeed, no easy matter to 
discover any natural passage ; but there are in fact four. The 
most easterly is Aghsi AcJiik (his mouth is open — though I can- 
not agree that such is the case.) It leads over to some villages 
in Tekman. Further west is the valley called Abdurrahman 
Gazi after a holy man, reputed to have been the standard-bearer 
of the prophet, whose tomb is a favourite resort in summer. 
Next comes the Palandoken, grazing the peak upon its western 
slopes after finding a way along the eastern declivities of the 
cirque. The fourth and most westerly is that of Kirk De'irvien, 
or the forty mills. Of these the only approach of any importance 
is that of Palandoken. It constitute? the summer route to the 
districts on the south. The pass, just west of the peak, has an 

Erzerwn 203 

elevation of 9780 feet, and is commanded on either side by two 
modern forts. A metalled road, constructed during recent years, 
at once connects these important outposts with the city and 
affords tolerable gradients to caravans. As you examine the 
ground in this direction you observe a fortified hill on the south- 
west of the enceinte ; it is called the Keremitlu Dagh. 

The wall on the north of the plain is scarcely less im- 
penetrable, though Nature has cloven it almost through by the 
defile known as the Gurgi Boghaz, or Georgian gates, down which 
flows the infant stream of the Euphrates and is carried the road 
from Olti. But the portion of the Russian possessions from which 
it leads are mountainous and poor in supplies, and the narrows 
are blocked on the Turkish side by modern fortifications. In a 
geographical and geological sense this northern barrier corresponds 
to that on the south of the depression. A plateau-like character 
is not one of its least pronounced features — a feature which is 
presented with startling fidelity in the outline on the north of the 
plain of Pasin, where the heights are called Kargabazar (Fig. 163, 
p. 193). West of the Gurgi Boghaz they are broken into peaks, 
of which the most symmetrical is the beautiful cone of Sheikhjik 
— a constant source of admiration to an inhabitant of Erzerum. 
It consists of a mass of trachyte which has welled up from the 
middle of a crater.^ As these heights extend westwards they 
have been less subjected to eruptive disturbances ; and the fine 
landmarks of the Akhbaba Dagh, the Jejen Dagh and the Kop 
Dagh are composed of non-volcanic rocks. But these eminences 
serve to accentuate the prevailing flatness of the outline, which 
remains the outline of a block of tableland. Of little comparative 
width, this mass declines upon the north to the valley of the 

Erzerum, it will have been seen, is almost as difficult to get 
round as it should be impossible to take by direct assault from 
the east. If only Turkey were a naval power, able to cope with 
her adversary by sea, it would be a long time before this bulwark 
of her Asiatic empire could be broken down by a Russian attack. 
Herein lies the value to Turkey of help from a first-rate naval 
Power and the hopelessness of her position should it not be 
forthcoming. With her fleet in undisputed possession of the 

^ The cone of Sheikhjik was visited by Dr. Wagner in the forties and has been 
described by him at some length (Reise fiach Fersieii, Leipzig, 1S52, vol. i. pp. 231 

204 Armenia 

Black Sea, Russia might laugh at the irresistible defences of 
Erzerum. It would only be necessary to hold the garrison by 
an advance on the side of Pasin ; and the real attack, if it were 
ever made, would come from the west, the vulnerable side, 
delivered by a column which should have been landed at the 
port of Trebizond, and which there would be nothing to prevent 
marching to Erzerum along the chaussee. Sevastopol and Odessa 
rather than Kars and Erivan are the storm centres from which 
will be let loose the forces that will sweep the Ottoman Empire 
out of Asia, when we shall be confronted with a brand-new set of 
barriers, precluding for the second time in history the entrance of 
commerce and enlightenment into these magnificent territories. 
In taking leave of this part of the subject, I must not omit to 
mention the route which a Russian army might be expected to 
follow in its progress westwards after the fall of Erzerum. As 
far as Erzinjan the course of the Euphrates would in general be 
followed, when the northern border heights would be crossed and 
the entry to Asia Minor effected by way of Karahisar. There 
are no difficulties to traffic along this avenue. On the other 
hand, an advance from Mush, the side of the southern depression, 
could only be undertaken by mountain paths above the course of 
the Murad, which have never been touched by an engineer. It is 
therefore probable that the tide of war would be diverted for 
some time to the lowlands, when it might threaten the south- 
eastern districts of Asia Minor from the side of Diarbekr. 

On three occasions, all during the course of the present 
century, Erzerum has been at the mercy of Russian armies. In 
1829 it was actually taken by Marshal Paskevich, whose troops 
penetrated as far north as Gumushkhaneh and to within eighteen 
miles of Trebizond.' Recovered by Turkey at the ensuing peace, 
it was threatened by a similar fate after the fall of Kars in 
November 1855. It was only saved by the Russian reverses in 
other quarters and by the early termination of the war (Treaty of 
Paris, March 1856). In 1877 the Russians forced the Deveh 
Boyun barrier, which in those days was unprovided with proper 
defences ; but they met with a serious repulse in an attempt to 
storm the forts on the eastern flank of the enceinte. The 
investment was not completed until the month of January 1878 ; 
and, although the place was held by their armies as a material 
guarantee during the negotiations for peace, it was retained by 

^ Smith and D wight, Missionary KeseaJ-ches in Armenia, London, 1834, p. 62. 

Erzeruui 205 

the Sultan under the terms of the treaties of San Stefano (March 
1878) and Berlin (July 1878). Since the conclusion of that 
campaign the advantages of the position have for the first time 
been turned to proper account ; and, if in the future the system of 
forts should be found provided with the most modern ordnance 
and held by a sufficient garrison, Erzerum may still earn the 
glory of owing her preservation to the sword rather than to the 

But not only is this fortress the key to Turkish Armenia ; 
it also defends the most important of her trade routes. The 
principal avenue of the commerce between Europe and northern 
Persia passes through Erzerum. This traffic, which is conducted 
by means of numerous strings of camels, was originally founded 
by the Genoese. Its flourishing condition long after the disappear- 
ance of these great merchants is attested by the Jesuit missionaries 
in the latter half of the seventeenth century.^ As early as the 
year 1690 we hear of a British commercial agent residing in 
the city.- In those days even a portion of the trade with India 
found its way through Erzerum. After the initiation of a 
service of steamers on the Black Sea in the year 1836, the land 
routes between the provincial capital and Constantinople or the 
Mediterranean ports gradually fell into disuse. On the other 
hand, the trade itself received a great impulse, and has continued 
to increase year by year to the present day. In place of the 
almost endless stages of land carriage through Asia Minor, 
European steamers discharge their goods at the port of Trebizond, 
whence they are conveyed on the backs of camels through 
Erzerum and along a series of plains to the Persian city of Tabriz. 
In the year 1842 it was ascertained that the number of packages 
disembarked at Trebizond in transit for Persia was about 32,000. 
In 1898 this trade had increased to over 5000 tons; and in 

1 The Jesuit father, Thomas Charles Fleurian (Estat prdsent de HArinhiie, Paris, 
1694, 8vo, p. 81), speaks of Erzerum as '' capitale de la haute Armenie sous la domination 
du Grand Seigneur . . . une fort grande ville . . . fort peuplee et fort riche ; c'est le 
centre du commerce de tous ces pais-la. Les caravanes qui vont de Perse a Alep, ou 
a Smirne, ou a Constantinople ; ou celles qui viennent de ces memes endroits en Perse 
passent toutes a Erzerom." 

- Tournefort, Voyage an LcvaJit, Paris, 17 17, vol. ii. p. 279, and cp. Schillinger, 
Persianische tind Ost-Indianische Reise, Niirnberg, 1707, Svo, p. 81. It is a relief to 
read the warm sentiments of Tournefort towards Mr. Prescot (such was the name of the 
British agent) in contrast to the verjuice with which our contemporary French travellers 
think it their duty to steep their pens when speaking of English enterprise or its agents 
in distant lands. The contrast enables us to measure the difference between the France 
of Louis XIV. and that of the Presidents. 

2o6 Ar^nenia 

a normal year the value of the imports into Persia is about 
^600,000. About two -thirds of this trade belongs to Great 
Britain. It is to be hoped that the trunk railway which already 
exists in Asia Minor will be extended to Erzerum, where it should 
be joined by a branch line from Rizeh or Trebizond. From 
Erzerum it could be continued without the intervention of any 
natural obstacle through Bayazid to Tabriz ; and from Tabriz it 
would proceed through Teheran and Ispahan until it effected a 
junction with the Indian railways. The capital to construct this 
railway should be subscribed in Europe generally ; and a certain 
percentage of interest should be guaranteed on the revenues of 
Turkish Armenia as a provincial unit, as well as on the revenues 
of Persia. 

The population of Erzerum, especially the Armenian element, 
has undergone a remarkable oscillation during the nineteenth 
century. In 1827 it appears to have numbered as many as 
130,000 souls. ^ Another but lower estimate gives a total at that 
period of 16,378 families, or from 80,000 to 100,000 souls. Of 
these 3950 families, or from 19,000 to 24,000 people, were 
Armenians of the national religion." The Russian occupation of 
the city in 1829 was followed in 1830 by a general emigration of 
the Armenian inhabitants, who followed the Russian armies upon 
its evacuation. Those were the days when Russia was assisted to 
her conquests by Armenians and hailed by them as a deliverer. 
Numbers of their countrymen — it is said by Armenians not less 
than 40,000 — had already emigrated into the Russian provinces 
from the frontier districts of Persia in the train of the Russian 
army when it retired from Tabriz at the peace of Turkomanchai 
(1828).^ What with the exodus of Armenians both from the city 
and the plain — which before those times was probably inhabited 
by an Armenian majority — and the various calamities of a dis- 
astrous war, the population of Erzerum had declined to a total 
of not more than 15,000 souls in 1835.'* Only 120 Armenian 
families are said to have remained behind.' At the time of my 

1 V>t7LXi\\n Joitr>ial K.G.S. 1836, p. 201. 

- Smith and Uwight in op. cit. p. 64. There were also 645 famihes of Armenian 
Catholics and 50 of Greeks. The remainder were Mussulmans. 

^ C. F. Neumann, Geschichtc dcr Ucbersiedliing von 40,000 Arnieniern welche itn 
Jahre 1828 aits der Pcrsischoi Provinz Adebaidschan nacli Ritssland anivanderten (from 
Russian of S. Glinka), Leipzig, 1834, Svo. 

■* Brant, loc. cit. It is generally supposed that not less than 60,000 Armenians, 
headed by their bishop, accompanied the retirement of Paskevich's army. 

■' Smith and Dwight, op. cit. p. 441. 



first visit the inhabitants numbered about 40,000, exclusive of 
a garrison of 5000 or 6000 men. The official figures assigned 
some 10,500 to the Armenians, 26,500 to the Mussulmans, 1400 
to the Persians and strangers, and about 500 to the Greeks. Of 
the Armenians some 500 succumbed in the great massacre of 
1898. It is evident, however, that the town has been returning 
to its former condition ; and there can be no doubt that with 
the most moderate instalment of tolerable government the older 


Fig. 164. Erzerum and its Plain from the South. 

figures would be soon surpassed. I was informed by the Persian 
Consul that some 30,000 to 40,000 head of camel were yearly 
counted as having passed through the city. The money spent by 
their owners for provisions and sundries in Erzerum amounts to 
about i^T90,ooo or, in sterling, iJ^8 1,000 a year. Such is the 
value to the city of the Persian trade. 

The aspect of Erzerum, when seen from without, is sombre 
and unattractive. This impression is principally due to the colour 
of the stone of which it is built and to the scarcity of trees. I 
am tempted to offer my reader two illustrations of the place, the 
one taken from the higher ground on the south, and displaying 

2o8 Aruienia 

the features of the great plain with the city in the foreground and 
in the distance the lofty outline of the northern heights (Fig. 164) ; 
the other looking south-west from the roof of the British Consulate, 
with the castle in relief against the slopes of the Eyerli Dagh on 
the right of the picture (Fig. 165). This view does not comprise 
the peak of Palandoken, situated a little further to the left. The 
eminence in the centre is a nameless mass, intermediate between 
the two greater mountains and screening the cirque from the 
plain. A curious feature in the landscape of the city, when seen 
from very near, are the chimneys, which look like rows of dove- 
cots. The smoke escapes at the sides. It is strange that the 
inhabitants display so little love of verdure, for the sun is always 
brilliant and productive of glaring lights, while during two or 
three months of the year its rays are fierce. The few gardens that 
there are grow quantities of lilac, of a perfection of bloom and 
colouring and perfume which surpasses any examples I have seen 
elsewhere. Abundance of delicious water flows down from the 
heights on the north ; and under happier circumstances the slopes 
and the plain outside the city would be dotted with dwellings 
embowered in trees. At the present day, when once you have 
passed outside the enceinte, you feel like a ship which has taken 
to the open sea. Not a hedgerow, no oasis of foliage diversifies 
and softens the naked and vast expanse. You steer your course 
whither you will. For at least five months in the year the 
ground is covered with snow — an unbroken sheet spread over 
mountain and plain. Little specks in the landscape are recognised 
as villages ; and now and again a gliding object — it might be a 
boat on the ocean — moves swiftly towards the city and, approach- 
ing nearer, is seen to be a sledge. The climate of Erzerum has 
been compared to that of St. Petersburg, but the comparison is 
most unhappy and in many respects fallacious. Sun and sky 
belong essentially to the South. It is only the great altitude of 
over 6000 feet above sea-level that produces the rigour of winter 
and the crispness of the summer nights. My daily observations 
of temperature during the months of December and January 
supply the following results. In December the highest reading 
at 9 A.M. was 37° Fahrenheit, or 5" above freezing-point ; and 
the lowest at the same time of the day was 8°, or 24" of 
frost. During January the maximum at 10 A.M. was 30° 
Fahrenheit, and the minimum at the same hour was 1 8^° 
centigrade, or 3° below zero of Fahrenheit. Double windows 

u d 

w z 

I D 

h O 


W " 

D " 

5 I 

;:2 I 


a: w 

. o 

1 < 

Erzeruin 209 

and German stoves are necessaries in such a climate ; and, as you 
take your ride of an afternoon and gallop over the powdery snow, 
it is necessary to protect the ears against frost-bite. On the 
other hand, it is not^easy to realise the severity of the weather, so 
brilliant are the rays of the sun. And the warmth of walking 
exercise completes the illusion of a snowfall in summer, while 
your spaniel ranges widely over the endless white surface, intent 
upon his forbidden pursuit of the larks. 

The charm of the place — and it has a charm which must 
appeal to all sensitive minds — consists in the grandiose scale of 
the surroundings — the sculpturesque beauties of the parallel lines 
of mountain which meet in the perspective of the west ; the subtle 
effects of light and tint, which are those of some summit in the 
mountains transferred to the habitable earth. The setting of 
the sun and the rising of the moon reflect the originality of such 
conditions. The plain itself must be close upon 6000 feet high ; 
it has a length, from west to east, of eighteen miles, and it is 
not less than some ten miles across.^ In its trough lies the 
infant stream of the Western Euphrates, which, rising on the 
slopes of the Dumlii Dagh,"' a mountain of the northern border, 
is for some little distance lost in a zone of marshes, almost 
opposite the city but not less than about five miles away. These 
marshes are quite an aviary of all kinds of wildfowl, which, 
besides supplying eggs to the inhabitants of the neighbouring 
villages, afford most excellent opportunities to the sportsman. 

The enceinte, or circumvallation of Erzerum was constructed 
during the period between the war of 1855 ^^^ that of 1877. 
It consists of a rampart or ramparts of earth with ditches, and 
resembles the enceinte of Paris. Cannons are mounted upon it 
at intervals. It embraces an area of about three square miles, 
and is furnished wath four principal gates. That on the west is 
called the gate of Erzinjan, and the one on the east the gate of 
Tabriz. The gates on the north and south-west are named 
respectively the Olti and Kharput gates. Each gate is guarded 
by sentries. The space enclosed within this rampart is only 

^ The plain of Erzerum may be said to commence on the west at the village of 

2 The excursion to the DiimlU Dagh is a favourite one in summer. The sources of 
the Kara Su, or Western Euphrates, have been visited and described by Wagner {Reise 
nach Persiett, Leipzig, 1852, vol. i. pp. 237 seq.) and by Strecker {Zeitschrift fi'ir 
Erdkiinde, Berlin, 1869, pp. 159 seq.). For a catalogue of the various species of birds 
found in the marshes of the Kara Su or in the neighbourhood of Erzerum see Curzon, 
Armenia, London, 1854, chap. x. pp. 143 seq. 


2IO Armenia 

partially covered by buildings, the town occupying not more than 
about a square mile of ground. Down to comparatively recent 
times Erzerum consisted of a citadel and walled city, with suburbs 
lying outside the walls. These walls, which dated back to the 
Byzantine period, were double and defended by sixty-two towers. 
They were further protected by a moat. Their circumference 
appears to have been not less than three or four miles, and no 
Christian was allowed to reside within them. They were provided 
with four gates, bearing the same names as those in the present 
enceinte. Texier, who visited Erzerum in 1839, records that 
Greek characters were to be seen upon the gates, and crosses 
incised in the stones of the walls. Both features were evidently 
of Byzantine origin. His authoritative testimony is supported 
by at least two of his predecessors, Hamilton (1836) and Poser 
(162 1 ). The last-mentioned traveller describes a marble bas- 
relief and Greek inscription which he saw upon one of the gates. 
I have little doubt that this bas-relief is the same of which Yusuf 
spoke to me as having been copied by Consul Taylor in the 
sixties and taken to the British Museum. The document is, 
however, not forthcoming in our national treasure-house, and the 
original has disappeared. Only in the central and more southerly 
quarters of Erzerum did I observe a few remnants of the old 
walls. The citadel is still in existence, crowning the highest 
ground in the city, and it still contains the famous old tower. 
It seems to have served as a watch-tower, and was provided 
with a clock which the Russians carried away in 1830. In 
old days the captain of the Janissaries resided in the citadel ; 
and the only occasion upon which a pasha of Erzerum would 
enter that sanctuary was if he came to have his head cut off.^ 

Not many ancient buildings remain in the city, which has 
not seldom been visited by severe earthquakes. One of the 
most violent occurred in the month of June 1859, destroying or 
seriously damaging 4500 houses, overturning several portions of 

^ For the citadel and old walls of Erzerum the following works may be consulted : — 
Reyse von Coustantiiiopel, etc., by the Hoch Edelgeborener Herr Heinrich von Poser 
und Gross -Nedlitz, Jena, 1675, 4° ; Tournefort, Voyage au Levant, Paris, 1717, 
vol. ii. pp. 260 seq.; Moiier, J^onrney through Persia, Armenia, etc.,- London, 1812, 
pp. J^IO seq.; Macdonald ¥Jmx\€\x, Journey through Asia Minor, Armenia, etc., London, 
18 18, pp. 366 seq.; Hamilton, /Researches in Asia Minor, Poiitus and Armenia, 
London, 1842, vol. i. pp. 178 seq.; Texier, Description de rArnit'nie, Paris, 1842, 
part i. pp. 68 seq.; Koch, Reise im pontischen Gebirge und tiirkischen Annenien, 
Weimar, 1846, pp. 274 seq., and Curzon and Wagner /;/ operihus citatis. Koch informs 
us of a Cufic inscription on the watch-tower in the citadel which was copied by his 
companion, Dr Rosen. He adds that it would be published in due course. 

Fig. 166. Lrzerum: Chifteh IVIinareh. 

Erzerum 211 

the old walls and levelling nine minarets with the ground.^ The 
most pretentious edifice is the old medresseh or college, called 
Chifteh Minareh or the double minaret (Fig. 166). My illustra- Chifteh 
tion is from a photograph taken many years ago, before the ' '"^'"*^ • 
caps of both minarets had fallen away. I was unable to obtain 
permission to enter the edifice, which was being used as a military 
store. It has been described at some length by more than one 
of my predecessors, and it is, I believe, an architectural solecism." 
The facade of hewn stone with elaborate traceries contrasts with 
the brickwork of the pair of circular towers which rise from stone 
piers on either side. The circumference of each tower is diversified 
by eighteen small shafts, morticed into the main mass. The 
space between each pair of shafts is filled by a triangular mould- 
ing, of which the edge or narrow side faces outwards. Shafts and 
moulding are built of reddish kiln-burnt bricks, inlaid with small 
blue bricks. At the base of either pier is a large panel, framing 
an elaborate ornament in sculptured stone. Between the upper- 
most sprays of a bunch of foliage or feathers rests the device of 
a double-headed eagle. The stalks or quills of the garland rest 
in the hollow of a small semicircle, which is supported by the 
interlaced forms of two dragons. The question is suggested 
whether this double-headed eagle be the well-known emblem of 
the Roman empire over East and West. But we know that the 
emblem was adopted by the Seljuk dynasty of the Ortukids and 
by their successors the Ayubids ; ^ and, indeed, if one were left to 
one's own judgment, one might well suppose that this was a 
monument of the Seljuk period. On the other hand, a Cufic 
inscription, communicated to Professor Koch in the forties by the 
dragoman of the British Consulate, is to the effect that this 
building and an adjacent mosque were founded by a nameless 
benefactor during the caliphate of Malek Khan and in the year 
of the Hegira 351 (A.D. 962). The inscription is described as 
consisting of two portions, one on either tower.'* Personally I 

1 Dalyell \n Journal K.G.S. 1863, p. 235 ; Dove, Zeitschrift fiir Erdkiindc, Berlin, 
1859, p. 67. The older travellers mention the circumstance that the houses in Erzerum 
were constructed of wood. Now they are all built of stone. 

2 I would refer my reader to the accounts of Hamilton, Texier, Curzon, Koch and 

2 The Merchant in Persia, who travelled in the early part of the sixteenth century, 
noticed the emblem of an eagle with two heads and two crowns on the buildings of 
Diarbekr, once the capital of the Ortukids, and mistook it for the imperial arms. See 
the translation of his work by Charles Grey {Italian Travels in Persia, Hakluyt Society, 
London, 1873). 

* Koch, Rcisc im pontischcn Gebirge, etc., Weimar, 1846, p. 2S4. 



Ulu Jami. 

Relics of the 
old walls. 

Holy well. 

could not discover any trace of Cufic writing, nor, so far as I am 
aware, has such been observed upon this monument by any of 
my predecessors. Adjoining the building on the south side is a 
circular tomb in hewn stone, resembling the mausolea at Akhlat, 
which are works of the thirteenth century. Tradition ascribes 
the tomb to a Sultan of Persia.^ 

The large mosque of Ulu Jami is not more than a few steps 
distant from the entrance to Chifteh Minareh. It has rather a 
vast interior with several vaulted aisles ; but it is devoid of 
architectural pretensions. I was shown an ancient paper be- 
longing to this mosque, in which it was stated that it had been 
built by the Head of the Government and Religion, Mohammed 
el-Fateh, in A.H. 575 or A.D. i 179. 

The most pleasing situation in the city is that which is 
presented by the disposition of the buildings as you make your 
way southwards up an irregular ravine or gully, down which 
trickles a little stream. On your right hand the high ground is 
crowned by the bastions of the citadel ; while to your front, on 
the same heights a little south of these grim walls, rise the 
slender towers of Chifteh Minareh. The slopes on the east are 
much gentler, and are covered with houses, terraced up the 
incline. Here and there you may discern a pile of stones, or a 
block of masonry abutting on a house. These fragments are the 
relics of the old walls, which formerly separated the great 
mosque, the Chifteh Minareh and the citadel from the suburbs 
with which these buildings are now continuous. One may turn 
aside among the houses to visit a holy well, which is frequented 
by both Mussulmans and Armenians. The former assert that it 
is situated on the spot where the successor of Sheikh Abdul 
Kader of Baghdad is said to have met his death. The latter 
attribute its origin to a miracle, by which the water welled up 
from the ground upon which was shed the blood of two of their 
martyrs, the brothers Isaac and Joseph. They met their fate in 
A.D. 796.^ The spring rises from the mud floor of a humble little 
house, and is quite tepid to the touch. 

1 Hamilton was informed by his guide that the Chifteh Minareh itself was built by a 
Sultan of Iran " 570 years ago." That was in 1836. The same traveller speaks of a 
building in Erzerum somewhat resembling Chifteh Minareh but with one minaret only. 
It seems to be the same as that described by Texier under the name of Mourgo-Serai. 
I was assured that no such edifice exists at the present day. 

- Samuel of Ani in Migne, Patrologicc cursiis coniplctus, series Gra:ca, Paris, 1857, 
vol. xix. p. 706. 

Erzerum 213 

I need not detain my reader with any description of the 
churches, because Erzerum has always differed from other Churches. 
Armenian centres in not possessing any remarkable Armenian 
temples. The early travellers speak of two insignificant chapels, 
and one of these still remains. During the forties the Armenian 
inhabitants set about building a more spacious edifice ; and 
Curzon tells an interesting story in connection with the enterprise, 
which may explain the origin of the number of old sculptured 
stones which are such a feature in the walls of many an Armenian 
church. The priests, he says, urged their flock to bring in the 
tombstones of their ancestors ; and the response was so warm 
that there was quite a rush of able-bodied Armenians, carrying 
tombstones from the graves of their families on their backs. 
Many were unable to obtain a place in the walls or windows for 
their contribution to the structure of the house of God.^ I do 
not know whether the edifice of which this traveller speaks is the 
same as the present cathedral. In addition to the little chapel of 
which I have spoken, this is the only church of the Gregorian 
community of Erzerum. The city is the centre of one of their 
dioceses and was inhabited by a bishop at the time of my stay. 
Monsignor Shishmanean — such was the name and title under 
which I was introduced to this prelate — received me with some 
show of state, being attended by all the members of his lay 
council. He conversed quite fluently in the French language. 

The popular basis of the Armenian Church is one of its most 
remarkable features, and, with the rapid spread of education 
which is now in process among the community, ought before 
long to be productive of far-reaching reforms. This lay council 
consists of notables chosen by the people ; and, in a vacancy of 
the see, the patriarch at Constantinople submits to them the names 
of candidates among whom to choose a successor to their late 
bishop. In Erzerum this lay body is an operative factor in the 
life of the community ; but I doubt whether its counterpart could 
be discovered in such centres as Bitlis or Mush. It exercises con- 
siderable influence in the government of the Sanasarean school, Sanasarean 
to a brief account of which I now proceed. 

The origin of this institution — designed to dispense a higher standard 
of education than that which obtains in other Armenian schools in 
Turkish Armenia — goes back to 18S1. In that year Mr. Madatean, one 
of the three existing Directors, visited the provincial centres at the 

1 See also Vol. I. Ch. XVI. p. 261. 

2 14 Armenia 

invitation of a wealthy Armenian gentleman, the late Mr. Sanasarean. He 
returned to Erzerum with several pupils, chosen among the poorer class. 
In 1883 the school entered upon its present premises, which have been 
considerably enlarged since. .Its patron, Mr. Sanasarean, died in 1890, 
bequeathing a sum of about ^30,000 to his foundation and directing his 
executors to draw up a constitution. This charge has now been fulfilled. 
Two councils have been appointed — one at Constantinople under the 
presidency of the patriarch, and the other at Erzerum under that of the 
bishop. Thus the college is under the protection of the Church ; and it 
is with the patriarch or the bishop that Government deals. Three 
Directors were chosen to preside over the teaching staff, and to dispense 
instruction themselves. The council of Erzerum consists of this 
triumvirate, who hold office for life, and of three notables, one of whom 
vacates his charge every year. It has also been provided that, upon the 
decease of any member of the triumvirate, his colleagues shall take his 
place until the number shall have been reduced to one, so that eventually 
there may be only a single Director. Of the two councils that al 
Constantinople is supreme. They administer the revenues, which have 
been increased since the death of the founder by the receipt of at least 
one substantial legacy. The institution has been launched with every 
promise of success, although it seems likely to be destined to undergo 
vicissitudes before attaining a full measure of usefulness. 

The Sanasarean college is essentially a boarding college, and day 
pupils are not encouraged. It has a roll of not more than about eighty 
inmates, of whom nearly half are the sons of parents in narrow circum- 
stances, and pay nothing for maintenance. About fifteen youths are 
natives of Erzerum, and the rest are derived from the provinces. A few 
will have journeyed hither all the way from Constantinople. It is expected 
of the gratuitous scholars that they shall all become teachers in the various 
Armenian schools throughout Turkey. Of the sixty members who had 
already completed the course at the time of my visit one-half had adopted 
the scholastic profession. I went carefully over the school, and was 
delighted with the arrangements. The dormitories are large and kept 
scrupulously clean, and the same may be said of the classrooms. There 
are a hospital attached and a playground. The technical school is well 
provided with lathes and all kinds of implements, and some excellent 
work is forthcoming from the young handicraftsmen. Boys enter the 
college in about their tenth year, and leave at the age of seventeen or 

The course comprises a preparatory class and six higher classes. The 
subjects taught are in the first place the Armenian and the Turkish 
languages, the former comprising both the ancient and the modern speech. 
Of foreign tongues French and German are included, but neither Latin 
nor Greek. The history of the Armenian Church and nation is imparted 
under great difficulties and without the aid of books. These would be 
confiscated by the Censor. In mathematics the curriculum provides for 
algebra and geometry ; and in natural science for geography, geology, 
botany, zoology, astronomy, anatomy, chemistry, and physics. Commercial 



book-keeping can also be learnt. Music is studied and practised with 
much appreciation, and there are several tolerable performers on the 
violin. The prospectus of studies must by. law be submitted to Govern- 
ment ; but the Mudir or local director of public instruction confines his 
energies to an occasional and friendly visit.' Most of the text- books are 
German. The teaching staff numbers- twelve members, including the 
Directors ; the French master had recently arrived from France. It is 
desired that the teachers should have passed through this school, and 
then have rnmpletcd their studies in Europe. A certain portion of the 

Fig. 167. Armenian Youths. 

funds have been set aside to meet the expenses of one or two students 
during their residence abroad. Two have already proceeded to St. 
Petersburg, and two more are about to leave for Reichenberg in Bohemia 
in order to study in a technical school. 

I offer my reader a group of the scholars of this institution, with a 
picture of the founder in their midst (Fig. 167). The faces are full of 
character and determination. Nor should I wish to omit a similar 
group of the comely maidens of Armenia, taken at Edgmiatsin and showing 
the national dress (Fig. 168). I received the impression that there was 
something wanting to the vitality of the school, that the pupils were not 
using their talents to the best advantage. For instance, when I asked 
them for the result of x^y x x-y, they were obliged to make the sum 



and could not supply the result off-hand. Personally the Directors are 
charming men, neither self-assertive nor obsequious. All three have 
studied in Germany ; but not one of them has taken his doctor's degree. 
They told me that they had in this obeyed the expressed desire of their 
patron, M. Sanasarean. But, although there can be little doubt that they 
made excellent use of their opportunities, it is most pernicious to the 
interests of the school that their example should be made a precedent. 
By what means can the Council ensure that the young men sent abroad 
to study have really penetrated into the inner circle of European scholar- 
ship ? Only by requiring that they should not return without obtaining 

Fig. 168. Armenian Maidens. 

its badge. It also seemed to me strange that the pupils passed from 
class to class by length of residence rather than by merit. Other 
drawbacks, the first of which might be easily remedied, were the 
absence of sports and games as a prominent feature of school life, the 
want of touch with the Armenian schools in the Russian provinces, and 
the unreality of the diplomas granted by the institution, which have not 
as yet become the key to a variety of careers. The fact, too, that the 
minds of the Directors have been filled with the ]]edagogic lore of 
Germany militates against success. That so-called science betrays the 
weaknesses of the powerful German intellect. In Germany its pedantic 
influence is counteracted by military service; but this wholesome cor- 
rective is wanting to the Armenian youth of Erzerum. 

In addition to the Sanasarean college, the Gregorian community 
possess no less than six ordinary schools. Of these the principal is 

Erzerum 2 1 7 

attached to the cathedral and is named Artsenean. It is attended by 
about 200 day scholars, and corresponds to an Armenian school of two 
classes in Russia. The school for girls, called Ripsimean, appeared to be 
well administered; it has a roll of 350 maidens. The Armenian Armenian 
Catholics of Erzerum province number several thousands of souls ; and the Catholics 
city is the seat of one of their bishops. Their school, which is conducted 
by four French priests, is considered one of the best in the town. It is 
attended by over 100 pupils, of whom nearly one-third are Gregorians. 
A little boy of three did the honours of his class, when I availed myself 
of the kind invitation of "Cao. freres. He addressed me in the following 
speech, delivered with the most graceful gestures : — " Monsieur ! Soyez 
le bienvenu ; que le ciel vous protege, cher Monsieur ! " 

The American missionaries have a large establishment with schools American 
in Erzerum. Their mission was founded in 1839. It was presided over ™^^'°"^"^^- 
during my residence by the Rev. W. N. Chambers, a man in the prime 
of life with fine physique and a face of great beauty, which corresponds 
to the nobility and sweetness of his character. His wife and worthy 
companion — one of the most charming and refined of women — was 
perpetually busy with her girls' school. One reflected upon the value 
to the womanhood of the Armenian race of such an example as hers. 
In taking leave of the American missions, it is pleasant to dwell upon 
this memory, which, indeed, illustrates the kind of benefits which they 
confer upon the country better than all the figures in their reports. They 
raise the standard of life, and diffuse an atmosphere of wholesome 
living. I ought to add that their missions are conducted by quite 
exceptional men and women^ — of a type and perhaps of a class far higher 
than one would expect. One admires in them a broad tolerance and 
entire absence of all cant. One says farewell from the depth of the 

Education is provided for the Mussulman population by a single but 
well-appointed institution. It combines the courses of a Rushdiyeh, or Rushdiyeh. 
High School, with that of an Idadiyeh or lycee. It is housed in a spacious idadiyeh. 
new building in the centre of the town, and I found it occupied by 
130 pupils, of whom 45 were boarders. Youths enter the school between 
their eleventh and fifteenth years, and stay seven years. Of this period 
three years are spent in the lower and four in the higher course. There 
are about eight teachers. The majority of the scholars were attired in 
a quasi-military uniform ; the rest were in civil dress. All looked in 
excellent health. The dormitories were provided with brass bedsteads ; 
and I noticed that the linen was scrupulously clean. Shining napkins 
were spread out upon the table of the dining-room, which was lined with 
a row of chairs and provided with crockery. Adjoining the school is a 
small hospital. The course comprises the same subjects as those in the 
curricula of the Van schools ; and, although this school professes to dispense 
a much higher standard, it is in fact less advanced than the so-called military 
school at Van. This is the only Idadiyeh in Turkish Armenia ; and the 
admirable official who acts as coadjutor to an invisible Director of Public 
Instruction informed me that in the year preceding my visit a Govern- 

2i8 Armenia 

ment order had been issued, to the effect that all candidates for sub- 
ordinate posts in the civil service should be required to produce a 
diploma from an Idadiyeh. I learnt on the same authority that there 
existed a Rushdiyeh in each caza of the vilayet of Erzerum with the 
exception of the caza of Terjan. 

We found Erzerum in a condition verging upon famine. 
During my residence several people died of inanition, and the 
poorer classes were only just alive. I was informed that there 
was no lack of grain in the place ; but it was all in the hands of 
merchants, and they refused to sell except at famine prices. A 
short harvest in 1892 had been followed by insufficient sowing, 
owing to the consumption of the seed for food. Grain was said 
to be lying at Trebizond on Government account ; but the officials 
pleaded that they were unable to obtain transport. Some of them, 
if not all, were no doubt confederates of the Corn Ring. The 
same state of things was prevalent at Van ; and throughout our 
journey we had great difficulty in obtaining barley for our horses, 
even when offering exorbitant prices. One may present some 
conception of the acuteness of the sufferings of the townspeople 
by recording some particulars of prices and wages. Wheat was 
selling at 50 piasters a kilc, or about 2\ piasters an oke (2|- lbs.). 
The price of bread was 2 piasters an oke. A healthy man requires 
at least three-quarters of an oke of bread a day, in addition to his 
ration of sheep's tail or meat sausage, of which the working classes 
lay in a provision in the autumn. The wages of a carpenter or 
skilled labourer are in good times 8 piasters a day. But hundreds 
of workmen were seeking employment at i ?, piasters, and the best 
paid among the makers of cigarettes for the regie were receiving 
a daily wage of 2 piasters. Rice at Erzerum is quite a luxury, 
and potatoes are so little grown that they may be left out of 
account. How was a man to pay for his lodging, provide food for 
his family and himself, and obtain tezek, or cow-dung cakes, for his 
fire upon the current wages ? I was shown the kind of bread 
upon which the majority were living ; it looked like a thin pan- 
cake, and its staple consisted of a black grain or seed. But the 
principal ingredient was mud and chopped straw. The cruelty 
of the situation was accentuated by the fact that all kinds of 
comestibles were spread out upon the booths of the bazar. One 
regretted the absence of the glass windows of our shops. Here 
the temptation might be touched as well as seen. There is no 
poor-law, and no poor-houses. People starve in the Streets. A 

Erzerum 2 1 9 

Mussulman girl of great beauty came to our house, and begged 
piteously for food, showing her face. We endeavoured to obtain 
for her a place as servant in the residence of some Turkish ladies. 
But it was well known that there was many a brute in Erzerum 
who, like the Spectre of Hunger in the pregnant lines of Alfred 
de Musset, demanded kisses as the price of a piece of bread. 

The economical condition of the surrounding country is woeful 
in the extreme. The great plains from Pasin to Lake Van were 
being raided by bands of Kurds. I shall describe in a future 
chapter how this predatory people came to be established in the 
agricultural centres. Erzerum was full of accounts of their open 
attacks upon the industrious peasantry ; and even the Mussulmans, 
as, for instance, at Hasan Kala in Pasin, were petitioning Govern- 
ment for protection. It is true they did not dare to call their 
assailants to book as Kurds, but described them merely as 
brigands. It was well known that these bands were led by 
officers in Hamidiyeh regiments — tenekelis, or tin-plate men, as 
they are called by the populace, from the brass badges they wear 
in their caps. The frightened officials, obliged to report such 
occurrences, take refuge behind the amusing euphemism of 
such a phrase as " brigands, disguised as soldiers." The scourge 
had almost exhausted the Armenian population, and was now 
commencing to sit heavy upon the Mussulmans. The Armenians 
were emigrating as fast as they could. The Russian Consul 
informed me that he had been obliged to issue no less than 3500 
passports to Armenians during the current year. The Russians 
did not want them ; but what were they to do ? I learnt from 
another source that in the caza of Khinis alone looo Armenians 
had left their homes, the majority in abject poverty, and had taken 
refuge across the frontier. 

With a famine in the provincial capital and the adjacent 
territory stripped by marauders, the inhabitants of any other 
country would have risen in revolt against the Government. But 
the population of Asiatic Turkey, in spite of religious differences, 
are the most easily governed in the world. All the talk about 
Mussulmans and Christians flying at each other's throat is talk, 
and moreover very idle talk. During my subsequent visits to 
Erzerum it was admitted to me by Turkish officials that the 
massacres of 1898 were perpetrated in these districts by bands of 
imported ruffians. The still unavenged guilt of these abominable 
orgies does not lie upon the Mussulman population. Only on 

2 20 Anneiiia 

one occasion during my residence did the famished townspeople 
of the doininant reHgion come near to measures of insubordination. 
They sent their women — a method of petition which is neither 
usual nor lightly to be dismissed — in a body to Government 
House. Thence the petitioners proceeded to the residence of 
an official of the Treasury at Constantinople, who had been 
despatched to Erzerum to make enquiries into the scarcity. The 
indignant matrons assailed his ears with the pertinent question : 
neye geldin, whereto didst thou come ? Dissatisfied with the 
answer they received, they smashed the windows of the function- 
ary ; but nothing came of the demonstration. 

All through that anxious time the civil government was in 
abeyance ; and nothing was set up in its place. The Vali was 
recently dead ; his successor had not been chosen ; the deputy 
Governor was at once a puppet and an imbecile. An honest man 
with a few policemen at his back could restore not only order but 
prosperity. There is only one essential of any importance : to 
reorganise the territorial boundaries of the provinces, select good 
governors and invest them with extensive powers. If my reader 
be inclined to smile at the choice of my epithet when applied to 
a Turkish official, I can only say that I much regret my inability 
to introduce him personally to the present holder of the office of 
Vali of Erzerum. I was privileged to make the acquaintance of 
Raouf Pasha on the occasion of my second visit. His career 
through a long life has been one of much distinction ; he is 
honest, just, capable, humane. If such a man could only be 
freed from the leading-strings of the capital, he would go far 
towards a happy settlement of the Armenian question, and of 
the still more important question, the continuance of the Ottoman 

The Armenian inhabitants of the provincial capital are under- 
going a state of transition from their ancestral customs to the less 
straitened manners of the West. But these customs die a hard 
death, and the emancipated Armenian who has studied in Europe 
must feel their fetters upon his return to his native land. Let us 
suppose that he wishes to marry ; he must have recourse to his 
mother, or, if she be dead, to a female relation. A bride is chosen 
for him, whom, as likely as not, he does not see until the marriage 
ceremony has been performed. If the parents of the bridegroom 
be still alive, the newly-married couple reside with them ; and it 
is the custom that, while sons and daughters are permitted to 



speak to their parents, a similar license is not usually accorded 
to the sons' wives. Thus a maiden quits a home where freedom 
of intercourse and speech is allowed her to enter one where she 
is not permitted to open her mouth. A son may not smoke in 
the presence of his father ; and great are the agonies endured jb}' 
the younger generation in this respect alone. The earnings of 
the sons are handed over to the father, who rules the family quite 
in the patriarchal style. 

A single family comprises a very large number of members. 

Fig. 169. Five Generations of an Armenian Family. 

all living in the same house. In one house in which I visited 
there were not less than thirty. I photographed a group of five 
generations in this family, each person being in direct lineal 
descent. The infant is the son of the pretty young lady on the 
left of the picture, and it reposes on the lap of her great-grand- 
mother (Fig. 169). 

To Erzerum belongs an antiquity which, if not remote, is at 
least respectable ; and her history, or rather the glimpses which 
we obtain of that history, illustrate the time-honoured struggle 
between East and West. Founded during the reign of the 
second Theodosius (a.d. 408-450), at the instance of one of the 



greatest of the early Armenian patriarchs, and upon the site of a 
village which dated from ancient times,^ the new city received the 
name of Theodosiopolis, and was designed to constitute an outer 
bulwark to the Roman Empire of the East. In the description 
of this event which we receive from Moses of Khorene the 
traveller recognises the familiar surroundings of the present town. 
The emissary of the emperor had journeyed over an extensive 
tract of country in search of a suitable site. His choice at length 
fell upon a position in the province of Karin, at the foot of 
a mountain in which several rivulets had their origin. At no 
great distance were situated the sources of the Euphrates, which, 
collecting into a sluggish stream, formed a large marsh, supporting 
abundance of wildfowl, on the eggs of which the inhabitants 
lived. The province lay in the centre of the country. Upon 
this site were laid the foundations of a fortified city, defended 
by moat and walls and towers. Baths of solid masonry were 
erected in the vicinity over the hot springs which welled from the 

Seized in the year. 502 by the Sasanian king of Persia at the 
inception of his war with Rome, this remote stronghold was 
shortly afterwards recovered by the Emperor Anastasius and 
restored to its former fame.^ The fortifications were enlarged 
and increased by Justinian ; ^ but at the close of the sixth century 
it again fell into Persian hands.^ I do not know that we are 
able to follow its fortunes during the campaigns of Heraclius, who 
is said to have assembled there a council of Armenian bishops 
(a.d. 629?).'' In the year 647 Theodosiopolis became the prize 
of the Arabs ; and more than a century elapsed before it was re- 
gained by the Caesars under Constantine the Fifth (755).'^ That 
monarch razed the walls, reduced the inhabitants to slavery, and 
transported a great number of Armenians of the Paulician sect 

1 Procopius, de bell. Pcrs. lib. i. c. lo. The student must be careful to distinguish 
this Theodosiopolis from the fortress of the same name on the Khabur. The letter of 
the emperor to the patriarch Isaac is given by Moses of Khorene, lib. iii. c. 57. 

2 Moses of Khorene, lib. iii. c. 59. Thousands of eggs are still collected in these 
marshes during spring by the inhabitants of the plain of Erzerum. The hot springs 
mentioned are evidently those of Ilija, a good hour's drive to the west of Erzerum. 

•^ Noldeke, article "Persia" in Eiicy. Brit. 9th edit. vol. xviii. p. 611 ; Procopius, 
de Edificiis, iii. c. 5. 

* Procopius in Uk. cit. In the time of Justinian the frontier of Roman Armenia 
skirted the Persian frontier from the city of Amida (Diarbekr) as far as Theodosiopolis 
{ibid. iii. c. i ). 

'•' Indgidgean, ap. Neumann, quoted by Ritter, Erd/ciaidc, vol. x. p. 759. 

" Issavcrdens, Armenia and the Armenians, Venice, 1878, p. 109. 

"^ Indgidgean in op. cit. 

Erzermn 223 

to Constantinople and to Thrace.^ Shortly after this event it 
appears to have been rebuilt by the Mussulmans ; and it played 
an important part during the wars of Leo (886-91 i) and his son 
Constantine Porphyrogenitus (911-959) with the Arabs in the 
neighbouring province of Pasin." But the waves of Mussulman 
conquest were closing in upon the Eastern Empire. About the 
commencement of the thirteenth century we find the place in the 
possession of a prince who bears the Turkish name of Toghrul Ben 
Kilijarslan. From his hands it passed into the dominions of the 
Sultan of Iconium.^ The Seljuk Sultan was known as the lord 
of Erzerum, just as his Ottoman successors bore the title of lords of 
Kars.'* The rule of the Seljuks was followed by that of their 
Tartar conquerors. In the first half of the fifteenth century 
Erzerum was in the keeping of the Turkomans, from whom it was 
wrested by the Ottomans under Mohammed 11.^ 

The name Erzerum dates from Mussulman, but its 
exact derivation is obscure. It may either signify the land (Ard 
in Arabic, Arz in Turkish) of Rum, or of the Roman Empire ; or 
it may be compounded of this last name and of the name of an 
unfortified town in the vicinity which was known as Artze or 
Artsn. It is quite probable that this town was at an early date 
called Artze of Rum to distinguish it from another Artze in the 
south of Armenia which lay within the Persian sphere.'' Local 
tradition places the site of the first of these Artzes close to the 
present city and on or near the banks of the Kara Su. We 
know that the place was sacked by the Turks in the middle of 
the eleventh century ; ' and according to Saint Martin the sur- 
vivors took refuge within the walls of Theodosiopolis, to which 

1 Cedrenus, edit. Bekker, p. 463 ; see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. liv. 

2 Constantine Porphyrogenitus, de Adm. Imp. c. 45. 

^ Von Hammer, Gcschichte des Osm. Reiches, vol. i. p. 25. 

* Kyriakos, ap. Ritter, Erdkimde, vol. x. p. 760. 

^ Travels of Evliya, translated by Von Hammer, London, 1850, vol. ii. p. 108. 

•^ Abulfeda, Annales, edit. Reiske, iv. p. 367. For a plan and account of the ruins 
of the southern Arzen see Taylor in J.R.G.S. vol. xxxv. pp. 26 seij. Evliya speaks 
of four towns bearing the name of Erzen, viz. Erzen in INIesopotamia, Erzen Akhlat, 
Erzen Rum, commonly called Erzerum, and Erzenjan (Von Hammer's translation, ii. 
202). The word Erzen or Arzen is discussed by Bore, Corr. et Ale/noires, Paris, 1 840, vol. i. 
pp. 184 K'^. 'iir&cker (Zeifschrift fiir Erdkimde, Berlin, 1869, pp. 152, 153) seeks to 
identify our Artze or Artsn with the site of the modern village of Karars near the right 
bank of the Kara Su or Euphrates, north-west of Erzerum. 

^ Cedrenus, pp. 772, 773. He speaks of Artze as a kw^uottoXis in the neighbourhood 
of Theodosiopolis which is described as a strong fortress. A vivid contemporary and 
native account of the sack of Artze is furnished by the Armenian historian, Aristakes of 
Lastivert. See Prudhomme's translation in the Revtie de l' Orient, Paris, 1863, vol. 
xvii. pp. 275 seq. 

2 24 Armenia 

they transferred the name of their own populous town.^ However 
this may be, the ancient Armenian name of Karin is still applied 
to the present city." The monuments of the Eastern Empire 
have been seen in Erzerum by modern travellers ; and the chain 
of history has not been broken in a manner to disparage the 
identity of the Roman fortress with this key to the Asiatic 
dominions of the Ottoman Turks. 

1 Saint Martin, Mi'inoircs sur P Anneiiic, vol. i. p. 68 ; Tournefort, Voyage dii 
Levant, Paris, 17 17, vol. ii. p. 276. 

^ Erzerum is also known to Armenian writers under the name of Karnoy Kaghak 
(Kalak) or town of Karin, from which the name of Kalikala, used by Arabic authors, is 
probably derived. 

D'Anville is certainly in error when he seeks to identify Theodosiopolis with Hasan 
Kala in Pasin. 



From Erzerum to the Black Sea, at the nearest point, near Rizeh, 
is a distance as the crow flies of 88 miles, or, measured to 
Trebizond, of i 14 miles. Yet the distance by the main road to 
the ancient capital of the Grand-Comneni is little less than 200 
miles/ This large discrepancy is due to the great height of the 
block of mountain on the north of the plain of Erzerum, and, 
more especially, to the essential character of the sea of troughs 
and ridges, interposed between the town of Baiburt and the coast. 
The Turkish Government have built a magnificent cJiaiissce across 
this country, constructed in the seventies by French engineers. 

1 Since writing this description, General Sir Charles Wilson's most admirable Hand- 
book for Asia Minor (London, Murray, 1S95) ^^s come into my hands. He gives 
the dis'tance between Erzerum and Trebizond, ineastired in miles along the cliaussee, at 
I99j niiles. Another account makes the total 196^ miles. I enquired in official circles 
at Erzerum whether there were extant any exact record of the distance ; a search was 
made in the archives with a negative result. A certain proportion of the milestones aie 
still erect ; but many have disappeared, the course of the road has been changed in 
places, and the milestones have been replaced, probably in an arbitrary manner. My 
own record, which is based on careful estimates of pace and time, is as follows: — Erzerum 
— Ashkala, 33 miles ; Ashkala — Pirnakapan, 10 miles ; Pirnakapan — Southern Kop Khan, 
2 miles ; Southern Kop Khan — Kop Pass, 5^ miles ; Kop Pass — Northern Kop Khan, 
5g^ miles ; Northern Kop Khan — Maden Khan, 6^ miles; ]^Iaden Khan — Baiburt, io| 
miles ; Baiburt (bridge) — \'arzahan, 6 miles ; Varzahan — Osluk Khan, 6 miles ; Osluk 
Khan — Khadrak, 8 miles; Khadrak — Vavuk Pass, 4^ miles ; Vavuk Pass — Alurad Khan, 
lo^- miles ; Murad Khan— Lower GUmtishkhaneh, i6j miles ; Lower Gumlishkhaneh — 
Ardasa, 16^ miles ; Ardasa — Southern Zigana hamlet, 9^ miles ; Southern Zigana village 
— Zigana Pass, 4^^ miles ; Zigana Pass — Upper Hamsi Iveui, lo-J miles ; Upper Hamsi 
Keui — Jevizlik, 15^ miles ; Jeviziik — Trebizond, 20 miles. Total, 199J miles. A 
carriage (victoria) can be obtained in Trebizond. Such a vehicle, drawn by two horses, 
together with. a cart for the luggage with a team of three, costs for the whole journey 
£1^ : I OS. But, if I may offer a recommendation to the traveller, it is to render himself 
independent of the chaussee by purchasing horses and riding. Large deductions from 
the mileage may be made in this way, and the jolting avoided which is inseparable from 
a metalled road kept in bad repair. Indeed wheeled traffic is as yet quite an anomaly 
both in Turkey and in Persia. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to buy good 
horses in TreVjizond, although they may be readily purchased in Erzerum. 


