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called “ lapides Judaici ;" these are regarded by the inhabitants, when dissolved in lemon-juice, as a specific for curing the stone and gravel.* Volney states, that he traced the limestone formation through the whole extent of Syria, particularly between Antioch and Aleppo and Hama; that it forms the greater part of Lebanon, Anti-Lebanon and the mountains of the Druses, Gallilee, Mt. Carmel, and the ridges which stretch to the south of the Dead Sea ; that the houses in Palestine are built with it, and lime manufactured from it ; that, in the upper regions of Lebanon it contains no petrifactions, but, that near the sea, it abounds with the remains of plants, fish, shells, and sea-animals.t Volney also discovered small volutes and bivalves in a “heavy, porous and salt stone" in the bed of the torrent of Azkalon, in Palestine, and Pococke observed them on the borders of the Dead Sea. I
Granitic rocks are met with to considerable extent in Palestine, and, according to some travellers, the loftiest peaks that surround the lake Asphaltites are of this formation. Mt. Sinai is unquestionably a member of this group, and so also are the hills which run up on each side of the Arabian Gulf. Mt. Hor and Wady Mousa are composed of rocks belonging to the new red sandstone formation ; and it is from this rock, that all the temples and tombs of Petra have been excavated. It extends, in all probability, through the whole length of the valley of El Ghor, and passes into quartz rock, or a fine siliceous sandstone, which caps the summits of the neighboring cliffs, giving them a highly grotesque and fantastic appearance. The sides of the cliffs lining this valley, are often perpendicular, presenting alternating strata of calcareous rocks, sandstone and quartz, lying over each other in horizontal layers. “Nowhere,” says Irby, " is the extraordinary coloring of these mountains more striking than in the road to the tomb of Aaron, which we followed, where the rock sometimes presented a deep, sometimes a paler blue, and sometimes was occasionally
* Travels or Observations relating to several parts of Bar bary and the Levant. Vol. II. p. 153.
ť Volney's Travels in Syria, Egypt, &c. Vol. I.
streaked with red, or shaded off to blue or purple ; sometimes a salmon color was veined in waved lines and circles, with crimson and even scarlet, so as to resemble exactly the color of raw meat ; in other places, there are lined stripes of yellow or bright orange, and in some parts all the different colors were ranged side by side in parallel stratá; there are portions also with paler tints, and some quite white, but these last seem to be soft, and not good for preserving the sculpture. It is this wonderful variety of colors observable throughout the whole range of mountains, that gives to Petra one of its most characteristic beauties ; the facades of the tombs, tastefully as they are sculptured, owe much of their imposing appearance to this infinite diversity of hues in the stone."*
Mt. Sinai is a granitic rock. In many places it presents blackened perpendicular cliffs of from 600 to 800 feet in height. Porphyry and greenstone are found among the lower ridges of the mountains, passing into slate. Accord. ing to Burckhardt, the porphyry contains red feldspar and small crystals of hornblende, with rose-colored quartz and mica, united by an argillaceous cement. The granite, however, is chiefly of the fine-grained species; an immense block of which forms the summit of Mt. St. Catharine. In some places, as at Tabakat, the same traveller observed large slabs of feldspar, traversed by veins of white and rose-colored quartz.t
The valleys in the neighborhood of Mt. Sinai are principally underlaid with beds of limestone, though the white and red sandstone often crop out upon the sides of the hills. Igneous rocks, or those of a volcanic origin, are also met with in various parts of Palestine. At Akaba, the extremity of the eastern branch of the Red Sea, a perpendicular wall of trap rocks lines the shore ; and near Sherm, further south, Burckhardt traced the same basaltic formation for a distance of two miles, the cliffs being perpendicular, formed in half, or sometimes nearly whole circles, and from 60 to 80 feet in height. In some places, he observed appearances of volcanic craters. The rocks are black; or slightly tinged with red, full of cavities, and rough ; and the surface cov
* Irby & Mangles' Travels, pp. 438, 9. † Burckhardt's Travels.
ered with deep layers of sand. Volney states that “the south of Syria, through which the Jordan flows, is a country of volcanoes, “and that the bituminous and sulphurous waters of the Lake Asphaltites, the lava and pumice stones upon its banks, and the thermal springs of Tubaria, prove that this valley has been the seat of a subterranean fire not yet extinguished."*
Between Cana and Turan, near the Jordan, and a few miles north of the Dead Sea, Dr. Clarke discovered nu. merous basaltic columns of regular prismatic form, like those of Staffa, or the Giant's Causeway. They penetrate the surface of the soil, and by their gradation in the order of steps, or a stair-case, form a series of successive plains in approaching the Lake of Tiberias.f In descending to Tiberias, Dr. Clarke found the soil black, which he attributes to the decomposition of volcanic rocks : the stones, scattered over the surface, were amygdaloidal and porous; their cavities being occasionally occupied by mesotype, or by plumose carbonate of lime. On the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, he also found pieces of a porous rock, resembling toad-stone, with cavities filled with crystals of zeolite. Native gold was formerly discovered in the same vicinity. I Hasselquist informs us that the hill of Tiberias, from which issue the fountains whence the baths are supplied, is composed of “ a black and brittle sulphurous stone,” which is only found in considerable masses in that neighborhood, though it is very often met with in rolled specimens on the shores of the Dead Sea, and in other parts of the valley.S This was probably a species of bituminous shale, containing sulphur, as it often does. Near the town of Tiberias are situated the celebrated thermal, or hot baths of Emmaus. These waters are mentioned by Pliny and Josephus, and were formerly in great repute, for their salubrious qualities. In relation to them Pliny remarks, “ Aboccidente Tiberiade, aquis, callidis, salubri."|| Pococke analyzed the water and found it to contain "gross fixed vit
* Volney's Travels in Syria, Egypt, &c.
