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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