2 26 Arm Cilia 

But whatever its value in time of war, it has failed to revolu- 
tionise the methods of transport in vogue from immemorial time. 
Vehicular traffic is conducted between the termini in summer, and 
in winter the journey is feasible on a sledge. But the camel, the 
mule, and the packhorse are still the principal means of carriage, 
and the caravan has not yet fallen into disuse. With horses 
which were short of work after their long rest in Erzerum we 
reached Trebizond during the height of winter in six days. 

At this season of the year the traveller is warned to beware 
of the blizzards which render formidable the crossing of the Kop 
Pass. The name of that pass is pronounced with a certain 
degree of terror in the bazars and coffee-houses of Erzerum. 
Each winter brings its catalogue of disasters to man and beast, 
buried in the driving snow on those bleak heights. Nor is it 
easy to perform the passage in a single day from Erzerum, 
waiting in the city for a favourable occasion. The Kop is 
situated about forty miles west of the provincial capital ; and 
the barrier upon which it is placed — the wall on the north of 
Erzerum — can scarcely be surmounted at a more adjacent point 
while it is covered by the snows. For it is only the continual 
plying of caravans across a pass which, in this latitude and at 
so great an elevation above the sea, renders it practicable all the 
year round. Caravans have chosen the Kop, and there is 
nothing left to the traveller but to acquiesce in their choice. It 
was therefore decided to make our first day's stage at the village 
of Ashkala, on the banks of the Euphrates, a stage of over thirty 
miles, and thence, on the following day, should the weather be 
favourable, to take the ascent of the range. 

We set out at eleven o'clock on the morning of the 6th of 
February — a dim winter's day, when the sun was struggling with 
the grey mists spread over the face of land and sky. The 
thermometer registered no less than 20"" of frost (Fahrenheit) ; 
plain and mountain were completely covered with deep snow. 
Even the road scarcely revealed a patch of brown soil, and was 
distinguishable only by the parallel dints of the ditches in the 
foreground of the white expanse. But the city was conspicuous 
on the lowest slope of the southern barrier, where the vaulted 
summits and bold convexities of that lofty wall of mountain 
sweep into the lake-like plain. There it lay, a sombre mass, 
from which projected into the murky atmosphere the outline of 
a tower, the needle forms of minarets. On its either flank, in a 

Return to the Border Ranges — ^oKarra, OdXaTra ! 227 

wide half-circle, the chain of heights advanced into the open, 
more elevated and less contracted towards the north-east, 
declining but more adjacent on the west. In both directions, the 
opposite horns of this bay of snow-clad eminences appeared to 
touch the answering parapet in the north — west and east in a 
long, straight line, fretted b}' the shapes of cones and humps, 
stretched the barrier of that still distant range. The point of 
apparent intersection between the two outlines are, in fact, the 
open doors of the plain. In the north-east it is the inlet which 
leads towards Olti, known as the Gurgi Boghaz : in the west the 
valley which receives the Kara Su. 

Our course was directed towards Ilija, a village of above- 
ground houses at the foot of the western promontory, near some 
hot springs. The summer road to Erzinjan diverges towards 
the west shortly after you have left Erzerum. It is taken across 
the horn of heights, up a partial opening, which, however, was 
barely visible. The view across the plain and along the summits 
of the northern barrier extends from the Deveh Boyun and the 
distant heights of Kargabazar to the Kop mountain in the west. 
Several individual heights may be distinguished from their 
fellows : Sheikhjik, a beautiful cone, north-west of Erzerum ; 
then Akhbaba, a cockscombed outline, and next Jejen, a sym- 
metrical peak. The flat-topped, broad-shouldered mass, which 
closes the series, is the Kop, beneath whose shadow lies the 

In the village of Gez — a cluster of houses, partly Moham- 
medan and partly xA.rmenian — we made a stay of twent}- minutes, 
and said farewell to some of our friends, who had dri\en out to 
meet us in a sledge. Sleighing is much in favour during the 
winter, both among rich and poor. Little black specks come 
gliding over the snow-field in the neighbourhood of the town. 
Taking shape, they are seen to consist sometimes of a lean hack 
drawing a couple of longitudinal logs, placed upon skates ; or a 
graceful car, drawn by a pair of high-stepping horses, brushes 
past you at a rapid trot. Near Ilija we crossed a stream of 
warm water, which proceeded to follow us on our right hand ; 
and at three o'clock we had reached the spot near the extremity 
of the promontory where the Kara Su might be expected to 
enter the narrows. 

But the river was quite invisible, buried beneath the canopy 
which stretched to the opposite mountains without a break. 

2 28 Armeiiia 

After doubling the horn, which was low, and was succeeded by 
gentle eminences, we made our way down the valley, between 
these hills and the northern barrier, through a dreary landscape 
upon which the mist hung. A fine fox with a sweeping brush 
made off across the snow, and found it difficult to escape from 
sight. I viewed him away with a shout which surprised our 
followers, giving vent to a whole season's abstinence. At four 
o'clock we passed the lonely station of Yeni Khan ; and, an hour 
later, a road branched off across the hills, leading to Erzinjan. 
In another half-hour we crossed the mouth of a large side valley 
through which was hissing a considerable stream. It comes 
from the mountains on the north, and is called the Serchemeh 
Chai ; the combined waters below the junction with the Kara Su 
are generally known as the Frat or Euphrates.^ We were 
surprised to observe the manner in which the connection was 
effected between this ice-free torrent and the buried Kara Su. 
Descending to the trough of the valley, the rapid current was 
introduced into the same bed in which the companion river slept; 
nor did it dip beneath the canopy, but hurried along by the side 
of its partner, fretting the edge of the ice. When we crossed, a 
little later, by a substantial bridge to the right bank, the united 
ice and flowing water had a width of fifty paces. The valley 
had narrowed and become almost Alpine in appearance since the 
bifurcation of the roads. In such surroundings is situated the 
picturesque village of Kagdarich, just above the bridge, on the 
right bank. 

Again the hills opened after our passage of the river, and, 
nearing Ashkala, composed a plain. We reached our destination 
at a quarter to seven, beneath the shadows of night. It is a 
Mohammedan village of some size, with a few Armenian houses ; 
the houses are above ground. The valley must have in places a 
width of six or seven miles. Its character became apparent as we 
rose above it on the following morning, after crossing an affluent 
to the Frat, called the Kara Hasan Su, which was almost concealed 
by a crust of ice. Like the plain of Erzerum, it has probably been 
covered with a sheet of water during no very remote geological 
period. The floor of the valley presents, in fact, an almost level 
surface; but a special feature in this second lake-like extension of 

' According to Strecker {Zcil. Enik. Berlin, 1869, vol. iv. p. 147) the Serchemeh 
Chai has a shorter course and brings less water than the Kara Su. I should consider 
diat of these two uppermost constituents of the Frat, the former has the greater average 

Return to the Border Ranges — ^aXaTra, dcLkarra ! 229 

the Euphrates basin is a bold mass of rock which protrudes in 
the neighbourhood of the village, isolated from the heights upon 
the north. The close resemblance of this hill to some of the 
spurs from those heights suggested the conception of a remote age 
when this valley was in its infancy, and the mountains which now 
rise on its opposite margins were integral parts of a single block 
of elevated land. The further we advanced towards the west, the 
more the plain narrowed ; we were pursuing a diagonal course 
along the lower slopes of the northern barrier, and we could see 
the river at some distance, partly ice -encrusted, and partly 
threading the snow in several tiny channels.^ 

February 7. — We had left Ashkala (5520 feet) at half-past 

Fig. 170. 

eight, with the promise of a perfect day ; for the vapours had 
become collected into shining masses, and the sun was mounting 
into a clear, blue sky. Just before losing the landscape of the 
plain, I stopped to take a photograph of the summit-formation of 
a spur from the northern range (Fig. i 70). I was struck by the 
resemblance of the flat edge of this eminence to the outworks 
of the Bingol plateau. A little later we entered a side valley 
through which flowed a small and partially ice-bound stream. 
Proceeding up it a short distance on a northerly course, we arrived 
at eleven o'clock in the pretty alpine village of Pirnakapan. 
Beyond this Mussulman hamlet, which is graced by a grove of 
willow trees, the valley becomes a gorge. So steep are the crags 
which overhang it that in many places they were free from snow. 
We were now at a level of about 6000 feet, and, as it were, about 
to take the ascent. The rocks of this region are highly folded, 

1 The basin of Ashkala has been treated in its geological aspects by Abich in his 
usually masterly manner {Geologische Forschungen in den kaitkasischen Ldndern, Vienna, 
1882, pt. ii. sect. I, pp. \00 scq.y. 

230 Armenia 

and consist of serpentines and limestones weathered to various 
hues. Two partridges were seated fearlessly on one of the ledges 
a few yards from where we rode. The actual climb begins a little 
further on, where the scene opens and you stand at the bottom 
of the towering wall. There is situated among the snows the 
Southern Kop Khan, from which the start is made. You see the 
cJiaussce winding in a long series of spirals to a lofty gallery of the 
range. It covers a distance between Pirnakapan and the pass of 
about J^ miles. 

To that gallery, which is nearly as elevated as the pass, we 
proceeded to follow a much shorter track. In half-an-hour we 
had gained the position after a valiant escalade, and the camera 
was at once brought to bear. But our enemy was, alas ! the sun, 
an inexpugnable adversary, shedding his rays from just the 
quarter which we wished to embrace. Regretting the absence of 
the resourceful Wesson, I was obliged to turn the instrument 
towards the east-south-east. In that direction we commanded 
the upper valley of the Euphrates (Fig. 171); but we were robbed 
of a picture of the important landscape in the south. 

It was a little after noon ; the mountains streamed with light, 
and only above the deeply-seated river valley a heavy mass of 
vapour hung. All the summits which are seen on this side of 
that vapour belong to the block of mountain on the north. The 
conical peak on the left of the illustration is the beautiful Jejen 
Dagh. Beyond the mist, the distant heights are those of the 
southern border in the neighbourhood of Erzerum. 

In another half-hour we had reached about the highest point 
upon the undulating snow-fields of the summit region. The Kop 
itself, the mountain which gives its name to the pass, is a flat- 
topped mass, rising with steep slopes on the right of the road. 
The pass has an elevation of 8048 feet. So brilliant was the sun 
that we were enabled to linger, and to attempt to realise the 
panorama of the south. 

The traveller who should approach Armenia by this well- 
beaten avenue might fail to discover the characteristics of a great 
tableland in the configuration of that extensive portion of her 
area which is outspread from this pass. It is true that the range 
he crosses resembles a large block of hard material rather than a 
chain of mountains in the more usual sense. But the outline of 
this mass is broken into peaks of every shape ; and the opposite 
ranges display the same features, the whole combining to produce 

Return to the Border Rans^es — ^aXarra, OaXaTra ! 231 


the impression of a troubled sea. How different was this land- 
scape from that which I had overlooked from the pass of Zikar 
on the north ! Yet the explanation of this diversity does not, I 
think, belie the conception which a wide experience had inculcated 
in my mind — the conception, namely, of a vast mass of elevated 
country of which a prevailing characteristic is the flatness of its 
surface. For in this landscape the levelling influence of the lavas 
are almost absent, while, on the other hand, the operation of the 
various processes of denudation have been conducted on a colossal 
scale and with conspicuous results. The ancient sedimentary 
deposits have been worn by their action into peaks of considerable 
relative height, while the plains with their lake-like beds have, as 
it were, usurped the character of the mountains by which they are 
overhung. Reserving for further study the country between Frat 
and Murad on the west of Erzerum and Mush, I need only 
remark that its present aspect from the standpoint of this pass 
was somewhat foreign from the idea of prevailing flatness which 
similar prospects had invited me to form. 

Two, and only two, distinct chains of heights were visible in 
the south. The first, which was apparently the lower, was that 
on the south of Erzerum, the Palandoken and the continuing 
eminences toward the west. Behind this outline rose a second 
and also horizontal series, which were identified by my informant, 
a zaptieh who lives on the mountain, as the range on the north of 
the Murad or Eastern Euphrates, known to him under the same 
name as that of the district of Terjan. Between these two chains 
lay a mass of vapour, suspended above the river which joins the 
Western Euphrates below the town of Mamakhatun. A third 
and further range, that of the Kurdish Mountains, beyond the 
Murad, was not, and, according to the same authority, could not 
be descried from this pass.^ 

Proceeding on our northward journey at ten minutes before 
two, we entered, a little later, a break in the mass. In the 
hollow flowed a torrent, partially encrusted with ice, the first of 
the streams which find their way to the Black Sea. As we 

1 Alacdonald Kinneir (Journey through Asia Minor, etc., London, l8l8, p. 358) 
seems to have mistaken tliis Terjan range for that on the south of the Murad. He is 
respectfully followed by the laborious Ritter {Erdkundc, vol. x. p. 743)- l^"' that 
erudite geographer, to whom we owe so much, should have been more careful to qualify 
the statement (p. 741) that the range which is crossed by the Kop Pass constitutes the 
" Nordbegrenzung des armenischen I'lateaulandes. " A few months' personal travel 
would have stood him in good stead after all his minute analysis of the works of 



advanced, this shallow opening became a deep gorge, leading, 
almost directh% towards the north. The road was taken by easy 
gradients down this convenient valley, and, after a course of over 
five miles from the culminating point of the pass, reached the 
shelter known as the Northern Kop Khan. Here we rested for 
an hour and a half, continuing our ride at half-past four o'clock. 
We kept the torrent on our left, still adhering to the gorge, which 
displayed a fine view backward to the top of the mountain mass. 
A wall of stupendous height crowned its uppermost end, and 
displayed the familiar flat edge. The strata, of a marmorised 
limestone, which overhung the glen were much contorted, like 

Fig, 172. On the Banks of the Chorokh above Baiburt. 

the grain of a knot in a tree. After crossing a stream, in part 
icebound, which we recognised as the Chorokh, we arrived at a 
quarter-past si.x at the little settlement of Maden Khan (5455 feet) 
near Halwa Maden, distant some 6|- miles from our last halting- 
place, or about 29 miles by the road from Ashkala. 

I do not propose to follow in detail the further stages of our 
journey to the coast of the Black Sea. But I have not yet 
taken my reader to the extreme geographical limits of the 
country which in the present work I am endeavouring to describe. 
From Maden Khan it was still a ride of one and a half days to 
the pass where you bid farewell to the Armenian plains. This 
northerly extension of the highlands of Armenia is watered by 
the Upper Chorokh. 

February 8. — Leaving the cluster of wayside hospices in 
which we had passed the night, our course was directed west- 

Return to the Border Ranges — ^uXarra, 6aXaTTa\ 233 

wards down the stream. On either bank rose hills of marble 
with no great relative elevation, covered, like the valley, with deep 
snow. The current sometimes flowed in an open channel, and as 
often plunged beneath a continuous crust of ice. Not a single 
tree, nor even a bush, was visible in the landscape. A little 
further down the hills opened, and gave place to a stretch of 
plain (Fig. 172). At the western end of this expanse they again 
circled inwards, and the valley took an abrupt turn towards the 
east. At the mouth of this passage is situated the castle and 
town of Baiburt, barring the approach to these uppermost reaches 
of the Chorokh. 

But on the west of this picturesque and ruinous fortress the 
heights which deflect the river to its long course toward the east 
command the stronghold and detract from its value in modern 
war. Indeed they constitute an undulating upland or plateau, 
framed by the convex shapes of distant hills. At about its 
highest point this plateau has an elevation of some 5620 feet. 
Leaving the town, we made our way across this upland in a 
direction of west to west-north-west ; and, in a little over an hour, 
overlooked one of the flat depressions which have already been so 
often described. Upon its snow-clad surface was placed an Armenian 
village with three fine buildings, now in ruins, a relic of the old 
times. What an eloquent memorial those shapely forms and 
that finished masonry still preserved to a cultured and beneficent 
race ! Varzahan was the name of the village ; but we had again 
been placed under surveillance, and it was impossible to perpetuate 
the image of these decaying remains.^ 

The ova or plain of Varzahan, to which we descended, is, 
in some sense, a westerly extension of that portion of the valley 
of the Chorokh which lies below the town of Baiburt. Yet it 
was separated by a range of hills from the trough in the surround- 
ing outlines through which we knew that the river must flow. 
These hills circle southwards from the latitudinal chain of distant 
heights which confine this ova and the Chorokh valley alike. A 
passage is no doubt found by the streams which collect in the 
plain and find their way to the Chorokh. We were reminded by 
its appearance of the plain of Erzerum, of which many of the 
features were reproduced on a smaller scale. It seemed to strike 

^ But one of them has already been drawn by Layard (A'/ncvck and Babylon, p. 7); 
and I here reproduce a photograph taken during our second journey, which shows some 
interesting examples of old Armenian tombstones with rams' heads in the cemetery of 
Varzahan (Fig. 173). 


Anne Ilia 

the last note of the distinctive theme to which we had been 
Hstening for so many long months. The plain has an elevation 
of about 5300 feet, and it is possible to scale the heights on its 

northern border 
and, in summer, 
to pursue the 
journey to Tre- 
bizond/ But in 
winter you are 
taken up an 
opening at its 
westerly extrem- 
ity which we may 
call, after a con- 
siderable village 
which lies within 
it, the valley of 
Balakhor. This 
\alley conducts 
you in a westerly 
direction, to the 
ridge or ridges 
which form the 

water-parting on the south of the Ljxus, and on the west and east 
of the Kharshut and Chorokh. 

It was towards those dividing heights that we set out on 
the 9th of February from the lonely station of Khadrak in the 
valley of Balakhor. The stream which waters this valley and 
finds its way to the plain of Varzahan was buried beneath a 
continuous canopy of snow. The heights on either side were of 
insignificant elevation, relative to the general level of the ground. 
In half an hour a way diverged, well beaten by traffic, leading to 
Kelkid and Erzinjan. It branched off on the left hand ; we 
were at the head of the valley, surrounded by an amphitheatre of 
hills. Our course was directed to the wall upon our right ; and 
in another ten minutes we had gained the eminence. We were 
standing not exactly on a ridge, but on the face of an upland, 
over which the winds sweep in stormy weather with considerable 
force. Yet another half- hour brought us to an elevation of 
6468 feet, the saddle of the Vavuk Pass. We had arrived upon 

1 Yqx the stages see Ch. XI. p. 240. The route is sliown on my map. 

Fig. 173. Armenian Cemetery at Varzahan. 

Return to the Border Ranges — ^oKarTa, ddXarral 235 

the boundary line between two vilayets, of Erzerum and of 

I was informed that quite recently a Tartar horseman had 
met his death while carrying the post across this pass. He was 
overtaken and overwhelmed by a ti/^e or blizzard before he could 
reach the shelter of the valleys on either side. Indeed the loss of 
life to beasts of burden is considerable along this road. No more 
eloquent evidence could be furnished of the want of humanity in 
the natives than the callous indifference to the sufferings of dumb 
animals which day by day is displayed upon these passes. Such 
a habit of cruelty at once argues a lapse into barbarism, and 
explains the perpetration of the nameless horrors which so often 
shock the conscience of the West. We kept passing strings of 
heavily-laden quadrupeds, which with their dull eyes, drooping 
heads, and fleshless bodies, covered with sores, had lost the 
distinctive qualities of the horse. None of them had any thighs 
to enable them to breast the ascents, and most were incurabh' 
lame. Their hocks were bent with curbs or swollen by spavins ; 
one poor beast was dragging his hind legs behind him, and 
another had one of his forelegs bent almost double. Neither — it 
could not be doubted — were destined to reach Trebizond. So 
they crawl over the ground, from year's end to year's end, until 
they close their miserable existence by sinking exhausted on a 
pass. Even at the moment of liberation they are doomed to a 
prolonged agony ; and, having been martyred all their life by the 
barbarity of the human animal, they become victims of his 
perverse humanity in their death. You will see them prone upon 
the road, where their drivers have abandoned them to kick out 
their life in the snow. Religious scruples prevent these misguided 
monsters from giving them the despatch. We were sickened on 
one occasion by the spectacle of a wretched horse which, with 
glazed eyes, continued to paw in a convulsive manner a space of 
ground which in his agony he had cleared of ice. At the end of 
my revolver I compelled one of the drivers to sever his jugular 

From such scenes the traveller turns to the contemplation of 
Nature, not only with a sense of relief, but under an added 
consciousness of her sublimity, the high exponent of the harmony 
of things. The pass of Vavuk divides two landscapes of exactly 
opposite nature, and leads over into a new climate and a new 
world. The opposite wall of rock is dotted with low fir trees, 

236 Ai'menia 

which, as you proceed, increase in height and shade. The 
opposite valley to which you descend is already warm by com- 
parison with the bleak highlands from which you have come. By 
the time the river is approached, the winding reaches of the Kharshut, 
free, even at this season, of ice, great rolling masses of cloud are 
sailing over the mountains, distilling into mingled snow and rain. 
Even at this distance the senses recognise the sea. All the 
characteristics of the border ranges, aligned in a deep belt upon 
the coast, are displayed during the successive stages of a ride 
of two and a half days. If the forests are less luxuriant than 
on the side of the Rion, the view in places recalls, even during 
this season, those tree-clad parapets. Valleys of immense depth 
are overtowered by rocky precipices ; it is essentially a land of 
crest and trough. And just as the scene contrasts with the 
Armenian landscapes, so the people and the types are new. The 
familiar features of the Greek take the place of the Armenians, 
and the ear is greeted by the language of the Greeks.^ Yet 
another pass must be traversed, the wintry pass of Zigana (6640 
feet), and from its further slopes expands a vista of the distant 
sea. The thermometer has risen to 62° by the time the sea- 
board is reached. And there, at Trebizond, the roses blossom in 
the gardens while the Armenian rivers are buried beneath the ice. 

1 Not that all the people one meets of distinctively Greek type are Christians. 
Especially in the valleys most remote from the coast, as in that of the Kharshut, the 
inhabitants of Greek race have largely been converted to Mohammedanism, or have 
become Mohammedan for prudential or worldly motives. So complete has been the 
transformation in some places, that, when I asked my host at Besh Kilisa — a man whose 
physiognomy showed him to be a typical Greek — to what nationality he belonged, he 
replied "Osmanli." A section of the inhabitants of Hamsi Keui— a village south of 
the Zigana — represent a transitional stage. Their children are baptized, but a mollah 
recites prayers over them. They bear a Mohammedan and a Christian name, as, for 
instance, that of Ahmed Apostolos. When they die the papa and the mollah dispute 
the corpse. They have neither church nor mosque. When they meet a Greek they bid 
him kallispera, and, when a Mohammedan, incrhaba. 




Four years had elapsed since the close of my last journey. 
Armenia had in the meanwhile been the scene of tragedies which 
had touched the conscience of the West. Petty disturbances 
among the mountaineers in the wild fastnesses of Sasun, south 
of Mush, were magnified by the provincial authorities into the 
appearance of a revolution, and were suppressed with savage 
cruelty. The example of a single massacre was not sufficient to 
overawe the Armenians ; the Palace had tasted blood, and their 
special agents throughout the provinces were eager for the work 
anci its rewards. Against the counsels of their best officials and 
the entreaties of Turkey's truest friends, the Palace organised 
a series of butcheries on a great scale. The events in Sasun 
were followed by similar atrocities not only in the towns and 
villages inhabited by Armenians but also in the capital itself. 
Europe, deeply pledged to secure good government among the 
Armenians, was unwilling to embark on a policy of decisive 
action, paralysed by the mutual jealousies of the principal Powers. 
During those dark times the country had been closed to travellers ; 
and it was only with the greatest difficulty that I was at length 
enabled to complete the studies which had been interrupted on 
the former occasion by the rigour of winter. 

June 7, 1898. — On a day of early summer, when the air was 
fresh and the sun warm, my friend Oswald and myself set out 
from Trebizond, to perform the journey which forms the subject 
of the last chapter in the reverse sense. I have already described 
the stages from Erzerum to the Vavuk Pass ; but it may be 
desirable to notice briefly the intermediate section between the 
sea and that natural threshold of the Armenian tableland. For 
a distance of over a mile the cJiaussce follows the coast beneath 

238 Armenia 

the shadow of that table-topped mass of dark porphyritic lava 
which is known as Boz Tepe. The view ranges over the con- 
siderable delta of the Pyxitis — a strip of sand and pebbles 
projecting far into the sea, which is discoloured for some distance 
by the suspended sediment. But the large prospects are at once 
lost as you enter the river valley and proceed at right angles to 
your former course. The stream is swirling along, divided into 
several channels, and overhung at a respectable interval by tall 
cliffs. In places the outlines open and disclose a country of 
rolling hills, as where the large and white-faced monastery of 
Aiana is seen high-seated in a charming landscape on the right 
bank. It is indeed an admirable approach to the recesses of the 
Pontic chain, this valley of Deirmen. It leads with much of the 
straightncss and space of a church's nave through the lofty and 
intricate outworks of the range almost to its spine at the Zigana 

Before we had completed ten miles the wooded heights on 
either hand were dotted with the dark forms of the first spruce 
firs. The valley narrows ; the walls grow steeper, and tower to a 
greater altitude ; but you never lose the expanse of sky. If the 
scene recalls Tyrol you are not conscious of confinement ; there is 
none of the chill and darkness of an Alpine glen. The character 
of the landscape is influenced by the alternation of tuffs with 
lavas ; the latter become much darker and more compact. To the 
tuffs are largely due the softer spaces of field and garden ; while 
the lava, which has cooled into a roughly columnar structure, 
produces parapets of immense height and precipitous crags. A 
little below the town of Jevizlik we stood in wonder at the foot 
of a cliff composed of a rock of this description. It fills the angle 
between the main stream and a tributary to the left bank, and it 
must be at least 1500 feet high. The columns of lava suggested 
the appearance of an organ of colossal proportions. And what a 
romantic feature, the bold perspective of the side valley, the 
cultivation carried upwards by almost impossible gradients, the 
vivid green of the young corn contrasting with patches of fallow 
land, coloured a light purplish-brown ! Along the summits of 
the wide amphitheatre of ridges the forest rises against the field 
of the sky. 

Jevizlik, the first station, is reached at about the twentieth 
mile ; it is situated just below the confluence of a considerable 
stream which comes in on the right bank. A rough road diverges 

Revisit Armenia 239 

from the diaussce at this point, and follows the course of the 
tributary. It leads to the famous monastery of Sumelas, a ride 
or sharp walk of three and a half hours. We passed bands of 
pilgrims on their way to this resort— whole families, an entire 
village packed up and piled upon horses, the women astride with 
their babes beside them, the men on foot. The monastery is 
built on a ledge of an almost perpendicular wall of mountain, at 
a height of 4450 feet above sea-level, and of 800 feet above the 
torrent which hisses at the base of the rock. It is placed almost 
at the head of the beautiful valley of Meiriman — a valley which, 
indeed, is narrower than that of the Pyxitis, but which combines 
in its various stages all the features, of this fair land. Orchards 
and stretches of forest trees clothe the easier gradients at the 
mouth of the opening — a large circle of heights soaring up into 
the heaven above purple slopes, where the soil is exposed by the 
plough. Clusters of wooden chalets overlook the winding river, 
and each bolder eminence is crowned by a white, stone chapel. 
As the valley becomes a glen — the term is ill adapted to express 
the scale upon which Nature has worked — the vegetation increases 
in luxuriance and changes in character, until the scene assumes 
that strange and almost supernatural appearance which has found 
such just expression in the weirdness of the Kolchian myths. 
The foliage, which almost obscures the light of the brightest day, 
is composed of alder, lime, walnut and elm, of beech and Spanish 
chestnut, of ash and, on the higher slopes, of tall firs. Trees of 
holly, of azalea and of rhododendron suppl}- an undergrowth 
which at this season is ablaze with bloom. In the autumn the 
pink, poisonous crocus {coldiicwii) springs from the rocks, of double 
the length and size of the ordinary flower. Fungus with crimson 
stools start from the silver lichen, which diffuses an unearthly light. 
Long streamers of grey-green lichen float on the lower branches, 
from which a profusion of creepers are festooned. Here and there 
the thicket opens to an expanse of lawn. The forest is fed by 
the clouds collected in this caldron of Nature ; and from the 
month of May to that of October the windows of the monastery 
are seldom greeted by the rays of the sun (Fig. 175). 

The traveller to Erzerum who is in search of romantic scenery 
could not do better than follow this valley of Meiriman. It is the 
route which I selected upon our return from this second journey ; 
but it is not practicable during the winter months. A steep 
ascent from the head of the glen leads to a country of grassy 

240 Armenia 

uplands, rising gradually to the pass of the Kazikly Dagh. This 
pass is the more easterly counterpart of the Zigana, but exceeds 
it in height by more than looo feet (8290 as against 6640 feet). 
The barrier on the north of the plain of Baiburt is crossed at the 
Kitowa Dagh by a pass of 8040 feet (as against the 6470 feet of 
the Vavuk Pass). Beyond the Kazikly Dagh there is a fair track 
which is used by caravans in "summer ; but between that point 
and Trebizond they pursue a shorter route. This approach to 
the plains of Armenia is almost in a direct line, avoiding the long 
detour by Gumushkhaneh. The journey from the cloister of 
Sumelas to Baiburt may be performed in two days.^ 

On the present occasion we were constrained by perverse 
orders from Constantinople to follow the chaussee. The tributary, 
which we crossed at Jevizlik by a bridge of several arches, 
appeared to bring almost an equal volume of water as the river 
which it feeds. The upper stages of the main valley are pictur- 
esque in character, with none of the gloom and savagery of the 
vale of Meiriman. The slopes on either side terrace upwards into 
the haze of the sky ; and for some miles above Jevizlik they are 
alive with settlements. At mid-height you admire the frequent 
clusters of the villages ; the churches are built on projecting 
pinnacles of rock, and consist of a group of gables surmounted by 
a dome and approached through a belfry with two storeys of open 
arches. A white-faced monastery is seen high up on the opposite 
or left bank of the river ; it fills a niche or natural recess in a 
vertical wall of rock, and its roofs are overhung by the roof of the 
cave. The stream is spanned at frequent intervals by little stone 
bridges with single arches, the arches highly curved and the 
roadway rising to the centre of the bridge. In one place the way 
which led up the cliff-side to a village was flanked at its upper end 
by a strong tower from which the inmates could resist attack from 
below. Above this inhabited zone, at the foot of the firs, near 
the crests of the ridges, sparse hamlets or isolated chalets are just 
discerned in the vague detail of the uppermost slopes. A report 
of guns, sounding distant, comes from one of those eyries where 

1 The following are tlie stages : — Jevizlik — Sumelas, loi miles ; Sumelas across the 
Kazikly Dagh to Tashkopri, 1 1 miles ; Tashkiipri via Tshorak Khan and across the 
Kitowa Dagh to Mezere Khan, i8j miles ; Mezere Khan to Baiburt, 177? miles. From 
Baiburt the summer road to Erzerum 7'iA the Khosabpunar Pass may be taken, the stages 
being: — Baiburt — Maden Khan, 10^ miles; INIaden Khan to Khosabpunar village on 
the south side of the pass (S600 feet), 28 miles ; Khosabpunar village via Maimansur to 
Erzerum, 29 miles. Total distance from Trebizond by this route, 145 miles, as against 
the 199 miles of the chams^e. See Ch. X. p. 225. 

Revisit Armenia 241 

they are celebrating a marriage feast. In the fields, with their 
strange gradients, men and women are at work, the men lithe of 
limb, the women square-set, with skirts to below the knee and thick 
stockings on their legs. It is a dreamy southern scene, in one 
hand beauty, in the other squalor ; and it repeats on a large scale 
the characteristics of those transverse cuttings which extend from 
the coast to the highlands of Asia Minor and are inhabited by a 
population of Greek race. 

The chaussce follows the right bank, at some height above 
the stream, in full possession of the views on either hand. The 
valley maintains its width ; but the nature of the landscape 
changes ; cultivation ceases, and the forest descends to the road. 
Thickets of rhododendron are seen for the first time — the tree-like 
bushes with which we are familiar in England and the large 
flowers. The brakes were a mass of bloom ; a little higher we 
met the azaleas ; the yellow azalea and the pale mauve petals of 
the rhododendron were in the splendour of their latest blossoming. 
In the lush forest we noticed the beech tree, the walnut, and the 
maple, the hazel, the oak and the elm ; the elders were in full 
flower, and the cherry trees were conspicuous for their number 
and size. The more open spaces were covered with masses of 
forget-me-nots ; calices of hellebore, withered yellow, rested on 
the rank grass ; and yellow mullein, filling the air with its subtle 
perfume, rose from among the rocks. Little waterfalls leapt 
through the deep shade of narrow clearings ; we were nearing 
the head of the valley. A bed of sandstone, holding the 
moisture like a sponge, interrupts the lava beds. The ridges 
circle inwards ; the valley becomes an amphitheatre, and its 
stately character is preserved to the last. 

Upon a terrace of this amphitheatre the little settlement of 
Lower Hamsi Keui commands the long perspective towards the 
north. It is distant some fourteen miles from Jevizlik and 
thirty-four from Trebizond. We made our stage at the Upper 
Hamsi Keui, over a mile beyond the Lower, by a continuous 
ascent. It is situated above one of the two larger side valleys 
which converge towards the hamlet first named. It is from here 
that you commence the first portion of the climb to the Zigana 
Dagh, through forest glades in which the spruce firs alternate 
with the beech woods, and which are carpeted with an under- 
growth of rhododendron and azalea and tall palm-leaved bracken. 
As we rose on the following morning above our surroundings we 



looked in vain for the vista of sea, the horizon being veiled in 
mist. Our ears were greeted by the song of nightingales, and 
by the clear call-notes of the cuckoo ; while the plashing of 
innumerable streamlets and waterfalls mingled to a background 
of tremulous sound. Flocks of sheep were passed on their way 
to their summer pastures, and we could hear their liquid bells 
from afar. They were accompanied by shepherds with dogs not 
much smaller than mastiffs, which had long white hair and tails 
like a fox's brush. The side valley is left behind, and then a 
second and still smaller valley ; until the forest ceases and you 
enter the region of dreary heights. But the azalea still continues, 
mounting the ridge like our English gorse and not less riotous of 
flower. Patches of snow remain unmelted even at this season. 
At the saddle of the pass we had covered about 10 miles and 
risen nearly 2600 feet (Upper Hamsi Keui, 4060 feet ; Zigana 
Pass, 6640 feet). 

The slopes are inclined at an angle of about 30 and the 
rock is much decomposed. Time was wanting for a careful 
examination ; but Oswald favoured the conclusion that it is hard 
and holocrystalline, similar in character to that of the Kitowa 
Dagh further east. The descent is long and gradual from the 
pass to the valley of the Kharshut, which eats its way through 
wild mountains to the Black Sea. The road is carried along the 
heights, on the east of a basin of ridges, by a succession of terraces. 
In winter, when the snow spreads a carpet at the foot of the fir 
trees, the view is at once inspiring and superb. But in summer 
the long stretches of barren yellow talus — a trachyte, decomposed 
and weathered a staring yellow, fatigue the eye and repel the 
sense. There is a certain contrast in the vegetation of the 
southern slopes. The luscious forest has disappeared, and so 
have the rhododendra. ; but the azalea and the spruce firs still 
clothe the walls facing the Pontic winds. On the other hand, the 
Scotch fir takes the place of its slenderer rival on the parapets 
which are less exposed to the moisture. At the foot of the main 
descent are placed at intervals three hamlets with numerous 
caravanserais. The first is Maden ; the other two are known 
respectively as the Upper and the Lower Zigana (4330 feet). The 
distance from the pass to the Lower Zigana may be about 4^ to 
5 miles. Thence it is another j\ miles to the bridge over the 
Kharshut (3100 feet). The landscape, of immense extent and of 
the most savage character, is framed in the south by the serrated 

Revisit Armenia 243 

outline of the Giaour Dagh, veined with snow and capped by cloud. 
Between the pass and the hamlets we noticed huge volcanic dikes 
seaming the hillsides with bold causeways of finely crystalline rock. 

The little town of Ardasa on the banks of the Kharshut 
affords shelter for the night. It is placed at a distance of about 
2 miles above the bridge, and of about 24^- miles from the Upper 
Hamsi Keui. The straggling settlement is overtowered by a cliff 
some thousand feet in height, perhaps a limestone and coloured 
a rusty brown. On the summit are seen the fragments of a 
mediaeval castle. Between Ardasa and the pass of Vavuk we 
followed next day the winding river, tracking it up almost to its 
source. The valley is fairly open, with a number of side valleys ; 
but the scene is desolate and bare. Not a remnant of the azalea 
enlivens the landscape ; the vegetation adheres to the margin of 
the water — fruit trees and willows, the large mauve flowers of the 
field-iris, hawthorn in bloom, the yellow blossoms of the barberry. 
There is a certain air of comfort in the pretty wooden houses 
with their gables and wooden roofs, shining white. But this note 
is often and quickly lost in the sounding discords of a chaotic 
Nature — the shales and limestones compressed into almost im- 
possible contortions and baked and uplifted by huge bosses of 
igneous rock. Beyond such a devil's gorge, which is overhung 
by a robber's eyrie, is situated the considerable town of Giimush- 
khaneh, famous for its silver mines, now no longer worked. You 
leave it on your right and pass through a lower suburb, at a 
distance from Ardasa of about 16^ miles. 

Another i o miles brings you to the large village of Tekke ; 
and about 2 miles further a bridge crosses the Kharshut. It 
takes a road which here diverges to follow a tributary to the 
left bank, and which leads across the Giaour Dagh to Erzinjan. 
We sl,ept at Murad Khan, a comfortable shelter, having made 
a stage of about 33 miles (alt. 4430 feet). On the morning 
of the loth of June we again pursued the river, now become 
shallow, and were soon passing beneath the castled crag of Kalajik, 
one of the wonders of the journey to Erzerum (Ch. X., Fig. i 74, 
taken in winter). The size of the ruin and the scale of the 
outworks, which defend each ledge of the limestone precipice, far 
surpass the similar fastnesses in this wild valley. At 7 miles 
we left the stream to ascend by easy gradients the gentle slopes 
of the Vavuk Pass (6468 feet). At the saddle we had covered a 
distance of rather over 10 miles. 

244 Armenia 

We stood on the threshold of the Armenian tableland,' beneath 
a new climate and in face of a new scene. The contrast impressed 
Oswald, who saw it for the first time, and who at once seized the 
special features of this new world. We had crossed the zone of 
sparse fir trees ; the summit is completely barren ; the plain 
before us, as well as the rounded outlines of the opposite hills, 
devoid of vegetation of any kind. Only by the margin of a 
slowly-flowing river beneath us beds of buttercups marked out in 
patches its idle course. Limestones and shales are the material 
of this and the further eminences ; it is a country of soft, swelling 
downs on a large scale. The clouds stand arrested on the 
higher summits of this barrier ; the sky beyond is pellucid, the 
air bracing, the tints warm. As we made our way beneath the 
night to our distant goal beyond Baiburt the evening star was 
shining with the brilliance of a beacon, and my friend mistook 
the milky way for a luminous cloud. When we arrived in 
Erzerum (6168 feet) on the 14th of June the lilac filled the 
gardens with its heavy scent. It was commencing to blossom 
in our native country before we left its shores behind. 



The site of Erzerum is already familiar to my reader ; he sees 
her towers and minarets on the southern margin of a lake-Hke 
plain, and raised on the dais of a fan of detritus from the southern 
line of heights. He knows the large surroundings of that city of 
inspiring prospects : the long and regular line of the block of 
mountains in the north, with their Sheikhjik, their Akhbaba, Jejen 
and Kop ; the vague and gloomy passage of the Gurgi Boghaz 
through those mountains ; and in the east the transverse parapet 
which interrupts the issue eastwards, that freak of Nature, the 
Deveh Boyun. The southern barrier, which rises in the peak of 
Palandoken to a height of 4500 feet above the town, would 
appear to constitute an impassable obstacle to traffic ; and in fact 
precludes it during the winter months. Yet there are several 
natural openings in the steep slopes of that barrier, leading to the 
uplands of Tekman on its further side. Of these the principal 
passage is that of Palandoken, crossing the so-called crater of the 
Palandoken — Eyerli Dagh. 

June 20. — Our course was directed up the fan of detritus to this 
Palandoken Pass.^ Our little horses, full of corn, curveted along 
the path through the dreary waste of water-worn stones. Erzerum 
was soon behind us, lost already in the expanse. What a contrast 
between these cities of Asia and those of Europe with their 
suburbs and villas ! These repose upon their plains like a ship 
upon the ocean, which you speak, and all is soon again blank. 

1 The following are my estimates of the mileage distances along our route to Khinis : 
Erzerum — Palandoken Pass, 7j miles ; Palandoken Pass — Madrak, 8 miles ; Madrak 
— Khedonun, ii^ miles; Khedonun — Kherbesor, 8| miles; Kherbesor — Ali Mur, 7 
miles ; Ali Mur — Khinis, i8 miles. Total, 60^ miles. Such estimates throughout this 
work are based on pace and on time occupied ; and the results have been checked by the 
positions fixed by cross bearings. 

246 Armenia 

In half- an -hour from the enceinte we gained a metalled road, 
which follows the course of a torrent of some size. It leads to 
two modern forts, planted high on the southern slope, on either 
side of the pass. The pass itself is placed beneath the peak of 
Palandoken, upon its western flank. The road goes winding up 
the gorge, and along the eastern side of the so-called crater, 
crossing and re-crossing the torrent by a number of bridges. 

A nameless and minor mountain of symmetrical proportions 
and vaulted form rises on the northern margin of the cirque. 
We passed between it and the slopes of Palandoken, supported 
by the outworks of the larger mass. Patches of snow lay on the 
grass at this increased altitude, their melting remnants fringed by 
bright fieldflowers. On the banks were Pulsatillas, with their 
drooping bells and scent of wine; buttercups and marsh marigolds 
in the beds of the runnels ; forget-me-nots in profusion on every 
side. Still the scene was bleak in character ; and the sailing 
cumulus clouds sent their shadows over a surface which has been 
worn by ice and snow and water, and seems alien even to the 
hardiest plants. Such was the appearance of the irregular caldron 
on our right hand — a yawning hollow sapping the bases of the 
adjacent peaks. Closed on the south, it sends its drainage 
through deep valleys to the plain. The white face of a limestone 
rock interrupts the more grassy spaces, and is varied by the 
darker serpentines. The soaring heights around the cirque are 
of eruptive volcanic origin, and display the lava flows. After a 
sharp ascent, the cJianssce reaches the standing southern wall of 
this caldron, and is taken, in a fine gallery, for some distance 
along its northern slope. Its cliff-like outline extends from the 
heights of Palandoken to those of Eyerli in the west. A turn of 
the road conducts us to the pass (9780 feet). 

It was three o'clock ; but the snow lay in sheets over the 
hollows, and the temperature was only 46° Fahrenheit. Grey 
clouds veiled the sky in the northern landscape, and were 
collected in inky masses about the snowy peaks of the Chorokh 
region. The view in that direction, and along the two parallel 
lines of heights which border the course of the Frat, impressed us 
in a double sense. On the one hand it was the great height of 
the summits in the north, which now showed up behind th'e cone 
of Sheikhjik ; we concluded that they must belong to the group 
of mountains in which the Chorokh has its source. The other 
fact which appeared plain was the rising and massing of both 

Across the Central Tableland to Khinis 247 

lines of heights in the far west. Following the chain upon 
which we stood across the slopes of the Eyerli Dagh, or pursuing 
the outline of the opposite barrier across the plain, the long per- 
spective westwards met in shining masses of mountain, covered 
with snow and with precipitous sides. In the case of the 
opposite barrier, Kop and Jejen and Akhbaba were dwarfed and 
humbled by those Georgian heights upon the one side, and, on 
the other, by those giants in the west. 

A soldier, muffled in an overcoat, descends upon us from the 
nearest fort, and bids us to desist from our investigations. — The 
tripod had been erected : and they could see us taking bearings, 
which in this country, devoid of maps, is regarded as spying. 
But the bearings had been taken, and we were not loth to leave. 
The road becomes a track as you descend the southern slopes ; 
we might say farewell to roads for many weeks. 

Tekman lies before us — a vast plateau, a continuous basin, 
stretching towards the foot of a gently vaulted opposite mountain 
with long horizontal outline and shield-shaped slopes. It is the 
outline of the Bingol Dagh ; such its appearance at this distance ; 
it is thirty-two miles away as the crow flies. It constitutes 
the opposite rim of the basin, the counterpart of these heights in 
the north. Snow is lying in large quantities even upon its lower 
contours, a fact explained by their northern aspect and rounded 
shape (Fig. 176).^ The southern declivities of the barrier upon 
which we are standing are only flecked with snow. Bingol is 
little more than the culmination upon the horizon of the long 
outline of the tableland — a snow-clad ridge of little relative 
height. In places hard, black rock shows through the shining 
canopy, just below the crest of the ridge. In the east the 
highest point is but an eminence of the cliff-like parapet ; but in 
the west there is a low vaulting which resembles a peak. In 
front of this western summit rises a mass of dark rock. 

No intervening forms obstruct the view over the basin to that 

long, low, east-west ridge. Nor further round, towards the east, 

is the landscape interrupted, except at an immense interval and 

by imposing shapes. At a distance of fifty-two miles, a second 

shield-shaped giant is less conspicuous because only streaked 

with snow. It is Khamur, a volcanic mass beyond the plain of 

' The illustration was taken from a hill near Khedonun, almost in the centre of the 
basin-like area. But the appearance both of basin and of mountain are substantially 
the same from the Palandoken Pass. I may refer my reader to the similar landscape 
taken in winter (Ch. \"III. Fig. i6i). 

248 Armenia 

Khinis — a plain concealed by these higher levels, but indicated 
in places by a sharp edge, where the plateau breaks abruptly to 
the floor of the plain. As the train of Khamur declines, a very 
lofty and pronounced mountain towers up into the sky. None 
of our attendants know its name ; but it is the Akh Dagh, seen 
in profile, the boundary of the Khinis region on the north. It is 
forty miles distant ; such are the limits in that direction ; while in 
the west the eye is arrested by outlines from the adjacent heights. 
We cannot see Sipan for haze. 

A better standpoint than that of the pass from which to 
realise this region is afforded by the brow of a hill a few miles 
west of the village of Madrak, to which we mounted on the 
following day. What a bleak and lonely scene ! A country of 
rolling dowais extends on every side, framed by the distant land- 
marks just described. Yet the prevailing hue is not that of 
grass, even at this season ; but of naked limestone, weathered a 
pale ochre, or of serpentine, dull-green or bluish-grey. Both 
rocks compose hills of a gentl\' rounded character ; the lime- 
stones are most often capped by slabby lavas, which resist the 
crumbling and contribute to the horizontal appearance of all 
higher forms. The few clouds which have scaled the barrier of 
the Palandoken send liquid shadows over the undulating expanse. 
Of cultivation there is little — in places a patch of light reddish- 
brown ; the stones are thickly strewn upon the fallows. The 
sparse hamlets, built of mud and stone, are lost in the folds of 
the hills. 

We were disappointed with the flora. We saw whole beds of 
white anemones ; vigorous fennel and slender ferns filled the 
crevices between the rocks. The long grass was coloured by 
the ubiquitous forget-me-nots ; magenta primulas flourish in the 
frequent little marshes, and masses of buttercups along the 
margins of the streams. Such flowers, although common and 
humble, filled the air with perfume ; and few countries in the 
world are endowed with such strong, sweet air. The earlier 
hour and the clearer day enlarged the scope of our vision ; and 
the snow-robed Sipan, a second Ararat, was a ghostly presence 
in the south-east. We strove to identify the outlines on the 
extreme horizon of the half circle ; but several even of the 
larger masses were not marked on any map. In the west the 
general level of the country was higher, and with less distinctive 
forms. In that direction the opposite heights, of Bingol and of 

Across the Central Tableland to Khinis 249 

Palandoken — the rims of the basin — appeared in perspective 
ahnost to meet. And over the edge of the Bingol series you 
could see the mountains on the north of the Murad, emerging in 
the far south-west. Looking backwards to the northern barrier, 
we saw the white face of the limestone emerging in patches from 
the rough grass on its slopes. It is little more than the elevated 
and broken rim of the plateau country over which we were making 
our way. The Akh Dagh showed up boldly on the limits of the 
shallow synclinal described by these wintry, waterworn uplands. 
Deeply eroded in that direction, they present a flat and more 
uniform surface as they stretch, mile upon mile, with gently 
shelving contours, to the opposite slopes of Bingol. 

What track will you follow, or. what course will you shape 
towards Khinis and its fertile plain ? The natives take a route 
by Tashkesen and Chaurma, and descend to the plain over the 
Akhviran Pass. They travel in armed caravans. We had passed 
such a cavalcade on the road from Palandoken, at the head of 
which, surrounded by attendants, armed to the teeth, rode a 
woman, muffled and veiled. But a portion of this route I had 
already followed during my former journey ; and I was anxious 
to penetrate into the little -known region in the direction of 
Bingol. The Kurdish village of Madrak is situated on the further 
side of an affluent of the Araxes, at a distance of some eight 
miles from the Palandoken Pass. Although it lies in a hollow, 
near a marsh, abounding in snipe, it is about looo feet higher 
than Erzerum (7061 feet). Our zaptieh professed to know a 
track which led in the desired direction, and which should take 
us by a direct route to Khinis. Starting at three o'clock, after a 
morning of storm and rain, we followed a path which conducted 
us in a southerly direction across the downs. A single hamlet 
was passed by, and after a ride of over an hour we overlooked a 
spacious valley and a considerable stream. On its left bank is 
placed the considerable Kurdish village of Duzyurt ; the gay 
dresses of the inhabitants brightened the scene. We forded the 
stream, which must join the one on the north of Madrak ; the 
water was pellucid, but barely reached to our horses' knees. 
Regaining the uplands on its further side we enjoyed a larger 
prospect ; the whole of Bingol was exposed to view as well as 
some of the outlines in the east. Forget-me-nots shed a shimmer 
of blue through the grass which, as usual in this region, was 
thickly strewn with stones. At half-past five we were high up 

250 Armenia 

and in face of a second river valley ; some rude buildings were 
collected on the down. We followed the course of this valley 
some little distance towards the east, and pitched our tents near 
the hamlet of Khedonun {6'j i 3 feet). 

A band of armed Kurds, richly attired, were watering their 
horses, or strolling idly along the banks of a little stream. The 
hamlet is situated on its left bank. The inhabitants of this region 
are at the present day exclusively Kurds ; but I was informed 
that, as regards the district of Tekman in general, they are of 
comparatively recent importation. The Armenian inhabitants 
left en masse with the armies of Paskevich, and the Kurds 
occupied their vacant villages. The Kurds of Khedonun were 
said to belong to the Jibranli tribe — a tribe which is strong 
in the caza of Varto. But among the Kurdish population some 
have been brought from the distant vilayet of Diarbekr, at the 
head of the Mesopotamian plains. These belong to the Zireki. 
Our people fraternised with the horsemen ; they composed the 
escort of a bridegroom who had come to the village from a neigh- 
bouring hamlet in quest of a bride. The wedding was to take 
place on the following day. 