+ Clarke's Travels, in Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land, Vol. IV. p. 272.
I Reland Palæst. Illust. Tom. II. p. 1042.
riol, some alum and a mineral salt."* Monconys, quoted by Reland, states that the water is extremely hot, having a taste of sulphur, mixed with nitre. Egmont and Heyman describe its quality as resembling that of the springs of Aix la Chapelle, “ so hot as not easily to be endured,” and “so salt as to communicate a brackish taste to that of the lake near it.” Volney relates that “ for want of cleaning, it is filled with a black mud, which is a genuine Æthiops Martial,” and that 6 persons attacked by rheumatic complaints, find great relief, and are frequently cured by baths of this mud.”+ These statements are confirmed by Hasselquist, who says that “the water deposits a black sediment like paste, smelling strongly of sulphur, and is covered by two pellicles, one of a green, the other of a rusty color ;" the former being probably petroleum, and the latter an oxide of iron.
Near the western shore of the Dead Sea, Dr. Clarke states that he saw a mountain, “ resembling, in its form, the cone of Vesuvius, near Naples, having a crater upon its top, which was plainly discernible.”I Malte Brun remarks that
the valley of the Jordan offers many traces of volcanoes ; the bituminous and sulphurous water of Lake Asphaltites, the lavas and pumice thrown out on its banks, and the warm baths of Tabariah, show that this valley has been the theatre of a fire not yet extinguished ; volumes of smoke are often observed to escape from the lake, and new crevices are found on its margin."'$ Maundrell, who is at all times worthy of the most implicit belief, relates that “when he arrived within half an hour of the Dead Sea, he found the ground uneven, and varied into hillocks, much resembling those places in England where there have been ancient lime-kilns ;” that " the Dead Sea is enclosed by very high mountains," and that on “the shore of the lake he found a black sort of pebbles, which, being held in the flame of a candle, soon burn and yield a smoke of an intolerable stench, losing only of its weight, but not of its bulk by burning.” “The hills bordering on the lake," he observes, “ abound with this sort of sulphurous stones," and he saw pieces of it two feet square,
* Pococke's Description of the East, Vol. II. p. 69.
carved in basso relievo, and “polished to as great an extent as black marble is capable of."* Dr. R. R. Madden, a very intelligent English physician, and the same gentleman who lately testified at New Haven, in the case of the Amistad prisoners, observes that “the face of the mountains and of the country surrounding the Dead Sea, has all the appearance of a volcanic region ; and having resided for some years at the foot of Vesuvius, having visited Solfatara, Ætna, and Tromboli, I was tolerably conversant with volcanic productions. I have no hesitation in saying, that the sea which occupies the sites of Sodom and Gomorrah, Adma, Seboim, and Segor, covers the crater of a volcano. I must confess I found neither pumice-stone nor genuine black lava, but the soil was covered with white porous stone and red veined quartz, which had decidedly undergone combustion. At Ghor, native sulphur is found in considerable quantities beneath the soil; the inflammable asphaltum, which forms a pellicle over the surface of the water on the western shore, arises from fissures in the rock on the opposite beach. On coming out of the water, I found my body coated with it, and likewise with an incrustation of salt about the thickness of a sixpence. At the northern extremity, the sea is fordable ; and here, the Arabs of Saba inform me, that there are hot springs bubbling up in the middle of the Bahr Luth, or Sea of Lot, as they call the Dead Sea. That species of phosphoric stone which is found in Tuscany, on the supposed site of a volcano, is found on the eastern side. I found large quantities of the fetid lime-stone, called stink-stone, on the western mountains; the recent fracture produces a strong smell of sulphuretted hydrogen. The basis of all the western shore is a calcareous rock mixed with silex. Two feet below the sandy surface of the earth, I found a stratum of red-veined quartz ; and below another stratum of lime-stone, a vein of reddish earth. Many of these substances are only found in volcanic countries; at all events the rugged aspect of the mountains, the terrible ravines on either shore, the uncouth forms of the jagged rocks, all prove that the surrounding country has been the scene of some terrible convulsion of
* A Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem at Easter, 1697, by Henry Maundrell, M. A. p. 112.