Travels In Syria And The Holy Land By John Lewis Burckhardt


























































 -  Having procured a labourer, I found after
digging in the Wady a few hundred paces to the E. of the - Page 70
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Having Procured A Labourer, I Found After Digging In The Wady A Few Hundred Paces To The E. Of The Village, Several Small Pieces Of A Metallic Substance, Which I Took To Be A Native Amalgam Of Mercury.

According to the description given me, cinnabar is also found here, but we could discover no specimen of it after half an hour's digging.

The ground all around, and the spring near the village, are

SOUK EL KAHN.

[p.34] strongly impregnated with iron; the rock is sandstone, of a dark red colour. The other mineral curiosities are, a number of wells of bitumen Judaicum, in the Wady at one hour below the village on the west side, after recrossing the bridge; they are situated upon the declivity of a chalky hill; the bitumen is found in large veins at about twenty feet below the surface. The pits are from six to twelve feet in diameter; the workmen descend by a rope and wheel, and in hewing out the bitumen, they leave columns of that substance at different intervals, as a support to the earth above; pieces of several Rotolas in weight each[The Rotola is about five pounds.] are brought up. There are upwards of twenty-five of these pits or wells, but the greater part of them are abandoned and overgrown with shrubs. I saw only one, that appeared to have been recently worked; they work only during the summer months. The bitumen is called Hommar, and the wells, Biar el Hommar [Arabic]. The Emir possesses the monopoly of the bitumen; he alone works the pits, and sells the produce to the merchants of Damascus, Beirout, and Aleppo.

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