Although settled on the land, these Kurds are distinctly tribal, 
and glory in the fact of being Kurds. Indeed throughout the 
country which I crossed during my second journey, if I asked 
people whether their village were " Osmanli," I received the 
emphatic answer, " Kurd." Khedonun may serve as a sample of 
the settlements of this district. It seemed fairly well-to-do. The 
wealth of the villagers consists of their flocks and herds, upon the 
produce of which they subsist. During winter they stable them 
in the group of buildings which we had passed, and last winter a 
pack of wolves destroyed their flock. They said that bears 
abounded in the neighbourhood. They sow a little wheat, and 
plant some onions and cabbage ; they profess to have tried 
potatoes, but it was a failure, owing to the late frosts. Indeed 
the night was very cold, not much above freezing ; and even at 
ten o'clock on the following morning the shade temperature was 
only 62, although from sunrise the day had been warmed by a 
brilliant sun. The wedding was extremely picturesque. The 
procession, all on horseback, made a circuit of the countryside in 
the lap of which the hamlet lies. The bride was robed in a red 
shawl, and sat astride of a milk-white horse. A veil of yellow 
silk, which floated in the breeze, completely concealed her face. 

Across the Central Tableland to Khmis 251 

On either side rode two women, veiled and dressed in white. 
The horsemen, in gala attire, followed or flanked the ladies ; all 
proceeded at a walk. But from time to time this irksome restraint 
was broken through by an explosion of wildness ; and a shouting 
warrior, mad with excitement, would dash forward at full gallop, 
brandishing his rifle like a stick. 

The Araxes, or Egri Chai, as it is called in the district, flows 
at a little distance south of the hamlet and receives the runnel 
which skirts Khedonun. That it was the Araxes appeared plain 
from the volume of water which it brought, from the direction from 
which it was flowing, and from our subsequent research. Mount- 
ing to an eminence south of the village, we observed some lofty 
mountains on the sky-line in the west. The boldest peak among 
them lay almost above the course of the river, as it meandered 
towards the east. One of the Kurds knew that peak by the name 
of Sheikhjik. The relation of these mountains to the plateau 
country we were enabled to ascertain at a later date. Looking 
up the valley we could see that it was carved out of calcareous 
deposits, overlaid by flows of lava or tuff. These deposits, which 
are without doubt lacustrine in character, extend for some miles 
towards Bingol. 

June 23. — After fording the Aras we made our way for some 
considerable distance up the fairly broad valley of another little 
river, which was already close to its confluence. The valley 
favoured our course, having an almost meridional direction ; the 
river was coming straight down from Bingol. The peculiar charm 
of this region is the number of delicious streams which furrow the 
breezy downs. With their grassy valleys and blue surface they 
refresh and please the eye, and in part atone for the absence of 
trees. The sides of the valley were seen to consist of a very 
white lacustrine limestone ; these rocks were varied a few miles 
further, and at length almost superseded, by sheets of dark brown 
tuff. Among such surroundings is situated the considerable 
Kurdish village of Kalaji, backed by a low cliff of rectangular 
blocks of tuff, and overlooking the stream from its left bank. 
At this point we crossed the river and regained the uplands ; our 
landmarks were again in view. The snowy peak which we called 
Sheikhjik lay on our right, above high outlines of these undulating 
downs. Behind us stretched the outline of the Palandoken 
heights ; while before us rose the western and more pronounced 
eminence of the long ridge of Bingol. Our guide was making 



for a village at the foot of Bingol which bears the name of 

Hitherto we had been pursuing an almost southerly course ; 
it was time that we should be turning towards the east. This 
wide curve is dictated by a block of limestone hills, which inter- 
poses a sea of peaks, with little relative height, between Khedonun 
and the plain of Khinis. We had now reached the base of the 
platform which supports Bingol ; it breaks off just on the south 
of the village of Kherbesor in a line of cliffs, which concealed the 
eastern summit. We were in the district of Shushar ; our further 
progress was directed up a wide valley between those cliffs and 
the block of hills with the rounded peaks. The cliffs appeared to 
consist of a dark lava, overlying calcareous lake deposits, which 
again overlay the tuffs of the plain of Kherbesor. At a distance 
of some five miles, Vv^e crossed a col (7340 feet) over a ridge of 
limestone, joining the block of hills to the uppermost extremity of 
the cliffs. Thence we descended to a spacious and roughly- 
circular valley, a kind of caldron among the bleak heights. It 
sends its drainage to the Araxes in a stream which skirts the 
eastern outworks of the block of limestone hills. The hamlet of 
All Mur, which nestles in the lap of this hollo\\', has an elevation 
of 7180 feet. It belongs to the district of Khinis. It takes its 
name from a grey-beard who became our guide on the following 
day, and who was the founder of the settlement. Ali Mur and 
his people are Kizilbash Kurds. He told me that they had 
found on this site the relics of a village known as Kharaba, and 
a cemetery which he believed was Mussulman. 

Next morning we made our way in a south-easterly direction 
up the amphitheatral heights. In less than an hour we arrived 
at the col (7490 feet), a ridge of limestone hardened to marble, 
just outside the limits of the lavas of Bingol. This pass lies some 
miles south-west of that of Akhviran, and, like that pass, leads 
down from the plateau country to the lower levels of the plain of 
Khinis. Our immediate surroundings were lofty downs from 
which rose the ridge of Bingol, both summits being fully exposed. 
Beyond a vast trough, in which the plain of Khinis lay, the mass 
of Khamur loomed large (Fig. 177). In the south-east soared the 
snowy shape of Sipan, infinitely high. 

As we descended we overlooked two deeply-eroded canons, 
that on our right hand being much the more pronounced. The 
stream which flows within it is known as the Bingol Su ; a smaller 

Across the Cenh^al Tableland to Kliinis 253 

affluent was coming down the minor canon. All these waters find 
their way round the Khamur elevation by a long course to the 
Murad. The face of the canon of the Bingol Su displayed lavas 
and tuffs to a depth of about 1 00 feet ; these were seen to overlie 
the limestone, and it was evident that they had come from Bingol. 
Similar terraces capped the cliffs of the minor stream. The ride 
over the tongue of high land which separates the canons was not 
only remarkable for the wide prospects which opened before us, 
but also for the refreshing change to a little vegetation and to 
a kinder climate. Little oak trees clothe tHe slopes, and an 
abundance of wild roses ; these and purple peonies were in full 
bloom. When we reached the bed of the smaller river and, after 
fording it, followed the Bingol Su, the pleasantness of our first 
impression was increased. The valley had become wide, but with 
high cliffs on either side ; that on the right showed a face of lava, 
capped by tuff. These tuffs in the Bingol region resemble blocks 
of masonry, and have the horizontal outline of a wall. The 
heights on the left bank were of marble. The river winds like a 
snake through a fairly wide meadow, in which the grass was 
vividly green. Tall willows spread their shade over the crystal- 
clear water ; and our English fieldflowers, the poppy being most 
conspicuous, coloured the luscious undergrowth. Grave storks 
were busy in the marshy places ; the song of nightingales was 
heard in the groves. The limbs relaxed beneath this summer ; 
we were loth to leave the sweet valley after a ride within it of 
three-quarters of an hour. The river enters a gorge before issuing 
into the plain ; our path took us up the heights above its right 
bank. For some time we enjoyed fine views over the level 
country in the east, and then descended to the bed of a tributary. 
Here I greeted and Oswald admired the lonely " church in the 
valley." ^ /\ little later we arrived on the edge of the canon in 
which reposes the town of Khinis (5550 feet). 

1 See Ch. \III. p. iS8. 

Fig. 178. Kurdish DanciiNG Bt 



We pitched our tents upon the plain, above the caiion, on soil 
consisting of a deposit of lacustrine sands and gravels, overlying 
the lavas and tuffs from Bingol. Far and wide, in an immense 
half circle, stretched the even, treeless surface — a surface scarcely 
less blank or less receptive of the hues of the sky than the waters 
which once rippled there. In the opposite direction rose the 
shield-shaped mass of Bingol ; we stood at the foot of the several 
terraces of lava which mount like steps from the plain to the 
upper platform, whence volcanic emissions on a large scale have 
poured towards the lower levels. Following the outline north- 
wards, on the confines of the plain, its general character is that of 
a long bank, with scarcely perceptible declivity ; until, about in 
the region of the pass over which we had journeyed, it again rises 
and becomes almost horizontal, curving over into the precipitous 
marbles of the Akh Dagh, which oppose a barrier of commanding 
proportions in the north. The flat edge of the Tekman high- 
lands is due to a capping of lava, from which the Akh Dagh 

From Kliinis to Tutakh 255 

.limestones are free. In the recess of the curve, and in front of 
the horizontal outline stands a hill of marble with a gently rounded 
summit. The eye returns to the series of gloomy terraces lead- 
ing upwards to the eastern summit of Bingol. Deep canons sear 
the lower slopes. 

Khinis was little changed since I had last stood in its gloomy 
valley ; but I noticed a larger sprinkling of Kurds with the 
vulture features, and a greater display of the Hamidiyeh ensign in 
their lambskin caps. They appeared to have nothing to do ; but 
the Armenian craftsmen were, as usual, busy at work in their 
booths. The old, outspoken Kaimakam was dead. I could 
scarcely conceal my feelings when I was introduced to his successor, 
who, on his part, was at some pains to dissemble his want of ease. 
It was my old acquaintance, the Kaimakam of Karakilisa ; but I 
refrained from alluding to the adventure about the gun, I was 
lost in astonishment at the change in his appearance. Four 
years ago he was a supple young man, full of spirits, proud of his 
wit, and spending his leisure in hunting Kurds. He had become 
middle-aged, almost old. His eyes had lost their lustre and his 
figure its shape. He rolled on the divan as he spoke. I 
enquired after Ali Bey, the rascally Karapapakh ; the reply came 
that he too was dead. He had pined away — such was his phrase 
— under Government surveillance. The resourceful character of 
my old host was the one quality which appeared to remain to 
him. My cook had mutinied that morning, and could not be 
found anywhere ; but he soon succeeded in tracking him out. 
He seemed to regret the society of the stupid miralais, the 
delighted gallery to which he used to play. A single companion 
of this description was vouchsafed to him at Khinis — an officer 
of the regular army stationed in the town to drill the Kurdish 
yeomanry. I enquired of this individual whether I could be 
shown a regiment exercising. He replied that they were called 
out only during April. Had they trained last April ? The 
answer was in the negative, but it was hoped they would do so 
next year. They were very brave men. 

My present object was to follow the course of the Murad from 
Tutakh to Melazkert.^ By shaping a direct course to the former 
of these places, we might become involved in an intricate, 

1 The following were our stages to Tutakh: — Khinis — Dedeveren, 17 miles; 
Dedeveren — Gunduz, 8 miles ; Gunduz — Gopal, 9. miles ; Gopal — Rashan, 8j miles ; 
Rashan — Alkhes, 23^ miles, several of which might have been saved ; Alkhes — Tutakh, 
I Si miles. Total, 84^ miles. 

256 Armenia 

mountainous country ; but, on the other hand, we should avoid 
the beds of the rivers, and become better acquainted with the 
configuration of the land. Leaving Khinis soon after noon on 
the 26th of June, we gained the valley of the Bingol Su ; and, as 
far as the large Armenian village of Chevermeh, followed its 
tortuous channel. Low cliffs, composed of lacustrine deposits, 
border the meadows through which it flows on either hand. 
Chevermeh, where we forded the stream, has some 150 ant-hill 
houses ; it is surrounded by a pleasant oasis of willow trees, which 
cluster at the confluence of the Teghtap Su. A few small fields 
of potato and of vegetable marrow indicated a rather higher 
standard of life. A hedge of pink wild roses was a pleasure to 
see. Several very young girls, almost naked, were playing in the 
shade by the water, and we were surprised to observe the fairness 
of their hair. Some of the villagers are Protestants, devoted 
disciples of Mr. Chambers, the head of the American Mission at 
Erzerum. They are indebted to him for relief during the past 
years of bad harvests ; but they professed themselves confident of 
an excellent harvest during the present year. The missionaries 
have established a school and orphanage in their midst. The 
village reflects the greatest credit upon the Americans, the people 
being well spoken and polite. They have their share, too, of 
material prosperity ; and we had seldom seen such herds of cattle 
and droves of horses. 

Having gained the heights on the left bank of the river, we 
struck obliquely across the plain, in the direction of the Akh 
Dagh, which shone in the softening glow. It is well named tJie 
ivJiite mountain, being composed of hard calcareous rock, which 
scarcely supports a trace of vegetation. Seen from in front, it 
forms a chain many miles in length, inclined, roughly speaking, 
towards south-east. It has been carved out into valleys of great 
depth, from which rise a succession of bold peaks. This portion 
of the plain of Khinis is little cultivated, and in a most hap- 
hazard manner. There is, however, an abundance of water, and, 
if stony, the soil is fairly fertile. From, time to time we were 
compelled to turn aside from a patch of corn which already was in 
ear. The large Armenian village of Kozli was seen reposing on 
the basal slope of the Akh Dagh. Another Armenian settlement, 
that of Yeni Keui, lay directly upon our course. The day was 
drawing to a close as we approached Dedeveren, a Kurdish village 
where we decided to camp. Wc had been travelling through a 

From K/iiuis to T2Uakk 257 

country which was typically Armenian — a spacious plain, quite 
treeless, but clothed with warm and delicate hues, and framed in 
the distance by mountains of great individuality. In one direction 
itwas Bingol ; in another Khamur ; while Sipan stood so high that 
he could be seen from the river valley, always a ghostly presence 
in the sky. We pitched our tents a little distance west of the 
village, and looked across its stacks of tezek and wreathing smoke 
to the dim white form of Sipan. It is characteristic of Kurds 
that they never approach one another if they have anything to 
communicate. They remain at a distance and shout. Such 
clamour is at its height towards evening, when the flocks and herds 
are brought in from the pastures. Groups of gaily-dressed people 
had gathered round us ; a little boy, stepping forward, makes an 
offering of a snow-white rabbit. The setting sun sheds a glow of 
orange and amber above the horizontal outline of Bingol. A 
single group of clouds, torn into tatters, as by a storm, repose 
motionless against the lights of the western sky. As those lights 
wane a crescent moon has risen above the white mountam, and a 
little dew falls. Soon the watchman sends his long-sustained cry 
into the night, arousing the bark and howling of the dogs. 

Next morning we proceeded towards the extremity of the 
Akh Dagh, where it sinks into the plain. After passing a copious 
spring, welling up in a little basin (the source of the Akher Gol 
Su), we reached the Armenian hamlet of Gunduz. Our path had 
led us over ground which was fairly high, and was composed of 
travertine. A new mountain had come to view behind the 
Khamur heights. Although of imposing size, it is not placed 
upon maps ; and none of our people knew its name. It was the 
bold and isolated Bilejan. From Gunduz we made an excursion 
to the banks of the Bingol Su, at the large Armenian village of 
Karachoban. The stream was winding at the base of the 
Khamur heights, through a river-valley about a mile in width. 
The fact that these heights are not the train of a volcano, as their 
appearance might suggest, had already been divined as we made 
our way at a distance ; it was now established beyond doubt. 
They were seen to consist of lacustrine deposits ; higher up, 
patches of white limestone emerged from the scanty bush. The 
lavas of Khamur rose at once above and behind them, towering 
up in terraces. The block of mountain had become low ; the 
river pierces its extremities about two miles below the village. 
There it assumes its natural course, so long interrupted, and 
VOL. II s 

258 Armenia 

meanders idly to the Murad. The Khamur heights are crossed 
by a track which we could see from the plain of Khinis in the 
neighbourhood of Dedeveren. A portion or the whole of that 
section of the block is known as Zirnek Dagh. 

While we were returning to Gunduz a party of four horsemen 
were seen galloping towards us from Karachoban. They proved 
to be an officer of zaptiehs and three men. We had received a 
summons, when in the village, to visit the officer; but had excused 
ourselves from want of time. It was a forbidding picture, these 
zaptiehs living at free quarters in an Armenian village. The 
fierce and almost black face of the officer fawned obsequiously 
upon us when he had learnt who we were. 

From Gunduz we made our way over some grassy heights 
which continue the outline of the Akh Dagh. They are composed 
of intrusive rock, mainly basic in character. The marble of the 
Akh Dagh, dipping to the south-east, is interrupted by them ; and 
the range, as such, is brought to an end. The pass across them 
is low (6265 feet), but it commands fine prospects over the 
country beyond the plain of Khinis. A portion of the Akh Dagh 
comes to view, seen on its reverse side. Two bold ridges were 
observed, plunging in an east-north-east direction, down from the 
summit region to a little river. It became clear that the axis of the 
range, as seen from the plain of Khinis, does not correspond with 
its axis of elevation. In fact the Akh Dagh appears to consist 
of a number of ridges, ranged in echelon towards east-north-east. 
A sprinkling of snow rested on the north-eastern slopes, from 
which those on the south-west were entirely free. Sipan was 
exposed from foot to summit, answered further west by another 
almost insular mass, the sombre rock and jagged outline of 
Bilejan. Vast tracts of plain were outspread at our feet — without 
a tree, with only a few rare patches of cultivation, the soil, where 
exposed by the plough, being coloured a rich brown. The air 
which we were breathing was strong and invigorating, while the 
sun, even near five o'clock, was warm. Motionless grey clouds 
were suspended over the Akh Dagh ; towards evening they 
increased in gloom ; it lightened, and a few drops of rain fell. 
Such is the counterpart upon the tableland of the storms of the 
Pontic region. A village lay below us at the beginnings of the 
tracts of plain ; it was the Armenian village of Gopal, in which we 
were to pass the night (5643 feet). 

One often wonders, while encamping in such a village as 

From Khinis to Tiitakh 259 

Gopal how the burden of life can be sustained by its inhabitants. 
Their property, their hves, and the chastity of their women are at 
stake from day to day. They exist under a perpetual Reign of 
Terror ; and Fear, the most degrading, the most exhausting of 
human passions, is their companion from hour to hour. Con- 
spicuous in this village were a band of Hasananli Kurds, parasites, 
no doubt, on the industrious Armenians. A Kurdish agha, in a 
gay dress which displayed some beautiful embroidered silk, visited 
us in our tent. We admired the sheath of his dagger, which was 
finely chased. Between these Kurds and the petty officials and 
the hungry zaptiehs, the Armenian cultivator hovers on the 
margin between life and death. From time to time a revolution 
is invented by an ambitious functionary, and the village becomes 
the scene of bloodcurdling deeds. 

Gopal is situated at the confluence of two little streams which 
collect the drainage of the mountainous country on the east of the 
Akh Dagh, and issue upon the plain near the village. The spot 
is indicated on Kiepert's map by the site of a place named 
Karakeupru ; but we were assured that no such village exists in 
the neighbourhood, and that Gopal had never borne this name. 
Further doubts as to the topography of the map decided us on an 
excursion to the point where the streams, which unite at Gopal, 
discharge into the Bingol Su. Our guide conducted us across 
the plain, which has here the character of downs, through which 
the river flows in a deeply-eroded bed. Gopal itself rests on a 
wide flat of alluvial land ; and the level of the plain on the south 
and east is appreciably higher than that of the plain of Khinis. 
It has, indeed, been flooded with sheets of lava, which have 
probably issued from several points of emission at the base of the 
hills which confine it on the north. These lavas appear to have 
flowed towards the south-east ; in places they are overlaid by 
calcareous marls. Spaces of grass occur which are almost free 
from stone, and over which it is a pleasure to canter. On the 
horizon rise Sipan and Bilejan. In the middle distance we 
remarked a bold escarpment of limestone which we had noticed 
at Karachoban. It forms one side of the gorge through which 
the Bingol Su issues from the plain of Khinis. The beds were 
seen to be dipping almost directly towards Sipan ; and they are 
probably continued across the river into the Khamur heights. 
After a ride of over an hour, we arrived at the tongue of high 
land filling the fork between the two rivers. Deep below us, at 

2 6o Armenia 

the foot of the cliffs, which are here composed of Hmestone, 
meandered the meeting streams. In one direction we looked up 
the gorge of the Bingol Su ; in another towards the face of the 
cHff on the left bank of the Gopal Su, which must be several 
hundred feet high. The village of Murian, on its right bank, a 
little above the confluence, was a mere speck in the bed of the 
river at our feet. But we could see its inhabitants running in all 
directions, the size of ants, and like ants which have been disturbed. 
Horsemen came spurring up the steep side of the precipice, of 
which we occupied the neck. Our position was so strong that we 
had full leisure for our occupations, myself with the mapping, 
Oswald with the rocks. Krimizi Tuzla is neither at nor near this 
confluence, as the map of Kiepert shows. The joint waters flow 
off towards Bayaz Tuzla, which, however, was invisible. The eye 
follows their winding reaches for some distance as they cut their 
way through a succession of low, white hills. Murian belongs to 
the vilayet of Bitlis, and Gopal to that of Erzerum. 

In the meantime the horsemen had formed in line on the 
level ground north of our position. They proved to be a band 
of Kurds in the employ of a Kaimakam who resides in [this 
remote village. That official stepped forward and saluted us 
with deference ; at his side rode a sergeant of the regular army, 
commissioned to drill the Kurds. These are members of the 
great Hasananli tribe. The Kaimakam escorted us for a part of 
the way to Gopal, over the spacious downs. I employed my 
brief experience with yeomanry in England in the endeavour to 
put his retinue through some simple exercises. The sergeant 
translated the words of command. But it was impossible to keep 
them in line for any time. They would burst forward, each 
trooper vying with his neighbour, and careering over the plain, 
the rifle brandished like a spear. The more I saw of Kurds the 
deeper grew my impression that they would be completely 
worthless in time of war. 

On the outskirts of Gopal were encamped some gypsies, who 
■subsist by making sieves.^ It was late in the afternoon of the 28th 
of June before we left the village, and mounted the cliff on the left 
bank of the stream. For several miles we rode in a north-easterly 
direction across the upland plain. These levels extend from the 
ridges of the Akh Dagh, in the west, to a barrier of marble heights 
ivhich rose on our point of course, and appeared to be continued 

> See Ch. VIII. p. 178. 

From Khinis to Tutakh 261 

southwards in a roughly south-east line. The prospect over the 
region in the direction of Lake Van disclosed an immense area of 
comparatively even country, limited only by the insular masses of 
Sipan and Bilejan. These masses were in some sense linked by 
the long outline of a range of hills, which, in fact, compose the 
southern edge of the Murad basin, and beyond which repose the 
waters of the great lake. Khamur was boldly defined in the 

I feel that I shall exhaust the patience of my reader if I 
follow in detail the remainder of our journey to Tutakh. I have 
brought him along the outskirts of the important plain of Khinis 
to the region about Lake Van. In case he may be a traveller, 
desirous of guidance over the wild country which separates Gopal 
from Tutakh, I would offer the suggestion that he should shape a 
direct course by his compass ; I doubt that he would be obliged 
to deviate often or for very far. Such advice would have saved 
ourselves from getting lost in the intricate districts to the north 
of such a direct line. Nobody knew the way ; there are few 
villages ; and, although the inhabitants appeared to belong 
exclusively to the Hasananli, each village was at feud with its 
immediate neighbours, and it was impossible to obtain guides. 
Moreover the division of the day into tedious units of hours is a 
process which in that region is unfamiliar and scarcely known. 
During the summer the few inhabitants are scattered in the 
yailas ; the remnant in the village is largely composed of old 
men and women, besides the children, male and female, whose 
naked stomachs are distended by the quantities of gritty bread 
they are obliged to consume. Such scenes of abject poverty are 
rarely tempered by a brighter vision — the vision of youth, mature 
and unimpaired. The few young women and girls, who have not 
followed the flocks and herds, will be busy at their weaving of 
material for the black tents, stretching the long strands of goat- 
hair twine, and adding the woof to the web. Their loose cotton 
trousers display the slimness of their limbs ; and it is a pleasure 
to watch the rhythm of their bodies, seated by the side of their 
task with knees apart. 

But neither Oswald nor myself regretted our wanderings. 
By adhering to the higher levels we obtained a picture of structural 
features, which not only confirmed the studies we had pursued 
together, but also contributed several interesting facts. It is in 
this region that the ereat lines of elevation and mountain-making 

262 Armenia 

describe that beautiful curve which attains its greatest orographical 
significance in the mountains which border the highlands of 
Armenia and Persia on the north and on the south. In the 
south it is the line of the Armenian Taurus arching over into 
that of the Zagros chain ; while in the north the wider span of the 
alps of Pontus and the Chorokh region is deflected into the border 
range of Russian Armenia and into the mountains of Khorasan,^ 
Within the area of the Armenian tableland this curve may be 
clearly traced ; for instance, it is conspicuous in the trend of the 
mountains from Palandoken to Kilich Gedik, and in that of the 
Aghri Dagh further north. Even in the country over which we 
were travelling, some distance south of the former of these 
barriers, and of comparatively even nature, the strike of the 
stratified rocks displayed the change in direction ; while the 
sheets of lava, which overlay them, were evidently due to zones 
of weakness, where the stress of bending over had been attended 
with fracture, and the apex of the arc had given way. Speaking 
generally, the rocks consisted of older limestone, hardened into 
marble, and varied by igneous material, crystalline in character 
and of intrusive origin. Upon this foundation rested layers of 
later limestone; while over all were outspread the lavas, sometimes 
covering the entire series, at others swathing the base of marble 
eminences. These lavas had welled up from fissures, for the 
most part on the north of our track ; they had flowed towards 
the south, in the direction of the still distant Murad, often 
following the trough of the river valleys, and sometimes altering 
the course of the drainage. The change of strike in the stratified 
rocks was observed in the neighbourhood of the village of Alkhes. 
There the axis of the limestone folds was almost latitudinal ; 
and, as we neared Tutakh, it assumed a direction of east-south- 
east. This was also the direction of the several valleys between 
Alkhes and the Murad. 

In many respects the region resembles Tekman ; the higher 
levels over which we passed have an elevation of from 6000 to 
7500 feet. But the lavas have played a greater part in its 
configuration ; and the streams, which were mere runnels, have 
eaten to an immense depth and flow in meridional valleys. Thus 
we were always either picking our way over a sheet of lava, 
crumbled into boulders and yellow with fennel, or descending 
hundreds of feet into a deep valley through which trickled a 

' The suljject is discussed, Vol. I. Ch. XXI. pp. 422 scq. 

From KJiinis to Tutakh 263 

rivulet. We crossed only one considerable stream — the Kersuk 
or Kersik. It was winding through a gorge composed of 
limestone overlying serpentine, and was changing its course from 
south-east towards the south. At the bend, on the left bank, at 
some height above the river, is situated the picturesque village of 
Alkhes. The channel had a breadth of only a few paces ; but 
the water reached to our horses' girths. 

The district about Alkhes, and for some distance west and 
east, is known by the name of Elmali Dere, or the vale of apple 
trees. These pleasant trees, with their grey-green foliage, are 
found in abundance in the valley and side valleys of the Kersik. 
But the dreary fennel is almost the only plant on the higher 
levels ; nor can the eye, far and wide, thence discern the shape of 
a tree. In the north the mournful landscape is framed by the 
mountains which bend south-eastwards into the Kilich Gedik. 
At Alkhes they were known under the name of Khalias Dagh ; 
at Tutakh, where our informants were better educated, under that 
of Mergemir. Towards the south, upon the limits of a wide 
semicircle, rose the snow-clad and still distant summits of the 
Ala Dagh, rose Sipan and Bilejan. An unknown mountain, o'f 
relatively humble proportions, concealed the western slopes of the 
giant of Lake Van ; it proved to be Kartevin, a volcanic and 
insular mass, on the left bank of the Murad. 



The perfume of a hayfield, in which the mowers were busy, 
greeted our approach to the town of Tutakh. It came as a 
refreshing change after the dreary lava -sheets overgrown with 
fennel, and the stony paths, down and up, across the valleys. 
Great rivers impress their dignity upon their surroundings ; and, 
although we failed to discover the Murad until we were close 
upon it, the larger folds of the down-like country, and the 
growing sense of space, appeared to indicate that we were 
already near our goal. Twenty minutes before our arrival on the 
outskirts of the settlement, the white waters were seen winding 
far below us, at the foot of the hills. In the bare brown 
mountains from which they had issued, curving towards them 
from the outlines in the north, we recognised the distant horn of 
the crescent to which they had pointed at Alkhes as the heights 
overlooking Tutakh. 

Those brown slopes indeed belonged to the barrier which the 
Murad pierces upon its egress from the plain of Alashkert. No 
trace of stratified rock could be detected upon them ; nor was 
Oswald, on the following day, when he examined a section of the 
bank of the river, successful in finding among the pebbles, 
embedded in the side of the cliff, any examples which were not 
derived from an eruptive origin. The face of the plain itself, 
through which the river wanders towards the basin of Melazkert, 
has been flooded with sheets of lava, which have probably flowed 
in a southerly direction, and which extend at least as far as the 
right bank. Along the opposite margin rise grassy heights, 
volcanic in character, and placed like an outer buttress in front of 

^ The stages are as follows : — Tutakh — Gargalik, 12^ miles ; Gaigalik — Melazkert, 
24I miles. Total, 37^ miles. 

Dozvn the Mttrad to Melazkei't 265 

the ridges of the Ala Dagh. These are succeeded by the lavas 
of the Kartevin. Just below Tutakh the Murad enters a low- 
gorge ; but the remainder of its course is spent in a wide, alluvial 
bed, at the foot of rounded eminences on either shore. Almost 
exactly at the point where the troubled ridges of the Kartevin 
Dagh commence to sink into the plain of Melazkert, the heights 
on the right bank roll away. And, a little lower down, the river 
reaches the trough of the basin, which is about 450 feet lower 
than the level of Lake Van.^ There it changes direction with 
almost startling abruptness, and flows off westwards through an 
expanse of even ground. 

The country upon the right bank of the Murad, over an area 
which is roughly limited by the town of Tutakh on the north, 
and by the villages of Dignuk and Murian (on the Gopal Su) 
upon the south and west, would appear to present features which 
do not widely differ from those of the higher region we had just 
crossed. As we overlooked a portion of that area from some 
of the loftier eminences which border the left bank, we were 
confronted by the familiar shapes of grassy, treeless downs ; of 
terraces of lava or tuff sloping towards the river, of valleys deeply 
cut in the barren soil. The single river which effects a confluence 
through that region is the Kersik ; it enters the Murad at the 
foot of lofty cliffs. But the flowering yellow fennel was either 
absent or less conspicuous ; and its place was taken by a purple 
vetch, of restful hue and delicate petals, climbing the hillsides, 
like a heather, yet more intense. 

It is interesting to compare this impression of the country, 
formed during our journey along the river, with the conception of 
its character already present in our minds before we had reached 
Tutakh. It was while descending from the upland plain above 
the left bank of the Kersik, as far north as the village of Alkhes, 
that we had for the first time obtained a prospect from a com- 
paratively low level over the expanse in the direction of Sipan. 
We stood nearly at the bottom of a wide valley through which 
trickled a little stream. Yet the view towards that landmark was 
almost uninterrupted ; we appeared, indeed, to be crossing a gulf- 
like extension of the great plain from which the mountain soars. 
As often as we became involved in the intricate down country, 

1 The calculation is based on the difference between the level of the lake (5637 feet) 
and that of the Murad at the old bridge of Melazkert (5174 feet). Both levels were 
taken with the boiling-point apparatus. 

266 Armenia 

while pursuing our easterly course to Tutakh, so, not less often, 
we emerged upon similar openings, where the downs seemed to 
tongue into the plain. The Kartevin Dagh was the only eminence 
which in part screened the volcano ; but it did not extend beyond 
a portion of its westerly slopes. 

A fierce sun had already browned the scanty herbage of 
the hillsides, and at noon the thermometer registered 85° 
in the shade. We were constrained to abandon our tent, and 
to seek the shelter of a stone building, one of the few above- 
ground edifices in Tutakh, A spacious room was placed at our 
disposal by the authorities, with thick walls and a lofty ceiling, 
constructed of logs. A carpet of thick felt and the gay trappings 
of the divan added an appearance of comfort to a sense of cool- 
ness. But the carpet was overlying a layer of filthy hay, and the 
divan was nothing better than a stage of mud and straw. The 
place was indeed a hotbed for noxious insects ; legions of fleas 
continued and intensified the torments which had been interrupted 
at the approach of night by swarms of flies. Our visitors in the 
apartment — one might almost say our companions — were an 
officer of police, a most intelligent individual, and the Colonel of 
the Karapapakh Hamidiyeh. The former informed us among other 
matters that the post to Erzerum is always carried by way of 
Karakilisa. Caravans proceed in summer across the Kilich Gedik 
to Zeidikan, and so by Pasin to Erzerum. Between Tutakh and 
Melazkert one has the choice of two ways ; one may follow either 
the left or the right bank. But the fords lower down are said to 
be less reliable, and we were recommended to proceed by the left 
bank. The colonel of Karapapakhs was attired in a Circassian 
dress and spoke Russian fluently. He told me that his people 
had emigrated from Zarishat (in the Kars-Kagyzman district) 
after the last Russo-Turkish war. Their earlier seats had been 
in Daghestan. By remote origin he asserted that they were 
pure Turks. They contribute altogether three regiments to the 
Hamidiyeh, of which two are furnished by Tutakh and by Kara- 
kilisa, and the third by the tribesmen of Sivas. 

July 2. — The Murad opposite Tutakh had a width of a 
hundred yards ; but it was not deeper than two and a half feet. 
After crossing the ford we proceeded along the left bank, some- 
times winding over the westerly slopes of the grassy eminences 
which screen the Ala Dagh, at others following the alluvial flat in 
the bed of the river. Lavas, tuffs, and dark volcanic sands were 

Down the Murad to Melazkert 267 

conspicuous on the heights and in the valleys. Oswald observed 
the frequent introduction of a conglomerate, consisting of well- 
rounded pebbles or blocks of lava, interbedded with volcanic sands. 
It may denote that the lake, which filled the basin of Melazkert, 
extended at one time to this region. A new landmark rose in 
the north — the magnificent dome of the Kuseh Dagh ; while, 
among our old companions, Khamur could still be seen, and we 
were in full view of Sipan and Bilejan. But neither the dreary 
downs on the right bank of the river — our only prospect of any 
extent — nor the bed of the river itself, with its pebble-strewn 
flats of alluvium, afforded any refreshment to the eye. No restful 
groves cast shadows across the sheen of the water, where, here 
and there, a flock was browsing on the scanty herbage, or a herd 
of buffaloes wallowed in the oozy mud. I was reminded of the 
bed of the Tigris below the town of Diarbekr ; and, indeed, the 
Murad flows through these plains of Armenia with much the 
same appearance as that of its companion at the head of the 
Mesopotamian plains. It is a slowly-flowing river ; ^ and it might, 
I suppose, be made navigable from Tutakh as far as Karaogli. 
Locks would be required ; but the lower region is so fertile that, 
with better government, such works might prove remunerative. 

We passed through several villages ; but they are, for the most 
part, mere hamlets. One of the largest was Gargalik. With the 
exception of Bai'ndir, a Karapapakh settlement, they are inhabited 
by Sipkanli and Hasananli Kurds. We did not meet a caravan ; 
there were few wayfarers ; but from time to time an ill-miened 
Kurd, armed with a muzzle-loader, rode by, taking stock of us 
as he passed. At Gargalik, where there is a ford between two 
villages of this name, we were ushered into the largest of the ant- 
hill tenements. A burly figure, richly dressed, could just be 
discerned in the dim light, suffused over the cavernous chamber 
from an aperture in the roof. The figure was seated on the little 
dais which, in such dwellings, divides the chamber from the stable, 
and from which rise the wooden pillars that support the roof A 
strong odour from the horses and cattle, almost beside him, 
vitiated the air. We waited for some little time while the devotee 
bowed and muttered, or, with head upraised and lifted voice, 
uttered the climax of his profession of faith. Then, after a brief 
silence, he approached us, and received our hands, and welcomed 
us to his abode. It was AH Bey, son of the defunct Yusuf 

' The fall between Tutakh and Melazkert can only amount to about lOO feet. 

268 Armenia 

Pasha, and chief of all Sipkanli Kurds.^ It was evident that he 
had been apprised of our approach, for he displayed three 
imperial decorations on his breast. And he showed us a cigar- 
ette-case, of gold encrusted with jewels, the gift of the Sultan, 
accompanied by an autograph letter. As far as the Kartevin the 
inhabitants are Sipkanli ; lower down the villages are peopled by 
Hasananli Kurds. 

A heavy shower — which was a rare occurrence — and the 
approach of night decided us, when we were opposite the village 
of Hasuna, to take shelter there and encamp. It is inhabited by 
Hasananli, who described themselves as raya, or cultivators, and 
it is surrounded by patches of cereals. Each head of a family 
owns his patch and his animals. The men stand about and loiter 
in the grove of willows ; the women work incessantly from morn 
till night. On the following day we mounted to one of the peaks 
of the Kartevin Dagh, which rises immediately above the village. 
The purple vetch, and a shower of tiny blossoms from the white 
gypsophila, varied the monotony of the arid slopes with their 
boulders of lava. Flowering flax, the vivid green of wheat, 
already in ear, softened the base of the ridge up which we climbed. 
Nearing the summit, we came upon the yellow immortelles ; a 
little apple tree, bush-high, rose from the crevices in the crags of 
the peak. This crest had an elevation of 7580 feet above the 
sea, or of 2400 feet above the village. But the ridges on the 
north attain a greater height, perhaps of several hundred feet. 
The Kartevin Dagh appeared to us to be a radial mass, with a 
number of bold ridges and deep valleys. It is entirely of eruptive 
volcanic origin. 

The basin of Melazkert, with the plain at the foot of Sipan 
in the direction of Patnotz, was unfolded, mile after mile, at our 
feet. From the parapet upon which we stood a sharp ridge, 
with precipitous sides, plunged at right angles into the level 
expanse. At its extremity lies the village of Karakaya, on the 
right bank of a little river, which loops along the plain, coming 
from Patnotz. We see it joining the Murad ; and we see the 
bend of the Murad, which, after receiving this, the second of its 
considerable affluents below Tutakh, turns westwards, and is soon 
lost to view. A dark speck, almost in the foreground, at a little 
distance from the larger river, is recognised as Melazkert. The 

1 This Yusuf Pasha is not the same as the Vusuf liey who received me at Kiishk 
(see Ch. II. p. 16). 

Dozvn the Miirad to Melazkert 269 

plain of Patnotz is continuous with the plains of the Murad, and 
both were covered by a single lake in no remote geological period 
— a lake extending into the plain of Khinis. The appearance of 
the expanse is not untrue to its origin ; and it would seem as if 
the waters had but recently receded from these gently-shelving 
and boulder-strewn tracts. Around them rise the great volcanoes : 
Sipan, seen from base to summit, and still robed in a mantle of 
snow ; Bilejan, the black mountain, with here and there a fleck 
of snow, with the outline of the Nimrud crater emerging behind ; 
Khamur, above the region towards w^hich the river is flowing ; 
behind Khamur the snow-field of Bingol. We observe the low, 
white hills which join the outlines of the two first-named masses, 
and which screen the lake of Van. The marble peaks of the Akh 
Dagh rise with startling boldness ; and, further round, we follow 
the outline of the Mergemir. In that direction the fields of lava 
with their yellow fennel are conspicuous features in the scene. 
The circle is completed by the ridges of the Ala Dagh, capped 
with shining snow. And, turning again towards the south, we 
admire a small blue lake, reposing at the feet of Bilejan. The 
snows of Taurus just emerge beyond Nimrud. 

After regaining our encampment, we resumed our journey in 
the late afternoon. Almost opposite the village, the heights on 
the right bank recede, and describe a line of cliffs at right angles 
to their former course. The country opens to the plain ; but the 
site of Melazkert was hidden by an escarpment on the left bank 
of the Patnotz river, where a bed of lake-deposits falls away to 
the alluvial flats. The track is seen winding over the crest of the 
bank, made conspicuous by the white soil. The evening was far 
advanced as we approached this high ground from the floor of 
fine sand, overgrown by bush and clusters of iris, which fills the 
area between the two rivers. The affluent, which we forded, was 
perhaps not wider than fifteen yards ; but the water was almost 
uniform in depth, and reached to our horses' knees. Mounting the 
little ridge, we made our way over powdery soil, and soon over- 
looked the dark mass of Melazkert. The light was failing as we 
passed through the broken lines of ancient walls, near some 
barracks alive with bugle-cries. 

We were ushered into the principal room of a single-storeyed 
stone building, through a dark passage, in which we groped our 
way. The light of candles fell upon the cushions of a broad 
divan, and upon the hale complexion of an old man with snov/- 

2 70 


white hair. He came towards us with outstretched hands, while 
the chief of our escort introduced us to the Kaimakam of Melazkert. 
His zaptiehs, to the number of six, had already accompanied us 
for some distance ; we had met them ranged in line and presenting 
arms. Our host informed us that he was seventy-five years of 
age, and that a new front tooth was coming in place of one he 
had lost. He was a native of Bitlis. His sorrow was sincere 
that he could not lodge us ; the town did not possess a suitable 
house. He therefore begged us to erect our tents in the ancient 
citadel, where there was a fine site for a camp. We were soon 
proceeding thither, over ground which sloped upwards to a ruinous 
cross-wall. The jet of a fountain shone in the twilight from a 
recess beside the entrance, whence we mounted to a spacious 
platform, backed by a tower and encircled by walls. Tower and 
walls alike were massively built. 

The moon rose above the tower, which screened the ghost-like 
Sipan, from a richly mottled bed of cloud. It was a full moon, 
casting the parapets into darkness, and whitening the roofs of 
the houses at our feet. A little later, as we were preparing for 
sleep, the pale gold surface of the orb displayed but a tiny crescent 
of light. It was the shadow of our globe which was passing 
across the moon ; but the vision was rapidly lost in the bed of 

It had scarcely become day when the deep voice of the 
venerable Kaimakam was heard beside our tent. He had come 
to enquire after our needs ; and he promised to endeavour to 
obtain a turkey from one of the Circassian villages in the plain. 
But when I asked whether he were acquainted with some educated 
person, capable of indicating to us the various objects of interest, 
and perhaps of connecting them with the history of the town, his 
face became a blank, and he was emphatic in declaring that, by 
Allah ! no such individual existed in Melazkert. But was there 
no school, no Armenian teacher ? I pressed him, but he spoke 
the truth when he answered in the negative. He added : " All 
the people here are very little people, occupied by the pressing 
needs of daily life. They have already forgotten what happened 
forty years ago, and they will remember your visit for forty years. 
Beyond these limits they have no knowledge whatever." 

The Kaimakam was right ; Melazkert is a heap of ruins, from 
which some pygmies have collected the stones and built tenements. 
A squadron of cavalry, quartered in the town, may lend a 


II V V, l.vmii .uul V Osu-.' 

Dozvn the Murad to Melazkert 2 7 1 

semblance of life ; but it is a deceptive semblance, for the place 
is dead. 

We descended from the citadel at the eastern extremity of the town, 
resolved to conduct a careful search. Let me enumerate in order, 
proceeding from east to west, the ancient edifices that still remain. All 
are built of the same black, basaltic lava which forms the material of the 
towers and walls ; but, as this lava is highly scoriaceous in character, the 
stone cannot be properly dressed. The architect has therefore had 
recourse to a more suitable agent for the enrichments of his design ; a 
calcareous rock has been brought from a distance and inserted in the 
dark v/alls. In such calcareous stone is carved the honeycomb ornament 
which fills the apex of the arch in two niches on the southern front of a 
spacious but deserted khan. It is a building in the fine old style, with a 
lofty and vaulted roof; a square aperture in the centre of the roof admits 
light and air. Adjoining the khan upon the west are placed the remains 
of the most interesting monument, the church of Erek Khoran Astvatsatsin. 

Its name, the three altars, is evidently derived from the three apses 
which are a feature in the design. Yet most old Armenian churches are 
built upon this pattern, if the name apse may be extended to the lateral 
chapels. In the present case these chapels are almost as large as the apse 
proper. The nave is separated from the broad aisles by two rows of three 
pillars apiece ; from the pillars spring pointed arches, which appear to 
have supported a vaulted roof. But the roof has fallen in ; we could find 
no trace of a dome or tower ; and the pillars on the north side were strewn 
in pieces on the floor. The basal stones of two of the columns are 
octagonal, and were probably taken from some edifice of earlier date. 

The interior has been faced with calcareous stone, admitting of fine 
chiselling. A frieze of honeycomb pattern, and two niches with the same 
ornament have been introduced into the apse. The floor of the apse is, 
as usual, raised above the floor of the nave, and the face of the dais, so 
formed, is enriched with a relief of little arches, composed of mouldings 
with geometrical designs. In the centre of each arched space is the figure 
of a cross. Carved mouldings also adorn the font, adjoining the more 
northerly of the two chapels. The exterior, which displays the usual 
black lava, is without any interesting feature. 

■It was evident that the walls had once been covered with frescos ; 
traces of this form of decoration were found on the capitals, and a few of 
the larger subjects might still be recognised. In the apse is portrayed the 
figure of Christ receiving baptism from St. John. The faces of the walls 
dividing the apse from the lateral chapels are devoted to secular subjects. 
On the one we discovered the head, and part of the figure of a king, 
wearing a gold crown. His left hand rested on the richly-chased scabbard 
of his sword ; his right supported a sceptre with a globe. The fresco on 
the other face was almost obliterated ; but a crown and a portion of a 
head, probably that of a queen, were conspicuous among the faded colours. 
Both heads rested on golden halos. One can scarcely doubt that these 
portraits are those of the founders of this church, which was evidently the 



royal chapel. I copied with difficulty the following almost illegible 
inscription, placed by the side of the king : — H80:i0b&O . Sr*10 
Such is all that remains of this pleasing piece of architecture ; the interior 
has an extreme length of sixty-five feet and a breadth of a little over forty 

An almost similar edifice is that which is named Surb Sargis ; it may 
have been the general town church (length of interior, sixty-six feet; breadth, 
thirty-nine feet). It is situated in the portion of the fortress furthest 
removed from the citadel, and not far from the south wall. It is still 
employed as a place of worship, but is maintained in a filthy state. The 
two rows of three pillars are still standing ; and one of the pillars is 
composed of a slab-shaped monolith, engraved with an elaborate Armenian 
cross. It is evident that it was imported from some other place. The 
present roof is a rude structure of logs, quite flat, and concealing the 
features of the former design. The altar-piece in the apse appeared to us 
to be the old one ; but its effect was spoilt by daubs of staring colour. 
An altar of primitive pattern, composed of a slab of stone, resting 
horizontally upon a stone column, was standing in the southern side 
chapel. A little sacristy adjoins the similar chapel on the north, 
projecting from the outer wall of the church. Abutting on the western 
front of this sacristy, and extending along the remainder of this outer wall, 
is placed a small and independent chapel, which repeats the same design. 
It is known under the name of Arab Kilisa, or church of the Arabs ; 
by which term I presume that the Nestorian Christians are denoted. It 
is now a mere ruin. 

A building of later date than these churches, but no doubt the 
outcome of a period of comparative prosperity, is the mosque which is 
placed just beneath the citadel, and which reminds one of similar 
structures in Bitlis. A nave and two aisles, with two pillars apiece ; a 
low central dome, pointed arches and vaulted ceilings — such are the 
features of a design which is evidently, to a large extent, a copy by 
Mohammedans of the Christian architecture. The interior, as well as the 
pointed arch over the entrance, is built of blocks of pink and black 
volcanic stone ; the outer walls are of faced lava. The recess of the altar 
is inlaid with white marble. Adjoining the mosque is a medresseh or 
college. The mosque is well kept up. 

We spent nearly two whole days in Melazkert, visiting the 
remains of the former splendour of the place and occupied by 
drawing out the plan which accompanies this chapter. We 
estimated the length of the city at 750 yards, and its breadth 
at 500 yards. The former measurement was taken from the 
tower in the citadel to a tower in the walls at the opposite 
extremity. Both the site, and the character and disposition 
of the fortifications remind one strongly of Trebizond ; and it 
would be a matter of ereat interest to determine the nature 

Down the Mjirad to Melazkert 273 

of the connection to which the similarity of design may have 
been due. Melazkert is built upon a flow of lava, a feature 
of little importance in the general configuration of the plain ; 
but this lava sheet descends to the alluvial flats about the 
Murad in much the same manner as the site of Trebizond shelves 
to the sea. Like the city by the Euxine, the Armenian fortress 
is flanked on two sides by ravines ; these ravines are indeed 
flatter than those of its counterpart ; but the platform which 
supports the citadel and palace is 100 feet higher than the 
trough of the ravine on the north. There are similar little 
streams trickling along in either hollow ; and a similar double 
line of walls, with towers at intervals, encircles the area of the 
fortified town. Suburbs there may have been ; but they have 
long since disappeared ; the cemeteries are placed outside the 
walls. The solid octagonal tower at the extreme south-east end 
of the citadel may quite probably have served as the model for 
the tower of John the Fourth, at Trebizond. Indeed, could we 
see this site under the luxuriance of the Kolchian foliage, the 
resemblance would at once appeal to the eye. The only trees at 
Melazkert are a few willows ; but springs of cold, clear water well 
up from the ground. 

So far as we could judge from a hasty examination, the Murad 
may at one time have flowed quite near the walls ; but the 
bridge of the mediaeval city is at least two miles west of the 
town. The road is taken over low and marshy ground, and 
crosses a side torrent of considerable volume, when quite near the 
bridge. This torrent is said to be derived from springs in the 
plain ; it eats its way through a lava stream. The gorge is 
spanned by the single pointed arch of an ancient bridge — a 
structure so massive that it has resisted destruction, and still 
rears intact its elegant facing of pink and black volcanic stone. 
Worse fortune has attended the noble structure which once 
joined the banks of the Murad. Of its thirteen or more piers 
only four are standing ; some have rolled over and compose 
masses that defy the stream. On those that remain you admire 
the exquisite masonry, and the skilful variation of black with pink 
stone. The arches are much pointed, and are close together ; 
the bridge describes a curve down stream. On the opposite 
margin we remarked the foundations of an ancient road, under- 
lying the grass on the hillside. At the present day a road does 
not exist in the country, and the river is crossed by fords. 

2/4 Armenia 

Indeed the city presents a strangely pathetic spectacle of 
fallen greatness, of a culture which has disappeared — more 
touching by the contrast with the blank of the present, by the 
sufficiency and eloquence of the monuments that remain. We 
are by them enabled to reconstruct the splendour of the citadel, 
which was perhaps the palace ; the stateliness of the double walls 
with their picturesque towers ; the frescos of the churches, the 
magnificent bridge, the broad, paved road. An Armenian genius 
produced these works, and a Turk destroyed them. Now only 
some forty Armenian families grovel among the ruins of a past 
which they ignore. A few small shops, some kept by Armenians, 
a few by Kurds, dispense Manchester cottons and some of the 
necessaries of life. There is not a house that is not built out of 
the remains of the old town. The little windows are screened 
with paper or bits of calico. The Kaimakam cannot tell you the 
number of the inhabitants. His clerk is ill, and he himself has 
no idea of the number ; yet they are not so very many to count. 
It is possible that he is dissembling ; yet he is very ignorant ; he 
laughs at our notion of climbing Sipan. He says that, years 
ago, during the course of an exceptional season, when the summit 
had become almost free of snow, one man was said to have 
reached the top. One can see that it is the snow which appeals 
to their doubts and raises their fears. What life you see around 
you is feeble and squalid — wicked, even, in a small way. And it 
seems as if the storks, which lend sanctity to the decaying towers, 
were the incarnation of the grave, sad thoughts that rise in the 

The history of Melazkert, such as we see the city in these 
ruins, appears to be little better than unknown. We turn in vain 
to the pages of Saint Martin or of Ritter even for a few cardinal 
facts. If the story of the empire of the Grand Comneni, as 
unravelled by the labours of Fallmerayer, still remains in the 
vivid language of its illustrious exponent a phantom picture, 
lacking the reality of life, then the mediaeval kingdom of the 
Armenian kings who reigned in Melazkert may be described as 
but the shadow of a shade. Their capital occupied the site of 
one of the oldest of Armenian cities, and derived its name from 
Manavaz, the son of the mythical Hayk.^ It was possessed by 

1 The original name is Manazkcrl, wliich the Turks have corrupted into Mela/kert. 
In the older name there perhaps lurks that of Menuas, the Vannic king, who reigned 
in the ninth century before Christ (see Ch. IV. p. 71). 

Down the Aliwad to Me/azkert 275 

princes of this name during the Arsakid period, tracing their 
descent to the progenitor of the Armenian race.^ Melazkert was 
known to the Byzantines as an independent city ; but, Hke Ani, 
it fell during the eleventh century to the arms of Alp Arslan. 
The same century witnessed the defeat of the Byzantine Caesar 
by the Seljuk conqueror in the neighbourhood of its walls. The 
fate of Ani appears to have been repeated on the banks of the 
Murad, for the city can never have recovered under its Moham- 
medan rulers. At the present day the Armenians, to whom 
it owed prosperity, have been almost driven away from the 
neighbourhood. At Hasuna we observed one of their deserted 
graveyards ; and again another between that village and the 
town. These and the crumbling towers and churches of the 
ancient fortress are the melancholy landmarks of the progressive 
ruin of the Armenian inhabitants." 

1 Saint Martin, Mt' moires siir I Aniu'uie, vol. i. p. 251. 

2 I have transcribed my impressions, as written on the spot. But it is possible that 
the present aspect of the walls as well as the bridge may be due to the Mohammedan 
rulers of Melazkert. The great tower in the citadel may well be later than the 
eleventh century. Still there can be little doubt that the work was carried out by 
Armenians, and in harmony with the original plan. 

Unfortunately almost all the inscriptions have disappeared. We observed a slab of 
calcareous stone inserted in the north wall, and engraved with an Arabic inscription, 
but it was much obliterated. A slab of the same material, and in the same condition, 
containing an inscription, probably in the Syriac character, is built into the Kaimakam's 
house. We were told that a number of inscriptions had been abstracted by the son-in- 
law of Raouf Pasha, Vali of Erzerum. 

Outside the citadel, lying upon the ground, we examined a well-preserved cuneiform 
inscription, engraved upon two sides of a block of granitic rock, unlike any stone found 
here. I was under the impression that it had already been discovered and translated ; 
so we did not take a copy. I now find that we should have done well to copy it. 
Scheil {Reaieil de travaux relatifs a la philologie et a P arch^ologie egypt. et assyr., Paris, 
1896, vol. xviii. pp. 75-77) describes and translates an inscription which, he says, was 
recently discovered at Melazkert by the district engineer, but he does not mention the 
exact locality. It is an inscription of Menuas, recording a restoration. 

Within the citadel, near our encampment, one of those large stones which have 
been elsewhere described, incised with the elaborate traceries of an Armenian cross, was 
seen among the debris. It was in excellent preservation, having only recently been 
dug out in situ. 



In one of the ancient towers of the wall on the west was residing 
a Kurdish chief, surrounded by a posse of his followers. Perhaps 
he was in some sense a hostage to the Government, or perhaps 
he was acting in a representative capacity towards the five 
regiments of Hamidiyeh, each with 500 men, which, he assured 
me, were furnished by his tribe. His name is Riza Bey, and he 
is the brother of Fethulla Bey, chief of all Hasananli. His 
brother resides in the village of Dignuk, on the right bank of the 
Murad near Melazkert. Riza Bey came to visit us in the citadel 
and I returned his visit in the tower. His window commanded a 
fine prospect over the alluvial plain in the direction of the Murad 
— all the detail, of crumbling cemetery, of willow-grown hollow, 
of channelled flats, framed by the deep embrasure. My host was 
seated on a divan, covered with a beautiful Kurdish kilim ; he 
was readily distinguished by his ferocious black moustache. He 
gave evasive answers to my questions about the annual trainings ; 
one hears so very much, and one sees so very little of this 
formidable Hamidiyeh ! Melazkert is a kind of headquarters for 
the force ; and I feel sure that, if even one regiment were in 
actual existence, it would have been paraded for our benefit. 

Late in the afternoon of the 5th of July we forded the stream 
in the southern ravine, and, after crossing an extensive and very 
ruinous cemetery, made our way over the plain of lava which 
stretches without interruption to the base of the still distant Sipan. 
Our course was directed to a village on its southern confines, at 
the foot of those heights which have already been mentioned as 
extending between Sipan and Bilejan. You may canter the 
whole way, for the ground is fairly even, although broken here 
and there by mounds of black boulders, which may represent 

From Melazkert to Akhlat 277 

either minor outbreaks of volcanic matter, or the sites of steam 
vents through the sheet of cooHng lava. In places there is a 
thin covering of marly deposits ; and, where these occur, the soil 
becomes fertile. But it is little cultivated — only in patches, and 
in a very primitive fashion. The village proved to be Circassian ; 
its name was Kara Ali ; a second Circassian settlement, called 
Yaralmish, was its close neighbour upon the east. Our track 
commenced to ascend, immediately beyond Kara Ali, up the face 
of the opposite heights. The nature of these hills was at once 
apparent from the character of their forms and from the change 
in vegetation. We rode over the slopes of downs, resting the eye 
on fresh pastures, and with the song of the lark in our ears. The 
purple vetch was resplendent on the cliff-sides. Here and there 
a white patch disclosed the calcareous nature of the underlying 
rock. The village of Demian {raya Hasananli, alt, 6690 feet) is 
situated below the crest of the ridge, in full view of the plain. 
There we decided to encamp for the night,^ 

July 6. — What a landscape to wake up to ! The side of our 
tent towards the plain had been left open during the night. We 
overlooked such an immense expanse of earth — nude, or veiled in 
transparent mists, and quite unconscious of the presence of man ! 
Even we, who were already accustomed to such visions, had 
never yet seen the like. Reach upon reach, in large surroundings, 
we traced the course of the Murad, flowing towards us from 
Tutakh ; loop upon loop, we followed its waters into the dimness 
of the west, flowing away through the plain. The contrasts in 
the lighting were less impressive this morning ; but last evening 
the river was thrown into pronouncement, and lay like a parti- 
coloured riband in the expanse. From vivid whites and tender 
greys it became a sheen of gold under the red blaze of the setting 

The pass, or crest of the ridge (6870 feet), is close behind 
Demian, Among our landmarks, besides Sipan, the Akh Dagh 
was most conspicuous, and, although probably less lofty, because 
quite free from snow, dwarfed the intermediate mass of Khamur. 
The dome of the Kuseh Dagh was the bold feature of the scene 
in the north ; while Kartevin rose like an island in the plain at 
our feet. This pass is but the edge of a deep block of hill 
country, interposed between the plain and the lake of Van, The 

^ Our stages were : — Melazkert — Demian, lo miles ; Demian — Akhlat (Erkizan), 
2O5 miles. 

278 Armenia 

hio-hest level which we attained, during our passage across it, 
belonged to the ridge on the north of the village of Khanik, and 
was a level of 7690 feet. That ridge was composed of Eocene 
limestone, perhaps a travertine, while the ridge behind Demian 
displayed the familiar fossils of the widely-distributed lacustrine 
rocks. Coralline limestones of Eocene epoch, much altered and 
hardened, perhaps by the action of hot springs, constitute the 
backbone of the mass ; while on its southern side the lacustrine 
series is represented by the purplish-brown sandstones of the hills 
behind Akhlat. Sipan has burst through the zone of limestone 
hills, probably about in the central region ; the volcano has been 
built up upon their debris, and overtowers their almost uniform 
levels. Yet the stratified rocks are little diversified by volcanic 
outpourings : and only once, namely just upon our departure 
from the valley of Khanik, did we ride over such material, a dark 
volcanic tuff. It is indeed surprising, the limited extension of 
the flows of lava even from such a giant as Sipan. When we 
looked across to the mountain from the lofty down behind 
Demian, the block of hills appeared to compose an outer sheath 
to the volcano, recessing inwards around its contours. And the 
plain or pedestal of lava at the foot of Sipan was seen tonguing 
into the recess at our feet. Through that valley was winding a 
little stream, which would probably become lost in the plain. 
We descended into the valley, which supports several Kurdish 
villages, and rose up the opposite side. From this ridge to the 
o-uardhouse on the southern side of the block is the wildest 
portion of this bleak zone. We passed only one village, the 
Circassian settlement of Khanik, during our progress from the 
ridge to Akhlat. The axis or strike of the limestones is in 
an east-north-east direction ; they are carved out into deep and 
irregular valleys. 

Extraordinary precautions had been taken for our safety 
during the passage of this region. Our escort from Melazkert 
consisted of eight zaptiehs, and of the head man of the village of 
Akhviran, a notable of high rank in the Hamidiyeh, who had been 
commissioned by Riza Bey to accompany us. At Khanik we 
were met by no less than fifteen zaptiehs ; and this little force 
skirmished up the heights adjoining our track, to protect us from 
an ambuscade. Arrived at the guardhouse (7560 feet) we were 
saluted by a detachment of regular cavalry, mounted on snow- 
white horses. As we rode down this line of troops, an individual 

Froui Melazkert to Akhlat 279 

in civil dress stepped forward and took our hands. It was the 
Kaimakam of Akhlat. His servants had prepared tea in the 
solitary little building which rises like a beacon from the wilds. 

Our further progress was a procession. We were sorry to 
lose the cavalry, who were under orders to return to the guard- 
house. They manoeuvred in admirable fashion ; and the motley 
zaptiehs, careering in all directions, were a poor substitute to the 
eye. The Kaimakam rode by our side. But this little touch of 
humanity was quickly lost and soon forgotten in the emotions 
which were inspired by the unfolding scene. The landscape of 
Lake Van, overtake it where you may, can scarcely fail, with a 
traveller susceptible of such impressions, to bring tears to the eyes. 
And there it lies, deep down below us, streaming with sunlight, 
intensely blue and intensely pale. How startling is the change 
from these rounded forms about us — from the dome of Sipan, 
wreathed in cloud, from the unbroken circle of the Nimrud crater, 
islands of mountain in an expanse of plain and hill — to the jagged 
and snow-capped parapet of the Kurdish mountains, reflected 
into the mirror of waters on the opposite shore ! But this evening 
we miss the gloom which is wont to envelop those mountains ; 
the clouds are suspended high above the outline of peaks ; and 
the face of the wall is tinted a delicate yellow, relieved by 
shadows of a pale violet hue. The shadows mark the relief of 
the almost vertical escarpments, and have the appearance of a 
long succession of pointed spears. Among the landmarks along 
those shores we recognise Mount x^rdos, broad-shouldered above 
a headland in the east ; a blue shadow in the lake, slightly raised 
above its surface, may denote the isle of Akhtamar. The long 
promontory of Zigag juts out from the Nimrud crater towards the 
beautiful bay of Surb, on the opposite shore. 

Almost at our feet we see the top of a leafy tree, then 
another, and then a long grove. And immediately we enter the 
deep shade of the gardens which fringe the southern margin of 
the sea (5637 feet). 



July 15. — We have spent eight days at Akhlat. They have 
been days which we shall always remember with delight. Our 
surroundings, our occupations, the little comforts of our daily life, 
have been all that we could desire. 

We are encamped in an orchard by the side of the lake. The 
water plashes against rocks, at the foot of a well-defined bank, 
some twenty yards from our tent. We look across a floor of 
green, dappled with shade and sunshine, through the varied 
intervals of the grove of fruit trees, beneath the perfect foliage, to. 
a field of light, with changing colour and ever-changing appear- 
ance, whence a freshness is wafted towards us across the flowering 
grass. Such oases are not, indeed, infrequent in Asia, where they 
derive enhancement not only from the contrast which they offer 
to the general treelessness of the land, but also from their 
special climate — the soil cooled by irrigation, and the leaves 
developed to a perfection with which we are unfamiliar in the 
West. Luscious clover, white and red, purple vetch with a 
delicate perfume, the long, trailing stalks and pale mauve flowers 
of chicory, luxuriate on the damp soil. The cherries were small 
and yellow when we arrived ; now they hang in bright red 
clusters before our tent. An old walnut tree protrudes its gnarled 
branches and thick foliage over the water on the margin of the 
grove ; and two rollers, which have built their nest in an in- 
accessible crevice of the trunk, flit to and fro, in search of food for 
their young. The hues of the lake are repeated on their breasts ; 
while on their backs and in their wings this azure blue is subdued 
and softened by rich browns, resembling the branches where they 

1 Coracias garrtiliis, belonging to a family closely allied to the kingfishers and bee- 
eaters. But what hideous names have been given to this beautiful bird ! 

Akhlat 281 

Our little horses are picketed in the deep trench which divides 
the orchard from the sterile ground on the north and east. They 
forget the road beneath the shade of flowering olives, of which the 
strong scent reaches to our tent. The cook, who has so often 
mutinied and repented, is now all alacrity and zeal. Our luxuries 
have been a turkey, some French beans of exquisite flavour, and 
little cakes of bread, in which our cook excels. The cherries are 
of the wild species — for the people are too lazy to graft ; but, 
when stewed, they afford a delicious dish. No steamer disturbs 
our repose ; no discordant note is uttered from morn to eventide. 
We are self-sufficient, mobile, always at home. The world is our 
house, and we move easily from room to room. It never rains ; 
the moisture is controlled by man, who directs it whither it pleases 
him and for as long. The air is so dry that, with very little 
care, all danger of malaria can be kept at bay. 

But the old imam, who owns and appears to live in this 
garden, turned the water one early morning into the channels. 
He must have known that it would deluge our tent. He might 
have warned us to surround it with a shallow trench. I took 
revenge by cutting a trench to the lake. The wizened old thing 
did not display the smallest resentment. They say he is mad. 
He sits in the garden all day long, smoking cigarettes of his own 
manufacture, muttering to himself, his eyes fixed upon the lake. 
When night arrives he goes to sleep in the grass. He has never 
worked ; but nobody works. The idea of work is not repugnant ; 
it is simply an idea which they do not possess. 

Man is here a shadow — a mournful presence. And the women 
appear conscious of some immense and inexpiable sin. The 
children are seldom gay ; you never hear laughter. Their poor 
little naked bodies are burnt brown by the sun, and their 
stomachs are distended by indifferent food. 

Each morning we bathe in the lake. The water is delicious 
to the skin, bracing and at the same time soft. A certain soapi- 
ness in its composition produces a cleansing effect ; yet to the 
eye it is transparent as crystal. Swimming out into deep water, 
the thermometer registered 68°, or exactly the temperature of the 
shade at 6.30 A.M. The rocky shore shelves down with a measure 
of abruptness, so that in breezy weather the waves do not break 
until they reach the ledge. The bather is soon across this fringe 
of surf. 

And the colouring of the water ! Riding early to the ruins. 

282 Armenia 

or returning towards sunset to our camp, it is always a new effect, 
or a fresh and startling combination, differing from anything either 
of us have seen elsewhere. When the surface of the expanse is 
ruffled, the restless, sparkling water is at once intensely green and 
intensely blue ; an aquamarine so vivid that it must be over- 
powering, an ultramarine so deep that it may not yield. Twilight 
lasts but a little time; yet the brief space is many times multiplied 
by the number and variety of dissolving tints. The landscape of 
sea and mountain is overtaken by complete stillness. The lake 
becomes the colour of an iridescent opal, green, blue, and pearly 
white. The mountains are lightly tinged with delicate yellows 
and warm greys, faintly shaded in the recesses of the chain of 

The latest aspect of the scene is at once the richest and the 
most mysterious. All blue has passed from the sky and from 
the face of the sea, except here and there, under a lingering breath 
of wind. A dull golden tint is spread over the waters, cloaking 
the underlying green. In the distance, towards Van, great 
shadows of indigo lie on the lake, and envelop Varag to half 
height. From these emerges the crested ridge, a pink madder. 
Varag rests against a background of vague clouds, purplish-blue, 
the only touch of redness in the landscape. . . . Such effects are 
no doubt enhanced by the sublimity of the surroundings — the 
wide sea, the Kurdish mountains, Sipan, Nimrud ; but they may 
derive a special quality from the character of the water and from 
the great elevation of the lake (5600 feet). Its pallor, combined 
with its blueness, is perhaps the particular characteristic which 
becomes imprinted upon the mind. 

Our only regular visitor is the Kaimakam — Mohammed Fuad 
Bey — a Circassian of middle stature and in middle age. A frock 
coat, of black cloth and European pattern, displays the litheness 
of his figure. His face is remarkable for the brilliancy of the 
small eyes. He is the hero of a recent adventure with the Kurds. 
The other day some Hasananli carried off from an Armenian 
village a considerable body of cattle. The Kaimakam despatched 
after them a contingent of regular soldiers, with instructions to 
pursue a prescribed route. He himself followed, accompanied by 
a single zaptieh. The soldiers appear to have lost their way ; 
and the Kaimakam was alone when he fell in with the marauding 
band. He rode straight up to them, pointed to the cattle, and 
ordered them in the name of the Government to give them up. 

AkJilat 283 

He added that his own honour was at stake. The Kurds of course 
refused, seeing one unarmed man and a zaptieh opposed to their 
own numbers and arms. Whereupon the Kaimakam proceeded 
to drive off the cattle, calHng to his attendant, who, however, was 
too much terrified to be of use. The Kurds at once opened fire. 
One bullet entered the open overcoat of the official, and came out 
through the opposite flap. Another pierced the frock coat which 
he habitually wears. His horse was shot in two places, but was 
not disabled. This occurred before the Kaimakam could draw 
his pocket revolver, which he at once aimed at the nearest Kurd. 
The man fell ; his companions gathered round him, and almost 
immediately made off, carrying the body with them. They 
appear to have regarded the Kaimakam's as a charmed life, and 
to have explained to themselves his courage in this way. The 
cattle were quickly driven home and restored to the Armenians. 
This exploit is the principal topic of conversation at Akhlat. 
The Kaimakam has received neither thanks nor reward. The 
loss of his horse, which died shortly after from its injuries, has not 
yet been repaired. The Palace no doubt deplores the loss to the 
Empire of a Hamidiyeh brave. 

I was anxious to visit Akhlat during the course of my first 
journey ; but the lateness of the season compelled me to push on. 
The project so long deferred is at length realised. The con- 
ception of the place which was present in my mind, before we 
commenced to investigate the ruins, may be expressed in a few 
words. A number of beautiful mausolea, illustrating the best 
traditions of Mohammedan art in a manner by far surpassing 
the similar buildings we had seen elsewhere — a ruined city with 
mosques and minarets standing on the margin of the lake, and 
backed by the remains of a still older city, which perhaps dated 
from the period of the caliphs — such was the idea, so full of 
promise, which I had gathered from the oral accounts of travellers 
or formed from conversation in the country. Not much more is 
to be gleaned from books.^ Writing now that we have completed 
our plan of the place, examined the monuments, and copied the 
inscriptions, I propose, in the first place, to submit a few general 

1 The credit of whatever information we already possess is due, among modern 
travellers, almost exclusively to Englishmen. I may cite Brant {Journal R.G.S. 1840, 
vol. X. pp. 406 seq.), Layard {Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, London, 
1853, pp. 24 seq.), and Tozer {Turkish Armenia, London, 188 1, pp. 315 m-)- The 
last of these writers does not appear to have read Layard's account, which would 
have saved him some lengthy speculations. Ritter {Erdkunde, vol. x. p. 326) may also 
be consulted. 

284 Armenia 

remarks, and then to resume the experiences of our several 
excursions, blending them into one. 

Akhlat is the name of a district, comprising a number of oases, 
on the northern shore of the extensive bay which is bounded on 
its southern side by the long promontory of Zigag. This district 
is divided for administrative purposes into five distinct quarters. 
The first is Erkizan, the seat of government for district and caza, 
where the Kaimakam resides and where we are encamped. The 
second is Iki Kube, or the two mausolea — so called from a pair of 
tombs which stand close together in the desert, some distance 
west of Erkizan. This district comprises the walled city on the 
shore, as well as the village of Kulaxis, situated in a ravine, a 
good walk in a northerly direction from the two tombs. The 
third quarter embraces the area of the older city, and is called 
indifferently Kharaba and Takht-i-Suleyman. The remaining two 
are outlying, Tunus, on the east of Erkizan, at an interval of 
about half-a-mile ; and Kirklar, in the opposite direction, west 
of the quarter of Kharaba and the ravine in which the older city 
lies. The population of the entire district cannot much exceed 
6000 souls, of whom the majority inhabit the quarter of Kharaba 
or the gardens of Erkizan. Of this number only 200 would 
appear to be Armenians, residing about the ravine of the older 

The block of limestone hills which we crossed from Melazkert 
extend from Adeljivas along the shore. In the neighbourhood 
of Akhlat they recess away towards Lake Nazik, leaving an 
extensive margin of fairly level land. But the coast itself, between 
Erkizan and the delta of the streams below the older city, has 
the character of rounded cliffs, shelving to the lake. The soil is 
composed of purplish sandstones and conglomerates, which, as 
you approach the older city, are overlaid with lava and pumice. 
Both the sandstones and the pumice tend to arid, dusty ground ; 
while the yellow pumice reflects an overpowering glare. Yet this 
ground, when thoroughly watered, becomes extremely fertile ; and 
it is characteristic of Akhlat that the oases are the most luxuriant, 
and the intermediate spaces the most sterile of all these shores. 
Thus Erkizan is a deep belt of shady orchards, while the walled 
city is surrounded by powdery waste. Groves of aged walnut 
trees clothe the ground on either side of the ravine of Takht-i- 
Suleyman ; but, if you ride from the walled city towards Kulaxis, 
the light streams, and the dust rises in clouds. In such a waste 



Fig. 1£ 

the number of rivulets is surprising ; and they flow with a vigour 
which is not less strange. 

It is probable that the more ancient city was surrounded by 
suburbs. The mausolea are spread over a considerable area ; and, 
even in Erkizan, the houses are built up with the faced stones 
which are characteristic of the 
ancient masonry. In this 
quarter we remark, beside the 
base of a tomb, a capital, en- 
riched with an Arab ornament, 
and a large stone, elaborately 
chiselled. Both these objects 
are observed at random, lying 
unheeded on the ground. The 
Government house is a solid 
stone building ; the graceful 
pointed arch which we notice 
over a doorway would seem to 
indicate that the influence of 
the monuments is still alive. 
Adjoining it is placed the 
prison. There are two or three shops, with deep verandahs over 
the shop, the whole surmounted by the roof. The dwellings are 
widely scattered ; and, if window glass were universal, they would 
present an appearance both of solidity and of comfort. Little 
lanes intersect the gardens ; the murmur of water and the scent 
of the flowering olives fill the air with sweetness and pleasant 

Such are some of the notes one makes when on a day of 
midsummer we wend our way on horseback through the straggling 
settlement of Erkizan with the purpose of exploring the ancient 
sites. As we pass the prison, an old Armenian protrudes his 
head from one of the windows, and begs us to intercede on his 
behalf. On the outskirts of the oasis we are met by the 
Kaimakam, mounted on a white mare, with black and yellow 
trappings, and with a two -months -old foal at foot. In his 
company, and in that of a green-turbaned khoja, whom he employs 
as writer, we pass an old mulberry tree on the fringe of the fertile 
zone, and enter the waste on a westerly course. 

A ride of twenty minutes, walking our horses, brings us to the iki 
kube, or two tombs (Fig. i8i and see the plan, Nos. i and 2). They are 

Piece of Seljuk Pottery 
FROM Akhlat. 

286 Armenia 

separated by an interval of about ten yards. Let me describe, once for 
all, the design of such edifices, known in the country by the name of 
kutnbet. A circular, or drum-shaped structure rests on a deep pedestal, 
which slopes outwards to a square base. But the four angles of the 
pedestal are cut away in the shape of a wedge, the point of the wedge resting 
on the base. The whole is surmounted by a conical roof On the level 
of the ground, an arched aperture gives access to a chamber, built in the 
hollow of the base. In this chamber, or beneath its floor, was presumably 
placed a coffin : but the catafalques, if such existed, have disappeared. 
The ground, too, has buried the base in most cases, so that you can only 
just crawl through the top of the arched aperture. On the other hand, 
the floor of the circular structure, resting on the pedestal, is high above the 
ground ; and, in the absence of any stairs, you are obliged to clamber up 
the face of the pedestal, making use of little crevices in the stones. Four 
open doorways, placed at regular intervals in the circumference, at once 
serve as entrances to the upper chamber, and as windows, through which 
the landscape expands on every side. 

It is supposed that the prospective occupant of the tomb, or the pious 
visitors to this place of burial, would sit and rest within this cool, circular 
chamber, beneath the lofty roof, enjoying the views of the country around. 
They would, however, have needed a ladder to reach the entrances. The 
interiors are quite plain; in one instance (No. i) we observed traces of 
plaster ; but, as a rule, there is neither ornament nor covering of the surface 
of the masonry, in which one admires the even joints of the blocks of 
faced stone. The material of these tombs is stone throughout — a pink 
volcanic stone. All the resources of the decorative sculptor are lavished 
upon the exterior, especially about the doorways, the four niches in the 
intervening spaces, and the cornice beneath the roof In some cases 
raised stone mouldings enrich the surface of the roof Sometimes a frieze 
is carried beneath the cornice, the most effective being hewn out of white 
marble.^ They are inscribed with sentences from the Koran. The 
beautiful Arabic letters vary the effect of the elaborate geometrical patterns 
in the decorated spaces of the walls beneath. The personal inscriptions 
are usually found over the doorways ; and, in some instances, are engraved 
upon white marble slabs. The two tombs which we are now visiting both 
possess such inscriptions; the khoja copied them; they are in Arabic prose. 
Those on the first tomb (No. i) record that it is the burial-place of a great 
Emir, by name Nughatay Agha, and of the lady, wife to Nughatay. The 
date of his death is given as a.h. 678, or a.d. 1279. The second tomb 
is described as that of Hasan Timur Agha, son of this Nughatay, who died 
in A.H. 680 or A.u. 1281.- 

Quite close to the //'/ kuhe, in a north-westerly direction, is situated 

^ The white stone which may be seen inserted in the masonry of some of the tombs 
at Akhlat is not a true marble, but a compact limestone, easy to chisel. It must have 
been brought from a distance, perhaps from the opposite shore of the lake, as we met with 
no such stone in situ during our wanderings. 

'^ I am indebted to my friend, Mr. E. Denison Ross, for careful translations of these 
and the following inscriptions. 

Akhlat 287 

a third tomb, which is still erect (No. 3). It is less richly decorated than 
the preceding, and is without any commemorative inscription. Making 
westwards, we at once enter one of the shadiest of the oases, passing a 
fourth mausoleum within its fringe (No. 4). A much less tasteful structure 
than the others, it is also of different design. Within the chamber are 
ordinary graves, with marble headstones; the inscriptions on the headstones, 
and on a marble slab in the wall outside, indicate that it was the burial- 
place of some Kurdish princes of Modkan in the first quarter of the 
eighteenth century. Almost opposite this tomb, which is without archi- 
tectural merit, a most curious edifice, quite ruinous, is observed upon 
some waste land (No. 4^). Built into a pile of massive masonry are some 
slabs or blocks of stone, of Cyclopean character. The largest has the 
appearance of a lintel ; it is twelve and a half feet long and three in 
thickness. The recess behind the slabs, upon which it rests transversely, 
is blocked up by a wall. A portion of a grinding stone is seen lying on 
the ground, perhaps belonging to a linseed press. 

The oasis belongs to the quarter of Iki Kube, and the gardens contain 
a number of modern dwellings. It is remarkable for the size and leafiness 
of the walnut trees. The remains of several ancient edifices rise from 
among the foliage, or are strewn upon the grass. The most notable is a 
square building of some size, with an octagonal and conical roof (No. 5). 
The walls are featured by square windows ; but the architecture is plain 
and without ornament, and the appearance is stumpy and without grace. 
Perhaps it was a tomb like the rest. A smaller mausoleum of similar 
design is seen by the wayside (No. 6). It is almost buried beneath the 
ground. Before we leave the oasis, to visit the walled city on the shore, we 
are shown a subterraneous and vaulted chamber, now used as a store for hay. 

We now change direction and cross a zone of desert between the oasis 
and the walled city. AMien close to the north-western tower, we pause to 
admire the site, which commands the whole expanse of the lake. The 
view is only bounded by the distant ridge of Varag, which rises behind 
Van. The walls describe the figure of a parallelogram, of which the two 
long sides have a length of about a quarter of a mile, and descend in a 
south-easterly direction to the margin of the lake. The breadth of the 
figure, along the shore, is about half its length. The slope, although 
gradual, is not inconsiderable ; the north-western tower is 130 feet higher 
than the level of the lake. The wall on the south overlooks a shallow 
ravine, through which trickles a little stream. 

The character of the walls may be described as a single rampart, with 
hollow towers at intervals, some round, and others pentagonal. The 
rampart has a thickness of about six feet, and consists of a pile of stone, 
faced with hewn and jointed blocks after the manner of the old Armenian 
masonry. But the greater part of this facing has fallen away or been 
stripped off, displaying the raggedness of the pile within. We could find 
no evidence of breaches having been made in the enclosure ; nor were 
there any visible traces of its having undergone a siege. The wall along 
the shore has long since disappeared ; ^ and the lake has encroached 
^ Brant {op. cit. p. 407) attests its existence at the time of his visit. 

288 Armenia 

upon its rocky bank. About halfway down the more southerly wall 
is situated the inner walled enclosure of the palace or citadel. 
This inner fortress comprises an area which is roughly rectangular, and 
which is of no great extent. It is flanked along the three inner 
sides by a rampart and towers, but the city wall is at the same time the 
wall of the citadel along the fourth or outer side. The site is signalised by a 
slight projection of the fortification, and by the greater propinquity of the 
towers to each other. From the tower at the north-eastern angle of the 
citadel a cross wall is carried down to the sea. The upper portion of the 
principal enclosure, as well as the space within the citadel, is now com- 
pletely bare. Nothing but the foundations of houses and buildings can be 
discovered within that area. The few modern houses are collected in the 
south-east corner, and have been built from the material of the old fortress. 
Their inhabitants resemble phantoms rather than human beings ; but the 
orchards, which are confined to this lower part of the enclosure, enhance 
the picturesqueness of the old kala, sloping down the hillside to the blue 

Three gateways, from which the gates have disappeared, give entrance 
to the enceinte, two in the rampart on the north, and one in that upon 
the south. The upper gate in the north rampart is in a ruinous condition, 
the plinths having been broken away. The lower entrance is situated 
about opposite to that in the south wall ; a road extends between the two 
through the cross wall. Both these gateways are surmounted by inscribed 
slabs. The legend over the first is written in Persian verse, and recounts 
that the fortress was built by order of Sultan Selim. The date is given in 
a chronogram as a.h. 976 or a.d. 1568. The inscription upon the 
second is in Turkish verse, but the chronogram is obscure. It sets forth 
that the kala was built or restored by Sultan Suleyman the Second (a.d. 
1 687-1 691). The citadel is entered by a handsome gateway, facing 
towards the sea. This entrance consists of a pretentious piece of 
architecture, flanked on either side by a tower. The doorway leads into 
a vaulted chamber, where the passage into the citadel is placed at right 
angles to the outer door. The inscription above this entrance is in 
Arabic prose, the characters being relieved by a ground of enamel in 
various colours. It is to the effect that the fortress was built by Sultan 
Suleyman, son of Sultan Selim. Suleyman is styled, in the pompous 
language of the East, the Alexander of his time. It would therefore 
appear that the citadel is due to Suleyman the First, surnamed the Great, 
who came to the throne in a.d. 1520; and that other portions of the 
fortifications were undertaken under subsequent Sultans, notably Selim II. 
and Suleyman II. 

The only buildings of any importance within the enceinte are two 
mosques, which are rapidly falling into ruin. The largest (No. 18) is 
placed just opposite the gateway of the citadel, and is of charming 
proportions and design. The entrance is approached through a spacious 
portico, which extends the whole length of the wall. The piers or 
columns, which must have supj^orted the roof of this structure, in the 
form of a fac^ade, are no longer in their place. But one still admires the 

Akhlat 289 

vaulted and groined ceilings, the vaulting being done in brick. And 
through the openings in the side walls, with their ogee arches, pleasant 
prospects are obtained. The face of the main wall, against which the 
portico rests, is decorated in a simple and efficacious manner by means of 
an alternation of bands of white marble with bands made up with blocks 
of black and of pink lava. The main doorway, which gives access through 
this wall into the mosque, is surmounted by a pointed arch. A slab of 
white marble over the door is inscribed with a legend in Persian verse. 
It relates that the mosque was erected by Sikandar or Iskandar Pasha ; 
a chronogram gives the date of a.h. 976 or a.d. 1568. On either side of 
the doorway, as well as above it, openings with ogee arches admit light 
into the interior. In front of, but contiguous with, the portico on its 
south-west side, a massive circular minaret rises into the sky. It is seen, 
like a landmark, from afar. It does not taper perceptibly ; but the 
honeycomb cornice which supports the balcony is surmounted by a 
second tower of smaller diameter. The cupola has fallen from this 
uppermost shaft. A band of white limestone, and two bands of black 
lava encircle the even masonry of pink lava. A heart-shaped stone, high 
up, is engraved with Arabic characters, setting forth the name of the 
founder, Sikandar Pasha, and giving the date as a.h. 978 or a.d. 1570. 

The interior of the mosque is of extremely pleasing design — a circle 
described by eight pointed arches, springing from a square ground plan. 
Four of these form recesses at the angles of the square ; the remainder 
rest against the walls. The members of the arches are built of stone ; 
but the walls are lined and the vaultings constructed with narrow bricks. 
The dome rests on the points of the arches, encompassing the interior 
with its beautiful curves. From the outside it is octagonal in shape. In 
the south wall are three apertures which serve as windows ; two are of 
fair size. The dimensions are a square of 42 feet 6 inches. The altar 
is built of white marble, and the masonry throughout the building is 
carefully faced and joined. 

The second mosque, situated just outside the cross wall, is smaller, 
but of similar design. The portico is still perfect, the cups of the three 
ceilings being supported by pointed arches, resting on two columns with 
uncarved capitals. But this mosque is built throughout of stone, marbles 
of various hues being introduced. A legend in Persian verse above the 
doorway is to the effect that it was constructed by the Kazi^ Mahnmd, in 
A.H. 996 or a.d. 1587. 

Such is the kala or Ottoman fortress, and what it contains. The 
architecture, although careful, and, in the case of the mosques, pleasing, 
displays a distinct decline in the arts. The admirable traceries in stone 
of the so-called Seljuk buildings are nowhere to be found. Persian 
influences make themselves felt. 

We proceed from the kala in a south-westerly direction, on a course 
about parallel to the outline of the shore. The high ground, shelving to 
the water, is barren and stony. At a distance of nearly a mile we arrive 
at an isolated tomb, of which the site is a little headland of the coast, 
commanding the inner curves of the bay of Akhlat. It is the most 

290 Armenia 

beautiful of all the mausolea, in fact the only object of excelling beauty 
at Akhlat (No. 7, Fig. 182). It stands as a surpassing monument of Arab 
architecture, engrafted upon the Armenian style. Its masonry is fresh as 
upon the day when it was completed, six centuries ago. But the ruins of 
a companion building, which stood not far behind it, and which collapsed, 
according to my informant, about two years back, are ominous of a 
dissolution which is perhaps nearer than we might expect. I have 
therefore reproduced its features in a careful photograph, and have 
endeavoured to invest them with the hues of reality. I do not know that 
I need add much to the general description already given of similar 
edifices. But in this tomb all the merits of the style are seen to 
culminate ; — in none do the proportions attain such exactitude, or the 
ornament such a combination of extraordinary elaboration with the 
simplicity and stateliness of the highest art. Tradition relates that these 
companion tombs are the burial-places of two brothers, and the work of a 
single architect. For the elder brother was designed the structure which 
has now fallen, and which is said to have been greatly inferior to that 
which stands. This individual lived to see the more finished monument 
erected, and to brood over the invidious contrast between his own and 
his brother's tomb. His anger was visited upon the daring architect, who 
was condemned to lose his right hand. The story sounds plausible, for 
there exists no personal inscription upon the beautiful tomb. We ignore 
the name of the personage for whom it was built. On the other hand 
the fallen structure possessed such an inscription, which our khoja had 
fortunately copied before it succumbed. It commemorates the great 
afid noble Emb', Shadi Ag/ia, son of the great Emir, Sai/ghiir Agha, son of 
Khaghan Agha. The date is a.h. 672 or a.d. 1273. The language is 
Arabic prose. 

Although the appearance of the kumbet does not suggest size, the 
dimensions are about the largest of all these tombs. The upper and 
circular chamber has a diameter of 22 feet ; and each side of the square 
base which supports the structure is close upon 30 feet long. Although 
the floor of the lower chamber is partially silted up, it has a height of 
16 feet. Beneath the deep cornice runs a frieze of white marble, with an 
inscription from the Koran. The body of the building is composed of 
the usual pink volcanic lava. The interior displays no trace of plaster, 
nor is it ornamented in any way. 

Between the isolated tomb and the ravine of the ancient city, the 
ground is covered by the headstones of an extensive cemetery, a kind of 
Kensal Green or Pere Lachaise. But our European pattern of marble 
slabs, with thin incisions, are pale and paltry when compared with these. 
The fact that a majority of these headstones are still erect attests their 
extraordinary solidity. In all, or almost all, cases they have the form of 
a pilaster, surmounted by a honeycomb frieze. The silhouettes of these 
friezes are extremely picturesque against the lights of the sky. The stone 
has weathered brown and carries a little lichen. The head of the dead 
man is placed towards Mecca, turned upon his right shoulder. The 
headstone faces the feet and the rising sun. The face bears the inscrip- 

riu. 1^:^, Akhlai : IsuLATtL. Tomb. 



tion in Arabic character ; on the reverse the ornament, which forms the 
subject of the accompanying illustration (Fig. 183), is an almost universal 
feature. Some of these graves are of the same date as the kumbets, or 
even earlier, while some are rather later. They represent a comparatively 
high standard of civilisation, in which the arts were 
cherished and extensively practised. 

Continuing our course along the shore, but still 
high above the lake, we come to the point where the 
headland breaks away to the alluvial flats of an 
extensive delta. This delta constitutes the inner 
recess of the bay, screening a lagoon of some size. 
It is formed by the deposits of two streams, which 
meet close to us, and of which the more easterly 
flows from the ravine of the ancient city. Yet a 
third stream enters the shallows some distance 
further west. The strip of alluvium in front of the 
lagoon extends from this headland to the opposite 
curve of the bay. It is probable that the gradual 
rise in level of the lake has caused these little 
streams to deposit a quantity of sediment out of pro- 
portion to their volume. So narrow is the strip of 
soil, that a peasant is digging a trench across it 
with nothing but his hands. He is wanting to •.''-'■ 
let out the surplus water from the lagoon. Several 
tall willows are growing within the delta, to 
which we immediately descend. From a bush at our side a young 
cormorant takes wing, and falls clumsily into the lake below. Reversino- 
our direction, we ride up the principal valley, at first over the soft sand. 
Again commence the orchards, and again the air is scented by the flower- 
ing olive trees. The valley becomes a glen, and the bed of powdery 
silt gives place to slabs of rock. The stream cascades beside us, from 
one ledge to another, beneath the shade of walnuts, willows, and poplars. 
Some little children are bathing in the deeply-shadowed water; a tiny 
calf stands on the shore. And a little further, behind the sparkle and 
effervescence of a waterfall, the site of the city comes to view. 
Beyond the single pointed arch and little battlements of a stone bridge, 
you see the sharp end of a wedge-shaped platform, rising above the detail 
of the luxuriant valley like the prow of a gigantic ship. It cleaves the 
valley into two (Fig. 184). 

The situation of old Akhlat resembles that of Bitlis ; but it is Bitlis 
shorn of its castle, and without the lofty mountains towering above it on 
every side. It is nothing more than a valley, cut by water deep into the 
lava, with a long spit of columnar lava rising up from the valley floor. 
The direction of this valley is roughly north and south. Of its two 
branches, that on the east of the citadel is wider but less deep ; while 
that on the west is narrower but more profoundly carved. These side 
ravines unite at both ends of the citadel ; although on the north the 
junction is less obvious. There is no stream in the eastern ravine. The 

Fig. 183. 



platform, which supported the citadel, is both highest and most broad 
towards its northerly end. Its greatest width is about 100 yards, and its 
length, from end to end, less than 500 yards. Its height above the 
stream is some 200 feet. The top of the platform is flat ; all buildings have 
been razed ; the tread sinks in the powdery soil. It is crossed by two 
depressions, which must have always been a source of weakness. The 
almost demolished remains of immensely thick walls still rise in some 
places from the upper sides. 

The ascent to the platform is from the valley on the east ; on our way 
we pass a line of miserable shops and a cluster of houses, built of stone. 
Caves in the side of the basaltic lava have probably been utilised in the 
construction of these tenements. The inhabitants have an emaciated and 
sickly appearance, being in fact extremely poor. A track leads up the 
cliff to the head of the platform, whence a fine view over the adjacent 
ravines is obtained. That on the east is almost treeless, but the higher 
levels of the western ravine are thickly clothed with trees. The verdure 
descends the clefts in that opposite parapet, which towers above the 
citadel. Stone houses nesde among the foliage. It is surprising how 
little remains of the ancient city. On the slope of the eastern valley, 
which is, comparatively, a low gradient, a portion of the wall of some 
considerable edifice is still erect, and fairly well preserved. It is an 
extremely lofty wall, being flanked by buttresses ; the masonry is of jointed 
and faced stone. Below it are observed some remnants of a vaulted 
edifice, possibly a bath. Beyond the fragment of a wall, and on the 
surface of the high ground, rises a ruinous round tower. In that direction 
we notice traces of a rampart. 

In the opposite quarter, beyond the western ravine, the standing 
portion of a ruinous kumbet emerges from the trees on the summit of the 
cliff, and forms a landmark from afar (No. 9). It is the tomb of the 
" lord of Emirs " — so runs the inscription — Hasan Agha, son of Mahviud. 
The date of his death is given as a.h. 672 or a.d. 1273. 0>^ the same 
summit the bases of two large and similar buildings may be discovered 
among the orchards. 

Descending from the platform, we endeavour to trace the line of the 
walls, which enclosed a considerable area on the east of the citadel, and 
were brought down into the ravine. The result of our labours is shown 
on the plan. The round tower, already mentioned, which has an inside 
diameter of fifteen paces, evidently stood at one of the angles of the line 
of walls. 

Tust outside, and on the east of this line of fortifications is situated a 
little mosque, in pink volcanic stone, and by its side a tomb (No. 8). 
This kumbet differs in style from all its fellows, the circular structure, 
which is supported by the usual form of pedestal, being open upon the 
side that faces away from the wall of the mosque. On that side the 
conical roof rests on ten short columns, with honeycomb capitals. These 
columns rise from the lower portion of the drum, which is richly decorated. 
Above them, and below the roof, runs a frieze with an inscription. In 
the side opposite the wall of the mosque is an aperture or entrance, set 

Aklilat 293 

within a recess with honeycomb ornament. The interior of the tomb has 
a diameter of fifteen and a half feet.^ The inscription, which is the 
longest of all these personal records, and, indeed, usurps the position 
which in the remaining mausolea is reserved for verses from the Koran, 
may be briefly summarised as follows. It is in Arabic prose. " This 
tomb preserves the remai/is of the g?-eat and laudable king, honoured among 
the sultans of the world for his valour in war, and for his zeal ifi the pro- 
pagation of the Faith — -Mubariz-ud-Din, Bayindar Bey, son of the late 
Rustem Bey. Under the auspices of his royal banner were vindicated the 
rights of sovereignty and the ordering of government. During his life he 
triumphed over his enemies with the aid of his victorious armies. He died in 
A.H. 886 (a.d. 148 1 ). Here also was buried Zen Alohammed, his son, zvho 
died in a.h. 894." The inscription upon the mosque refers to the same 
personage, as having erected it. But Bayindar is styled ^^ the ransomed 
emperor" and " the master of the stvord and of the pen, the author of the book 
Majmu-ul-Makarim. " 

Having visited these meagre relics on either cliff of the volcanic valley, 
we descend to the western ravine. The stream is flowing beneath the 
deep shade of trees, and prattling over ledges of rock. This portion of 
the ravine is termed Takht-i-Suleyman, or Solomon's throne, from the 
appearance of the lofty platform which it skirts. Just north of the citadel 
the valley narrows, and becomes a deep gorge. We make our way along 
the side of the cleft. It was once spanned by the single arch of a stone 
bridge. A little distance further, the stream from Kulaxis joins our stream, 
coming in on the left bank through a ravine and by a cascade. Pursuing 
our course up the glen, for the space of half-an-hour from the confluence, 
we reach the Armenian village of Madavantz. 

Madavantz is a semi-troglodyte village, which reminds one of Vardzia 
(Vol. I. Fig. 18, p. 80). The dwellings are only partially built out from 
caves in the face of the lava. The place seems as old as the hills. 
The valley has become extremely narrow, and the cliffs rise with consider- 
able steepness on either bank of the little stream. The village of caves 
overhangs the right bank. On the left bank is a little church, of which 
the interior chapel and altar are sunk into the rock. The main body is 
built out, and is supported on stone columns. The priest informs us 
that the chapel was built by the Apostle Thaddeus, who also preached at 
Madavantz. However this may be, it evidently dates from a hoary 
antiquity, and it is by far the most ancient building in the whole district.- 
It is dedicated to the Mother of God — Astvatsatsin. 

Let me review, for the sake of the reader who may not have 
leisure to pursue the excursions which are embodied in the above 
description, the results and impressions of our visit to these ruins. 
There are two distinct sites of cities which once were prosperous, 

^ Woodcuts of this tomb are given by Layard {op. cit. p. 24) and by Mullei-Simonis 
{op. cit. p. 313). 

- Madavantz belongs to the caza but not to the casaba, or home district, of Akhlat. 

294 Armenia 

but which now harbour a mere handful of miserable human 
beings. There is the walled fortress on the shore, a work of the 
sixteenth century, built by order of Ottoman Sultans. It is 
usually termed the kala, or fortress ; while the more ancient 
site in the ravine north-west of this kala is generally alluded 
to as the kJiarab-sheJir, or ruined city. In the case of the 
Ottoman stronghold the walls and two mosques, one with a 
fine minaret, are still erect. But it is rather the happy 
choice of situation that impresses the traveller, than any special 
merit in the architecture. If Akhlat should ever recover her 
former position, let us hope that the new city will grow around 
this site. At the present day, even the seat of administration 
for the district has been removed from the kala to the suburb of 

Of the older city in the ravine scarcely a remnant remains, 
although it is still possible to trace the foundations of the walls. 
On the other hand, several of the mausolea are still erect, and are 
distributed over a considerable space of ground. These, and 
extensive graveyards, are the monuments of that ancient city 
which have been spared by the ravages of war and the lapse of 
time. Among the tombs, there is one of particular excellence, 
reproduced in my illustration (Fig. 182). It would do honour to 
any school of architecture. It is one of the fine things in the 
world. A glance at the illustrations of the circular chapels of Ani 
(Vol. I. Ch. XVIII. Figs. 85, 86, 88), and at some of the elaborate 
stone traceries of the Armenian style {ibid. Figs. 73 and Jj) will 
throw light upon the source of the inspiration which produced it, 
or contributed thereto in the greatest degree. This and the 
several similar tombs at Akhlat are all works of the latter portion 
of the thirteenth century. A later and less pleasing development 
is the tomb of Prince '. Bayindar, erected at an interval of two 

But who was Bayindar, and who the persons with the 
cacophonous names to whose memory these mausolea were built ? 
The East, which ever opposes the type to the individual, leaves 
so little for busy History to explore. At a time when Dante 
was composing the Divine Comedy^ and when the Italian cities 
were commencing to throb with a new life of which every impulse 
is reflected both in literature and in art, architects, whose names 
soon perished, were erecting these monuments to princes of whom 
the names alone remain. What little may be gleaned from the- 

Akhlat 295 

sources at my disposal of the history of Akhlat, may be summar- 
ised in the following short account. 

The place is first known under the name of Khlath, and as 
an important Armenian town. Literature thus confirms the 
surmise which is readily suggested by the little chapel in the 
gorge at Madavantz. Indeed, one feels that this village of caves 
is perhaps the oldest of these ancient sites, like the crypt upon 
which in Europe has risen the edifice of some Gothic cathedral, 
but which once served as a Druids' shrine. The shrine still 
remains ; but the churches and monasteries have disappeared 
which, even as late as the end of the thirteenth century, were 
flourishing at Akhlat.^ But the city does not appear to have 
again come into Armenian possession after its conquest by the 
Arabs during the era of the caliphs. Its close vicinity to the 
Kurdish mountains and to the passage of Bitlis explains the 
long sequence of Mussulman rule. 

The Byzantine Empire, however, was successful in wresting it 
from the Mohammedans, but only for a short time. It paid 
tribute to Leo VI., a successor of the Caesars (A.D. 886-911); 
and it was annexed to the Empire under Basil the Second (in 
993). But it fell to the Seljuk Turks in the eleventh century, 
from whose hands it passed into those of the Merwanids, a line of 
Kurdish princes which had arisen from the debris of the caliphate, 
and whom the Seljuks had dispossessed of their seats about 
Diarbekr.^ The rule of these Kurds appears to have been so 
harsh that they w^ere driven out by the inhabitants ; a warrior 
of Turkish descent, who had been the slave of the Seljuk 
governor of Maraud in Azerbaijan, was called in as their Prince. 
This individual, by name Sokman, founded a so-called Seljuk 
dynasty, which, under the pompous title of Shahs of Armenia, 
reigned at Akhlat for upwards of a hundred years (i 100-1207).'^ 
They were succeeded by the Ayubids, descendants of the 
renowned Saladin, and of Kurdish extraction. The great siege 
of Akhlat by the Sultan of Kharizme (Khwarazm) falls within this 
period. The event still forms the centre of the slight historical 
knowledge which is possessed by the least uneducated of the 

1 Geography, attributed to Vardan ap. Saint ^lartin, JA'aioires sur PAniiJnh', vol. ii. 
p. 429. One of these monasteries contained the leather girdle of St. Gregory, and 
another was consecrated Ijy the saint himself. 

2 Constantine Porphyrogenitus, de Adiii. Imp. c. 44, in vol. iii. p. 196 of the Bonn 
edition. . ^ Lane- Poole, Mohammedan Dynasties, London, 1894, p. 118. 

* Deguignes, Hist, des I/iiiis, Paris, 1756, vol. i. p. 253 ; Lane-Poole, op. fit. p. 170. 

296 Aj'mcnia 

present inhabitants. They attribute to it the present condition of 
the walls. After two attempts which were unsuccessful, the sultan 
made desperate efforts to reduce this strong place. Twenty siege 
machines were brought against it from the side of the sea ; and, 
so complete was the investiture, that the besieged were compelled 
to kill their dogs for food. It was at last taken by storm (in 
A.D. 1229). But the triumph of Jelal-ud-Din was not of long 
duration ; his successes aroused the alarm of the Seljuk sultan of 
Iconium ; and the bloody battle of Akhlat at once decided the 
fate of his prize and sounded the death-knell of the Kharizmian 

The overthrow of that empire by the Mongols afforded a 
passage to these savage hordes towards the south. They became 
masters of the city in 1245. We are informed that they made it 
over to a Georgian princess, who had married a son of one of the 
Shahs of Armenia.^ To this period are due the mausolea which 
we still admire, and some of which appear to have been erected 
to princes of Mongol origin. My authorities throw no light upon 
the point. I am not aware that Nughatay, or Hasan Agha, or 
the son of Saughur are known to history. They preserve equal 
silence upon the period which produced the tomb of Bayindar, 
master of the szvord and of the pen. But we can scarcely doubt 
that he was a chieftain of the Turkoman horde of the White 
Sheep into whose possession the greater part of the country had 
passed during the progress of the fifteenth century."^ Akhlat was 
incorporated in the Ottoman dominions under Sultan Suleyman 
the First in A.D. 1533-1534.^ 

That the place continued to prosper after the catastrophe of 
the great siege by the Sultan of Kharizme is attested not only 
by the monuments which have been described, but also by the 
evidence of books. It was known to Abulfeda at the end of the 
thirteenth century as a flourishing town, which he compares to 

1 Saint Martin, quoting Chamchean, Hiit. vol. iii. p. 221. 

- Layard {op. at. p. 26) mentions a local tradition that all these tombs were built by 
Sultans of the Ak-Kuyunli (White Sheep) and Kara-Kuyunli (Black Sheep) Turkomans. 
The inscriptions show that this cannot be the case. The Venetian traveller Barbaro, 
who visited the country during the first half of the fifteenth century, found it in the 
possession of the horde of the Black Sheep. They were driven out by the rival horde 
of the White Sheep under Uzun Hasan (1466-1478). 

Layard speaks of Bayindar as a known sultan of the White Sheep horde, I know 
not upon what authority. 

^ Von Hammer, Geschichte dcs osmanischen Keiches, vol. iii. p. 143. Akhlat 
ajipears to have contained the tombs of some of the ancestors of the Ottoman ruling 
House {ibid, note to p. 144 on ]). 676). 


\ out on the spot by H.F.E. Lynch and Y. Oswald in 18£ 
Scale 672 Yards - 1 Inch 
or 1 : 24-.192 



•"^ O asts ■".:■' "-i ,\ 




Dr Ottoman fortress of Akhlat 
Scale 224 Yards - 1 Inch. 

^y Tajfls 

AkJilat 297 

Damascus. A century later, it is described by Bakoui as one of 
the principal cities of Armenia. Its decline appears to date from 
the commencement of the sixteenth century, though the district 
no doubt derived a certain glamour from the erection of the 
fortress on the shore.^ 

^ The Merchant in Persia {Travels of Italians in Persia, Ilakluyt Society, London, 
i873> P- 160), who visited Armenia in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, 
describes it as follows : — "This Calata {sic) was anciently a large city, as can be seen 
by the buildings, but is now reduced to a small fortress." 



July 1 6. — It was half-past two in the afternoon before our prepara- 
tions could be completed, the pack-horses having already started 
with their loads. Our orchard looked untidy, in spite of the care 
which had been taken to preserve its freshness from the usual 
litter of a camp. Still the old imam was profuse of gratitude, his 
wizened face relaxing into a smile which vexed his muscles to 
produce. Good-bye to our delicious home, and to our two blue- 
breasted friends ! Their loves have already ripened, and their 
young will soon be fledged. Journeys many, and various homes, 
and different fates await us — fragments all of universal matter 
and soul. But when we sink at last upon the lap of Nature, may 
her bosom reward the constancy of her own devoted lover with 
the perfume of the memory of this home ! 

Our course was directed past the iki kube and across the 
ravine towards Nimrud. Not a ripple awoke the vivid greens and 
azures of the lake upon the pallor of the surface of pale turquoise. 
The light was already mellowing as we approached the tomb upon 
the headland, throwing the proportions into relief with delicate 
shadows, and enhancing the natural tints of the pink volcanic 
stone against the background of restful blue. Before us, upon the 
horizon, the grassy circle of the gigantic crater filled the landscape 
of the west (Fig. 185, and plan). 

Descending into the delta, we forded the two streams and 
rose up the opposite cliff side. The more westerly of the pair 
approaches the alluvial flat by a fine cascade over a ledge of lava. 
These lavas are seen to have followed the course of the valley, as 
it expands before you towards the north-west. A similar feature 
was observed in the ravine of Madavantz. It proves that these 

Oitr Sojourn in the Crater of Ninirnd 299 

valleys are older than the lava, which must have poured down 
them in a very liquid condition. 

From the high land, over which we were again making, and 
which is here covered with pumice sand, we obtained a view of 
Bilejan. But our attention was soon diverted by the picturesque 
situation of a large village on our left hand. A rapid if only 
momentary change in our surroundings had taken us by surprise. 
It is due to a bed of dark, glassy lava, perhaps an ancient flow 
from Nimrud, or from a fissure about its base. A deep stream, 
which is crossed by a bridge, eats its way through the hard rock, 
and descends by several waterfalls to a lagoon within the bay. 
The village is placed at some little distance from the shore of the 
lake, upon a platform of lava on the right bank of the stream. It 
possesses two small churches, which are evidently very old. On 
the outskirts, which we crossed, was a small field, planted with 
marrows, an unusual luxury in this neighbourhood. The in- 
habitants are all, I believe, Armenians. 

But Karmuch and its black valley, with the willows and the 
waterfalls, were but an incident — and the last incident — in the 
scene. An almost uniform plain, of very shallow gradient, 
stretched from all sides towards the crater in the west. Covered 
at first by pumice, a brown lava comes to the surface, and extends 
to the actual wall of the circular mass. Dry watercourses seam 
the entire region, which, however, is so even in its general 
character, that it would almost seem to have once been covered, 
up to the base of the crater, by the waters of the lake. At first 
the soil is barren, supporting only some burnt herbage ; in such 
surroundings we sank to the trough of an extensive depression, in 
which is situated a deserted cemetery of some size. But when 
the lava is reached the vegetation commences, and continues 
to the foot of the higher seams. The spangled blossoms of 
atraphaxis, which I had not seen since my first journey, were 
conspicuous, but only here and there. The prevailing flower was 
a large forget-me-not, almost the size of a little bush ; and, later 
on, a wild pea, pink and white. The higher we rose the more 
frequent became patches of standing corn, though by whom 
planted it was difficult to conceive. Our people said they belonged 
to a distant Armenian village at the foot of the crater, called 
Seghurt or Teghurt. The soil, where exposed by the plough, was 
a rich brown. Small blocks of obsidian, coal-black in hue, were 
scattered over the o-rass. Now and again a tortoise waddled over 

300 Amncnia 

the sand. So we rode for a distance of many miles, until the wall 
of the crater rose like a rampart above our heads. We had 
reached an elevation of 6880 feet, or of over 1000 feet above the 
level of Lake Van. 

After a short halt, we led our horses up the slope, which 
has a gradient of \2\ It was covered with grass, and whole 
beds of wild pea. These sides of the crater are seamed with 
deep gullies, which display in section the lava-flows. The 
dark green obsidian of the uppermost beds was glittering in the 
sun. A direct ascent of twenty minutes brought us to the 
surface of a natural terrace, at a height of 7900 feet. We were 
surprised to find a well-used track, making use of this terrace to 
reach the summit of the circular wall. Less astonishment was 
aroused by the presence there of a troop of cavalry ; they had 
come to meet us from their camp within the crater. For more 
than a week, both cavalry and infantry had been patrolling this 
strange place, in anticipation of our visit. It is indeed probable 
that, without these extraordinary precautions, we should have 
found it impossible to carry on our work. That we were able 
to go where we pleased, whether in or around the crater, we owe 
to the kindness of the local authorities, and, in particular, to the 
late Vali of Bitlis. Our excellent friend, the Kaimakam of 
Akhlat, personally accompanied us, and remained with us during 
our stay. 

The view from this terrace over the landscape of the east is 
one of the most inspiring that could be conceived. The western 
inlets of Lake Van, with their long promontories and varied 
outline — with the precipitous barrier of the Kurdish mountains 
rising along the one shore, and from the other the fabric of Sipan 
— are perhaps the most beautiful portion of the inland sea. They 
scarcely figure upon existing maps. Certainly when you rise 
above them, and the expanse of the water is spread beneath you, 
and Sipan emerges free of all lesser heights — while as yet their 
essential detail has not been lost by distance, but the vast 
prospects, which they lack, have been regained — these western 
inlets arc the pride of the scenery of Lake Van. The setting 
sun sheds a mellow light upon the great volcano, robed in snow, 
upon the white summits of the Kurdish range, upon the dim 
outline of Varag. Around the field of pale water are shed a 
thousand delicate hues, over peak and dome, and buried garden 
and arable. We can still sec the lonely tomb upon the headland. 

Our Sojourn in the Crater of Niinrud 301 

On the opposite coast we see Surb, fairest of little bays ; the 
steep cliffs behind Garzik ; the arms of the Sheikh Ora crater, 
almost encircling the lake admitted to its inmost core. 

Such is the landscape — so full of light and most ethereal 
colour — that has dazzled the eye during the ascent of the rampart. 
We ride on, along the terrace, with the uppermost slope on our 
right hand. It has a gradient of about \f\ and is largely 
covered up with white pumice sand. The track worms its 
way to a fork in the outline, which we reach in about ten 
minutes. It is just after six o'clock. The ground falls away, 
and a scene expands before us which Mother Earth, rejDentant of 
her orgies, has acted wisely in surrounding with a wall. 

The whole circumference of the gigantic circle towers around 
us, the vaulted slopes of the outer sides breaking down with 
precipitous cliffs, which, in some places, attain a height of over 
2000 feet above the rubble at their base. The impression of 
height and steepness is accentuated by the lighting — the sun 
setting behind the crater. The same circumstance increases the 
weirdness of the vast spaces of the interior, with their multitude 
of chaotic forms. Flatness is the prevailing characteristic of the 
bottom of the basin — but the surface has been blown out by 
subterranean explosions, or sunk into deep pits, or flooded with 
viscous lavas, oozing up, and cooling into comb-shaped crags. 
Here it is a shapeless hill covered with white volcanic dust ; there 
a lava stream, resembling rocks from, which the tide has receded, 
that compels a large circuit from point to point. The coarse 
herbage has already been burnt by the sun, and its hues assimilated 
to the volcanic sand. These ragged yellows intermingle with the 
sombre lavas ; and the only touch of beauty in this hell of Nature 
is a little piece of blue at its furthest side. It is just a glimpse 
that we obtain of the principal lake. 

But what is the meaning of these many paths which scam the 
interior, arguing a considerable traffic to and fro. Are there 
villages in the crater ? We have never heard of any ; we are 
assured that none exist. Not a fire, no light is anywhere visible ; 
but the tracks are broad, and have all the appearance of being 
regularly used. We feel surprise and express it to the Kaimakam. 
He answers naively that Kurds come here now and then. 

After a short halt, the whole party defiles down the narrow 
path — zaptiehs, cavalry, a detachment of infantry. Looking 
backwards, it is a long, thin line from base to summit, the 



number of horses making an imposing array. Arrived at the 
foot of the wall, we skirt the cliff for some distance in a north- 
westerly direction. It is our object to find some shade for our 
camp. But in this search we become involved in some deep 
ravines, covered with groves of aspen and birch. Juniper conceals 
the hollows in the rocky surface, and adds to our difficulties in 
the failing light. None of the trees are of sufficient height for 
our purpose ; and the Kaimakam entreats us to avoid these 
wooded ravines, which are, he says, the favourite haunt of bears. 
They descend to the shore of the warm lake. At last we espy a 

Fig. 186. The Lake in the Crater of Nimrud. 

clearing, a kind of platform, free of brushwood, yet close to the 
aspen groves. It overlooks, at a considerable elevation above it, 
the mirror of a fresh-water lake. The peaceful water fills the 
whole western segment of the crater. Great, black masses in the 
heights about us intensify the darkness ; they are composed of 
obsidian, pure, and black as jet. On a tiny promontory of the 
opposite shore a shepherd's fire starts from the shadows. Failing 
shade, it is just the site for an encampment, and here we erect 
our tents (Fig. i86). 

The morning breaks serene and clear ; we have slept, as 
usual, with our tent open upon one side. It has been chilly 
during the night ; but the temperature rises with great rapidity 
as the sun mounts above the rim of the crater. A charming 
landscape is framed within the opening of the green canvas, 

Otir Soj02irn in the Crater of Nimrud 


receiving the mellow light from behind. Beyond the foreground 
of quivering aspens and white-stemmed, tremulous birches, the 
eye rests upon the transparent surface of the lake. The opposite 
segment of the circle of cliffs is mirrored in the water with all 
the wealth of detail which they possess. Where these images 
cease, the surface is blue, like any other lake in the recesses of 
the mountains. We miss the changing effects and splendour of 
colour, characteristic of the lake of Van. 

We descend through the groves to the margin of the water, 
to take our morning's bathe. The declivity is pretty steep, and 
there is a difference of level of 300 feet between our camp and 
the lake. The wood is still cool and fresh. Tall stalks of 
flowering yellow mullein rise within it ; and the prevailing green- 
ness is relieved by patches of pink from the rosebay willow-herb, 
or of pale salmon from clusters of poppies. It seems quite a 
nursery for a variety of insects, this crater of Ximrud. Last 
evening, as we arrived, the bushes were dotted with sleeping 
butterflies, reminding us of the appearance of those shreds of 
coloured cotton which are affixed by devout pilgrims to the shrubs 
round their sacred place. This morning the air is all hum and 
bright wings ; we notice the swallow-tail in abundance, the 
marbled white, some clouded yellows, a multitude of fritillaries, 
a few tortoiseshells. 

The water is pure as crystal ; but it feels cold, having a 
temperature of 64° Fahrenheit. To the taste it scarcely differs 
from ordinary water, although we thought it was at once more 
pleasant and more bracing to the skin. It is evidently increasing 
in level. Many of the trees along its margin are submerged. 
We saw no fish, only some small leeches and fresh -water 

If only one had a boat, and could take soundings, and could 
cross to the opposite shore ! It is probably very deep. The 
walls of the crater are so precipitous, that one cannot walk along 
their base. Nor is it possible to reach their summit, except on 
the eastern side of the great circle, in which we occupy a fairly 
central position. It is therefore necessary to make a very long 
detour when we wish to visit any point on the west of the 

From our platform we see the worn tracks in all directions. 
Yet not a single Kurdish tent, no shepherd, no wayfarer can we 
descry in the wide landscape of the volcanic basin. We observe 

304 Armenia 

paved holes in the ground, where it is evident that bread has 
recently been baked. There are stone enclosures for penning 
cattle. More and more clearly we realise that the crater must 
be inhabited, and that this floating population have decamped at 
the approach of the soldiers. They will return the moment their 
backs are turned. Indeed the place has the worst reputation as a 
harbour of lawlessness ; and the Turkish Government might well 
have disclaimed responsibility for our safety in a spot so remote 
and wild. They deserve our gratitude for what they have done. 

Have all quarry left the haunts of the great hunter, whose 
name is attached to one of the most remarkable among the 
mountains of the world ? One of our party is prepared to swear 
that he saw two bears in the dusk of evening ; they trotted away 
at his approach. And indeed, one night, I myself was awakened 
by something rummaging between the outer and the inner roofs 
of our tent. There are no dogs here ; was it a bear ? I rose, 
but could discover nothing — only the fact that our sentries were 
in a dead sleep. At nightfall our escort light extensive bonfires, 
and sing the wailing love-songs of the East. At intervals the 
bugle sounds ; then there rises a loud cheer. The bugle, the 
cheers, the leaping flames, the tremulous chantings — even our 
watchmen are not proof against the contrast with such excitement 
of the heavy stillness of the midnight hours. And perhaps the 
bears have joined the brigands in taking to flight. 

For eight whole days we remained upon the mountain, busily 
employed in examining the crater and its surroundings, and in 
making a careful plan. We had been joined by Captain Elliot 
and Mr. Monahan, Her Majesty's Consuls respectively at Van 
and Bitlis. Captain Elliot was desirous of making use of this 
favourable occasion in order to study Nimrud. He gave us most 
valuable assistance in measuring the crater ; and while he and 
Oswald were engaged with our telemeter within the basin, I was 
reading with the prismatic compass from one point to another 
along the summit of the cliffs. By the time their labours were 
completed, I had prepared a drawing of the interior, as well as of 
some of the features of the crater walls.^ 

1 The accuracy of the results obtained with our .Steward telemeter was well tested 
on Nimrud by these cross-readings from salient points along the edge of the crater. 
The principal credit, however, for the excellent measurements, taken under great diffi- 
culties, owing to the uneven surface of the ground, is due to Captain Elliot, who was 
ably seconded by Mr. Oswald. 


asui-id and m;ii'lu-il l.y H.FH l.yiu-U and Y It^wixiii in .luly ib 

Sralo I Mile - 1 Inch or I : G3.3G0 

I av/' ">■"''"'■/>' 

Otiv Sojourn in the Crater of Niviriui 305 

In delicious air, under a warm sun, yet always tempered by 
a cool breeze, my portion of the task was a pure pleasure. On 
the other hand, my companions looked fatigued in the evening. 
When my turn came for work inside the crater, I readily under- 
stood the cause. From noon to three o'clock the conditions were 
most exhausting. The sun flamed above our heads, and the 
rock reverberated under our feet. Refreshment came when the 
wind rose, but it was in the nature of a strong draught. On one 
occasion I let fall a lighted match by accident ; it set fire to a 
whole side of the central hill. Our people and the soldiers cut 
down branches and made arbours ; but, even so, they suffered 
during the heat of the day. Our cook implored me to move 
camp, and not deprive his wife and children of their sole support. 
If only the floating population of the place would allow the little 
trees to grow into wood ! But they need firing more than shade. 
The shade temperature was never excessive — some 80° to 85°. 
And the nights were cool, necessitating a double blanket. When 
we arrived, there still remained a patch or two of last winter's 
snow within the wide area of the interior. 

The commanding position, the imposing dimensions, the 
remarkable preservation of the Nimrud crater cannot fail to 
arouse the curiosity of the traveller, as he sees it from afar or 
passes it by. In summer it is a circle of grassy cliffs with a 
vaulted outline ; during winter and autumn, when the higher 
levels are early robed in snow, it is a startling presence against 
the sky (see Fig. 145, p. 142). From any point you command but 
a small portion of the vast circumference, which, measured upon 
our plan, amounts to 14^ miles. Of unequal height, the edge of 
the basin is most elevated upon the north, where at two points it 
attains an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet. It is lowest upon the 
east and west ; in either quarter the outline dips to a level of 
8100 feet. But the circle is nowhere broken; the rim of the 
caldron remains intact, although worn down and, in places, 
chipped. With two great depressions on either side, the lake 
of Van (5600 feet) and the plain of Mush (4200 feet), such a 
presence fills the landscape and engrosses the eye. 

Nor is the imagination disappointed when the interior of the 
crater is seen for the first time. I have already described the 
impression which that view produced upon us, entering it from 
the east. The lake fills almost the whole of the western half of 
its area, at a level of 7656 feet. The remaining portion consists 


06 Armenia 

of older lava streams, covered with pumice, and of some more 
recent, which bristle with sharp crags. The eastern shore of the 
lake is deeply indented, and the volcanic matter has cooled in 
the form of high banks. The figure described by the walls of 
the crater is almost exactly circular, the diameter being greatest 
along an east-north-east line, or between the fork, where we first 
entered the basin, and the passage in on the west (c and 
m on plan). The distance between these points is nearly 
5 miles (8500 yards). Nimrud is therefore one of the largest 
perfect craters in the world.^ The period during which it 
seethed with a lake of molten matter, which overflowed into the 
lower levels on every side, must date far beyond the limits of 
history. At the present day not a wreath of smoke ascends from 
the volcano ; though at times a little landslip sends the fine sand 
into the air, with much the same appearance as a cloud. 

But the student of volcanic phenomena could not select a 
better example of the successive stages of eruptive activity. In 
an earlier stage we must suppose the walls of the crater some- 
what higher, and the area considerably narrower which they 
enclosed. The earliest lavas, in the case of Nimrud, were of an 
acid and viscous description (rhyolitic augite-andesites) ; and, as 
often as they rose above the lip of the caldron, they did not 
flow very far. But the later basaltic lavas had a larger 
extension ; and to them is due, in no small measure, the plateau 
on the east of Tadvan, which acts as a dam to the lake of Van. 
The molten lava surged against the precipices which confined it, 
and gradually wore them back. The work of enlargement was 
advanced by violent explosions, which were principally directed 
against the western and eastern sides of the volcanic basin. The 
uppermost and steepest portions of the wall were, on these two 
sides, completely blown away. This epoch in the life of the 
volcano, the storm and stress of a tumultuous youth, was followed 
by the gradual subsidence of its energies. The streams of lava 
were confined to the interior of the crater, and the deeper 
portion came to be covered with a lake. It was perhaps at this 

1 Among craters similar in character to Nimrud the best comparison would seem to 
be afforded by the Crater Lake of Oregon (Cascade range). The average diameter of 
this crater is a little more than 5^ miles, and while the inner slopes around the lake are 
precipitous, those facing outwards to the platform upon which the crater is reared are 
gentle. The highest point is 8200 feet above the sea, and the lake has a depth of 2000 
feet (see J. S. Diller, American Joiinial of Science, 1897, p. 165). The well-known 
craters in the Sandwich Islands are much smaller than Nimrud, the largest, Kilauea, 
having a maximum diameter of 2^ miles. 

Our Sojourn in the Crater of Ninirud ^O"] 

period that were produced the little craters which figure on the 
outer slopes of the principal caldron, roughly along meridional 
lines. Such minor points of emission were also formed within 
that caldron, and from them proceeded some of the older flows 
which cover its floor. Explosions again occurred ; but their 
effects were only local. They blew away portions of the little 
craters, and sent up showers of dust, which, falling to the ground, 
cloaked the surface of the lava streams. The latest and 
moribund stage is represented by those bosses of lava which form 
such a conspicuous feature. The viscous matter welled up along 
old lines of weakness, and from the chimneys of the little craters. 
One of these bosses divides a small warm lake from the main 
sheet of water ; others form little peninsulas in the principal lake 
(C, D, E). They have all the appearance of being fairly recent, 
and they are not yet overgrown with wood. Finally one may 
mention some extensive flows of cinder, about the base of the 
little crater on the outside of the mountain, on the north of the 
circle of cliffs. They might have issued a few months ago. 

To these various manifestations of the expiring forces of the 
volcano is due the present weird and troubled aspect of the 
interior, which formed the basis of our first impression. The 
little wood is confined to the neighbourhood of the lake ; the 
remaining portion is barren and rugged. A high hill, covered 
with pumice, and about in the centre of this region, affords an 
admirable standpoint from which to survey the whole (L on 
plan). The little lakes which figure on the plan are due to the 
melting snows. I doubt whether you would find a spring of 
good, fresh water ; we all drank the water of the lake. The warm 
lake is situated beneath the escarpment of the wall on the north, 
and is almost contiguous with the principal sheet of water (A). 
Its level is about the same. But it differs from the other 
lagoons in respect of its colour, which, owing to the abundance 
of vegetation in its vicinity, is a yellow -green, resembling an 
English village pool. It is said to possess healing properties ; 
but this I should be inclined to doubt. Oswald, who waded 
about with unflagging curiosity, hunted out the several emissions 
of bubbles. Their intermittent nature reminded us of similar 
phenomena in the shallows of Lake Van. Perhaps the gas is 
merely due to decaying vegetable matter upon the bottom, and 
the temperature principally to the powerful effect of the sun's 
rays. The water in this lake, as in the big one, is rising in level, 


08 Armenia 

a fact which is probably due to the increased action of mineral 
springs. It is flat and mawkish to the taste. 

I should say that it might be possible to ride round the edge 
of the crater within a space of seven or eight hours. But the 
outline is so uneven, and the ground in places so difficult, that, at 
the best, it would prove a very hard day's work. We devoted 
considerable portions of several days to making the circuit, re- 
visiting certain of the most important points. The ride is so 
remarkable, that I propose to follow it in some detail. The 
changing scenes which you overlook from a moderate height, from 
choice positions, among immediate surroundings of the grandest 
order, are nothing less than the geography of this part of Asia, 
outspread before you beyond the skill of maps. 

The large feature, the leading motive of the immense land- 
scape is the likeness, and yet the contrast, between the two great 
depressions on the west and east of the lofty stage upon which 
you stand. Both are bounded on the south by the long barrier 
of the Kurdish mountains ; both oppose to that deep belt of 
serried ridges expanses of perfectly even surface. But, while the 
one dazzles the eye with its splendour of outline and brilliance of 
colouring, the other is always dim, grey, vague, and unseizable. 
Neither view is ever lost for very long. Even while you are in 
possession of the long perspective of the plain of Mush, stretching 
to the horizon with a wealth of subdued detail, like the nave of 
some great cathedral in the West, between the crags in the 
opposite quarter, through some fork in the outline, the blue lake, 
the point of a promontory, a glimpse of Sipan may still be seen. 

Let us start from the point at which we entered the crater, from a 
level of 8150 feet (c on plan). It will be early in the morning, when 
the sky is flaked with cloud — beds of vapour, grey and white, scarcely 
concealing the field of blue, and unmoved by a breath of wind. Proceed- 
ing northwards along the wall of the crater, we rapidly ascend. Our 
horses' hoofs sink in the powdery pumice sand, which is held together in 
places by bushes of flowering spircea, and by tufts of grass, among which a 
small species of campanula hangs its pretty little violet bells. The pumice 
tells the story of the violent explosions to which the present aspect of the 
crater is due. They have enlarged the circumference of the walls of the 
basin ; and their effect is clearly visible from the interior as one looks to 
the side of the wall up the edge of which we now ride. Whereas the beds 
of lava on the north and south walls, which are the most lofty, are seen in 
section as perfectly horizontal sheets, on this north-eastern wall, as well as 
upon the face of the corresponding cliff on the west, they have a down- 
ward slope. It is obvious that all the layers at the time of emission must 

Our Sojoitrn in the Crater of Ninirud. 309 

have been horizontal around the original crater rim ; and the pronounced 
obliquity of the beds on the western and eastern sides is due to their being 
exposed by explosive agency at a point where they had commenced to 
descend to the surrounding plains. The underlying lava is of the usual 
description, a rhyolitic andesite with a thin selvage, or upper surface, of 
obsidian, which shines like jet in the sun. The basaltic lavas, with their 
cloak of pumice, ease the gradient of the slope towards the plain in the 
direction of Akhlat ; but the explosion has produced a steepness up which 
the horses are obliged to zigzag, in making north, along the edge of the 
cliff. A turn outwards discloses the harmony of the landscape of Lake 
Van ; a turn inwards the mystery of the scene within the crater. The 
higher we rise, the more abruptly the outer slope of the wall sinks to the 
plains about its base. The pumice disappears ; the lava gets the upper 
hand. After a climb of some duration, we reach the summit of the wall 
on the north, at a point which is almost immediately above the hot lake 
(b). Our elevation is now 9750 feet; and this lofty level is continued, 
with little intermission, for some distance towards the west. 

The greatest eminence of the cliff stands back from the lip of the 
crater, say at an interval of 80 yards from the point described. Here, 
among huge blocks of reddish-brown rock, I take the boiling-point. The 
mean of this reading with another, registered on a subsequent day, gives a 
result of 9900 feet. We are therefore standing on the highest pinnacle 
of the whole circumference. Pinnacle and slope are free of snow ; but 
snow would lie at this season were it not for the steepness of the slope of 
lava. The lava does not appear to have extended much beyond the foot 
of the immensely lofty crater wall. Beyond some broad-shouldered 
bastions, we look down into the plain south of Lake Nazik ; we range the 
shores of that lonely lagoon. Not a tree can be discerned in that wide 
landscape ; no strip of verdure fringes the margin of the blue water ; 
scarcely a patch of cultivation features the plain. The block of limestone 
hills between us and the dome of Sipan, forming the coast of Lake Van, 
recess away behind Akhlat towards Lake Nazik ; and, from this height, 
one might suppose that the level of the plain below us were continued to 
the borders of the inland sea. The conspicuous mountain, besides Sipan, 
is the rugged mass of Bilejan, rising to a sharp-edged ridge. The outlines 
in the north, Khamur and Bingol, remained misty during the whole of our 
stay. But the delicate bedding of cloud, which may collect towards 
morning, soon gives way, as the day advances, to a sky of the purest blue. 

West of this position, the rim of the crater flattens, although its 
immediate edge is much broken, apparently by earthquakes, the fissures 
in the surface of rock necessitating detours outward, towards the lower 
levels. We are approaching the little crater on the outside of Nimrud, 
of which mention has already been made. The wall still maintains its 
considerable altitude, the height of an eminence of huge boulders, by 
which we pass, being again 9750 feet. The little crater is situated at 
some distance north of the main basin, but before the ground falls away 
to the plain. Indeed we are now in the neighbourhood of the extensive 
flows of basaltic lava which are such a feature on the north-west side of 

310 Armenia 

the great crater. Such is the insignificance of the object for which we are 
making, that it might well pass unobserved from the edge of the cliff. 
But the curiosity is aroused by a long, low ridge, like a volcanic dike, 
which, commencing almost at that edge, is produced at right angles, in 
the direction of the plain. Realising the feature, one observes that the 
field of lava on the margin of the cliff is raised up into a saddle along a 
meridional line. A little further northwards, and at a lower level, pasty 
rhyolitic lavas have oozed up from long, narrow fissures along the eastern 
base of the ridge. At its extreme end there is a mass of the same lava ; 
and at that point the ground breaks away towards the lower region. 

Slanting off from the edge of the cliff in a north -north- westerly 
direction, we reach the eastern base of the low ridge. It is flanked on 
this side by deep fissures in the surface of the ground — gloomy chasms, 
partially filled with perpetual snow. Towards their upper or southernmost 
end there is a small circular pit, from which protrudes a boss of rhyolitic 
lava. A little lower down the several fissures combine, and form a long 
trough. This trough has been partially filled with a mass of lava, which 
stands up with rugged crags. From the base of this lava an extensive 
flow of cinders blackens the ground for a considerable distance towards 
north-east. The trough or principal fissure again splits up into minor 
cracks, as it reaches the elevated platform of the terminal crater. 

In a manner exactly similar to the upwelling of lava within the fissure, 
the little crater has been filled up with the same pasty matter. This 
forms the mass at the extreme end of the meridional ridge. The walls 
of the basin are beautifully modelled, the shape being preserved by a 
pavement of basaltic lava. The pool of rhyolitic lava is, of course, a 
much later feature. Like the same phenomena in the interior of the 
great crater, which are all due to the expiring forces of Nimrud, the 
appearance of the mass is that of a boss. One cannot fail to be impressed 
with the contrast which is presented between the smooth and rounded 
sides of this almost circular basin, and the monstrous pile which has arisen 
in their midst. 

We cross to the further or western side of the terminal crater, 
observing that its walls are fractured by the lava on the north and south. 
We descend to another flow of cinders. Hard by is a little Kurdish yaila, 
at the foot of an extensive patch of snow. We enquire whether they can 
tell us when these cinders were emitted ; for they might have issued a 
year ago. They answer that they have always known them there. 
Leaving the hollows, we regain the neighbourhood of the cliff, which is 
bordered, in this quarter, by a broad field of basaltic lava. 

We make our way over this field, in a south-south-westerly direction, 
towards an eminence of the crater wall on its westerly side. A conical 
hump rises from the lava at no great distance from the edge of the 
caldron, and forms a conspicuous landmark, as well from the interior 
as from the summit of the cliffs (o). The field is extremely even, being 
composed of a pavement which suggests the appearance of a military road, 
fallen into disuse. This characteristic is, of course, due to the columnar 
lava. In places this even surface is overlaid with cindery blocks. 

Oitr Sojourn in the Crater of Ninirud 3 1 1 

Patches of grass occur, from which the snow has just melted ; these will 
be browsed by a dark flock with their Kurdish shepherd. At first the 
direction of flow which was followed by the lava is towards the region we 
are leaving behind : but a little further on it inclines towards the plain of 
Mush. In the neighbourhood of the conical eminence we come across 
some blocks of obsidian, which are probably due to the last violent 

From the summit of our landmark all these features become clear ; 
we overlook these extensive fields of basalt. Judging from the manner in 
which they have flowed, it would, at least, appear probable that at one 
time in the history of the volcano the wall was extremely high on the side 
of the plain of Mush. Indeed one is surprised at the limited amount of 
matter which has been outpoured in the direction of that great depression. 
The conclusion is suggested that the explosion which produced the lake 
blew away the upper portion of the wall on the west. This conical 
eminence marks an independent point of emission, which vomited lava 
after the wall had been thus reduced. The flows are seen to have 
branched out in all directions, even towards the present edge of the crater. 

This eminence is the second conspicuous pinnacle of the circle, as 
seen from immense distances in the northerly regions. We can see the 
two summits of the Bingol rampart, while Bilejan is fully exposed. The 
long perspective of the plain of Mush is outspread before us, flanked on 
the south side by the base of the Kurdish mountains, and, on the other, 
by a line of heights which recall the appearance of the block of limestones 
between the plain of Melazkert and the lake of Van. To that broad belt 
of heights the lavas descend with precipitous escarpments, and also to the 
plain. The dim surface of the level ground is seamed with rivulets, 
which, towards evening, flash in the light. Sheets of light in the distance 
represent the course of the Murad, after it has entered the plain. The 
head of the depression is remarkable for a pronounced terrace along the 
foot of the heights, perhaps denoting the level of a former lake.'^ 

From this pinnacle, which has an altitude of 9676 feet, we arrive, by 
a rapid descent, at the fork in the outline which corresponds to the dip 
in the opposite wall on the east, whence we started on our ride. The 
elevation of this fork is almost exactly the same, 8140 feet. We are here 
on the longest axis of the circular ellipse (c-m). A path enters the 
crater from the direction of the plain of Mush, and debouches on to a 
little promontory at the foot of the cliffs, the only projection from their 
abrupt sides. The promontory, which is covered with scrub, is probably 
due to a local flow of lava ; a few little islands are placed at its extremity. 
It would not be possible to make use of this entrance to reach the high 
ground on the east of the lake, owing to the steepness of the walls on 
either side and the absence of any beach. The outline again rises on the 
south of this passage, although the outward slope is fairly well rounded. 
But after crossing some bold cliffs, over ground flooded with tuff", 
you sink for the second time to a considerable hollow (i-k, alt. 8700 
feet). This depression on the south-western side of the crater wall is 
1 Or it may merely represent the terminal walls of lava streams. 

3 1 2 Ar7nenia 

remarkable for a somewhat singular phenomenon. From the edge of the 
crater you overlook a grassy terrace, some one hundred feet down the 
cliff-side. The slope of this step-like prominence is inclined upwards 
from the face of the cliff, so that the edge of the terrace is not much 
lower than the edge of the crater. It is probable that it represents a 
piece of the crater wall which has slipped down into the lake. Along 
the middle of the terrace runs a ridge of lava, about parallel to the cliff. 
We have already passed several of such dikes. 

Rising gradually, we soon leave the terrace behind us, and our 
attention is directed to the interesting features on the outside. Below us, 
from the eastern margin of the plain of Mush, rises a volcanic mass of 
imposing proportions, almost flat and slightly hollow at the top. A 
number of little conical summits emerge from the platform, and the 
mountain is thickly covered with brush. The slopes on all sides, except 
towards Nimrud, appear extremely abrupt. It is separated by a little 
upland plain from the sides of the crater ; and it is clear that the mass 
has acted like a dam to the flows of molten matter. It has turned them 
in the direction of Tadvan, as well as towards the plain of Mush. My 
people confirmed the name under which I have already made it known 
(Ch. VIL Fig. 150). It is called the Kerkiir Dagh. 

I have also alluded in a former place {ibid}j to the little parasite cone, 
high up on the outer wall of the crater on the south. Passing it now 
from above, it looms much larger ; and it is succeeded, lower down, by 
quite a series of volcanic vents. These are all in the same line with the 
more pronounced feature, and roughly in the same line with the dike and 
crater on the north of Nimrud. Rising always higher, we make our way 
with some caution along an edge which has become knife-like in character. 
Indeed it is in places not more than 8 or 10 feet wide. On our left 
hand descend the vertical walls of the crater ; on our right a slope of about 
30^ seems scarcely less precipitous to the eye. The lavas descend with 
bold bastions towards Tadvan. The highest point on this side of the 
crater is on this edge ; it has an elevation of 9430 feet. 

The view embraces the wild ridges of the Kurdish mountains on the 
south, capped with snow on their topmost peaks. Trees in a hollow and 
a winding road among the recesses of that barrier are recognised as mark- 
ing the site of Bitlis. Below us lies the wooded platform of the Kerkiir 
Dagh ; the plateau of lava, between the plain of Mush and the shores of 
the great lake, appears to shelve with gentle gradients towards those 
waters. We discern the verdure about the village of Tadvan. In the 
north we may descry both summits of the Bingol ridge ; while the dome 
of the Kuseh Dagh is a bold, vague presence in the sky. From this lofty 
portion of the crater wall the descent is rapid and continuous to the beds 
of pumice which cloak it up on the east. We again overlook the 
beautiful inlets of Lake Van. We avail ourselves of a track which leads 
from Tadvan into the caldron (e), in order to reach our camp. The 
outline of the circle of cliffs again rises a little between this point and the 
track from Akhlat. 


and r. Oswald in Julv i«l)8 



L, A K IE 

Debes , J^eipzjg 


mapped liy H f li Lynch and F Oswald in .July IhiiH 


Our Sojourn in the Crater of Ninirud 


I have taken my reader a long ride, round the vast circum- 
ference of the crater — an excursion which, when presented in the 
form of a narrative, may be too tedious for his taste. Let me 
therefore endeavour to present in a summary manner some of the 
conclusions which were engendered in our minds. Faithful to the 
laws of eruptive volcanic agency, this huge crater has arisen on 
the margin of a great depression of the surface of the tableland. 
In spite of the considerable difference in their present elevation, 
the lake of Van and the plain of Mush may be regarded as parts 
of a single basin. Indeed it is mainly due to the emissions of 
lava from Nimrud that the lake is now separated from the plain. 
The region on the north of the crater is considerably higher, 
though in closer connection with the lake than with the plain. 
Nature has produced this manifestation of violence in the stress 
of her effort to complete a harmonious design. The curving over 
of the great lines of mountain-making has resulted in this ex- 
plosion of forces, usually under control. But as we make our 
way in silence beneath the stillness of the night, threading the 
chaos of tumultuous forms on the floor of the crater, we may yet 
reflect upon the relative insignificance of such violent action, even 
in a country where it has operated on so great a scale. The 
stratified rocks are seldom wholly absent in the landscapes, as 
they are wanting to the savage landscape of the Nimrud caldron ; 
and, when you think you are admiring the long train of a volcano, 
a closer inspection reveals slowly-built, sedimentary mountains, 
upon which the volcano has been reared. Nature has preferred 
regularity of achievement, a quality reflected by the moral sense 
of Man.i 

1 A single paragraph in an article by Major Clayton, R.A. , entitled " The Mountains 
of Kurdistan" [Alpine Journal, Aug. 1887), is the only account known to me of the 
interior of the Nimrud crater. Brant confines himself to the following grotesque 
description (Journal R.G.S. 1840, vol. x. p. 378): — "The Nimrud range {sic) runs 
nearly north and south, but at its southern extremity is terminated by a cross range {sic), 
called the Kerku Tagh, running east and west. " 



July 25. — A sharp ride of an hour and a half brought us down 
from the crater to the village of Tadvan. The descent is more 
continuous than on the side of Akhlat ; the outer slopes of the 
mountain are seared with deep gullies. Crossing the orchards of 
the straggling settlement, we pitched our tents on the west of the 
village, upon the margin of a field of late-sown wheat. A line 
of well-grown willows, fringing the bank of a tiny stream, 
promised shade during the later hours of the day, when the sun 
should be at our backs. That welcome shade was indeed 
commencing to subdue the brilliance of the young corn while the 
canvas was being stretched. We looked out over the green field 
across the waters to the smiling landscape of the opposite shore. 
The curve of the little harbour of Tadvan was turned towards us, 
backed by a lofty boss of rock. Quite a number of picturesque 
craft were lying within it ; but only one, so far as I know, was 
laden. She was carrying wood and charcoal from the Bitlis 
district. The rest were doing nothing, many of the men having 
families here. All this time I had seen but a single sail upon 
the lake, besides that of Captain Elliot's boat. But sea-gulls 
there are, to give life to the waters, with their beautiful white 

Tadvan was in a state of commotion, or what passes as such, 
in a country where all spirit has been gradually extinguished 
among the population of Armenian race. Although this village 
is Armenian, they did not hesitate to betray to the authorities 
four of their countrymen, who had taken refuge in their midst. 
These individuals appear to have been under the ban of the law, 
and, indeed, were alluded to as briga)ids. One never hears talk 
of Kurdish brigands ; though I have never met a Kurd who was 

Round Ninirud by Lake Nazik 315 

not more or less a brigand, nor an Armenian who either justified 
or deserved the name. The notorious AH Bey, police officer at 
Bitlis, hurried to the scene. He surrounded the hut which 
harboured the men ; fire was opened upon them, which they 
returned, and a zaptieh was shot. A villager, who tried to 
mediate, was killed. Then Ali Bey collected straw, and set light 
to it, and literally burnt them out. I was told that all four 
succumbed. All this happened a day or two ago. I informed 
the Kaimakam that I should like to kick the official if he would 
be so obliging as to come my way. When one is kindly treated 
by the authorities, one endeavours to avoid getting very angry, 
except before their face. 

We spent several days in the neighbourhood, making ex- 
cursions, and mapping in these unmapped shores of Lake Van. 
The Kaimakam was obliged to leave us and return to Akhlat ; 
we were sorry to part, having become mutually attached. The 
Armenian villages of this district are evidently very old, and 
have probably existed from the dawn of history. One of the 
most flourishing is Kizvag, which occupies a situation of ideal 
quality as a home of Man. It is placed on the southern horn of 
a beautiful little bay, sheltered on the north by a bold promontory, 
from which rises a knife-like ridge. This ridge is composed of a 
lava which has welled up along a latitudinal fissure. One rides 
there over layers of lava and pumice, some of which show traces 
of having been deposited in water. The corn was already golden 
in the fields, very tall in the stalk and heavy in the ear. We 
had never seen finer crops. Vines flourish along the base of the 
promontory ; but a vineyard is a rare occurrence in these scenes. 
The air was always radiant and invigorating, in spite of the heat 
of the sun. Kizvag is a considerable place ; but the houses are 
the usual ant-hills. The dress of the people is gay. The women 
wear the embroidered aprons which are such a striking feature 
of their national dress ; but the designs were finer than any we 
had seen. I endeavoured to purchase a few ; but all the new 
ones were vastly inferior ; it was only the old ones, now torn and 
faded, that showed any taste. It is the same in Persia, and 
Central Asia — everywhere in the East. It is a fact for which 
one may discover explanations ; but none appear altogether 

The lower slopes on the opposite shore of the lake are well 
wooded, and this pleasing landscape circles round towards 

3i6 Armenia 

Tadvan. The wood is due to the character of the rock, a mica- 
schist, yielding a fertile soil. But higher up on the face of the 
range the hard marbles come to view, and, while their surface is 
well adapted to take the hues of the sky, it is inimical to all 
vegetation. About a hundred feet above the water, you perceive 
a well-marked terrace, denoting a former level of the lake. I 
have already remarked that the level is again rising ; and the 
same occurrence, which was presented in so striking a manner at 
Arjish (Ch. III. p. 30), is already threatening the village of Kizvag. 
The hill of Tadvan, at the promontory, is not volcanic, being 
composed of marble and mica -schist. It is less lofty and 
extensive than that of Kizvag ; the summit is crowned by the 
substructures of a ruined fort. This fort was erect and proud at 
the commencement of the sixteenth century.^ Nothing remains 
at the present day but a deep pit, which was perhaps a reservoir 
for water. The inhabitants of Tadvan are in a deplorable con- 
dition, the women in rags, the children mostly naked. It was 
pitiable to see the women stretching out their arms towards us, 
imploring us to give them food. We distributed a little money. 

From Tadvan we directed our course towards the head of 
Mush plain across the volcanic plateau west of Lake Van." Our 
track conducted us past a projecting outwork of the opposite 
range, well wooded and consisting of mica-schist. The extremity 
towards Nimrud is faced with lava. You mount gradually above 
the fertile surroundings of the lake to arid and, therefore, sterile 
ground. A few patches of burnt grass, some beautiful holly- 
hocks, with very large white flowers, are about the only vegetation 
which it supports. On the right hand rises the Kerkiir Dagh, 
covered with flourishing brushwood, and, behind Kerkiir, the 
immense mass of the Nimrud crater. In the opposite direction 
the barrier of the Kurdish mountains is less bold and imposing 
than at other points. This is partly, no doubt, due to the 
flooding against them of volcanic matter. The plateau attains 
its highest level at about a third of the whole distance from the 
point where we gained its surface to the head of Mush plain. 
The altitude by boiling-point was 6320 feet, or 680 feet above 
Lake Van. 

We were impressed by the fact that in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the Kerkiir the ground slopes towards that upstanding 

^ Merchant in Persia, Travels of Italians in Persia, Ilakluyt Society, London, 
1873, p. 159. ■' The name Rava is sometimes applied to this plateau. 

Round Nimrud by Lake Nazik 3 1 7 

mass. And the broad valley, which we knew must contain the 
beginnings of the Bitlis Chai, was screened by a somewhat higher 
level of the field of lava. It may be that this is due to the lavas 
having swept round Kerkiir, leaving a slight depression at its 
southern foot. Oswald rode off to investigate the material of the 
Kerkiir, and found it to consist of a mass of trachyte. The slopes 
are covered almost to the summit with talus, and it is evidently 
a very old volcanic boss. 

The plateau descends to the plain by two lower terraces, the 
descent being fairly gradual in each case. The Kerkiir is also 
screened by a bastion-shaped terrace of talus which sinks into the 
plain. I have already described this stage of our journey (Ch. VII. 
p. 162) ; and I shall only pause to give some account of our visit 
to the pool of Norshen, which I had omitted to examine during 
my first journey. 

About fifty yards west of the tomb of Karanlai Agha lies an 
almost circular pool. It is slightly embanked for the purposes 
of irrigation, and, in places, on its margin there are distinct 
vestiges of masonry. It is thirty-five yards in diameter ; and, in 
the centre, did not appear to be much more than five feet deep. 
But our guide from the village believed it to be deeper, adding 
that it had recently drowned a bullock, which had ventured too 
far in. There is no trace of this pool having arisen in a crater, 
although the material, through which the spring wells up, is a 
tuff. The water is crystal-clear, and is furnished in abundance, 
giving rise to a little river. It is extremely pleasant to the taste, 
like water which has come from the chalk. It is cold too ; for at 
7 P.M., while the temperature of the air was 80° Fahrenheit, 
that of the water was only 51°. The villagers believe that it is 
derived from the lake on Nimrud. It is much more likely to be 
in connection with the springs of the chain on the south. The 
tomb exactly recalled those of the same period at Akhlat ; indeed 
it is of the same date. The upper portion has fallen into ruin. 
In the adjacent cemetery there are the same headstones with 
the honeycomb friezes which we admired about the site in the 
ravine at Akhlat. A stork was standing on the topmost pinnacle 
of the crumbling edifice, of which the outline was clearly defined 
on the western sky. The great plain was veiled in haze, due to 
the intense heat. Beyond the headlands and little promontories, 
the sun — a red orb — sank behind delicate beds of perfectly 
settled cloud. 

3i8 Armenia 

The situation of the pool of Norshen is well adapted to serve 
as a standard of the elevation of the head of Mush plain. Tested 
by boiling-point, the level is 4630 feet, which represents a decline 
of 1000 feet from that of Lake Van. This difference in level is 
mainly responsible for a distinct change of climate ; the plain of 
Mush is quite a furnace in July. Norshen itself, although high- 
seated above the floor of the depression, must be one of the 
hottest places in the plain. It is screened by the volcanic plateau 
and by the outworks of the great range, under the wall of which 
it lies. The level ground at its foot has been flooded with lava ; 
and the pavement, thus formed, glows in the sun. There are a 
few shady trees on the outskirts of the village, but we were 
obliged to erect our tents in the open, for want of a suitable 
place among those groves. In the morning the heat became 
unbearable under canvas. The inhabitants are a surly, un- 
mannerly set of people, all of Kurdish extraction. The news 
of the death of the Vali of Bitlis had already reached them ; 
and they were evidently quite out of hand. Our zaptiehs — an 
abominable lot, sent from Bitlis by the deceased Governor — came 
near to exciting a serious affray. It did not promise well for the 
success of an excursion into the wildest districts, that those 
blackguard Kurds at Bitlis had poisoned the Vali, and that our 
escort seemed as much pleased by the removal of the least 
vestige of discipline as the unruly people through whose country 
we were about to pass. 

July 30. — Starting at eleven o'clock, we made our way across 
the plain towards the lofty block of heights by which it is 
confined upon the north. We could already see our track, 
showing white among the brushwood towards the summit of that 
long barrier. Even at its upper end, the plain of Mush is 
of considerable breadth, the distance, measured direct, between 
Norshen and the foot of that parapet being about eight miles. 
Two gently vaulted hills, standing close together, are conspicuous 
features in the plain. We reached the base of the largest and 
most easterly of the two in about three-quarters of an hour. 
Oswald rode off at the canter to examine its composition, while 
we continued our course. He found it to consist of a cindery 
lava, the flows radiating outwards, especially towards north-east. 
It has therefore been an independent centre of emission. The 
ground which we had been crossing is not cultivated, from want 
of streams, and the slabby lava was aflame with sun. Pushing 

Round Nimrud by Lake Nazik 319 

our horses, we distanced the hill and were approaching the 
opposite confines of the plain, when I called a halt in the hamlet 
of Gol Bashi, the first that we had seen. It takes its name from 
a delightful spring that wells up in the village, with a temperature 
of only 55'. Inasmuch as the stream was dry which passes 
Morkh and Norshen, this pool is perhaps entitled to be regarded 
as the source of the Kara Su, owing to the permanence of the 
water which it supplies. Another such source is the pool beside 
the tomb. 

A little river collects below Gol Bashi, fed by this and by 
other springs. The plain is perfectly flat in that direction, and 
was green with cultivation. The adjacent farms belong to a bey 
in Bitlis, who has built a good stone house for his steward in the 
hamlet. Proceeding on our course, and when near the foot of 
the wall before us, we rose gradually over the surface of a flow of 
lava. The flow skirts the base of the opposite parapet for some 
distance towards the west. At the same time it radiates into the 
plain. It is strewn with blocks and small fragments of jet-black 
obsidian, which have come from the cliffs above. High up on 
the terrace, thus formed, is a grove of lofty oak-trees, by the side 
of water running down from the face of the cliff. A small 
Kurdish hamlet nestles beneath them, and an ancient cemetery, 
buried in foliage. Cattle and a flock of sheep were resting in the 
shade, the sheep panting, and the bullocks lolling their tongues. 
Black goats, alert and elastic with life, browsed the lower shoots 
of the oaks. The ascent of the wall begins at this hamlet of 
Karnirash, and took us over half-an-hour to complete. 

The face of the parapet was seen to be the side of a stream 
or streams of rhyolitic lava with the usual obsidian. They are 
overlaid, towards the summit, with a pavement of basaltic lava. 
These lavas have probably proceeded from Nimrud ; but at a 
time when the crater was in its infancy, and when its walls had 
not yet reached their ultimate height. For those walls towered 
high and abruptly above us, nor did we think that these lavas 
could have welled over from that lofty rim. How far west the 
emissions may extend it was impossible to determine exactly ; 
but the appearance of the block in that direction, when we 
reached the summit, seemed to disclose, at no great interval, the 
stratified rocks. The upper slopes of the barrier are abundantly 
wooded, though only with dwarf oak. We were astonished at 
the great size and beauty of the hollyhock petals, large as 

320 Armenia 

clematis on our English garden walls. The hollyhock is the 
flower of the surroundings of Nimrud, as the yellow mullein is 
the flower of Bingol, It flourishes on the' plateau of tuff to 
which this pass leads over, blossoming white and, much more 
rarely, a purple pink. The pass has an elevation of 6950 feet or 
of 2300 feet above the plain. 

We soon lost the little wood as we proceeded over the plain 
of tuff in a north-north-easterly direction. Nothing but the bare 
pavement, and here and there a patch of burnt herbage ; and 
only those large white flowers to refresh the eye. On our right 
hand the vast crater, steeply contoured down towards us ; before 
us Bilejan, again exposed. But the stifling atmosphere of the 
trough behind us had given place to pleasant breezes, and we 
rode along gaily over the even ground. All of a sudden I hear 
shouts in the direction in which we are going ; and, coming up, 
observe a group of men in fierce altercation by the side of a 
small drove of cattle. They prove to be one of our escort and 
another zaptieh, unknown to me ; the rest are peasants, on foot. 
Our man is threatening a peasant, bending over on his horse ; his 
comrade has blood on his face. The fellow pays not the slightest 
heed to my peremptory orders ; so I send for the zabet or officer 
of the company, in whom, however, owing to his fussiness and 
manifest cowardice, I have not the slightest confidence. The 
zabet, with his extravagant verbiage, does nothing better than 
inflame the matter ; and the wretched wayfarer is on the point of 
being murdered when I seize his assailant and pull him off. The 
would-be murderer then faces round, and, as we are both on 
horseback, extricates himself and turns on me. In an instant he 
levels his rifle at my chest, and brings it to the cock. Happily 
for me, my companions all ride up at the same moment, and 
force his arm up from behind. None of us can learn the cause of 
the dispute. I take the man on with the greatest reluctance, 
fearing he may do worse harm if allowed to rove. 

For some short time we had been skirting the immediate 
outworks of the Nimrud mass ; a new feature was introduced 
when these turned off to the east-north-east, and gave us space in 
the direction we were pursuing. Before us lay a wide depression 
of the surface, the levels about us tonguing into that lower 
ground. The heights on the further side were of no great 
relative elevation, but they screened a considerable portion of the 
pile of Bilejan, and they completely concealed Lake Nazik. We 

Round Niinriid by Lake Nazik 321 

could see, at this distance, our track winding across them ; they 
were evidently of volcanic origin. Sipan now came in view ; 
and those heights stretched across the horizon towards the heights 
on the west of Sipan. The depression did not appear to have 
much westerly extension ; but it was continued, mile after mile, 
towards the east. I can scarcely doubt that the drainage which 
collects within it finds its way into Lake Van. 

We forded a nice stream of crystal-clear water, flowing into 
the plain, along the base of Nimrud. At this point we passed 
an extensive cemetery. Perhaps there was a village in the im- 
mediate neighbourhood ; but we saw no habitations as we rode 
across the plain. The trough of the shallow basin is followed 
by the course of a rivulet, which, at this season, had run dry. 
According to a single reading of the aneroid, it has an elevation 
of 6460 feet. The ground consists of a decomposed lava ; nor 
did we observe lacustrine deposits, though one cannot doubt that 
this plain was once the bottom of a shallow lake. 

It was six o'clock before we reached the opposite heights, 
and commenced to mount the side of a ridge covered with a 
pavement of lava. But from the summit of this low vaulting we 
overlooked a second ridge, with a grassy valley of some breadth 
at our feet. Not a glimpse as yet of the lake. After fording 
the stream in this hollow, which was flowing towards the plain, 
we rode through the Armenian village of Mezik, situated at the 
base of the second and principal ridge. A short ascent brought 
us to the slope on the further side, whence, at last, the long- 
hidden waters came to view. We had struck the lake close to 
its south-western extremity, towards which we lost no time in 
directing our course. At this upper end there is a marsh and 
a considerable stretch of alluvial soil, which, however, does not 
extend to the east of the beginnings of the lake. It was a 
tedious ride over stony slopes to the floor of these meadows ; but 
still no village was in sight. Mistrusting our escort, but without 
a guide, I hesitated for a moment whether to follow thdm up the 
valley towards the west. But one of them was so positive he 
knew well where the village lay, that I resolved to try him for a 
certain time. He proved to be in the right ; but the light was 
already failing when we entered the Kurdish settlement of Nazik. 

It is situated out of view of the lake, on the right bank of a 
pleasant stream, which feeds the marsh along which we had 
passed. The ridge, against which it lies, is the same that we had 

322 Ar7nenia 

crossed, and the same that we had seen from afar. It had first 
attracted our attention as we descended into the great depression, 
having a bold conical peak, a little west of the village. The 
people received us with marked coolness ; and no sooner had we 
commenced to erect our tents by the side of the stream than 
they offered objections, and bade us remove to some other place. 
They said that our tent would face that of a great bey on the 
opposite margin of the water. I answered that I should place 
ours in such a way as to respect decency ; but that, if it were a 
question of either party moving, it would better become the bey 
than us, who were his guests. This speech had a good effect ; 
but supplies were not forthcoming, and, as usual, I summoned the 
mukhtar (head of the village). After much delay they bring me 
a lean greybeard, with sunken cheeks, beak nose, long yellow 
teeth and a cavernous voice. He laughs grimly when I address 
him as mukhtar. It is evident that these people hate the 

July 31. — In the early morning our entire escort appear 
before the tent, headed by the zabet, whom I admit. He 
complains that the villagers refuse, for love or money, to supply 
food for themselves and horses. At the same time the five or 
six privates approach, and make use of threatening language to- 
wards me. Realising how the matter stands, I endeavour to 
persuade the officer to get out of the place as quickly as possible 
with his men. He urges that we shall then be at the mercy of 
these Kurds ; I retort that I prefer it so than to be at his. He 
answers with some reason that to desert us might cost him his 
post ; but I reply that he may regard himself as already cashiered 
should he dare to disobey my deliberate orders. A compromise 
is at length arrived at, under which he undertakes to dismiss his 
men, provided I will allow him to remain. He also begs that he 
may send the man who attempted my life back to the head- 
quarters at Bitlis. But this last proposal I refuse to entertain. 
After much palaver, they are all induced to take themselves off, 
with instructions to await us on the shore of the lake. The 
villagers, seeing them gone, and ashamed to abuse our confidence, 
at once adopt a much more friendly tone. The Bey of Nazik, 
a young man, brings his little brother with him, and converses 
with us in our tent. On the opposite bank, beyond the willows, 
lies the encampment of the older bey, who does not appear to 
belong to the village. His two large tents, of black goat-hair, 

Round Nimrud by Lake Nazik 323 

are open on this side. The coarse canvas, with several supports 
and considerable span, descends within a few feet of the ground. 
At the bottom, a screen of reeds at once provides shade and a 
pleasant draught of air. Similar screens divide the interior into 
compartments ; in the centre sits the bey, an oldish man, who 
never smiles, by the side of a cradled baby which rarely remits 
its cries. A young woman, who may be his wife, or one among 
them, is engaged in swinging to and fro a large vessel of earthen- 
ware, which they use for making cheese. 

It was eleven o'clock before we again reached the corner of 
the lake. There we took the boiling-point. We found that the 
elevation was 6406 feet, or about the same as that of the 
depression which we had crossed on the previous day. The 
water tasted like very flat lake water. Proceeding along the 
southern shore for some distance, we kept the ridge, over which 
we had ridden last evening, close up on our right hand. It had 
grown considerably lower and was dying away. It consists of 
a stream of lava from the little peak which has already been 
mentioned. Further eastwards, the line of low heights is 
continued by what appears to be an independent, latitudinal 
volcanic ridge. The lake widens rapidly from the little bay at 
its westerly extremity, and describes, so far as we could judge 
from a hasty survey, a triangular figure of which the base is on 
the south, and the apex in an inlet of the northern coast. Its 
greatest length is from west to east. The opposite shore 
appeared to consist of a block of heights in connection with 
those west of Sipan, and of streams of lava, descending from 
Bilejan. The wide stretch of sand along the shore may perhaps 
be regarded as an indication of a somewhat higher normal level 
during recent times. From a boss of dark lava, forming a 
promontory, we obtained a far-reaching view. We could see but 
a single village on the lake ; and that settlement clustered on the 
extreme point of a little cape, just east of the one upon which we 
stood. It was Jezirok, partly Kurd and partly Armenian, the 
only village, as we afterwards learnt, which is placed immediately 
upon these shores. About half-a-mile away, we overlooked an 
islet, white with the droppings of waterfowl. Indeed it is a 
nursery for many varieties of this description, and was alive with 
wings and sharp cries. Pelicans abound on Lake Nazik, 
swimming, singly, like swans, over the mirror of waters, or 
sweeping above our heads with rapid, shooting flight, in move- 

324 Armenia 

ments perfectly combined. There must be fish in plenty beneath 
that blue surface, which lends a touch of beauty to the dreary, 
yellow landscape, and derives enhancement from the distant 
snows of Sipan. 

We now left the lake, and gained the further slope of the 
low ridge on the south, whence the view extends over the broad 
depression at the foot of Nimrud. Here we remained for some 
considerable time. While I was engaged in mapping, Oswald 
made one of his beautiful drawings of the wondrous landscape 
before our eyes. The northern buttresses of the great crater 
towered up from the opposite margin of the level ground at our 
feet. We could plainly see the volcanic dike leaving the rim of 
the caldron, and bursting the northern wall of the little terminal 
crater. Turning towards the east, the heights on that side of 
the lake displayed a number of conical forms. But the outline 
appeared unbroken, as it extended towards Sipan. Between it 
and the Nimrud outliers we obtained a distant glimpse of the 
waters of Lake Van. 

Our course was directed towards that vista, over the bare 
surface of the plain, which widens considerably ; it is completely 
covered over with brown lava. It might be made a granary ; yet 
it is now but little cultivated ; and rarely were we deflected by a 
patch of standing corn from a course almost as straight as a bee-line. 
Lake Nazik was never in sight, although its waters find an outlet 
into the great lake.^ We saw only a single village, at some 
distance on our left hand. Low hills confine the plain upon the 
east, but a dip in the outline disclosed a deep ravine. The cleft, 
which was now dry, would give issue to the water collecting in the 
depression, which we now left behind. 

Soon after crossing these heights, we entered the barren high- 
lands on the north of Akhlat. The lava, which is thickly covered 
with pumice sand, shelves away towards Lake Van. A little river 
Vv'hich we forded, coming from the direction of Lake Nazik, must 
be the same that cascades into the delta below the site of the old 
city, and is perhaps derived from the lake. Its water had exactly 
the same flat taste. On our right, in the direction of Nimrud, we 
observed a broken-down crater, which has sent its principal flows to 

1 The Kaimakam of Akhlat, who knows the district well, assured us that there was 
a permanent outlet. Layard, on the other hand, speaks of an intermittent one {Dis- 
coveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, London, 1853, p. 21). I regret that I am 
unable to express certainty on the point. In the case of Lake Bulama, however, I am 
able to vouch for the fact that its waters find tlicir way to the Murad. 

Round Niinrud by Lake Nazik 325 

Lake Van. A little further on we descended into the ravine of 
Akhlat, and crossed the stream within the hollow ; and not long 
after we were again in our shady orchard, and in the society of 
the Kaimakam. The old imam was there, squatting among some 
beanstalks, taking foretastes of paradise. His mad son was not 
long in coming, nor his scold of a daughter-in-law ; while in the 
morning the pretty little girls made their appearance, slipping 
gracefully on their errands through the bush. But our home was 
no longer there ; we felt as emigrants feel when their voyage is 
already prepared. I handed over my rascal zaptieh to the 
Kaimakam, who consigned him to the prison. The rest of the 
crew, with their zabet, I dismissed. After resting a single day, 
we set out for Adeljivas, along the shore of Lake Van. The ride 
was shorter than we expected, for the position of Akhlat is wrongly 
placed upon the best existing maps.^ 

^ The following are the approximate distances along the route described in this 
chapter: — Tadvan to Norshen, I2| miles; Norshen to Nazik, 23^ miles; Akhlat to 
Adeljivas, 15 miles. 



August 2. — Walking our horses all the way, we reached 
Adeljivas in four hours, excluding stoppages. The track follows 
the shore of the lake the whole distance, and you never lose the 
expanse of waters. In fact, it is the base of the block of lime- 
stones on the west of Sipan that you are skirting throughout the 
ride ; although at first, and for some distance, the stratified rocks 
are superseded by intrusive material of igneous origin. These 
sombre heights are flanked by low foothills of purple conglomerate, 
which have been thrown into a succession of shallow folds, with 
an axis parallel to the shore. But as you approach Adeljivas the 
igneous rocks give way, and the conglomerate thins out and dis- 
appears. The limestone meets the waters, which it tinges with 
its own white hue. Hardened almost to the state of marble, it is 
in places full of corals. The scene becomes remarkable in the 
neighbourhood of the town, where cliffs of this description and of 
great elevation descend abruptly into the depths above which you 
ride.^ Where these recede and leave the shore, giving place to a 
wide alluvial strip at the foot of Sipan, long concealed, is situated 
Adeljivas. The castle clings to the cliff; the gardens clothe the 
alluvial soil. In other respects our journey was not, perhaps, note- 
worthy. Besides Tunus, we passed only a couple of hamlets the 
whole way. Such oases of verdure — for the walnuts are especially 
fine — were much more rare than one would expect. But the 
district is unsafe ; and it was patrolled by soldiers before we 
passed. This precaution was perhaps due to the presence by our 
side of the Kaimakam of Akhlat. His colleague of Adeljivas 
came out to meet us, near the border of his administrative district. 

' Oswald took several careful observations of the dip of these limestones. The norm 
was 50' south hy east. 

Ascent of Sipan 327 

The promontories along this shore do not protrude far ; but they 
are bold, and with several prongs or bluffs. They offer no diffi- 
culties to the road. Lagoons have been forming on a large scale 
within the bays, due probably to the rise in level of the lake. 

Passing through the enclosure of the ruinous walled city, which 
recalled the Kala or Ottoman fortress at Akhlat, we encamped 
among the gardens of the more modern quarter.^ The trees are 
well grown, and provided us with deep shade. At least one con- 
siderable stream descends from the interior ; the oasis is of some 
extent. Early next day we made our way in the lightest of 
clothing from our tents in the heart of the orchards to the margin 
of the shore. It was some little distance, but the walk was all that 
we could wish. The morning is the time to enjoy the picturesque- 
ness of any Eastern town. There will be shadows to give relief 
to the scene, and light sufficient to bring out the colours. The 
deep white dust upon the lanes has not yet been disturbed. 
Draughts of freshness from the groves and gardens keep the air 
sweet and cool. Such a straggling lane or two, between low walls 
of mud and stone, took us past an old mulberry tree studded with 
red fruit, and a fountain gushing forth by the side of the way. 
So we came to a little valley, opening out towards the lake, and 
harbouring a swift and shallow rivulet, black with the shadows of 
an avenue of willows. A mass of foliage, on either side of the 
adjacent meadows, screened the pleasant place from fortress and 
suburb, except for a glimpse of the citadel in the west. 

We stripped on a narrow margin of pebble -strewn shore, 
regretting our purple rocks at Akhlat. The water is shallow for 
some distance out ; but, in spite of the embouchures of the 
irrigation channels, it was most intensely blue. We swam forth, 
enjoying the buoyancy of the waves, with the distant barrier of 
the Kurdish mountains before our eyes. Their bare escarpments 
towered up to their crown of snow. In the reverse direction the 
landscape was already flooded with light, and the foliage merged 
into the general brilliancy of tone. A conspicuous object was 
the ruinous citadel, proudly placed against the cliffs — the single 

1 The best account of Adeljivas is that of Tozer {Turkish Armenia, London, i88l, 
P- 335)- The width of the enclosure is given by him as 250 yards, on the side of the 
shore. The parallel lines of walls descend into the water. Within the enclosure "one 
ancient mosque with a minaret remains, and also part of anotlier considerable building. 
The mosque, which is now used as a storehouse for corn, appears to be of the same date 
as those in the castle of Akhlat ; it is massively built of stone, with but little ornament, 
and its arches are pointed and slightly ogived." Miiller-Simonis has a nice woodcut 
{Dit Caiicase an Golfe Persiqiie, Paris, 1892, p. 301). 

328 Armenia 

witness in the scene to a period of human masterfuhiess in direct 
contrast to the actual insignificance of the human element in 
this fair and richly-gifted land. 

When we returned there were two wooden couches with 
leather seats, and a couple of chairs, of similar pattern and equal 
shabbiness, arrayed upon the sward. These unusual objects had 
been unearthed for our benefit. They were not long in finding 
occupants among the personages of importance who were desirous 
of paying us the honour of a visit. The Commandant of the 
garrison came, accompanied by his aide-de-camp ; they were 
followed by the burly mufti, and by several notables ; last of all 
came the two Kaimakams. It was a medley of striped military 
trousers and gold lace, of flowing cloaks and white turbans, of 
black frock-coats and the tasselled fez. Each had a word to 
say upon the details of the expedition ; each could help if one 
would only give them time. My great regret was that time 
failed me to receive their suggestions ; there were indeed so 
many things which must be done. First I had to feed and 
water my horses, for the forage had not arrived in the early 
morning. When it came, the several owners were at variance, 
one with another ; and I was obliged to seize it by force. Then 
there were my people, who would surely go without their 
breakfast rather than take the trouble to procure victuals. These 
I had provided with great difficulty overnight ; but the cook 
had experienced trouble with his fire. Such everyday concerns 
were augmented on this occasion by several affairs of much 
greater consequence. It was necessary to engage at least ten 
porters ; when these had been got together with infinite difficulty, 
there was no possibility of arriving at terms and a price. By 
the time the Kaimakam appeared, the orchard was alive with 
people, all intent on delaying the conclusion of their several 
bargains for the mere love of talk. That official was of great 
assistance, because he fixed the price himself, and ordered each 
man to conclude his business on those terms. 

But there was one matter which called for very delicate 
treatment, and of which the ultimate issue was not so clear. It 
was most important that our escort, during the journey through 
the wild districts interposed between Sipan and Bingol, should 
be composed of men who might be trusted at least so far as not to 
involve us in unnecessary brawls. They must obey my orders to 
the letter ; but my authority could only exist by delegation from 

Ascent of Sipan 329 

a higher authority ; and it was essential that they should both 
respect and fear this source. Now the Kaimakam of Akhlat 
alone inspired me with confidence that his men would think 
twice before daring to play the fool. But Adeljivas belonged to 
the vilayet of Van ; and his colleague would certainly insist in 
sending his own zaptiehs at least as far as the borders of that of 
Bitlis. And at what point in that bleak region could one hope 
to pick up the others? Fortune came to my aid in arriving at a 
settlement. It so happened that the Vali of Van had not been 
informed of our intention to enter his province. Indeed the 
ascent of Sipan had not formed part of our original programme. 
Now the Vali was alarmed at the prospect of a possible visit on 
our part to his capital. Adeljivas was so very near ; we should 
be across in no time. And Van was in a state of unrest. His 
subordinate had telegraphed overnight that we had arrived, and 
might return after our excursion to Sipan. This it was in the 
interest of the Vali to prevent. A message came that very 
morning, conveying greetings from his Excellency, but enquir- 
ing whether we were furnished with a permission to travel, 
or even with a tezkere, or travelling pass. Of course he well 
knew that no such documents were in our possession, since the 
whole question of the right of the Palace to prevent Englishmen 
from travelling had been raised in connection with our persons. 
The incident brought the very wind into our sails which we had 
been courting on every side. We had not the least intention of 
going to Van. But the Kaimakam of Adeljivas would now be 
anxious to be rid of us for good and all. When therefore I 
placed before him the two alternatives, of returning and perhaps 
proceeding to reason with his Excellency in the capital ; or of 
pushing on direct from Sipan and leaving his territory as fast as 
possible — the latter course was at once and joyfully approved. 
And when I made it a condition that the men of the Kaimakam 
of Akhlat should be allowed to meet us at the base of the 
mountain upon our descent, this proposal was also accepted 
without demur. 

It was noon by the time these various matters had been 
decided — not a bad piece of work under the circumstances. 
There only remained the last and saddest of our duties — to 
say good-bye to the energetic and admirable official who had 
accompanied us thus far on our road. What a contrast between 
this Circassian, lithe of figure and nimble of mind, and his heavy, 

330 Armenia 

thick-skulled colleague of Adeljivas ! In the latter I had 
recognised the former Kaimakam of Vostan — him whom I had 
met at Akhavank. What memories arose of Khachatur and his 
famous dinner ! I learnt that he had already descended to his 
tomb. . . . Nothing could be more pathetic than the spectacle of 
an honest man, endeavouring to cope, not only with the inherent 
difficulties of his post, but also with the tricks of such rascals in 
high places as you see on every side. Such is the lot of the 
Kaimakam of Akhlat. It touched us to the quick. It is quite 
as sad as the sufferings of the Armenians. In the Turkish 
service there still remain a number of excellent officials — men 
well capable of dealing with the Armenian question in a manner 
conformable at once to humanity and to their country's good. 
But they are flouted, and set aside. Some retire, others are 
constrained to effect a shabby compromise ; while the younger 
or less steadfast become rapidly demoralised, and end as badly as 
they commenced well. 

Two villages had been mentioned as both presenting a good 
base from which to climb Sipan. One was Norshunjik, and the 
other Uran Gazi. The first is situated on the south-western side 
of the mountain, and the second rather more round towards the 
west. Uran Gazi — a Circassian settlement — was, after some 
debate, selected, owing chiefly to the reputation and resources of 
its head men. It may be reached in about two hours from 
Adeljivas. Riding in a northerly direction, we pursued a winding 
track which became involved in the recesses of the hills. We 
must have been close to the break-off of the plateau of limestone 
on the west of Sipan ; but the view towards the east was never 
open. The limestone was all about us, white and barren as 
usual, in striking contrast to the verdant scene we had left 
behind. So high did the escarpments tower, that although we 
continued to rise at a considerable gradient for a space of about 
an hour, it was only towards the latter portion of the ascent that 
we obtained a view of the summit region of the great volcano. 
But the vista towards the lake was of striking beauty, with the 
ruinous castle standing up against the blue. Deep below us on 
our left hand we admired the site of a walled monasteiy, high- 
seated in a broad valley. There was more traffic along this 
track than one might have expected ; we kept meeting laden 
donkeys and a number of wayfarers. The adjacent slopes were, 
in places, strewn with blocks of lava. 

Ascent of Sipan 331 

When we reached the pass, we were standing on the edge of 
an undulating plateau, and were still within the zone of the lime- 
stones. A slight descent from this point brought us almost 
immediately to a shallow but very extensive depression. It had, 
in fact, the appearance of a vast plain, somewhat of an oval, with 
an axis roughly from east to west. In the latter direction we 
could see the plain tonguing into the limestones, or, in other 
words, the almost latitudinal limestone ridges sinking into the 
plain. But these were dwarfed in the east by the flows of lava 
from Sipan, of which the huge frame was now fully exposed. In 
particular a bold stream plunged down from the summit region, 
ending in dark, precipitous sides. About in the centre of the 
depression lay a little lake, fringed by marshes, and bordered by a 
deep belt of what appeared to be a white efflorescence adhering 
to its shores. It was the Jil Gol (lake of rushes), once of consider- 
ably greater extent. A village, just a speck at the western 
extremity of the bold ridge of lava, was identified as Uran Gazi. 
Behind us the limestones stood up like a wall, screening the lake 
of Van. 

Except for the marshes, there was not a trace of verdure in a 
landscape devoid of trees or even of bush. Far and wide, the 
surface of the plain was broken only by mounds or gullies — the 
mounds heaped up with blocks of black lava, the gullies doubly 
darkened by the same material. ^ Indeed the whole depression 
has been covered with lava, probably to some considerable depth. 
Its elevation above sea-level is not much less than 7700 feet.^ 
These lavas, which must have been of a liquid nature, may have 
been, in part, emitted from the volcano during its infancy, but 
have largely issued from fissures in the plain. Flooding into the 
limestones, they compose such a lofty pedestal that the volcano 
somewhat loses height. The climber is not ungrateful for their 

In another three-quarters of an hour we reached Uran Gazi, 
and were received by two Circassian notables, resident in the 
village, Murad Effendi and Shakir Effendi. I think I have 
already observed upon the superiority of the Circassian villages to 
those of their neighbours, Armenians or Kurds. The bread they 
make is eatable ; fair cheese can be obtained ; the tenements are 
much more solidly built. Great stacks of hay had already been 
collected against the winter. The Circassian skirted coat and the 
' This is the height of the village of Uran Gazi. 


Circassian cap are still worn ; and, indeed, this people cling to 
all the customs of their native country, from which the Russians 
have compelled them to wander out. Of our two hosts, Murad 
was in the prime of life ; while Shakir, although advanced in 
years and with snow-white hair, still retained his vigour and 
vivacity. It is the vivacity of the Circassians which is so 
impressive in the moral sphere, just as in the physical sphere it is 
the brilliance of their eyes. Murad Effendi buckled to, with the 
result that in an hour and a half all was prepared for the start. 

Fig. 187. Village of Uran Gazi with Sipan. 

Tezek fuel for the fire, and hay for the horses, and for ourselves a 
lamb and several chickens — such were the burdens which were 
ready for the shoulders of the porters, four of whom had already 

The position of the village, at the extremity of the bold ridge 
of lava (Fig. 187), may be taken as representing the furthest 
westerly extension of the flows of lava from the volcano, as we 
see it now. The ridge itself has an axis of about west-south- 
west. At four o'clock we made our way along its southern margin, 
up the broad valley by which it is .separated from similar outliers 
on the south. The caterjis, with the packs, followed this valley 
to its head ; but our guides, whether from' knowledge of the 

A sec n t of Sip an ■i>'h}) 

ground or from mere impatience, were not long before they led us 
right up the wall of the ridge. Dismounting, we dragged our 
horses over the rocky surface, at considerable peril to their legs. 
The summit was, however, almost perfectly flat ; and, although 
the upward slope and the craggy nature of the ground rendered 
progress rather arduous and slow, the breadth of the ridge enabled 
us to pick a wa)\ In this manner we struggled on for about an 
hour, when, at six o'clock, I called a halt. The caterjis were not 
in sight, and, when last we had espied them, they were still in 
the trough of the valley. There they would have remained, with 
our tents and baggage, knowing well that we must come to them. 
I sent an officer with instructions to bring them up by force ; 
and, after waiting until night, we were at length rejoiced by their 
arrival, and encamped on a stretch of sward below a large patch 
of snow. Our elevation was 10,300 feet. 

August 4. — The ascent of Sipan offers no difficulties whatever 
at this season, and is, indeed, a delightful excursion. There is 
the joy of awaking to a landscape so inspiring — such a wide 
segment of a circle, almost without limits on the horizon, framed 
by the heights descending upon either side. From the rocky 
island of the Kartevin to the western slopes of the Nimrud crater, 
an immense region is outspread at our feet. Flatness of outline 
is the almost universal characteristic ; and the marble peaks of 
the Akh Dagh, conspicuous even at this distance, are at once an 
exception and a solecism. Further west, the \\&\\ extends to the 
even ridge of the Bingol Dagh, flecked about the centre with 
snow. Nearer masses of imposing aspect are Bilejan and Khamur ; 
an unknown mountain, which, later in our journey, we came to 
know as Kolibaba, rising with lesser proportions between the two. 
But the plains outdo the mountains, resembling a wide sea — 
although surely no sea can be surrounded by such commanding 
objects. The treeless, yellow surface commences deep below us, 
and stretches without a break to the Kartevin. Low ridges come 
edging towards it from the block of limestones, which, in the 
west, appears to encircle the lake of Xazik, and to divide it from 
that of Gop. The outline of the block grows in height towards 
Lake Van. 

It was t^^■o o'clock in the afternoon before we were ready to 
start upwards, turning our backs upon this scene, and on foot. 
The ten porters carry our flying tent and our wraps, besides a 
little tezek fuel for our camp fire, and four long poles for taking 


^ Armenia 

measurements. They perform their work in an admirable manner, 
never grumbHng and never stopping to talk. Their features 
betray their Armenian origin, although they are Mussulmans. 
The westerly eminence of the summit region towers high above 
us ; but there is no beach of boulders to impede our progress, 
like upon Ararat, and no causeways to circumvent. The tops 
of the streams of lava are always fairly level, although they are 
rocky at the sides. They consist of a basic augite-andesite, with 
conchoidal fractures, which grows more glassy as you approach 
the higher region. Stretches of grass are not infrequent, watered 
by the melted snow. Little runnels descend the slope with a 
pleasant, gurgling sound, but cease to flow when the sun goes 
down. In three-quarters of an hour we open out Lake Van, the 
ridges collecting towards the summit circle. The gradient of the 
slope is now 33-^°, the highest registered on this side of Sipan. 
We are above and among large patches of snow. But the going 
is very easy, the ground being covered with turf and flowers. It 
is quite a little garden of forget-me-nots and pink daisies and 
buttercups and campanulas. These raise their heads above an 
undergrowth of pearl -wort. There is no juniper or yellow 
immortelle to be seen. Soon after four o'clock this flowery slope 
gives way, and we enter the summit region, with the westerly 
eminence on our left hand. Before us lies a deep and irregular 
basin filled up with masses of snow. 

Such perhaps is the most concise description of the strange 
scene about us and at our feet (Fig. 188). My illustration was 
taken on the following day from the top of the westerly eminence, 
or western summit of Sipan. Our position now is on the slope 
of that lofty eminence, on the upper margin of a field of snow, 
which is not visible in the picture, but which descends to the little 
lake in the foreground. The lake is known as Kirklar Gol,- or 
lake of the forty Mussulman saints, and is probably due to the 
dissolving of the snowy sheets which hem it in on either shore. 
The slope on the opposite, or southern side of the basin is very 
steep where it sinks to the pool ; and it sometimes happens that 
the snow falls headlong and in a mass into the blue water. 
West of the lake, and especially beneath the western summit, 
the edge of the basin is low ; indeed we have entered into the 
summit region by a natural passage or partial cleft. 

Adhering to the skirts of this western summit, or taking refuge 
upon the snow from the deep rubble on its uppermost slope, we 

Ascent of Sip an 335 

proceed in a north-north-easterly direction towards the northern 
side of the basin. A new flower chngs to the powdery surface 
above the snow — sweet-scented arabis. The bold bluff of the peak 
above us joins on to a pronounced ridge, corresponding to the 
ridge on the right of the illustration, of which, indeed, it forms 
the counterpart on the north. We now open out a most remark- 
able object — a round and very lofty mass, built up, it would 
appear, of rubble, and of such dimensions that not only does it 
fill the basin on its eastern side, but even destroys and supersedes 
the peripheral figure. It looks as if it were flat upon the summit, 
from which rise a number of little conical peaks, like cairns. Its 
sides are so steep that they are nearly free of snow. We exclaim, 
" There is Kerkiir, piled upon Sipan ! " The only feature which 
we miss is the oak scrub. The mass is well shown in the photo- 
graph, but not the second little lake which nestles in a lap of 
snow at its foot. This pool is separated from the first by a low 
saddle in the hollow of the basin, of which it collects the waters 
on the east. 

The ridge upon which we stand narrows and becomes knife- 
like, as it bends towards the northern extremity of the upstanding 
mass. It provides the scantiest strip of bare but level rock 
between sheets of- snow on either side. On the north it is a 
cornice of snow above the plains, thousands of feet down. In 
that direction there would appear to be a tremendous abyss. 
Xor is the slope towards the basin of tolerable gradient ; it is so 
steep that it would be difficult to descend to the second of the 
lakes without making a considerable circuit. Still this ridge 
appears to offer a convenient site for our encampment, owing to 
its central position. There are a few piles of rocks, nearly as 
high as a man, which will prevent us being swept into the depths 
on either side, in case a storm should arise. The only danger 
would be a sudden drift of snow. I give orders to erect the tent 
against one of these little screens ; and, accompanied by a 
Circassian, Oswald and I continue our march towards the lofty 
platform on the east. 

Our slender parapet ends in its steep and talus-strewn side, 
which we commence to scale. We step from block to block, the 
boulders consisting of a light brown lava, which has broken up 
with sharp angles. There can be no doubt that this mass is the 
latest result of eruptive action upon the summit of Sipan. The 
whole or nearly the whole of the eastern portion of the crater was 

336 Arm cm a 

blown away, and this cone raised upon its ruins. It is almost 
circular in shape. The level parts of the platform, upon which 
we emerge from the rocky slopes, are covered with snow and ice ; 
but the cairns, of which there are too many to count, protrude 
from the white canopy with little beaches of brown rock. It is 
hard to tell at a first glance which is the highest of these piles. 
Our Circassian conducts us to one among them on the north of 
the mass, which, indeed, is the most elevated of all. When we 
have clambered to the summit, we are amazed to find a screen, 
rudely erected from the boulders by a human hand. It provides 
us with just the shelter which we shall require for our observations 
upon the following day. We have reached an altitude of 13,700 

The sun is setting ; so the tripod is rapidly erected, and the 
bearings of the principal mountains registered with the utmost 
care. Happily the sky is almost free of cloud. Ararat soars into 
space, a magnificent object, both peaks of the greater mountain, 
although almost merged by the perspective, being distinguishable 
by the naked eye. The bold snow bastion on the west is seen to 
the fullest advantage. But the Little Ararat is almost hidden by 
nearer outlines ; and only the summit of that graceful cone is 
exposed. If the mountain of the Ark be without equal, or even 
rival, in a landscape which in all directions is sublime, it possesses 
at least a neighbour with many attributes in common — -the Kuseh 
Dagh, beyond the plain of Alashkert. That giant overtops the 
land forms, almost from the very base — a truly inspirhig sight. 
It is so essentially a great mountain, towering up to a symmetrical, 
but deeply vaulted dome. 

Night is falling as we descend to our little tent upon the 
ridge at an elevation of 13,000 feet. But our poor porters and 
the several zaptiehs who have, quite unnecessarily, scrambled up 
— how shall we protect them against the rigour of the night ? 
They prefer to remain with us ; so we wrap them up in the 
stout red cloth which we have by us for our measuring poles. 
They cower over the smouldering fire against the screen. But 

' It would require a series of very careful observations to determine whether this 
eminence — which I shall call the eastern summit — or the western summit of Sipan be the 
higher. By boiling-point we obtained the following results : — Eastern summit (4th 
August), 13,590 feet; western summit (5th August), 13,714 feet. But these readings 
were taken on different days. On the other hand, the aneroid registered : — Eastern 
summit (4th August), 13,650 feet ; eastern summit (5th August), 13,790 feet; western 
summit (5th August), 13,754 feet. At present the question must be left open — and 
indeed it is not of much im[)()rtance. 



incasiircd and drawn oiil by 
H.F. R. Lyiuli and t'.O.sw-ad in August 1898 

Scale 1 Milo = 2 luclios 
or l: 31.680 



J^-ffix/Ziesf point on tJic miind , 

Von-lfh'r - s-titrwti- mass cornposi'nff 
the eastern summit f point from 
\Hii£lL the reoAings to Ararat, etc 
irci-e tttJuen. J AUiticcLe 13. TOO feet 

B.C.D.E. Sini7la.r cxiirn-Tike eminences 
distr-ibuted over t7ie surface of 
(7iis mass. 

\^. Western sununtt. Alt . 13.7 oo feet 
'K.'L. Conspicuous eminences OJi 
the sou tliern rim of the Itasin- 

F. Xarrow ridge coniposinc/ tJie 
northern rim. of t7ie basin 

G. Our camp upon tJiis ridge, 
AZtiticde 13.o:>5 feet 

1 Kir7t7ar Gi)l.smali lahc ISnuiUlahB 

xl.d 1., 

Published by Lon'^jmaus , Green & C°,Lioncloi\ 

Ascent of Sipan 2)?)1 

the temperature scarcely sinks as low as freezing- point in the 
sheltered places, and at dawn the lake below us is free of ice. 

August 5. — Neither my companion nor myself are able to 
sleep, although we are quite fresh for our work next day. The 
same experience befell our party upon Ararat ; at these high 
altitudes one does not seem to require sleep. We are up before 
the sun ; but the light is already sufficient to disclose the great 
world, silent at our feet. Not a vestige of cloud is clinging to our 
mountain ; and, as the sun rises, all the outlines in the distance 
are well defined. To Oswald is apportioned the task of taking 
measurements, and he starts off over the snow-fields with his 
telemeter and his poles. I mount to the summit of the platform 
on the east, which is reached at half-past six. There I erect my 
instruments in the same cairn which we visited yesterday, and 
which may be called the eastern summit. The pools on the way 
arc thinly crusted with ice. 

With what joy I look out from the well upon the cairn, and 
am greeted with the sight of Ararat in all his majesty, without a 
particle of cloud ! Every minute the outline grows in distinctness, 
and each familiar feature becomes clear. How radiant the fabric 
looks — such a bright presence in the sky, above the summits of 
the Ala Dagh ! Those mountains pass insensibly into the out- 
lines on the east — the horizontal heights of the Persian tableland. 
Westwards it is a series of plains. The plain of Patnotz, deep 
below us, joins the plain of Melazkert ; that expanse is continued 
into the region of Bulanik, threaded by the silver channel of the 
Murad. Kartevin and Bilejan rise like islands from this sea-like 
surface, in which are lapped the blue waters of Lakes Nazik and 
Gop. In the north the undulations of the plateau country are 
continued up to the barrier of the Mergemir — Kilich-Gedik ; but 
that outline is so low that you almost see the plain beyond it, 
supporting the base of the Kuseh Dagh. Further west the plains 
are bounded by much bolder masses — Khamur with Bingol 
showing up behind. The peak of Palandoken is just perceived. 
But the Nimrud crater is a conspicuous object — not the least 
remarkable feature in the scene. How vast it all looks ! — stray 
clouds throwing liquid shadows, and earth reflecting the glow of 
morning in vague, mysterious lights and hues. 

In the opposite direction the contrast exceeds expectation — 
for one is standing in the border region on the outskirts of the 
plateau, and near the serried ranges which confine it on the south. 
VOL. II z 

IT^S Armenia 

Never have I seen those ranges look so steep and savage, the 
seams rising Hke spear-points from the water's edge. Nowhere is 
their outline more broken into peaks, more exactly the opposite 
of the outlines on the north. And the contrast is enhanced by 
the sea to which they descend — the dream-like presence of the 
sweet sea of Van. Pleasant verdure softens the landscape of the 
nearer shores, with their sinuous inlets, already deepening to an 
intense blue. 

I remain about three hours upon this summit, and then 
proceed to the highest eminence on the eastern margin of the 
circular figure, in order to overlook the eastern arm of Lake Van. 
On my way there a strange incident occurs. My Circassian has 
told me that there exists a ziaret, or place of pilgrimage, in 
the vicinity of this cairn. Curious, and half doubtful, I ask him 
to show me the spot, which he says is close by. What is my 
amazement w^hen, opening out a slight hollow of the snowy 
surface, we see before us a group of Mohammedan women, 
standing upon the ice with bare feet and ankles, and prostrating 
themselves before a pair of stag's horns ! Indeed the antlers are 
so thickly covered with little bits of rag that it is impossible to 
say for certain to what species of animal they belonged. Stranger 
still is the fact that a band of women — I count twelve — should 
have risked their lives in this way. Tantuni religio ! . . . And 
yet the Kaimakam of Melazkert is quite unshaken in his belief 
that only one man, and he in exceptional circumstances, has ever 
trodden the sacred summit of Sipan ! ^ 

After spending nearly another three hours upon the eastern 
eminence, during which I draw in the portion of the lake which 
lies before me, because I recognise several errors in the existing 
map, I return to our camp upon the ridge. Oswald has just 
completed his arduous work upon the snow ; and the combination 
of our labours produces the following results, which must be taken 
as approximate. The long axis of the figure described by the 
summit region is but little inclined from an east-west line. The 
centre of the circular mass, to which the eastern summit belongs, 
is a little north of a line drawn from the western summit in 
an easterly direction. The ultimate points of this axis are, 
on the west, the western summit, and on the east, the emi- 
nence upon which I last stood. The distance between the two 

1 Such ziarets exist upon almost all the iirominent mountains, great or small, in this 
part of Armenia. The custom no doubt comes down from an epoch of Nature-worship. 

Ascent of Sipan 339 

is one and a quarter miles. The breadth of the basin is just 
under a mile. 

The Circassians and the porters dance with delight when the 
order is given to take down the tent. They appear to have made 
up their minds that we shall keep them shivering for another 
night. All give utterance to devout and repeated AlJiamdilallaJis, 
thanks be to God ! Our last duty is to scale the western summit, 
and to become familiar with the scene which it commands. 
We overlook the small circular lake of the Aiger Gol, on the 
southern slopes of Sipan. It perhaps fills the basin of a parasitic 
crater. The elevation of this peak is about the same as that of 
the eastern summit, namely 13,700 feet. On our way down we 
recognise the traces of a bear ; and we reach our standing camp 
without further incident at about five o'clock. It has been a very 
full and delightful day.^ 

1 It will be recognised from the above description that the summit of Sipan is much 
more basin-like than that of Ararat. Sipan probably possessed a crater in the proper 
sense. That of Ararat is so much worn down that it can scarcely be said to exist. 

Sipan appears to have been built up by successive lava streams, which became more 
and more viscous, until that finally emitted had no power to flow at all, and merely 
welled up, forming the circular mass on the east. The lava composing that mass is 
spongy and glassy, a glassy mica-andesite. The narrow ridge, upon which we camped, 
and which may represent the northern rim of the old crater, consists of a slabby rhyolite 
with impure obsidian ; it is covered up with cindery slag. The western summit and 
surrounding rock is made up of a lava somewhat similar to that on Nimrud — a dull im- 
pure obsidian with ill-developed spherulites ; the flow structure is well marked. Tuffs 
were nowhere to be seen. But a bastion on the northern side of the mountain was 
cloaked with grey pumice sand. 

The ascent of the mountain is described by Brant [J.K.G.S. 1840, vol. x. pp. 409 
seq.) and by Tozer {Turkish Armenia, pp. 327 seq.). But they both largely under- 
estimate the height. They appear to have been misled by the fact that the highest points 
are free from snow in midsummer ; but the sunmiit region in general is a mass of snow 
even at that season. On Ararat such piles of rock, on which the snow has been unable 
to obtain a footing, are found quite near the summit, which is nearly 17,000 feet high. 

Fig. 189. Grave on the Summit of Khamur. 



We were received with the greatest kindness by Shakir Effendi 
upon our return to Uran Gazi. The vigorous old man came to 
sit with us in our tent, and gave us some account both of himself 
and of his people. It appears that he has held the office of 
Kaimakam of Adeljivas, and that he occupied that dignity for four 
years. He is the Reis or supreme chief of all the Circassians in 
these districts ; and he gave me a list, which should prove of some 
interest, of their villages/ He added that the population was in- 
creasing. The founders of the settlement, of whom Shakir was 
one, came to these seats after the last Russo-Turkish war. They 
were emigrants from the district of Kars, a home which they had 
adopted after the Russians came into possession of their native 

^ The list i.s divided into cazas and villages : — Adeljivas caza — I, Uran (lazi ; 
2, Kogus. Van caza — 3, Shikhare ; 4, Shikhuna ; 5, Azikare ; 6, I'akis. Akhlat caza 
— 7, Kholik ; 8, Agjavireh ; 9, Yogurtyemes ; 10, Develik ; II, Khanik. Melazkert 
caza — 12, Serdut ; 13, Varelmish ; 14, Kara AH; 15, Simu. Biilanik caza — 16, 
Gopo. Khinis caza — 17, Lekbudagh. I'arlo caza — 18, Charbahur ; 19, Charbahur 
Tepe ; 20, Akhpoghan ; 21, Zirnek ; 22, Budag ; 23, Shekan ; 24, Aineh. In addi- 
tion to these — I will not vouch for the spelling — there were, he said, to be found 
Circassians on the side of Erzerum. 

Back to the Central Tableland 341 

mountains. When the Russians captured Kars they received 
notice to quit, or, as Shakir put it, they were told to get out 
{Aideh !). They took ship, and landed upon the shores of the 
Black Sea within Turkish territory. But no arrangements had 
been made to settle them anew. They were starving and being 
decimated by sickness, when the Queen of England came to their 
aid. Her Majesty told the Turks that they must either find the 
land without delay or she herself would provide land within her 
dominions. This speech spurred the Turks on. In this way 
they became established in Uran Gazi. This kind action on the 
part of our Queen would always live in their memory. They are 
on good terms with the Turks, but they are preparing to move on 
again. That inexorable Russian advance ! 

As for the Kurds, they regard them as scarcely human beings 
and do not fear them at all. But they are held in great awe by 
the Kurds. Unlike the wretched Armenians, they are allowed to 
carry arms, which they know how to use with effect. And you 
hear the laughter of children in their villages. 

While I was engaged in writing, the indefatigable Oswald 
scoured the plain in all directions. He found the limestones on 
its margin highly marmorised, full of corals ; they must belong to 
the Eocene period. The efflorescence on the border of the Jil 
Gol is not in fact an incrustation, but is due to a bleached felting 
of confervcB. Rushes abound, but they had already been cut. 
The waters find an egress through two funnel-shaped basins, near a 
large crack in a boss of lava. They disappear beneath the ground 
in little whirlpools, and are believed to come to the surface at 
Adeljivas. Shakir assured us that, if anything, the lake is now 
on the increase ; it has been increasing since the earthquake 
which was so destructive at Adeljivas about five years ago. This 
earthquake did little damage at Uran Gazi. Although the 
village is now about a mile distant from the lake, good water 
may be found at any point in the vicinity by digging a short 
distance down. 

August 8. — Nimrud and Sipan having now yielded up their 
secrets, it was our next object to explore Bingol. But, on the 
way, we were anxious to follow the course of the Murad, the 
reaches of that river between Gop and Charbahur being practi- 
cally unknown. We were also desirous of climbing Khamur. 
Our first day's stage was to be the village of Gop.'^ W^e there- 

' The intermediate distances along the route described in this chapter were as 

342 Armenia 

fore crossed the plain in a north-westerly direction, the way 
being indicated by a Circassian guide. After riding about three 
miles we reached the foot of some low hills, confining the plain 
on that side. Against their first slopes lay a Kurdish hamlet — 
Karaghun. Issuing into a valley, we rose above it to the crest 
of the hills, which, as we expected, were down-like in character. 
For some little distance our way led over these downs. 

But I need not tire my reader by taking him over old 
ground ; he will readily recognise that our surroundings were 
much the same in character as during our journey across this 
region from Melazkert. For the second time we were crossing 
the block of stratified rocks on the west of Sipan ; but on this 
occasion we were already within their northerly and less elevated 
zone, and we might, no doubt, have descended to the plain, and 
followed along their base. We struck our former route above 
the village of Demian, after passing through the same valley to 
which we had then come down at Akhviran, and which we now 
entered above the large Kurdish village of Shebu. It is an inlet 
of the great plain at the foot of Sipan. But our guide preferred 
to take us along the slope of the mass, all the way from Demian 
to the village of Leter. For that is the direction which these 
heights pursue. 

I have little doubt that these stratified rocks come up again 
on the east of Sipan, and the view from the eastern summit 
disclosed in that direction very similar block-like heights. They 
probably sink beneath the volcanic system of the Ala Dagh. In 
this northern zone the downs consist of lacustrine deposits, 
sandstone, and a limestone full of the little shells known as 
viytihis} The sandstone underlies this inytihis limestone, 
indicating, as Oswald observed, that the great lake, which once 
covered this region, grew deeper before the latest earth -move- 
ments set in. Throughout the ride from Demian to Leter, a 
distance of 5^ miles, we overlooked the flat region which is due 
to the action of those former waters, and through which the 
Murad flows. But a gale of wind was in our face ; the plain was 
shrouded in haze — a treeless and little-inhabited district, which 
might, no doubt, be made fertile and prosperous. 

Leter, a large village, partly Kurd and in part Armenian, is 

f(jlIovvs : — Uran Gazi viA Leter and Lake Bulania to Clop, 32 miles ; Gop to Charbahur, 
deviating to the confluence of the Bingtil Su (Khinis) with the Murad, 52| miles ; 
Charbahur to Gumgum, 6| miles; Gunigum to Gundemir, 9^^ miles. Total, ioo| miles. 
' Mytiliis (Congeria) polytnorphiis. 

Back to the Central Tableland 


situated on the confines of the plain. It is built upon lava, black 
and slabby in character, which has broken through the lacustrine 
deposits. Similar bosses, resembling those near Uran Gazi, but 
larger, rise up from the level expanse beyond. The direction in 
which the inhabitants pointed towards the village of Gop was 
plainly not that of the lake of the same name. We had already 
obtained a glimpse of its waters, lying almost west of where we 
now stood. Anxious to visit the lake, we shaped a course which 
we thought would find it beyond a screen of low hills. The 
plain in that direction was very rudely cultivated, white holly- 
hocks and a large mauve thistle crowding out the ragged corn. 
At about 6\ miles from Leter we passed through the first village 
we had since seen, the large Armenian settlement of Kekeli. 
And in another ten minutes we stood on the summit of the 
eminence which had concealed the lake for so long. 

It was nothing more than a low hill, an isolated mass of lava 
rising up from the plain. It was crowned by a little chapel, put 
together with stone and mud, and provided with a wicker door. 
Looking through, we discovered a large stone, engraved with a 
cross, which was, no doubt, the object or symbol of worship. 
Before it, three little lamps reposed on a horizontal slab. From 
this standpoint we overlooked the extent of the waters, of which 
the nearest shore was still some two miles off. The lake is 
bordered by level ground upon the east and south, and by 
considerable heights on the west and north. On the west it is 
Bilejan, sending outwards radial buttresses with deep valleys from 
a central, meridional ridge ; lesser heights in connection with the 
mountain, and of volcanic origin, descend to the waters along the 
northern shore. A slight depression separates this series from 
Bilejan, and they, in turn, sink somewhat steeply into the plain. 
At that point, and at their foot, lies the large village of Sheikh 
Yakub, beside which flows the stream giving issue to the lake. 

In the opposite direction, beyond the plain on its southern 
confines, it is overlooked by an extension of the heights on the 
west of Sipan, which are continued up -to the mass of Bilejan. 
It would appear that volcanic action has been busy throughout 
this region ; and we thought we saw a grassy crater among those 
heights. Beyond the outline of the barrier emerges a little 
conical peak, which we recognised as the cone on the west of 
Nazik. Bilejan itself does not look as if it ever could have 
possessed a crater, and it is probably due to upwellings of lava 

344 Arincnia 

along a meridional fissure. The highest points along the central 
ridge may have an elevation of some 9000 feet. 

A brisk breeze was blowing as we made our way to the brink 
of the water, churning up its muddy depths. Indeed this lake is 
thickly charged with dark sedimentary matter — a characteristic 
which has given rise to a name under which some know it, Lake 
Bulama, or the muddy lake.' Another and not more savoury 
feature is its odour, which is fetid and nauseating. An 
abundance of fresh-water mussels were strewn on the shore, and 
several pelicans were floating on the waves. In shape the lake 
appeared to be almost circular. Its elevation, as one would 
expect, is much less than that of Nazik, being only 5550 feet. 
In point of verdure its surroundings are quite as mournful as 
those of its neighbour, while the lake itself does little to relieve 
their monotony. 

From the north-eastern extremity of this unattractive sheet 
of water we followed the course of the foul stream by which it is 
drained. It took us to the foot of the heights already mentioned, 
and through the village of Sheikh Yakub. It is a very large 
Armenian village, which has probably been prosperous, but which 
is now in a state of extreme destitution. All the inhabitants 
were in rags. Boys up to the age of puberty were quite naked, 
and girls to their fifth or sixth year. The village was full of 
soldiers, who were standing on the roofs. I summoned their 
officer, and enquired what their business might be. He answered 
that Ibrahim Pasha, adjutant of Kurd Hamidiyeh, was about to 
visit the place. In Gop I ascertained that the object of his visit 
was to restore some property which had been carried off by 
Kurds. Such at least was the explanation which I received. It 
was certainly not a bad idea to quarter all these troops upon 
starving people ; they would think twice before claiming redress 
a second time. But I suspect that it was a rather clumsy lie. 

Gop is situated in the plain, some miles distant from the 
lake, at the foot of the extreme slopes of the heights which 
border the northerly shore (alt. 5150 feet). Although the 
place is the capital of the caza of Bulanik, it is a large village 
rather than a town. The Kaimakam informed me that there 
were 400 houses, all but 50 inhabited by Armenians. The 
district of Bulanik comprises some of the most fertile land in all 

' Layard (Discoveries in tlic Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, Lontlon, 1853, p. 20) 
speaks of it under the nnnie tjf the Lake of Sliailu. 

Back to the Central Tableland 345 

Armenia, and is of considerable area. Towards the east it 
includes a large portion of the plain of the Murad below the 
town of Melazkert ; while, on the west, it reaches across the mass 
of Bilejan and its outliers to a second extensive stretch of fairly 
level ground. That region slopes away from the northern border 
heights of Mush plain to the Murad and the opposite heights of 
Khamur ; it sends a tributary to the left bank of the great river, 
and one of its principal and central villages is that of Liz. The 
fecundity of the soil is probably due to a happy combination of 
calcareous marls with the detritus of eruptive rocks. The grain 
which it produces is of excellent quality, in spite of the fact that 
the fields will be full of thistles. The peasants are miserably 
poor. The Kaimakam explained that their rags, and squalor 
were matter of custom [tabiat) ; and, in fact, they had plenty of 
money, hoarded away. It is possible that such an hypothesis 
may indeed govern some of his actions ; but I doubt whether he 
put it forward in good faith. The main cause of their destitution 
is plainly the want of security, coupled with the impossibility of 
exporting their crops. But usury is also a factor of considerable 
importance, the husbandman having generally borrowed to buy 
his seed at rates which rob him of most of the earnings of his 

From Gop we made a second excursion to the lake, riding to 
one of the most conspicuous of the volcanic eminences which 
rise from its northern margin. It is a distance of about four 
miles. The ascent commences on the outskirts of the village ; 
but it is at first very gradual, the slope consisting of marly clays. 
These beds were full of inytilus in perfect preservation, and were 
seen to have been overlaid with tuffs. About halfway, we came 
to the walled monastery of Surb Daniel, containing the relics of 
a saint of that name. The ancient chapel has been restored. 
Over the altar was conspicuous a picture of the Virgin and Child, 
The one or two resident priests were sunk in abject ignorance, 
but they were in possession of some good farm buildings within 
their enclosure. We remained for some time upon the peak 
which we had selected, and from which we obtained a fine view 
of the lake and its surroundings. While I was mapping, Oswald 
sketched. We could see two villages on the level ground south 
of the lake — Khashlu and Piran. In the plain towards the 
Murad several settlements were visible upon a line between Leter 
and Gop, 

346 Armenia 

August 10. — It was ten o'clock in the morning of a fine 
summer's day when we resumed our journey, and set out in a 
north-westerly direction across this spacious plain. Travelling at 
this season is most agreeable in Armenia ; it scarcely ever rains, 
yet one is never overpowered by the heat of the brilliant sun. 
Pleasant breezes float across the expanse. The harvest was 
being gathered in. Our landmarks were in full view — Sipan, 
Khamur, Bilejan. A little river meanders through the deep soil, 
on a course towards the Murad. It receives the waters which 
irrigate the village of Gop, and, among them, those of the stream 
from the lake. It has its origin some distance east of Gop. It 
is called the Kor Su. At first our track took us about parallel 
with its banks ; then we crossed it at the large Armenian village 
of Yungali. Anxious to visit the point of confluence of the 
Bingol Su with the Murad, we now diverged towards the north. 
The nature of the ground compelled us to cross the latter river a 
little above the junction. It was flowing in a very broad, alluvial 
bed. In width it may have been about a hundred yards ; nor in 
any place did the water reach much above our horses' knees. 
Except for the great islands of mountain about us, we might have 
been standing upon the Mesopotamian plains. Our approach 
disturbed a group of large eagles, so heavy that they were 
obliged to run before taking wing. The Bingol Su came in 
through a deep channel, which washed the girths of our horses. 
It did not seem to be more than forty yards wide. But, although 
sluggish, it must bring a very considerable volume of water ; for 
its contribution extended to about half the width of the joint 
river, being clearly distinguished by the quantity of sediment 
which it sustained. From this confluence we followed the course 
of the Murad, riding over the plain on the right bank, with the 
stream. A flock of wild geese were resting in the pebbly bed, 
nor did the shapely birds move as we passed them by. One of 
our escort was successful in securing a fine specimen with a bullet, 
which provided us with an excellent meal next day. 

But the features of the landscape soon underwent a change ; 
for the river was approaching the foot of the Khamur heights. 
At first it was low hills, consisting of lake deposits, which we 
skirted on our right hand. But near the Armenian village of 
Karaogli a bold ridge comes into prominence, and it extends all 
the way to Shakhberat. It is of eruptive volcanic origin. It is 
an important member of the scries of heights of which Khamur 

Back to the Central Tableland 347 

forms the dominant mass. East of Khamur that series rises to 
a considerable elevation before declining to the valley of the 
Bingol Su. The highest ridge, as seen from this district, lies 
some distance towards the north, and is called the Zirnek Dagh. 
On the other hand, this volcanic parapet comes right up to the 
river, which follows along its base. At the same time hills 
started up from the plain upon the left bank. It was evident 
that they were volcanic and in connection with Bilejan, of which 
we were opening out the more westerly and less deeply carved 

These features transformed the scene with startling rapidity ; 
the idle river was no longer able to flow where it pleased. 
Some two miles below Karaogli it enters a deep gorge, and 
throughout its course to the plain of Mush it is, with little 
intermission, confined in a narrow bed. Except during the 
passage of the block of heights on the north of that plain, the 
Murad performs no considerable feat. It follows the general 
trend of the lines of elevation, and one would expect its course 
to be fairly tranquil through this region. But the lavas tease the 
river ; they have welled up along fissures, and have converted the 
wide valley into as inhospitable a district as any through which 
it passes on its long journey to the Persian Gulf. 

Our mid-day halt was spent beneath the shade of a grove of 
willows, on the margin of some fields of hemp and cabbage, 
which softened the site of Karaogli. But, the village left behind, 
we soon entered the narrows, the track being taken along the 
cliff-side, at some considerable height above the hissing, silvery 
water. The Murad pierces a mass of lava belonging to the 
ridge on its right bank. It seemed a wayward thing to do ; for 
the ground is lower just south of the gorge, and appeared to 
invite the river. While still within the cleft, it was spanned 
by a wooden bridge resting on several piers of solid masonry. 
This is probably the first bridge over the Murad below Tutakh. 
Issuing from the cliffs, the tortuous reaches opened out into an 
easier country, and a wider prospect was unfolded on either side. 
For the first time we obtained a view over the plain on the west 
of Bilejan, bordered on the south by the still distant heights, on 
this side of the depression of Mush. But the volcanic hills on 
the left bank were not long without a successor ; the outline was 
taken up by a second block of similar origin ; and the scene 
aeain became restricted to the immediate surroundings of the 

348 Armenia 

river, which were stony and bare and bleak. We passed only a 
single Kurdish hamlet during our ride to the cirque or caldron of 
Shakhberat. There the river makes an S-shaped bend through 
a fairly wide valley, enclosed on all sides by volcanic heights. 
The ridge and peak of Kolibaba is seen to full advantage, con- 
fining the valley on the west. Two little Kurdish villages, 
Arenjik and Shakhberat, lie on the slopes and in the lap of this 
spacious cirque. 

August II. — ^The level of the Murad at Shakhberat was 
tested by two readings of the boiling-point apparatus on 
successive days. It was found to be 4900 feet. The village 
commands a view of the summit of Khamur, the highest point of 
the amphitheatre in which the hamlet is placed. But that lofty 
ridge is in part screened by the slopes of Kolibaba, and by the 
parapet which has skirted the right bank of the river all the 
way from Karaogli. That parapet joins the mass about opposite 
the summit ; and it is only at the head of the valley between 
Khamur and Kolibaba that the outline and slopes of the 
principal ridge are fully exposed. The shortest way to the 
summit, but certainly the steepest, would lead up that valley by 
a fairly direct course. But our guide preferred to take us by a 
more easterly approach, up the face of the parapet. He was a 
very pleasant fellow, a khoja or village priest ; and he looked well 
with his clean white cottons, astride upon his mare. But the 
notion that we really intended to mount to the actual peak was 
repugnant to his good sense. Climbing Khamur meant to him 
proceeding to an adjacent eminence and thence contemplating 
the airy heights above your head. Such a spot was provided 
under circumstances of luxury by the site of a hamlet high up on 
the ridge. A rustling stream flows through it, which has been 
dammed and made into a lake ; and round the pool trees have 
been planted to shade the flocks. It was indeed a charming 
foreground to the immense landscape which already extended to 
Nimrud. But the khoja s dallying was soon cut short ; the track 
ceased at this village, which bore the unworthy name of Ganibuk. 
He was forced to lead us across a beach of large boulders, and 
through some thickets of oak scrub. The ascent became pro- 
nounced, and, when at length the flat top was reached, the main 
mass was still distant, and looked very high. 

The composition of the ridge, which wc had now surmounted, 
is at once interesting and typical of the whole region. It 

Back to the Central Tableland 349 

consists of a series of deep beds of lake deposits, separated one 
from the other by bands of lava. At first the lava was seen to 
be basaltic in character and compact ; but towards the summit it 
became scoriaceous. The fact would seem to indicate that, 
while the earlier issues were submarine, the latest flows were out- 
poured when the land had risen above the water, and the present 
configuration was being attained. The platform upon which we 
stood was composed of a sheet of lava, and so was the summit of 
the opposite ridge of Khamur. But as we rode into the shallow 
trough which separates the two eminences, the greyish-white 
marls again came to view. We could see them on the escarp- 
ments of both ridges, which, further east, became gradually 
separated by a deep latitudinal valley. We could observe the 
soft material where it was baked into a yellow porcelain by 
contact with the cap of lava on the Khamur ridge. Far and 
wide, towards east and south, the landscape wore the same hues 
and appearance ; the same character appeared to belong to the 
heights on the north of ]\Iush plain. Descending into the 
depression and rising again on its further side, we reached the 
actual peak or highest part of the Khamur ridge after a zigzag 
climb up a slope overgrown with fennel. We had attained an 
altitude of 9850 feet. 

Although the outline of Khamur assumes a somewhat pointed 
shape when seen from the south, as from the cirque of Shakhberat, 
yet the summit is nothing more than a fairly flat and narrow 
platform, which slopes away with some abruptness on the north 
and south. The lava upon this platform is slabby in character 
and may be described as an augite-andesite. There is no 
crater on the summit and one cannot speak of Khamur as a 
volcano in the proper sense. In fact it is a considerable block of 
elevated land, in the western portion of which volcanic action 
has played a great part. The foundation of the block is probably 
composed of Eocene limestone, which has been overlaid by later 
lake deposits. This limestone comes to view in a remarkable 
manner as you survey the eastern half of the mass. The ridge 
upon which you stand extends for a mile or two in that direction, 
and presently sinks to a somewhat narrow upland valley. This 
depression can be clearly seen from the adjacent region, whence 
it has the appearance of a notch in the outline of the mountain. 
Its eastern slope leads over into a very broad block of mountain, 
of w^hich the central region is hollow and basin -like in shape, 

350 Armenia 

and the outer sides steep and high. They are perhaps steepest 
and most lofty on the south. It is in fact one grand synclinal, 
described by beds of hard limestone, which, from a distance, 
o-roups with Khamur in a single mass. The axis of the mass in 
that direction is about east-north-east. 

The prospect towards the west is not of lesser interest, and 
is certainly even more strange. Time was wanting to examine 
this extraordinary region, which, indeed, it would require several 
days to explore. The ridge of Khamur is joined on to the 
northern portion of another great block of elevated land. The 
eastern wall of this plateau projects some distance towards the 
south, almost up to the right bank of the Murad. But the deep 
valley, which is formed by this projection and by the ridge of 
Khamur, is filled up by the lofty pile of Kolibaba — a peninsular 
mountain, only connected beyond a considerable depression with 
the slopes of the main ridge. It is plainly of eruptive volcanic 
origin, and it is somewhat circular in form. Its sides are strewn 
with talus and clothed with oak scrub. Our guide and the 
people of the district knew it under the name which I have 
given, and which they averred to have been that of a holy man 
who had been buried there. Though who this prophet might 
have been, or what he wrought, or when he lived, not a soul 
among them knew. Throughout this district, as far as Bingol, 
the tops of mountains will be often crowned by the rude enclosure 
of some sage's grave. Such a monument was a conspicuous 
object on the very peak of Khamur ; and with its headstone, a 
huge slab grimly resembling a human bone, might have- been 
disposed to receive a giant's remains (Fig. 189). 

But to return to the scene before us — this adjacent plateau 
on the west extends all the way to Bingol. Indeed it is 
connected with the southern margin of the Bingol pedestal by a 
bold saddle, due to a flow of lava. This feature was, of course, 
scarcely visible from Khamur ; but the continuation of the 
Khamur ridge might be traced throughout the region, being 
distinguished by a succession of bold bosses, rising along its 
northern margin. These peaks are especially pronounced at 
their inception, and appeared to rise almost immediately from 
the northern shore of a large lake which was irregular in form. 
Near its south-east corner lay a second, much smaller and 
circular lake. Neither figure on any map which I have seen. 
They are evidently rather deep, for their colour is an intense blue. 

Back to the Central Tableland 351 

Such are some of the characteristics of this curious region, which 
may be included among the Khamur heights. It rises above 
the Murad with cHff-hke sides, which scarcely decline at all to 
the elevated level of these lonely azure lakes. , 

The view from the summit of Khamur may be divined b}- 
my reader ; nor need I attempt to describe it in any detail. 
It embraces Palanddken and Bingol on the north ; Nimrud, 
Bilejan and Sipan on the south. On one side lies the plain of 
Khinis, bordered by the peaks and ridges of the Akh Dagh, 
which are seen to their fullest advantage. On another it is the 
basin of the Murad, with Sipan rising in all his majesty from an 
expanse of level and cultivated ground. In yet another }-ou 
overlook the plain and village of Liz and the course of a winding 
river. From no standpoint does the character of the country, as 
a succession of sea -like plains, become imprinted with greater 
clearness on the mind. Nor is any district in the nearer Asia 
better adapted to become the granary of a prosperous and highly 
civilised land. We descended in failing light by the valley on 
the side of Kolibaba, and reached our camp with some difficulty 
in three hours. 

August 12. — On the following morning we set out to follow 
the Murad, as far as its egress from this region through the 
heights which border the depression of Mush. Much the same 
features were continued throughout the stage. The cirque of 
Shakhberat is enclosed upon the west by a stream of lava from 
Kolibaba. This emission has flowed in an almost meridional 
direction, and has forced the river to bend away to the south. 
After passing through the Armenian village of Akrag, which is 
placed on a higher level of the basin-like area, we breasted the 
bold ridge which has been formed by this lava, and crossed it 
just south of a little parasitic cone, emerging from the side of 
the mountain. Some low oaks flourish among the boulders ; 
the rock is a glassy augite-andesite. The ridge leads over into a 
little plain, bordered upon the north by the wall of the Khamur 
plateau, and with a high rim upon the side of the river, which 
cannot be seen. The plain has evidently been covered by a lake 
in fairly recent times. A crack in the rim of the basin displays 
the channel through which it was drained. On the side of 
Kolibaba an old beach line was visible, some fifty feet above the 
level of this plain. The soil consists of a black clay which is 
not cultivated, but which must be very rich. It took us nearly 

252 Annenia 

an hour to cross to the opposite side, where it is confined by an 
outwork of the Khamur heights. 

Our further journey, which occupied the better part of a whole 
long day, need not be followed step by step. We had arrived at 
a spot where the dominant lineaments of the landscape had 
already become pronounced. These prevailed with little variety 
all the way. On the right bank, at an interval of two to three 
miles or more, rose the wall of the Khamur plateau. The further 
west we proceeded the more irregular it became, the less dis- 
tinguishable from the massive spurs which it put out. These 
outworks descend into the river valley, which is flooded and 
choked by the lavas. Both in the valley and on these slopes the 
lavas have the upper hand ; but the grey lacustrine marls are 
seldom absent or for long. They provide favoured stretches, 
covered with luscious herbage, where a little stream may trickle 
down from the barren heights. Still the scene remains wild, 
bleak rather than of impressive ruggedness ; there is space 
along the margin of the river, which flows in a deep canon 
through the sombre eruptive rock. Some stunted oak springs 
from the crevices among the boulders, but it rather enhances than 
relieves the mournful aspect of the surroundings. 

On the left bank a new feature came into prominence : a long 
and fairly lofty ridge, with perfectly horizontal outline, many 
miles away on the south. But the slope of this broad mass was 
continuous to the brink of the river, where it was broken by the 
stream into cliffs. Its gentle gradient and almost level surface 
somewhat softened the rigour of the landscape. It was seen to 
ccwisist of a sheet of lava, which had covered up the marls, and 
which must have issued in a very liquid condition. The heights 
upon which it is built are the northern border heights of Mush 
plain ; and this block of heights approaches closer and closer to 
the Murad, as it eats its way through the district on a westerly 
course. Such was the character of the country beyond the 
winding, hissing river throughout the whole stage. Villages there 
were none, and hamlets few. A single oasis of any importance 
was observed high-seated upon the slope in the south, near the 
break in the outline where the Murad pierces through the block. 
We should have been pleased to spend the night in that extensive 
and leafy grove, which belongs to a village called Ali Gedik. 
But we were assured that the river was not passable, and we 
were obliged to push on to Charbahur. After following a 

Back to the Central Tableland 353 

romantic gorge where the Murad has again been wayward, and 
has preferred to saw a passage through a towering parapet of 
lava rather than to follow easier ground upon the south, we rode 
for some distance along a wide stretch of alluvial soil in which 
the river at length reposes from its arduous labours. The 
Circassian village of Charbahur is placed at some distance from 
the waters, on the northern margin of the broad strip of willow- 
grown land.^ 

Charbahur is backed by a barren slope of the Khamur heights, 
and is screened from all freshness on the side of the north. On 
the other hand, it is exposed to the sultry southern breezes, which 
find their way through the passage of the Murad, acting like a 
funnel to the furnace of Mush plain. There were said to be 
some sixty houses in the village ; but I should say that there 
were more. Some of the tenements are well built, resembling 
neat cottages ; but unfortunately they swarm with fleas. The 
standard of living is far higher than among the Armenians ; but 
one feels that there is little or nothing in the race. Our im- 
pression of the Circassians did not improve upon longer acquaint- 
ance ; although they are by no means the worthless and predatory 
people which they are sometimes represented to be. Their 
conspicuous characteristic is an inordinate love of swagger ; and 
their handsome figures encourage the tendency of their disposition. 
One afternoon, as we were busy at work, a bugle sounded ; and 
immediately a band of horsemen galloped into the village. One 
by one they passed our tent at the utmost speed of their horses, 
jumping to the ground and vaulting back into the saddle, while 
still at full pace. Those Cossack manoeuvres heralded the 
approach of their chief, Suleyman Pasha, who, it appeared, was 
riding over from the neighbouring capital of the caza in order to 
honour us with a visit. When he arrived the place became full 
of irregular troops, with w^iom were combined a small detachment 
of regular cavalry. Dismounting from a well-bred horse, he came 
towards us with hands outstretched, tall and supple, with a 
rhythm of movement which at once revealed his Circassian blood. 
His large and animated eyes, the thin, aquiline nose, the high 
forehead and the black hair, waving on brow and chin, were set 
off by the contrast of a very correct uniform — a deep-blue tunic 

' The distances are as follows :— Gop to Karaogli (including one considerable 
deviation), I2| miles; Karaogli to Shakhberat, lo miles; Shakhberat to Charbahur, 
30 miles. Total, 52| miles. 

VOL. II 2 A 



with a pale crimson collar. The voice suited the man ; it was 
resonant and was meant to be so, and his words were accompanied 
by a profusion of gestures. He was followed by two valuable 
English pointers, which, however, he did not treat with proper 
respect. To him the world was a gallery ; yet he lacked the 
mind of the actor ; and, while his principal occupation was the 
giving of orders, his directions were not less empty than his 
words. But these defects were in the nature of inherited failings ; 
personally he was extremely kind, and, I believe, a staunch friend. 
He spoke with gratitude, which was sincere, of the service which 
had been rendered to his countrymen by England and England's 
Queen. It has sunk deeply into the hearts of Circassians. At 
home we are too much imbued with excellent business principles; 
and few of us realise the value in politics of sentimental considera- 
tions, especially when we are dealing with the untrained peoples 
whose destiny happens to link with ours. 

The most interesting occupants of such a village are, no 
doubt, the girls and young women. They retain their fair com- 
plexion even in this climate, as well as their roundness of face and 
form. Several among them would come to the margin of an 
adjacent stream, in order to wash their grain. Their bare feet 
were as shapely as their hands. From Charbahur we made an 
excursion to the passage of the Murad, riding first to the con- 
fluence of the important stream which collects the drainage of the 
southern slopes of the Bingol plateau. A ridge from the Khamur 
heights extends across the wide valley, choking it up and checking 
the drainage of its considerable extension towards the west. The 
stream cuts through this obstacle a little west of Charbahur, 
issuing into the alluvial plain at the Circassian village of Charbahur 
Tepe. It joins the Murad at the egress of the river from the 
valley. It comes in beneath the shade of willows and silver 
poplars. It brings a large addition to the waters of the Murad, 
and is by far its most important tributary since it received the 
Bingol Su. Unhappily this affluent bears the same name as that 
river ; but I need not fear that my reader will confuse the two. 
This Bingol Su had a width of about 30 yards ; its depth was 
fairly uniform, and it reached above our horses' knees. ^ The 
Murad now becomes a stately river, recalling, both by its volume 
and the manner in which it flows, the course of the Danube 

1 A horse's knee would represent a depth (jf i foot 5 inches, and a horse's girth 
2 feet 9 inches. 

Back to the Central Tableland 355 

in Upper Austria, We forded it at a point some 3 miles down 
the passage, where it was over 100 yards wide and reached 
above our horses' girths. It had descended to a level of 4570 

The cutting through the broad block of mountain which is 
interposed between the plain of Mush and the long valley through 
which the river has been flowing for so many miles — a valley 
which is continued as far west as the little plain of Dodan — is 
perhaps too broad to be described as a gorge. Yet the heights 
on either side descend to the margin of the Murad, which has 
turned at right angles to its former course. It pursues this 
southerly direction until it has gained the floor of the Mush 
depression. From the ford we mounted the slopes on the eastern 
side of the valley, and, after a sharp climb, reached the summit 
of the block. Our position was a little south of that pleasant 
grove which has been mentioned, belonging to the village of AH 
Gedik. We stood on a sheet of lava ; but the limestone was all 
about us, on the face of the cliff, in the bed of the river, where it 
formed long ridges, fretting the current into rapids. It was 
seen to contain fossils of the cretaceous period, and its strike 
or axis of elevation was towards east-north-east. The heights 
on the opposite bank appeared to be of similar nature. The 
view extended over the plain of Mush. Mush itself was seen 
nestling in a recess of the border range. We could see the 
village of Sikava, well in the plain, and the almost imperceptible 
break in the wall of mountain where the Murad issues from the 
plain. In the north, the line of cliffs belonging to the Bingol 
plateau dominated the scene. Bingol itself was either hidden 
behind their lofty edge, or could not be distinguished from the 
mass. We returned to Charbahur not along the valley, but down 
the gentle southern slope of these heights. Its even nature is due 
to a flow of basaltic lava. We found the Murad above the 
junction with the Bingol Su to be flowing in two separate 
channels, which we forded and so returned to our camp. 

August 15. — To reach Gumgum and the westerly extension 
of the long valley, it is necessary to cross the ridge from the 
Khamur heights which I have mentioned ; such was our purpose 
and our next task. We found it to consist of grey lacustrine 
clays and marls with interbedded lavas. A thick layer of tuff 
occurs high up on the ridge ; and the summit of the whole 
formation displays a cap of basaltic lava, sloping northwards in 

356 Armenia 

the direction of Gumgum. The parapet lessens in height as it 
stretches obHquely into the valley towards the block on its 
southern verge ; yet even at the lofty col, over which our track 
lay, it was less elevated than the corresponding ridge which joins 
the Khamur heights to the Bingol plateau, and which is 
surmounted by the road from Gumgum to Khinis. As we 
descended, a pleasant stretch of fairly even ground lay beneath 
us, in the lap of which we could see the capital of the caza. It 
was watered by several streams, which issue from the slopes of 
the wide amphitheatre described by the Khamur heights and 
the bold outline of the Bingol cliffs. One river alone was seen 
to proceed from the very heart of the Bingol system, coming into 
the plain through a tremendous chasm in the cliffs. Above that 
abyss we obtained a glimpse of the western summit of Bingol. 
Further west the great valley was choked up with minor heights, 
rising up from its floor. On the south it is bounded by the 
commanding block of mountain which continues, across the 
passage of the Murad, the long wall of the northern border of 
Mush plain. Limestones, buff and white, could be seen high up 
on that flat-topped mass, with the same axis of elevation as those 
further east. The scene was bleak, without a tree and scarcely a 

Gumgum had evidently blossomed since my last visit, for 
it possessed at least two stone houses above ground, besides 
several little shops. We found it in a state of extraordinary 
commotion, owing to the presence of Suleyman Pasha. A troop 
of regular cavalry, mounted on white horses, had met us on the 
road. They had been sent as a guard of honour to escort us 
into the place. The scene before the Governm.ent building was 
extremely picturesque ; and what was our astonishment when we 
beheld, among the medley of Circassian cavalry, a ragged band 
of horsemen whom we at once identified as Kurds, and in whom 
wc recognised the much-talked-of Hamidiyeh ! Here indeed was 
food for the note-book and the camera ! On the steps of the 
building stood the Kaimakam, not my friend of the first journey ; 
and beside him the Hakim in a black robe. Behind these were 
gathered the notables, and among them a giant who enhanced the 
imposing nature of the show. When we had received and 
returned the greetings of this distinguished company, we were 
ushered into the presence of the Pasha, seated in an inner room. 
He overwhelmed us with every token of kindness ; and, when the 

Back to the Central Tableland 357 

Kai'makam read me a telegram relating to a supply of money, he 
waved him aside with a gesture of magnificent contempt, and 
drew from his pocket a reel of gold which he begged me accept. 
A little speech, modelled on his own, seemed to allay the sting of 
my refusal ; but he insisted upon our taking with us to our camp 
on Bingol a detachment of cavalry. This offer was gratefully 
accepted. Orders were at once given to prepare a repast. The 
servants left the presence with a deep obeisance ; but, alas ! it 
transpired, after a considerable interval, that there were no viands 
in the house and none to be found. All this time the audience 
chamber was filled full of as strange a company as it had ever 
been our privilege to see. Suleyman Pasha appeared to hold a 
roving commission in connection with the Hamidiyeh. But the 
men of his own race, settlers in the country, had come in from all 
directions to do honour to a countryman in his high position, 
and to a nobleman in whose veins their bluest blood flowed. 
The Circassians furnish recruits to the regular army, differing in 
this respect from the tribal Kurds. But, jealous of their ancestral 
customs, they maintain the irregular cavalry, of which a strong 
contingent was gathered together in Gumgum, The principal 
men, one by one, were introduced into the apartment ; each 
bowed low and kissed the Pasha's hand. To each was assigned 
a seat on the divan. Most had passed the middle age ; their 
wizened and wrinkled faces harmonised with the drab hues of the 
Cossack dress. The Pasha was resplendent in his blue and 
crimson uniform ; several swords, in richly engraved and valuable 
scabbards, rested by his side. Near him sat a grave and gloomy 
personage in European uniform. His cruel face displayed the 
true Tartar lineaments and expression ; yet he was a Kurd, and the 
colonel of one of the four Hamidiyeh regiments recruited among 
the Jibranli tribe. The Pasha treated him with great courtesy, 
if with a little condescension ; but, although he received the many 
orders which were addressed to him with military obedience, his 
manner scarcely concealed the irritation which they produced. 
There was mischief in the man's face. He is seen on the left of 
my illustration (Fig. 190); his bugler, a young Kurd, richly 
attired, is placed on his left hand. Behind him are some of his 
horsemen, of which in all there were mustered a hundred, after 
extraordinary exertions on the part of the Pasha. Yet the 
nominal strength of the regiment is six hundred. The whole 
force — regulars and irregulars, Kurds and Circassians — were drawn 

358 Arme7tia 

up in a half-circle for our benefit. The regulars were, as usual, 
a fine body of men ; of the rest the very refuse were the Kurds. 

We did not regret to leave a scene which was pathetic as 
well as humorous, and to set forth on an expedition to one of the 
most remarkable of those works of Nature with which Asia — past 
mistress of violent contrasts — appears to mock the contemporary 
littleness of her sons. We had experienced the greatest difficulties 
in obtaining supplies ; for the wretched shopmen, alarmed at the 
inundation of undisciplined soldiery, had absconded after barring 
up their humble booths. The promise of some cavalry had 
proved empty ; none came or intended coming. We had said 
good-bye to our excellent escort from Akhlat, of whom the officer, 
a handsome man with charming manners, had suffered in health 
owing to the hardships of the journey. But we had been met by 
our tried and trusted zabet from Erzerum ; and to him was attached 
a fellow-officer from Gumgum with several men. We might have 
proceeded on a fairly direct course to our mountain, which indeed 
is situated almost north of the little town. But I .was anxious 
to retrace my former journey as far as Dodan, in order to com- 
plete my rough survey of this interesting region, interrupted 
on that occasion by failing light. Our course was therefore 
directed up the long valley, with the outline of the stupendous 
Bingol cliffs on the one side, and, on the other, that of the border 
heights of Mush plain. At the hamlet of Alagoz we forded the 
stream which comes down through the great chasm, and which, 
perhaps, for want of a better name, we may call the Gumgum Su. 
It unites at this point with the combined streams which water 
the plain, and the joint river flows off through a gorge in some 
minor heights to effect a confluence with the Bingol Su. I have 
already mentioned that the valley is choked up with insignificant 
hills ; on its southern margin flows the river last named. Eruptive 
volcanic action has played a great part in its configuration ; and 
the axis of the masses of lava which rise up from its floor is 
about the same as that of the plain of Mush. These eruptive 
hills arc varied by heights composed of limestone, or of marls 
and clays, interbedded with lava and tuff. After a long ride 
through this wild scene we at length emerged upon the plain of 
Dodan, level as the lake which it must have supported in fairly 
recent times. Dodan lay beneath us ; but we pushed on to 
a further village, the picturesque and pleasant settlement of 



GUNDEMIR is an Armenian village of considerable size, better 
built than is usually the case (Fig. 191). It possesses an ancient 
church, and the houses cluster round it, rising up the slope of a 
little eminence from the plain. The place is evidently as old as 
the hills. Several groves of lofty poplars spring from the surface 
of the level ground, which extends in all directions except on 
the north. One will enclose a field of cabbage, another fringes 
a tobacco plantation, with the large and luscious leaves. Most 
of the male inhabitants were absent in their yaila ; the women 
were busy threshing this season's corn. The head man was 
present, one Avedis Effendi ; and he supplied all our wants with 
the utmost zeal. We were glad to be back in an Armenian 
village, after our experience of the Circassians at Charbahur. 

From our encampment on the margin of such a grove of 
shady trees we could study at leisure the features of the plain. 
I have already noticed its appearance and extraordinary sur- 
roundings (Ch. VIII. p. 182) ; and this second visit enabled me to 
answer some of the questions which were suggested, but could 
not be resolved, on the former occasion. While the ova is 
immediately bounded on the south by the block of heights which 
we know as the northern border heights of Mush plain, the 
northern boundary of the whole wide valley — the towering Bingol 
cliffs — are distant several miles from the confines of this lake-like 
depression, in which that valley comes to an end upon the west. 
The intermediate zone is filled up by hill ridges, of which the 
axis is the same as that recorded in the last chapter, when we 
were journeying along the valley from Gumgum. It is an axis 
similar to that of the plain of Mush. It is evidently a line of 
volcanic elevation, being almost at right angles to that of the 

360 Armenia 

stratified rocks. Of these ridges — with their beaches of lava and 
sprinkHng of oak scrub — two descend and die out into the plain. 
The more easterly leaves our village close upon the right hand, 
skirts Dodan, and ends in a series of little cones, which push the 
river to the very foot of the barrier on the south. Its neighbour 
on the west composes the heights on the north of the plain. It 
comes down from the uppermost slopes of the Bingol plateau, 
and determines the drainage of the Bingol Su. It appears to be 
connected on the south-west with the sheets of lava which have 
built up the westerly and plateau-like boundary of the plain — a 
barrier which has been eaten into by a deep canon through which 
a stream descends into the plain. The name of that affluent to 
the Bingol Su we learnt to be the Sherefeddin Su ; it enters the 
ova at the village of Baskan. The Bingol Su approaches the 
plain on a meridional course, bounded on either side by the two 
ridges above mentioned, and watering the orchards of Gundemir. 
It has almost crossed the ova when it is joined by its affluent ; 
it then turns eastwards and settles down to a course towards the 

August 16. — It was afternoon before we were ready to start 
on our journey towards the still distant outline of the Bingol 
cliffs. After fording the river, we made our way up its right 
bank, along the pebbly alluvial bed, which had a width of about 
a quarter-mile. In half-an-hour we crossed an outlier from the 
ridge on the west, leaving the river on our right to flow through 
a gorge between this ridge and that upon the east. Emerging 
on the further side, we stood in an extensive depression with 
nothing between us and the base of the cliffs (Fig. 192). On 
our left hand, the ridge on the west was seen extending in a 
north-westerly direction to the very face of the opposite parapet ; 
a conical eminence, consisting of lava built up on lacustrine 
deposits, was a conspicuous feature upon the mass. Its com- 
panion on the east had the appearance of being more isolated ; 
and the prospect in that direction was far-reaching over the 
undulating basin of the Bingol Su. At the Kurdish hamlet of 
Chaghelik we again crossed the river, and struck a fairly direct 
course for the cliffs. The belt of detritus and broken ground 
which extends along their base is of considerable depth. All the 
way we were riding over lava, tending to decompose into brown 
sand. Our track was indicated on the face of the barrier by a 
very white appearance, due, as we found, to the dust of a pink 




Our Sojourn on Bingbl 3^^ 

lava. Layers of lava and tuff were seen in section along that 
face. The actual ascent occupied nearly an hour ; and it was 
growing dark as we opened out the surface of the plateau. We 
had attained an elevation of some 8500 feet, or of 3500 feet 
above Gundemir. Let my reader picture to himself the cliffs of 
Dover raised to seven times their present height. 

The air was heavy with perfume ; yellow mullein, ablaze with 
flower, rose in profusion from the even sheet of lava. Far and 
wide it spread before us, sometimes rising to a barren knoll, as 
often sinking to a grassy hollow. \\\ such a faint depression, by 
the side of a tiny runnel, we fixed our encampment for the night. 
The shadows hung about us ; but the western sky was shot with 
fire above a sea of ridges, billowing towards us, and buried in the 
depths of the landscape before ever they could attain our airy 
platform. The phenomenon was new ; nor were we able to 
grasp its whole significance until we had become familiar with 
the relations of this uniform tableland to that country of ridge 
and trough in the west. 

The solitude of the place, and its remoteness from any 
human settlement disposed us to receive to the full the spirit of 
our surroundings ; nor was the mood disturbed throughout our 
stay on Bingol. So plastic is the nature of man that one must 
regret his confinement in cities, and his exclusion — which is 
sometimes life-long — from communion with the natural world. 
Such communion is at once a spiritual and a mental exercise ; 
and the greater grows our knowledge of the phenomena around 
us, the more complete becomes the fusion of soul wath soul. 
The Hebrews copied from Asia her vastness and her essential 
harmony, and translated them into their religion and laws ; the 
inspiration has grown feeble during its passage through the ages ; 
but the source is still open from which it sprang. One feels that 
its ultimate origin must be placed in this country ; and that the 
fables, which are woven around the infancy of our race, resemble 
the mists which hang to the surface of some stately river, but 
have been distilled from the solid waters which they veil. The 
natural setting of those legends are a Bingol and an Ararat — the 
one the parent mountain of the fertilising streams, the other the 
greatest and most imposing manifestation of natural agencies 
working to a sublime end. And Europe, with her turmoil of 
intellect and clash of religious opinions, has need of the parent 
forces from which she drew her civilisation, and of which the 

362 Armenia 

spirit speaks to the spirit of the humblest of her sons in the 
same accents and with the same high purpose as of yore. 

We debated on the following morning in which direction we 
should proceed. Where should we find a yaila from which to 
draw our supplies during our sojourn upon the mountain ? We 
were as yet a long way west of the so-called crater, and we were 
led to hope that we might find such a Kurdish encampment just 
below and on the south of its main wall. We therefore set out 
in a north-easterly direction over the undulating surface of the 
plateau. The smoothness of the ground, over which we rode for 
many miles, is characteristic of this extensive and remarkable 
tableland, and is due to the slabby nature of the sheets of lava, 
which must have issued in a very liquid state.^ In this region 
they are seen to have flowed towards south and west. They 
support an abundance of yellow mullein which grows to a great 
height. The flowers of this beautiful plant are as delicate as 
their perfume ; and we did not regret that on Bingol they take 
the place of the monotonous fennel. The mullein is the flower 
of the surroundings of Bingol, just as atrapJiaxis spangles the 
base of the Ararat fabric, and spiraea and giant forget-me-not haunt 
Nimrud. But violets we had not yet seen ; and here they grew 
in plenty, on the margin of each patch of melting snow. Their 
perfume was like that of our garden description ; and, while the 
upper petals were mauve, those below paled off into white. The 
little hollows of the ground were moist and grassy, having 
collected a little clay. Over such a scene without limits a few 
white clouds were floating, borne by delicious breezes across the 
field of intense blue. 

After riding for over an hour without any landmark we 
reached the summit of a meridional vaulting of the table surface, 
due perhaps to the emission of lavas from a fissure. From this 
point we could see the western summit of the so-called crater 
bearing about east-north-east. It looked a mere hill, like any 
other of the irregular eminences. The trough below us, on the 
east, was seen by Oswald to slope southwards, and to become 
trenched by the course of a southward-flowing stream. This 
rivulet would therefore be the head branch of the Bingol Su. 
Beyond this valley we mounted a second meridional ridge, 
coming towards us from the western summit. The view now 

' The lava may be described as a fine-grained augite-andesite, grey in colour with 
distinct augite crystals. It is slightly scoriaceous superficially. 

Our Sojourn on Bingo I 363 

extended along the entire wall of the crater, seen on its southern 
and rounded side. Its basin and steep cliffs have a frontage 
towards the north, and were, therefore, hidden from sight. A 
bleak scene lay before us in the hollow, framed on one side by 
the ridge upon which we were standing, and on the other by the 
long perspective of the wall on the north, stretching, like a huge 
rampart, towards the east. Into that hollow we made our way 
in an east-south-easterly direction, in search of the vaunted yaila. 
After riding over stony and difficult ground for over an hour, I 
called a halt, deciding to abandon the quest. We could see that 
we had reached a point about south of the eastern summit, for 
the outline of the rampart was already preparing to decline. To 
proceed further would be to occupy an unsuitable position for 
the purpose of exploring the mountain. Our tents were erected 
a little north of the head of the chasm through which flows the 
Gumgum river. Two zaptiehs were at once despatched with 
orders to carry on the search, and to bring back with them 
whatever food they could find. They discovered the yaila at 
some distance in an easterly direction, but still within reach of 
our camp. The Kurds supplied us with milk and mutton ; but 
for flour and corn we were obliged to send to Gumgum, and for 
charcoal all the way to Khinis. 

We remained in this camp for six days, finding it to be 
an excellent situation. From early morning until evening we 
pursued our work upon the mountain, visiting the basins on the 
further side of the rampart, taking measurements and ascertaining 
altitudes (see the two plans accompanying this chapter). It may 
be best to resume our results in a single picture, embracing 
first the mountain, next the immediate surroundings, and last 
the features of the landscape which it overlooks.^ 

The Bingol Dagh consists in the main of a narrow and 
almost latitudinal ridge, with an axis which is inclined towards 

^ Existing literature on the subject is not satisfactory. I may cite the following : 
— Koch, Reise im pontischen Gebirge, etc., Weimar, 1846, pp. 365 scq., and p. 333 ; 
Der Kankasiis, Landschafts- und Leheus-Bilder, bv the same author, published posthum- 
ously, Berlin, 1882. See the chapter entitled "Der Berg der tausend Seen." P. de 
Tchihatchef (1858), Asie Mineitre, part iv. , Geology, Paris, 1867, vol. i. pp. 279- 
2S5 ; Kotschy, Reise von Trapezunt, etc., in Petermann's Mittheilungen, i860 ; 
Strecker, Bciti-iige ziir Geographie von Hoch-Armenien, in Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft 
fur Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1869, pp. 5125-^(7. ; Radde in Petermann, 1877, pp. 41 1 seq. 
Of these, Radde's article is the most reliable, and is, indeed, a valuable contribution, so 
far as it goes. Abich has endeavoured to make the best of these accounts. See 
Geologische Forschiingen in den kaiikasischen Ldiideni, \'ienna, 1882, part ii. sec. I, 
p. 77, and pp. 87 seq. 

364 Armenia 

west-north-west and east-south-east. The Httle relative elevation 
of this rampart above the plateau, which supports it as a pedestal 
or base, is the cause of the insignificant appearance of the 
mountain, which, in winter, is almost concealed or merged into 
its surroundings by the continuous sheet of snow (Fig. 161, 
p. 191, and Fig. 176, p. 247). The fact that it is highest at its 
eastern and western extremities, and that from those peaks horn- 
shaped eminences project towards the north, with a curvature convex 
to the inner area, and with a rapidly decreasing elevation — this fact, 
together with the abruptness of the face of the ridge on the side 
of the north, give it the semblance of the standing southern wall 
of a huge broken-down crater when seen from a distance on that 
side. A nearer view from the same side destroys the unity of 
this conception ; the crateral area is broken into two. It is seen 
to consist of a somewhat smaller basin upon the east, and of one 
rather larger on the west. The two basins, which are both 
perfectly open towards the north, are divided by a meridional 
ridge, which is joined to the main rampart at a third eminence, 
intermediate between the western and eastern summits, and 
resembling them in character, although not so high. This 
medial ridge, like the two horns, dies rapidly away into the 
plateau. From the extremity of the western horn, which opens 
out in a north-westerly direction, to the recess of the bay formed 
by its companion on the east is a distance of about ^\ 
miles. While the western and eastern summits — the highest 
points on the entire ridge — attain an altitude of 10,750 feet, the 
level ground just north of the main slope of the detrital fan has 
an elevation of 9000 feet. On the other hand, the line of cliffs 
on the south of the rampart by which the plateau breaks away to 
the valley of Gumgum are over 9000 feet high along their edge. 
These measurements may serve to define in figures some of the 
characteristics which I have endeavoured to describe. 

Before pursuing a more intimate and detailed study, it may 
be well to fix in our mind some of the leading positions, and to 
assign to them convenient names. Our predecessors have given 
three such names to the principal eminences. The western 
summit is called by them Bingol Kala (the Bingol castle), that 
on the east Dcmir or Timur Kala (the iron castle or the castle 
of Timur), and the intermediate hump, which is joined to the 
meridional ridge, Kara Kala (the black castle). I took some pains 
to ascertain whether these names were known to the Kurds, for 

Our Sojourn on Bingo I 365 

none of my escort had ever heard of them. The yaila from 
which we drew supplies was the most considerable in the district, 
and belonged to one Mahmud Bey. This Kurdish chieftain was 
absent from his encampment, scared by the presence of Suleyman 
Pasha, with his demands for Hamidiyeh, in the close neighbour- 
hood of his lair. But his son came to our camp, and one of 
his near relations, a middle-aged and unusually intelligent man. 
He said that they knew the mountain under the name of 
Bingol Koch, or, translated, the Bingol caldron. They had no 
particular designation of the highest parts. When I mentioned 
the three castles he reflected a little, and then answered that the 
western eminence was known in old times as Bingol Kala ; but 
with the other names he was quite unfamiliar. I see no reason 
on that account to reject these designations. Kara Kala is well 
adapted to express the prevailing sombreness of that peak with 
its dark and broken ridge. Demir Kala may serve to remind 
us of what is probably a historical fact, that the Great Timur, 
or Cold Steel, marshalled his armies among these congenial 
surroundings, and here celebrated his victories with women and 
wine and song. The statement, however, of one traveller that 
the eastern summit consists of several storeys of walls, put 
together by a human hand, must be regarded as fabulous. He 
vouches for the fact, and adds that, according to what he learnt, 
an iron door had been removed from the castle and taken to Khinis 
some forty years previous to his visit.^ He supposes the fortress 
to have been erected by Timur. The manner in which the lavas 
have cooled upon the rampart suggests the appearance of such 
a human structure at certain points. But the feature is most 
noticeable just west of Kara Kala, where the outline assumes the 
shape of two round towers. 

To these names I should like to add one other, for which I 
have no authority. Just below the western summit a bold, talus- 
strewn ridge extends from the face of the cliff in a northerly 
direction, rising as it proceeds into a tumbling mass of lava, and 
ending in a conical eminence of the same material. Indeed it con- 
stitutes an inner wall of the western basin. It may not be inappro- 
priate to call this rampart Aghri Kala, the rough or rugged castle. 

The only eminence along the main ridge of a pointed and 
peak-like character is the western summit, or Bingol Kala 

1 Strecker, op. cit. p. 516. This writer calls the western summit Toprak Kala, or 
the earth castle. 


66 Armenia 

(10,757 feet). Its effect is heightened by the rapid decHne and 
termination of the parapet just west of this position, as well as by 
the increasing flatness of the ridge as it extends towards the east 
after a gentle descent. At the time of our visit this summit was 
completely free of snow. On the north it breaks away with 
great abruptness to the basin ; but on the south it slopes off into 
that vaulted meridional ridge which has been already mentioned 
during our passage across it to our camp. The western summit 
can be reached with great ease from the south or south-east, or 
along the edge of the main rampart. The average gradient will 
not be more than 15". It is strewn with talus, like all these 
slopes ; the actual summit is fairly level, and is partially covered 
with blocks of lava. Following the top of the rampart eastwards 
from Bingol Kala, its general character is the first feature which 
seizes the eye. On the south it presents an evenly -vaulted 
slope, which is continued in an east -south -easterly direction, 
almost in a straight line. On the north it is hollowed out in the 
form of a cirque, which, bounded on the west by Aghri Kala, and 
by Kara Kala on the east, has the appearance of a crater with 
three standing sides. The particular feature of the rampart in 
the direction of Kara Kala and beyond that eminence is the 
breadth of the platform which it presents. At no other part is it 
so easy to ride along it, as well as to scale it from the south. 
The northerly slope of the shallow vaulting is always covered by 
a sheet of snow, which descends into the cirque. The passage 
from the south into the western basin lies west of Kara Kala, 
and is not difficult for unloaded animals. Indeed it is the only 
pass across the Bingol rampart, which, further east, increases in 
the steepness of its northern face. 

Kara Kala projects from the parapet some little distance 
towards the north, at the head of its meridional ridge. But this 
feature is not observable from the southern side of the mountain, 
where the rampart is seen to pursue its long, straight course. 
The gradient of the southern slope increases as you approach 
Demir Kala, but does not exceed 23''. The platform along the 
summit gradually narrows, until in Demir Kala it becomes an 
upstanding mass of blocks of lava which must be climbed, 
stepping from block to block. The lava, which east of Kara 
Kala has shown traces of obsidian, is somewhat scoriaceous and 
in places weathers a brick rcd.^ The summit is flat and fairly 
1 A fairly compact augite-andesite. 




mpasiired and drawn out li.y H F. B I.yncli and F.Oswald m Au^usl IBaK 

Scale 1 Mile- 1 Incli or 1:63360 

I'ublislipd bv l-oneuiatis. Cicoi. A C?. I.ondo 

Ojir Sojoicrn on Bingo I 367 

free of boulders, which, however, are piled in a beach further east. 
The level at Demir Kala (10,770 feet) is fairly well maintained 
for some distance, and produces the bold effect of the horn on 
the east. But the cliff, after turning northwards, soon comes to 
an end, being separated from the bank-like continuation of the 
horn by a narrow but passable cleft. This long, meridional bank 
composes the eastern wall of the eastern cirque, which is bounded 
on the west by the medial ridge from Kara Kala. The character 
of the rampart in this eastern basin is much the same as in the 
western cirque, although more uniform in point of height. From 
the south it has the appearance of a straight and gently vaulted 
bank ; from the north, that of a curved outline with steep cliffs. 

Just as Bingol Kala is joined on the south to a meridional 
ridge, so is Demir Kala in connection with another such outside 
parapet, which continues the main rampart in a south-easterly 
direction, far beyond the limits of the cirque. This parapet is 
beautifully vaulted on the south-west, where it determines the 
drainage of the Gumgum Su. But on the north-east it breaks 
away to the grassy ground outside the basin with piles of 
boulders which are somewhat difficult to cross. Indeed it was 
always a most laborious matter to reach the eastern cirque from 
our camp. If we took the pass between the western summit and 
Kara Kala, there was the medial ridge, with its beach -like 
terraces, to surmount. If, on the other hand, we made our way 
up the south-western face of the outer parapet, we encountered 
the difficult descent on the north-eastern side, and, when this feat 
had been accomplished, we were obliged to ride a long way north 
before it became possible to cross the bank which confines the 
basin on the east. For a man on foot it is feasible to descend 
the cliffs of the main rampart at several points, and a horse may 
scramble through the cleft formed by the break-off on the north 
of the wall of the eastern cirque. But such an attempt is not 
less dangerous than the endeavour to lead an animal up the 
snow-slope in that cirque. It seems an easy matter; for the 
snow extends from the floor of the basin to the edge of the cliff, 
which at the time of our visit was free from snow. But it nearly 
cost us the lives of a zaptieh and several horses. When the 
gradient was at its steepest the snow gave way, and the manner 
in which one horse by a series of plunges reached the summit was 
a remarkable example of the power of nervous energy. 

It is plain from this description that the conception of the 

368 Armenia 

mountain, as seen from the north, is likely to be considerably 
enlarged and modified by a visit to its southern side. Instead of 
a single ridge we have a series of ramparts, which describe a 
figure somewhat resembling an H. The transverse bar of the 
letter represents the main parapet with the three summits, Bingol 
Kala, Kara Kala and Demir Kala. The two uprights will 
correspond with the horns of the basin on the north, and with the 
connecting ramparts on the south. A medial projection should 
be added to the transverse bar, in order to include the meridional 
ridge from Kara Kala. Finally the upright corresponding with 
the northern horn on the west should be split into two short 
arms. Of these the inner arm will represent Aghri Kala. 

At the risk of becoming tedious, I have thought it well to 
insist on these features, in order that our statement may enable 
the practised reader to judge for himself whether Bingol ought to 
be regarded as a volcanic crater in the strict sense of the word. 
Before adducing additional facts, which may point to a negative 
conclusion, I should like to mention the explanation which 
appeared to us on the whole more probable of the phenomena 
with which we are dealing. It is evident that the latest emissions 
of lava were much more acid and viscous than those which pro- 
duced the plateau surface of the surroundings of Bingol, If we 
assume that all these lavas issued from fissures rather than from 
a crater, then the formation of such ramparts in the final stages 
may be readily explained. The molten matter, welling up from 
its original vents, became too viscous to flow far. It massed in 
the form of vaulted ridges along the axis of the parent fissures, 
or in their neighbourhood. I have already noticed the rounded 
nature of these various ramparts when seen from the south, as 
from the standpoint of our second camp. The transverse parapet 
with the principal summits has the appearance of a long, straight 
bank, flanked at its extremities by two similar banks, which 
project towards the south like wings. Look where you will, the 
slopes are gentle, and strewn with fragments of lava, which in 
some places have the appearance of loose tiles. Within the 
figure, thus formed, rise the head waters of the Gumgum Su, 
collecting, with a network of streams, both from the west and 
from the east. They combine at the head of the great chasm, to 
flow through its shadowed depths towards the plain. 

It is true that this vaulted and bank-like appearance of the 
ramparts is not characteristic of any of the slopes towards the 

Oiir Sojourn on Bingol 369 

north. Indeed the exact contrary is the case. But at this stage 
of the enquiry we are introduced to a feature which is perhaps 
the most remarkable of all these phenomena, and which it is 
surprising that none of our predecessors should have observed. 
When I descended for the first time into the western cirque, 
Oswald, who had been engaged there in taking measurements with 
the telemeter, pointed out to me evident traces of the action of ice. 
Quite close to the cliff on the south the bosses of lava within 
the basin have been worn by a glacier moving towards the north. 
Smooth on top, and with an almost flat surface upon the south, 
they are rough and precipitous on their northern sides. The 
rock is very distinctly striated, the striae pointing in a northerly 
direction. The feature continues and gains in definition as you 
follow down the cirque. Between the bosses the ground is 
covered with turf and oozes with water, which collects in pools or 
little tarns. Blue gentians are found in abundance within these 
peaty hollows, while the violets scent the air in the neighbourhood 
of the snow. Some distance further, when you are already outside 
the limits of the cirque, and have reached a level of about 9000 
feet, the moraines commence to form. We visited this district 
from the west, and made our way in an easterly direction across 
the moraines. They were seen to consist of a medial and two 
lateral moraines, of which that in the centre proceeds from the 
extremity of the meridional ridge from Kara Kala, and must 
have separated two glaciers, issuing one from either cirque (Fig. 
193). The lateral moraine upon the west seemed about in a line 
with Aghri Kala ; but a branch of the glacier must have flowed 
towards north-west, for the extremity of that ridge has been cut 
down by the stream of ice. This moraine is so pronounced that 
it is difficult to realise that there are now no longer glaciers on 
Bingol. On both sides it is bounded by a lofty embankment of 
blocks of rock, embedded in soil. The summit, which is broad, 
bristles with upstanding boulders, and in the hollows there are a 
number of lakes and pools. A stretch of level and grassy ground 
is interposed between this rampart and the medial moraine, which 
shows a similar embankment on its western side. A little river, 
collecting the drainage of the western cirque, flows in the trough 
of this grassy depression. The lateral moraine upon the east is 
in fact that great fan -shaped bank, which extends northwards 
from the horn of the eastern cirque. Again in this basin a 
branch of the glacier has diverged, and broken its way through 
VOL. II 2 B 

370 ArTnenia 

the cleft in its eastern wall. The floor of the cirque is much 
more grassy than that of its neighbour on the west, but the 
masses of rock are striated in a similar manner. 

The principal reservoir for the ice and snow has been the 
broad platform between Kara Kala and the western summit. 
Thence have issued towards the north extensive fields of moving 
ice, while the melted snow has poured into the hollow on the 
south of the platform and has carved down the great chasm. 
We could not trace the action of ice upon the rocks in that 
direction. I do not know whether we should be justified in 
dating the disappearance of these glaciers as far back as the 
glacial epoch. Striking evidence of the existence of a glacial 
period in these countries has been collected by a modern 
traveller in the highlands with their marginal region on the side 
of the Black Sea.^ 

We are therefore justified in assuming that the abruptness of 
the ramparts on the north, as well as the carving out of the main 
ridge into cirques, is largely due to the erosive action of ice. 
Leaving this subject, I would ask my reader to follow us in an 
excursion to the interesting region on the south of the mountain. 
For perhaps the most remarkable characteristic about Bingol is 
the great plateau which it has contributed to form ; and the 
features of that plateau which engrave themselves most deeply 
into the memory are the towering cliffs with the chasm on the 

As we surveyed the scene from our encampment — in which 
there was not a trace of snow — the eye was taken naturally to 
two particular points. One was a graceful cone, just at the head 
of the great chasm ; the other consisted of a pile of lava on the 
eastern side of this gorge, and some little distance from its 
margin. It appeared to emerge from the plateau at about its 
highest level. It is indicated by the letter x on the plan. To 
reach it we were obliged in the first instance to cross the intricate 
ridges and troughs through which the streams find their way into 
the chasm. But beyond this troublesome zone stretched the 
undulating table surface, strewn with stones or covered with coarse 
grass. When we arrived at our landmark we found the pile to 
be loftier than we expected ; indeed its summit is the best stand- 
point from which to overlook the country on the south and east 

' W. Gifford Palgrave, \n Nature, vol. v. 1S71-72, p. 444; and vol. vi. 1872, pp. 
536 seq. 

Our Sojourn on Bingol 371 

of Bingol. The blocks of which it is composed are derived from 
a lava which may be described as a basalt. They are full of 
magnetite, affecting the compass. This basalt is part of a stream 
of the same lava, which is traceable to the upstanding crags of the 
pile X, as a probable point of emission. Towards the west the 
flow does not appear to have extended for a great distance ; but 
in the direction of south-east it has travelled further, and has 
produced important results. It connects the Bingol and Khamur 
plateaus, being traceable as far as the foot of a conical eminence 
on the latter mass. The lava from the south-east rampart of 
Bingol has also flowed in that direction, while towards the peak 
X it has described a curve of exquisite symmetry. 

The view embraces that strange plateau on the west of the 
Khamur ridge and the blue lakes which it supports. The slope 
of its crinkled surface is tow^ards the plain of Khinis, at its 
south-western or upper end. So far as we could judge, the mass 
consists in the main of limestone, capped by lava in the south. 
Descending from this eyrie I rode to the edge of the cliff, in 
order to ascertain its height. I stood at a level of 9240 feet, 
while that of Gumgum, a speck in the plain which stretched 
from the base of the cliff, is about 4800 feet. On either side, 
towards the chasm or towards the floor of the plain, the ground 
was falling away with stupendous precipices. In the trough of 
the abyss lay the Gumgum river, resembling several fine threads 
of silver. 

Our return journey led us past the yaila of Mahmud beneath 
the wall of the south-east rampart. It occupied an ideal position, 
in a spacious meadow, and on the banks of the principal branch 
of the Gumgum river. The chief's tent faced towards us on the 
opposite margin, as we rode along the left bank of the stream. 
The goat-hair canvas, spread with many supports over a wide 
area, divided up into compartments by screens of osier, had the 
appearance of a roof with many gables. In the shadowed recesses 
one observed a medley of luxurious cushions and of household 
utensils of every kind. Women, gaily dressed, and unveiled, 
although very bashful, mingled with the group of men, collected 
to see us pass. The chief's son, a mere youth who had just 
returned from six years' residence in a school at Galata (Constan- 
tinople), was pacing to and fro in a remote part of the meadow, 
a picture of the out-of-place. Round the tent of the chief, in a 
wide and respectful circle, were ranged the much ruder tenements 

372 Armenia 

of the tribesmen — mere pens of boulders with a strip of canvas 
overhead. The older women had the weird and witch -like 
expression which one sees in the faces of the Highland women 
in the background of a novel by Walter Scott. 

Underlying the lava, and at the head of the great chasm, is 
placed a bed of tuff. It forms the biilk of the beautiful cone 
already mentioned, which has been preserved and invested with 
its peculiar symmetry by a capping of hard lava. In the hollows 
about its base yellow mullein grows in profusion, and campanula 
witli its bell -shaped flowers. Making our way over the col 
which joins the cone to the plateau of our encampment, we 
proceeded to lead our horses up the slope. But nothing would 
induce our zaptieh to take his animal with him ; he declared that 
such an act would be impious on the part of a believer, for we 
were treading sacred ground. Indeed, when we reached the 
summit, we found an enclosure of stones, protecting a human 
grave. It was evidently a place of pilgrimage for the district. 
Our attendant prostrated himself on the ground outside the 
boundary and took from within it a handful of dust, . which he 
preserved. I asked him to whom he might be paying so much 
honour. He replied that it was the grave of Goshkar Baba, or 
father shoemaker. The holy man had in fact been shoemaker to 
the Prophet, and had therefore been buried here centuries ago. 
When I enquired whether he had ever done anything great 
during his lifetime besides making shoes, he answered, " Bashkar 
yok " — " No, he did nothing else." From this eminence we 
could see the basalt on the face of the cliff below x, overlying 
streams of lava which were relatively shallow, and were inclined 
some 6' to south -south -west. The layers on the western side 
of the chasm are also thin, and slope in the same direction, with 
a gradient which slightly increases as they approach the edge of 
the cliff. 

It remains to notice some of the features of the panorama 
which expands from the summits of Bingol. The view comprises 
Palandoken, the Akh Dagh, the plain of Khinis ; Khamur, with 
Kolibaba ; Sipan, Bilejan, Nimrud. The patience even of an 
assiduous reader would be exhausted by the attempt to draw its 
full meaning from this varied scene. We may confine ourselves 
with more advantage to a particular segment of the circle, taking 
our standpoint on the western summit, Bingol Kala (Fig. 194). 
I may mention that one day, while we were making our way in 

Kumk Hasan Da^K 

Outliive of Kker Ve s o r clnfl% 

itatj^ or serpentine 


^SK.tclvei \y HJBXTnck.Angua 1898) 


Fig. 19J 

L«v,.i -teiTK. ot tt kill of G gogUan yoregrounoi) MtigkA.Su fimwii lower a«vin ili 

_ L O I 

(Slutctti ly HIRLjnch on file 2.^ August i 

P, .,_ ' as kitflu.Su.tnlmtaiTto Eastern EqJuatrti 

ANORAMA PROM THE __H I.L L, OF G U G G H L A It Mafiliii Tillage 



Our Sojourn on Bingol 2)1 2i 

that direction from our camp on the south of the rampart, Oswald 
discovered, just behind the actual peak, a large slone with 
a cuneiform inscription. It was lying on the ground, only- 
distinguishable by an eye like his from the adjacent blocks of 
lava. Over the almost obliterated characters had been incised 
the figure of a cross, with a circle at its upper end. This stone 
may have served to define a boundary, both in the times of the 
Vannic and of the Armenian Kings.^ 

The scene which forms the subject of my outline sketch 
extends from east-north-east round to west. The foreground 
includes the westerly horn of the main rampart, with Aghri Kala, 
seen in perspective, projecting into the cirque, and, just beyond 
that ridge, a bank of detritus, probably due to the action of the 
glacier. The little lakes on the right of the picture belong to 
the western cirque, and are seen to send streams which tend to 
meet in the distance, and which flow at the bottom of canons 
into the plain of Khinis. Both this series and the pools in the 
eastern cirque drain into the eastern Bingol Su. They are in 
fact the highest sources of the Murad or Eastern Euphrates, and 
their waters find their way to the Persian Gulf. Looking further 
into the landscape, we see the back of that long line of cliffs on 
the further side of which lies the village of Kherbesor (see p. 252). 
It is an important barrier in a geographical sense, for it con- 
stitutes the parting between the head-waters of the Murad and 
the streams which find their way to the Araxes. The outline 
rising on the north of these cliffs belongs to a group of limestone 
hills, which extend to the north-western extremity of the plain of 
Khinis, and to the pass of Akhviran (a, a). In the background 
the bold profile which looms upon the horizon represents the 
extension of the Palandoken heights. 

The peak of Palandoken is a well-defined feature ; and 

equally prominent is the break-off in a cliff-like form of the high 

ground west of the village of Madrak. The outline of that high 

ground is continued for a long distance westwards (/?, d), until it 

declines behind the ridges in the west. Between Bingol and 

that outline, which we may call the Madrak line of heights, the 

land forms are insignificant and vague. It is that country of 

rolling downs at a great elevation over which we journeyed from 

' Strecker (o/>. cit. p. 515) states that he found a stone three feet long and two feet 
broad, inscribed with cuneiform characters, lying on the ground in a depression east of 
Kara Kala. It was surrounded by the gravestones of a little cemetery. For an account 
of the inscription on our stone see Ch. IV. p. 73. 

3 74 Armenia 

Madrak to Kherbesor. I would ask my reader to observe how 
the ridges in the west die out into that extensive block of 
water-worn plateau. Let him follow the outline (c) from a 
somewhat pyramidal summit on the east of Sheikhjik ; or let 
him notice, both in this drawing and in the one which I shall 
presently offer, the direction of the Sheikhjik ridge («), and its 
tendency to extend into the watershed of the Araxes. West of 
Sheikhjik he sees quite a sea of ridges ; but in the middle 
distance all the forms are flat and the surface even — the surface 
of the Bingol plateau. 

Bingol ! the thousand tarns — one grasps the significance of 
that poetical name at this season of the year. The feature is 
largely due to the peaty soil which has been deposited by the 
action of glaciers in ancient times. The lakes and pools which 
collect the meltings of the deep canopy of snow would be almost 
impossible to count. In the foreground, between Aghri Kala 
and the horn of the western cirque, lies such a conspicuous flash 
of blue water. I am inclined to regard this particular pool as 
the source of the Araxes ; for although it be possible that one or 
other of the streams which rise outside the rampart may have a 
slightly longer course, this source is probably the most elevated 
of all. But the most interesting of all the features in the middle 
distance is the outline, as seen from behind, of the plateau itself 
{e, e). Its equality of surface is due to the liquid nature of the 
lava — a grey, basaltic augite-andesite — and not to flows of tuff. 
In the west it must fall away to a river valley, separating it from 
the sea of ridges in that quarter which we noticed from our first 
encampment on Bingol. The outline in that direction is in some 
places the edge of a cliff; but at others it assumes a vaulted form. 
I shall presently show that this latter shape is due to rounded 
hills of serpentine, which have acted as a dam to the lavas. 
A hill of the same form is seen much further east, quite close to 
the western cirque. Although we did not examine this particular 
eminence, it is probable that it consists of the same old rock, 
representing the former configuration of the land. The Bingol 
plateau merges insensibly into the highlands of Tekman, and the 
collective figure may be known for geographical purposes as the 
Central Tableland. 

But that long break-off upon the west to a river valley — with 
the wild ranges, a solecism in the landscape, towering up upon 
its further side — is such a strange and fascinating characteristic 

Ou7'' Sojourn on Bing'dl 375 

that, even apart from its great geographical significance, it merits 
careful study upon the spot. Let me therefore take my reader 
a distance of many miles and place him upon the summit of a 
lofty hill at the head of that valley, just west of the village of 
Gugoghlan. The position is clearly indicated in my sketch from 
Bingol Kala, and forms the standpoint of my second sketch 
(Fig. 195). The hill itself is built up of limestone — probably 
Eocene — overlying serpentine, and capped by recent lava. On 
the left of the picture you see in perspective the Bingol rampart, 
with Bingol Kala rising boldly at its western end. You observe 
the serpentine hills damming up the lavas in two separate zones. 
The break-off of the Bingol plateau is now exposed in face, 
and a conspicuous feature are the cliffs which it forms {e). The 
head waters of the Araxes are fanning towards us in pronounced 
caiions, deflected at first by the one zone of serpentines, and a 
little further by the second zone. But it is the general level of 
the plateau surface which in fact determines their new direction, 
and prevents them flowing into the basin of the Euphrates. 
And this level is due to the massing of the lavas against the 
bases of the serpentine hills. 

Deep down in the valley below you meanders the Merghuk 
Su, on its way to the Murad. It soon winds away from its 
almost southern course, to thread the ranges, which already 
commence to rise from its right bank, with a direction which 
will probably average south-west. What a contrast between these 
ridges and the plateau on the east ! They have the appearance 
of stepping up to its very margin, for their axis is about west- 
south-west and east-north-east. Tier upon tier they rise, one 
behind another, extending into the far horizon on the south-west. 
Their eastern limit, as seen in the perspective of the drawing, is 
the bold mass, like a sentinel, of Sheikhjik. But north of that 
mountain you observe the gentler outlines {b and c) which were 
so prominent in the last sketch. The abrupt ending of the 
outline b — the Madrak line of heights — figures as boldly in this 
landscape as in that from the summit of Bingol. And the way 
in which both outlines die away into the block of the tableland 
is not less clearly and unmistakably defined. 

I might write many pages were I to pursue this subject 
further ; I must content myself with a statement in a very 
summary form of the conclusions at which I arrived. In the 
first place it is misleading, and indeed it is incorrect, to speak of 

3/6 Armenia 

a meridional line of elevation with orographical significance as 
connecting Palandoken with Bingol. It is strange that such a 
practised observer as the great Abich should have fallen into 
such a grave error/ The lessons which may be derived from the 
landscape of this important region may, in this connection, be 
grouped under two heads. 

In the first place the fundamental line of elevation is that 
almost latitudinal line with which we are so familiar, and which 
may be specified as a west-south-west — east -north -east line. 
The lie of the country is determined in the principal degree by the 
strike of the stratified rocks. Between Bingol and Palandoken the 
ridges in the west tend to die out into a single block of elevated 
land. Further east this central tableland becomes split up, and 
gives rise to mountains rising on the margin of lake-like plains. 
Such mountains are represented in a striking manner by the Akh 
Dagh ; and we have already observed the commencement of this 
transition in the outline a, as seen from Bingol Kala. But the 
country on the east still maintains its essentially plateau-like 
character ; while the region on the west and south-west of 
Sheikhjik and the hill of Gugoghlan is continued in all its 
wildness between the two branches of the Euphrates, into the 
districts of Kighi and Terjan. The great height of the ridges 
points to the conclusion that, in addition to the activity of 
denuding agencies, they owe their characteristics to a more 
pronounced or less impeded operation of the forces which have 
determined the elevation of the country as a whole. 

In the next place it appears plain that, although volcanic 
action has no doubt been a factor of considerable importance in 
producing the level surface of the districts on the north, south, 
and east, the tendency to a strongly pronounced plateau country 
is independent of such action. A striking example of this 
tendency on a very large scale may be derived from the manner 
in which the outlines north of Gugoghlan mass together and die 
out into the region of Tekman. Throughout this country, as 
elsewhere in Armenia, the lava streams have played an important 
part, and have done more than any actual lines of volcanic 
mountain-making to determine the drainage of the land. 

A little incident of our stay on Bingol may deserve to be 
recorded, if only because it furnished us with an opportunity of 

^ See Gcologische Forschungcn in den kaiikasischen Ldndern, Vienna, 1882, vol. ii. 
pp. 7, 85, and 89. 

Oitr SojotLYu on Bingol 2)77 

admiring the vast extent and strange brilliance of the heaven 
above us during a whole summer's night. On the last day of 
our visit we gave orders to our people to move our encampment 
across the rampart into the western cirque. Oswald and I, 
accompanied by two or three zaptiehs, proceeded to the eastern 
extremity of the principal ridge, and remained there, mapping 
and drawing, until near sunset. Before it commenced to grow 
dark we descended into the eastern cirque ; but the light had 
already faded before we could surmount the ridge from Kara 
Kala, and we became involved among its crags and stones. For 
nearly an hour we groped our way, leading our horses, and 
coming near to breaking their legs. When we obtained a view 
over the snow-sheet and the tumbled bosses in the western 
cirque, we searched in vain for any sign of our camp-fire. By 
the light of a crescent moon we proceeded to the margin of the 
snow at the foot of the cliff on the north of the basin. Even 
from this eminence we could not discover any sign. We then 
rode down the cirque, towards the open country ; still not a 
trace of our people. The zaptiehs endeavoured to discharge their 
rifles ; and one man accomplished the feat after several misfires. 
We ourselves filled the air with the reports of our revolvers ; but 
no answering signal came. We were surprised at the absence of 
any Kurdish encampment in the neighbourhood of the mountain. 
There was not a glimmer of the lights of a yaila near or far. 
Was the tale of the frequency of such summer-quarters on Bingol 
a fable, or had the Kurds been scared away by the dread of 
Suleyman Pasha, who might require them to make some show for 
his paper regiments ? Or had we courted an attack by dividing 
our forces, and were our servants and our papers and our baggage 
at the mercy of thieves ? 

It was clearly not to much purpose debating such questions ; 
we had no alternative but to pass the night where we stood. 
Both were clothed in the thinnest of garments ; but our zaptiehs 
lent us their overcoats, of such material as they were. We 
established ourselves within a circle of loose boulders, which had 
probably been reared by shepherds as a pen. The wind came 
sighing down from the snowfield in the cirque, and blew through 
the apertures of the low wall. Our poor horses shivered and 
starved. Oswald and I attempted sleep under the partial cover 
of a small camp table which we had with us for our mapping. 
It was to no purpose, for our limbs became numb. Meanwhile 

Tf^S Arme7iia 

the moon had vanished ; but the heaven was still alight ; one 
could scarcely see the stars to greater advantage than from the 
open flats of such a lofty platform. These last nights we had 
been observing the advances of Jupiter to Venus — a stately and 
not too intimate intercourse, as becomes gods and stars. Venus, 
the most engrossing of all the dwellers in the firmament, a true 
motJier of the inhabitants of heaven, had been receiving the some- 
what distant approaches of Jupiter, and the wooer had almost 
mingled with his bride. To-night they had travelled apart — 
we reflected upon the mournful omen, with something of the 
impertinence of the astrologers of old who presumed to connect 
the operations of the celestial bodies with the puny fate of a 
kingdom or a king. Pacing to and fro, we realised the paradox 
of perfect discomfort and keen pleasure. One of our zaptiehs 
appeared to encompass the same result by surrendering his senses 
to quite an orgy of ecstatic prayer. When at last the suffused 
splendour of the Milky Way became pale, and the first flush of 
dawn was thrown over the dim land forms, we emerged from our 
flimsy harbour and rode towards the west. A little later horse- 
men were seen, coming towards us at a dangerous speed over the 
sheet of snow and the rocky ground in the south. They proved 
to be our escort, wild with excitement, and quite speechless when 
they arrived. It is strange that none of the natives have the 
smallest conception of locality ; they had encamped miles away 
from the appointed place. They had been riding all night in 
quest of their charge, and had by fortune, as a last chance, 
extended their search to the scarcely ambiguous position of our 
prescribed tryst. 



ncl\ ;iud F. Os^rald in August 1898 

.s , Green A- V°, London 

Warner s, Debes , Leipzig 


ured aiul iii;ipi.^.l tiy 11 V 11 L\^^.■h .nxd V ll^^;;il,l u, Aii>_Mi.;i 1 



August 24. — We found our camp a long distance south of the 
western summit, and, after a short sleep, resumed our journey. 
We simply followed a compass course to the head of that river 
valley along which the Bingol plateau breaks off on the side of 
the west. The general flow of the lava over which we rode was 
towards north-west. We crossed the first zone of serpentine hills 
through a deep valley with heights on either side. Beyond the 
passage we issued upon a lower plain of lava, where the stream 
of molten matter had been diverted by the serpentines, and had 
circled round them, flooding down into the plain. In the section 
displayed by a river cliff within the limits of this region we 
observed a bed of columnar lava some twenty feet in thickness, 
overlying lavas to a depth of some eighty feet. Near this point we 
reached the first village, the Kurdish settlement of Bastok. It is 
placed upon one of the head streams of the Aras, which we forded, 
and, not long after, arrived on the banks of the main channel at 
the Kurdish hamlet of Shekan. The Aras had already become 
a little river, and was known to the villagers under that name. 
We crossed it, leaving it to flow off into an alluvial plain, along 
the marginal heights of which we rode. This is the first plain in 
the proper sense of the word through which the Araxes winds. 
It is situated at an altitude of about 7000 feet, and may be 
called, from a village on its northern confines, the plain of 

We discovered a Kurdish village at the eastern foot of the 
hill which had been our landmark and point of course. It bears 
the name of Gugoghlan. It fronts the plain of the Aras, which, 
on the north of the hill, is only separated by a low lip of ground 
from the basin of the Murad. Such is the habit of these water- 

380 Aimienia 

partings. I remained for two days in this village, drawing and 
mapping on the hill. Oswald preceded me to Erzerum. Our 
journey thither led us across the central tableland, a little west of 
the route pursued during our outward march. I have already 
dealt with the general characteristics of the region, and shall only 
add a short account of any fresh features. 

Gugoghlan already belongs to the district of Shushar, while 
the villages on the further side of the Sheikhjik mountain are 
included in that of Kighi. The western and north-western sides 
of the Altun plain have been flooded by a lava which appears 
to have issued from the neighbourhood of Sheikhjik and also 
from the heights upon its northern margin. Our way to Erzerum 
took us over this sheet of lava. In a depression between two 
such flows we passed an extensive yaila, belonging to Zireki 
Kurds — a tribe of which the main body live about Diarbekr, and 
of whom these people are a colony. North of the yaila we 
commenced the ascent of that latitudinal wall of mountain which 
at once forms the limit of the plain of Altun, and sends the 
Araxes off towards the east. 

It consists of lava overlying lacustrine deposits, and the 
summit is perfectly flat. You may ride in any direction until 
you are stopped by a river valley, which will be deeply cut and 
bordered by commanding heights. I had for guide an old and 
almost toothless Kurd, whom I had instructed, with some mis- 
givings as to his knowledge, to lead a course as straight as possible 
to Erzerum. The usual route from Gugoghlan would be by way 
of Madrak, keeping to lower levels but rather longer. 

But at this season of the year when elevation is of no 
consequence, the snow having long since disappeared, it is just 
as well to follow the most direct line, and keep as high as possible 
and near the water-parting. From one side of the flat vaulting 
the streams will flow westwards, and from the other towards the 
east. We crossed no less than six tributaries of the Araxes. 
Of these the first three converged rather closely together, and 
they probably compose the stream upon which is situated the 
village of Khedonun. Their valley or valleys have lofty parapets 
which required to be turned. I observed that the lavas upon the 
hillsides had in some places cooled in a columnar fashion. The 
direction of the first and most imposing of these valleys was 
towards south-south-east. North of the series the country again 
became flat, and the views far-reaching; we were in fact 

Home across the Border Ranges 381 

approaching the spine of the whole block of heights. Two new 
branches were crossed, both flowing into a wide depression which 
we overlooked in all its extent. They were separated by a 
considerable stretch of very elevated land. Their situation points 
to the conclusion that they take their waters to the stream which 
skirts the village of Duzyurt. Making our way from one to the 
other, we rode at the foot of outcrops of lava upon our left hand. 
Some were circular in form. Blue gentians are found in the 
grassy places, and the more northerly of the two streams is placed 
at a level of no less than 9400 feet. The highest point along 
our route lay some little distance further north, and may have 
been some 200 feet more elevated. It may be called the pass 
over this plateau region. The block of heights is separated from 
those of Palandoken by a depression, which is crossed by a 
saddle-shaped neck of land. On one side of this vaulting water 
flows to the Euphrates, and on the other to the Araxes. The 
affluent to the Araxes is one of the branches of the Madrak river. 
We forded it near the head of the trough. 

We did not pass a single village, not even a yaila, during our 
ride from the encampment of Zireki Kurds to the Palandoken 
ridge. The surface of the plateau consists of a slabby lava, 
which probably overlies the limestone with no great depth. The 
lavas appear to have issued from approximately east-west fissures 
at a time when the country had been already carved out into the 
main features of its present contour. Especially remarkable, as 
we neared the Palandoken line of heights, was the whiteness of 
their face where the rock was exposed. The limestone, which 
perhaps constitutes the bulk of that block, is probably of Eocene 
age. We struck a course up the slope of those heights a little 
west of the more westerly of the two forts ; and we issued into 
the so-called crater of Palandoken-Eyerli Dagh, w^here we en- 
camped by the margin of the first northward-flowing stream. 

On the following morning I made the ascent of the peak of 
Palandoken. The result of my test of boiling-point on this single 
occasion gives it a height of 10,690 feet. It is therefore about 
at the same level as the highest points on the Bingol ramparts 
on the opposite side of the whole wide basin. Like its close 
neighbour on the west, the equally bold Eyerli Dagh, it is of 
eruptive volcanic origin. But the cirque between the two has 
probably never been a crater ; it seems more likely that its 
peculiar form is mainly due to the erosive action of snow and 

382 Armenia 

ice. We had not time to make any careful examination of the 
wide area which the cirque covers. But this view was suggested 
by all the phenomena which came under our notice/ The basin 
has been cleared out by two gorges, and the matter is deposited 
on the wide detrital fan which extends some distance into the 
plain of Erzerum. A patch or two of snow were still visible in 
the hollows ; but the peak and steep, boulder-strewn sides of 
Palandoken were completely free of snow. 

From Erzerum to the coast we took a fairly direct route, 
travelling by the pass of the Jejen Dagh (8600 feet) to fjaiburt, 
and thence by the passes of the Kitowa (8040 feet) and Kazikly 
(8290 feet) Daghs to the monastery of Sumelas." But the great 
height of the passes and the general ruggedness of the country 
are against the prospects of this route as a possible avenue of 
constant communication between Trebizond and the Armenian 
fortress. A future railway will probably follow the devious course 
of the existing cJimissce by way of Giimushkhaneh, or will strike 
a direct course for the seaboard, issuing at the port of Rizeh.^ 
But to the traveller who is in search of romantic scenery one 
may confidently recommend the summer road which we adopted. 
The passage of the first barrier will afford him a near view of the 
beautiful peak of the Jejen ; while the later journey lies among 
the summits of the Pontic alps and among some of their wildest 
glens. The last stage will introduce him to one of the most 
remarkable valleys in this or any other land. He should 
endeavour to arrange his visit during his return homewards, when 
the features of the tableland, with their majesty of form but 
bareness of surface, are freshly graven upon the mind. The 
contrast to that landscape which he will find in the Vale of 
Meiriman is at once sudden and complete. Vegetation of be- 
wildering beauty takes the place of grandeur of outline ; and only 
the impressive scale upon which Nature has moulded her work 
in Asia remains constant to the end. 

1 Both Oswald and myself had read Abich's account of this so-called crater. He 
appears to regard it as a volcanic crater in the strict sense. I am inclined to think that 
his drawing is very much exaggerated {Geo/o,ifisc/ic ForschtDigen in den kaiikasischen 
Ldudcrn, Vienna, 1882, II. Tiieil, pp. 73 ct seq.). 

■^ For the stages see Ch. XI. p. 240. 

^ An account of this route which I have before me gives the distance between Rizeh 
and Erzerum as only 119 miles. It leaves Ispir (in the Chorokh valley) a little to the 



My purpose in the present chapter is to collect the threads of 
that part of the narrative which was occupied with the natural 
features, and to endeavour to weave them together into a 
composite but single fabric, capable of being appreciated as a 
whole. In the pursuit of this object I shall postulate familiarity 
on the part of my reader with the contents of the companion 
chapter dealing with the same subject which belongs to my first 
volume ; and it is not without misgiving that I compare the 
scantiness of my present material with the multitude of facts 
with which the researches of Herrmann Abich have enriched our 
knowledge of the Russian provinces. I am dependent almost 
entirely upon the gleanings of my own journeys and of those 
accomplished by my friends within quite recent years ; and it 
has been impossible to commence the writing of this chapter 
before the completion of the map embodying these results. 
What it may, perhaps, be hoped without excessive presumption 
is that the framework, at least, of our subject, the geography of 
South-Western or Turkish Armenia, can now be established with 
some degree of certainty ; and that succeeding travellers may 
be enabled to recognise at a glance the more imperfect parts 
instead of losing themselves in the almost unknown or falsely 

No better standpoint could be selected from which to 

^ I must not omit to record the assistance which I have received from the map of 
H. Kiepert, Provinces Asiatiques de r Empire Ottoman. The sheets which cover the 
Armenian country embody the results of my predecessors, which have been compiled 
with great judgment. I have also had access to two Russian maps embracing portions 
of the country, (i) scale lo versts = one inch, 1889, (2) scale 20versts = one inch, 1899. 
But the map of Kiepert with all its merit is necessarily sketchy ; and the last Russian 
map is flagrantly incorrect. 

384 Armenia 

commence a survey of the geography than the spine of that range 
whence we descended into Turkish territory during our journey 
southwards from Kagyzman (Vol. I, Ch. XX. p. 409, and Ch. 
XXI. p. 436). It carries the present frontier between the Russian 
and Turkish Empires, and in fact divides the area of Armenia 
into two parts. In a political sense it forms a boundary of 
considerable significance, shutting off Russia from the waters 
which issue in the Persian Gulf. More than once have her 
victorious armies flooded across this barrier, and not less often 
have they been compelled by the provisions of the ensuing 
peace to withdraw to its further side. The length of the range, 
its ruggedness and the relative height of the passes, compared 
with the plains on either flank, are features which must have 
operated throughout history to invest it with an importance 
unrivalled by the other systems which furrow the surface of 
the Armenian tableland. From the Kuseh Dagh (11,262 feet) 
in the west to Little Ararat (12,840 feet) in the east is a distance 
of nearly lOO miles; and throughout that space the chain 
is made up of such lofty peaks as the Ashakh Dagh (10,723 
feet), Perli Dagh (10,647 feet), Sulakha Dagh (9644 feet) and 
Khama Dagh (11,018 feet). The passes reach from 7000 to 
8500 feet ; while the level of the plain of the Araxes does not 
exceed 3000 feet, nor that of the plain of Alashkert 5500 feet. 
In appearance the barrier as a whole resembles the mountains of 
the peripheral regions ; there are the same deep valleys, jagged 
outline, precipitous slopes. It seems some daring invasion of 
those mountains into the plateau country ; and the semblance 
is accentuated by the beds of marl along its northerly base into 
which the long transverse parapets plunge (Vol. I. Fig. 106, p. 
419). Highly crystalline rocks, such as diabase, and even syenite, 
of which the spine of the more westerly portion is probably com- 
posed, have played the principal part in its configuration, where 
recent eruptive action has not built up a sequence of volcanic 
fabrics, such as Kuseh Dagh, Perli Dagh, the peaks about Lake 
Ballik, the Great and the Little Ararat. 

This range, to which collectively we may apply the name of 
Aghri Dagh or Ararat system, constitutes the principal inter- 
mediate line of elevation between the northern and the southern 
zones of peripheral mountains. It has been subjected to intense 
folding pressure, and during the process of bending over from an 
east-north-easterly to a south-easterly direction a partial fracture 

Geographical 385 

of tlie arc it describes has taken place. From the western shore 
of Lake BaUik, an upland sheet of water lying at a le\el of 7389 
feet, we are, perhaps, justified ill tracing the extension of one 
branch of the system along the water-parting between the INIurad 
and the Araxes south-east to the Tendurek Dagh, and through 
that volcano into the line of hills which divides the basin of Lake 
Van from the streams which find their way into the Araxes. 
Thence the elevation may be followed into the southern peripheral 
region, forming, as it were, a splinter from the chain of Zagros- 
which has struggled upwards through the plateau country to its 
very heart. The prevalence of crystalline rocks, which have been 
classed by Loftus as granite, has been attested along the inner 
edge of Zagros all the way from near Khorremabad in Persia 
past Hamadan to the sources of the Great Zab ; and they extend 
from the western borders of Lake Urmi at least as far as the 
district of Bayazid. ^ It seems probable that they are in con- 
nection with the granite rocks of the Aghri Dagh, where they 
are found to the west of the Perli Dagh along the axis of this 
northern intermediate system." 

The more northerly and principal branch in an orographical 
sense would appear to consist almost exclusively of recent volcanic 
mountains, stretching from Perli Dagh in an east-south-easterly 
direction to the Pambukh Dagh, west of Great Ararat. In this 
neighbourhood the line is taken up by the fabric of Ararat, 
raising the barrier by slow stages to nearly 1 7,000 feet, and 
having an axis from north-west to south-east.^ The sequence 
comes to an end in the Little Ararat, whose slopes descend on 
three sides to fairly level plains. An interesting feature about 
the range in its more westerly portion are the outbreaks of 
andesitic lava along its base upon the north. These eruptions 
appear to have culminated in the peak of Takjaltu (8409 feet) 
near Kulpi, which forms a landmark to the districts on that side. 
Thence the fissure which gave issue to the andesite may be 
traced westwards, keeping parallel to the chain. The eruptions 
liave disturbed the sedimentary rocks, and their incidence can 
be certainly attributed to the Miocene period.^ Further east the 

1 See the map of Loftus in Quarterly Journal of the Geological Soeiety, vol. xi. 
London, 1855, p. 247. 

- See the map of Abich in Geologische Forschuugeu in den kaukasisc/ien LanJern, 
Vienna, 1882, Atlas, Karte L ; and part ii. p. 141. 

^ A fine view of the range at this point is displayed by Abich, op. cit., Atlas 
table iii. * Abich, op. cit. part ii. p. 155. 

VOL. II 2 C 

386 Armenia 

upwellings of lava along the slopes of the mountains have all 
the appearance of having been discharged into a sheet of water 
spread over the surface of the Ararat region.^ 

West of the Kuseh Dagh, the bell -shaped mountain, this 
intermediate line of elevation may be plainly followed upon the 
map along the southern confines of the plain of Pasin through 
the limestones which the Araxes threads in a landscape of savage 
grandeur before its entry upon the level expanse. From the left 
bank of the river the heights are continued for many a mile, until 
they are distinguished by the Palandoken-Eyerli Dagh volcanic 
system (10,694 feet) just south of Erzerum. A slight inclination 
southwards through the Karakaya Dagh into the volcanic Keupek 
Dagh, and further south into the Khach Dagh, the southern 
boundary of the province of Terjan, takes the line with clear 
definition through the Girdim Dagh and the Baghir Dagh into 
the lofty and extensive barrier of the Merjan-Muzur Dagh (about 
12,000 feet), facing the plains about Erzinjan. The progress 
of the elevation across the Euphrates through Asia Minor to the 
Mediterranean appears to be indicated on the map of Kiepert 
by the Sarichichek Dagh, west of Egin, whence it is probably 
protracted between the Taurus and the Anti- Taurus chains. 
The Anti-Taurus would appear to be represented in Armenia by 
the system which enters the country in the Chardaklu Dagh 
(long. 39, lat. 39.55), and extends in the form of an elevated 
block of tableland through the Sipikor Dagh, Dadian Dagh 
(i 1,000 feet), Kop Dagh into the Dlimlii Dagh, north of Erzerum, 
and the Chorokh region. 

The importance of the orographical system which we have 
now traced from Ararat to Muzur Dagh, and from Lake Ballik to 
the Zagros range, may be appreciated in a geographical sense by 
one or two reflections. In the first place it provides the natural 
frontier between the country about Lake Van and the Persian 
province of Azerbaijan. This frontier may probably be regarded 
as the natural eastern boundary of Armenia during its course 
from behind Bayazid to the Avrin Dagh, overlooking the valley 
of the river of Kotur. At the present day it forms the Turko- 
Persian border ; while the more northerly branch, which effects a 
junction in the neighbourhood of Lake Ballik, divides the Russian 
and Turkish Empires. xA.s the most pronounced constituent of the 
Asiatic structural design within the limits of the tableland, the 

' Ahich, op. cil. iJ.ul ii. p. i6o. 

Geographical 387 

system carries over the Tauric lines of elevation into those which 
have determined the configuration of the Iranian highlands. It 
encompasses this result in a most impressive manner, standing up 
from the plateau region with precipitous slopes on either side and 
suggesting to the mind the conception of a backbone to the 
country as a whole. It is at this point that in the Shatin or 
Aghri Dagh it effects the bend over into Persia, but not without 
partial fracture and consequent dislocation. At the same time 
we should be mistaken in attributing to the system functions 
analogous to those of the mountains of the peripheral regions. 
Even the Aghri Dagh is deprived of many of the qualities 
essential to a barrier by its narrowness and by the extension of 
the open plains on either flank. The border between the Lake 
Van basin and Azerbaijan consists of a line of hills rather than 
of mountains in the proper sense. The extension of the elevation 
along the southern confines of the plains of Pasin and of Erzerum 
takes the form of the lofty rim of the central region of the 
tableland, and not of a mountain range. That term might, 
perhaps, be applied to the cretaceous heights of the Merjan- 
Muzur Dagh ; but these again are probably due to the resistance 
of the Dersim block, the plateau-like country which they limit 
upon the north. 

I have already traced the course of the mountains of the 
northern peripheral region, the effective barrier between Armenia 
and the coast of the Black Sea, throughout their prolongation 
upon the confines of the tableland, and have drawn the natural 
frontier inwards in the neighbourhood of Ispir across the valley 
of the Chorokh to the northern border heights of the plain of 
Erzerum (Vol. I. Ch. XXI. p. 431). The analogous zone upon 
the south is composed by the main chain of Taurus, separating 
the highlands from the low-lying plains of Mesopotamia and 
buttressing them up on that side. This chain appears to have 
succeeded in accomplishing the curve into the Iranian direction 
without undergoing fracture to any material extent. The 
symmetry of the arc described as seen from the plains about 
Diarbekr has already enlisted our admiration {ibid. p. 424). The 
spine of the range may be followed along the southern shore of 
Lake Goljik to the Palu Dagh, east of the town of Palu. Thence 
it is taken along the plain of Chabakchur and the left bank of 
the Murad to the confines of the plain of Mush. Conspicuous 
with sharp peaks which are seldom free from snow, it stretches 

388 Arinenia 

past the depression of Mush into the landscape of Lake Van, 
where it recalls the sombreness of the Norwegian coast. Through 
the Karkar Dagh (long. 42.47), and, further east, through the 
Bashit Dagh, west of Bashkala, it makes steps southwards to the 
threshold of the basin of the Great Zab ; and the elevation may 
be traced on the further side of the river in the peaks of the Jelu 
Dagh, said to attain a height of between 13,000 and 14,000 feet.^ 

An impressive feature of this Taurus range, and one which 
ought not to escape the attention whether of geographers or of 
political students, is the manner in which it appears to have sunk 
down along its southern edge between the 39th and 42nd degrees 
of longitude. In places the girdle of mountains becomes so 
narrow that its effectiveness as a barrier is much impaired. From 
the town of Arghana, which must lie almost at the southern foot 
of the chain, it is a direct distance of not more than 28 miles to 
the confines of the plains about Kharput. These may be attained 
from Diarbekr. on the lowlands without encountering a greater 
altitude than less than 5000 feet. The position of the town of 
Haini (2800 feet) appears to correspond to that of Arghana ; and 
thence the Murad may be reached in 22 miles direct by a pass of 
only 4200 feet. In such a climate heights like these are quite 
insignificant, and they would not offer at any season an obstacle 
of much importance to an army operating from the lowlands in the 
direction of the Armenian plains. This sinking-down of Taurus 
has been accompanied, as indeed one might expect, by volcanic 
action on a considerable scale. The Karaja Dagh, which lies to 
the south-west of Diarbekr, is not a mountain of much relative 
height. You may ride at a trot across its long-drawn undulations, 
admiring the sea-like expanse of the plains around. Yet it 
represents an extensive outpouring of lavas in recent geological 
times. It would appear to be in connection with some of the 
greatest of Armenian volcanoes, and with a string of depressions 
extending across the plateau. The line may be easily recognised 
through Nimrud and Sipan to Tendurek and Ararat. 

With the exception of the Dersim block, lying to the south 
of the Merjan-Muzur Dagh, which has not yet been satisfactorily 
explored, the remaining lines of elevation within the limits of the 
tableland are probably for the most part derived from the Taurus 
system. In this connection it is most interesting to take due note 
of the phenomenon that, side by side with the results of the later 
' K. Clayton, The Moitntains of Kurdistan, in the Alpine Joiirtml, 1887. 

Geographical 389 

earth movements which have most largely determined the existing 
configuration of the land, an older movement may be discerned 
with a wide extension in Turkish Armenia, rearing mountains 
along a south-west — north-east line. We ourselves remarked 
this phenomenon on an impressive scale in the Akh Dagh, an 
elevation of highly marmorised limestone, which may well be older 
even than the Cretaceous period. It rises up on the north of the 
plain of Khinis (Ch. VIII. p. 186, Fig. i 59), which it confines in an 
east-south-easterly direction. Though we were unable to test the 
strike of the stratification, the appearance of the ridges of which 
it is composed almost demanded the conclusion that they were 
originally members of a series of heights with a north-easterly 
course. Even as far east as the region to the south-west of Lake 
Van, where the Taurus is pursuing a general trend towards east- 
south-east, the strike of the older rocks was ascertained to be 
north-east. A glance at the map will show that the heights 
which confine the course of the Gunek Su pursue a north-easterly 
direction. Those on the right bank, extending to the basin of 
the Kighi or Peri Su, may be clearly traced into the Taurus on 
the west of Palu, to be represented further south by the Chembek 
Dagh and Mastikan Dagh, constituents of Taurus to the south- 
west of Kharput. In the opposite direction the line may not 
unreasonably be regarded as extending beneath the volcanic 
accumulations of the Bingol Dagh through the Akh Dagh into 
the hills confining the plain of Alashkert upon the south, known 
as the Mergemir or Khalias Dagh. The younger movements 
may find expression in the present trend of the two last-named 
systems, and, further south, in the Kbshmiir Dagh, Shaitan Dagh 
and Javresh Dagh, mountains through which the Kighi Su breaks 
in a narrow defile after leaving the Khindris Ova or plain. These 
last extend with impressive orographical distinction to the south- 
western edge of the Bingol plateau. 

The Koshmlir Dagh effects a junction with the mountains of 
the Dersim ; and it would almost seem as if that region had 
refused to submit to the folding pressure, causing the earth weaves 
to work round it and, like the plateau of Azerbaijan, on the 
east of Armenia, favouring fracture rather than subordination in 
any complete sense to the general structural laws.^ Yet I cannot 
doubt that the Dersim should be included within the limits of the 

1 For some account of the geology of Azerbaijan see C. Grewingk, Die geognostischen 
tnid orographischcn I'erhaltnisse dcs ndrdlicheti Pcrsiens, St. Petersburg, 1853- 

390 Armenia 

country which forms the subject of the present enquiry. The 
name appears to be applied more strictly to the mountainous 
region lying to the east of the upper reaches of the Muzur Su, 
between that river and the town of Kighi Kasaba. But it may 
be used to embrace also the country to the south of the Merjan- 
Muzur Dagh, as far west as the great bend of the Western 
Euphrates and up to the right bank of the Murad on the south. 
Separated from the important Turkish military station at Erzinjan 
by a range of mountains covered with snow during six months in 
the year, it slopes gradually towards the river on its southern 
confines, well wooded in many parts, abounding in minerals, but 
broken and rugged especially in the northern and eastern districts. 
The original home of an Armenian population, who probably 
entered their historical seats from the west, it is dotted over with 
the ruins of Armenian churches, monasteries and villages, and is 
mainly but sparsely inhabited by Kizilbash Kurds. ^ The natural 
boundary between Armenia and Asia Minor is the course of the 
Western Euphrates between the town of Kemakh, the burial-place 
of the Armenian Arsakid kings, and its passage through Taurus 
below Keban-Maden. North of the Euphrates the line may be 
drawn in a more or less arbitrary manner from above Egin to the 
mountains of the northern peripheral region. 

The boundary of Taurus is clearly defined from one end of 
Armenia to the other, describing a symmetrical curve along the 
threshold of the Armenian highlands, and affording a number of 
standpoints whence the contrast may be appreciated between the 
plateau country and the peripheral mountains. A string of great 
plains extend on its inner or northern side, but plains quite 
different in character from the lowlands about Diarbekr, and framed 
in a landscape never wanting in the long-drawn outlines of the 
loftier levels. The plain of Kharput, with an altitude of something 
over 3000 feet, commences the series on the west. It is reached 
from the west and the south by a number of easy approaches, 
the Tauric barrier being readily surmountable in this neigh- 
bourhood. The town is built upon a hill, not far south of 
the Murad, on the northern confines of the plain ; and the old 

' The best account of this country is that of J. G. Taylor,y^./v. 6'..^?. vol. xxxviii. 1868. 
I may also refer my reader to two articles by Dr. Butyka {Milt, der K. K. geographischcn 
GescUschaft in IVicn, vol. xxxv. 1892, pp. 99-126 and 1 94-2 10), who has collected the 
scanty notices of his predecessors and added his own experiences. I have made use of 
some unpublished material in the preparation of this part of my map ; but it is far from 
sa isfactory. 

Gcograph ical 391 

castle overlooks the expanse at a difference in level of about 
1000 feet. Various estimates assign a population of from 13,000 
to 25,000 souls to this ancient Armenian borough ; and, although 
the Armen