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Travel Journal - Egypt and the Near East, 1928

Transcribed and edited by Elinor Howell Thurman, 2002.

[Inscribed on flyleaf:]

E. M. Gilmer

June 16, 1928

“I know not when I go to the land of my desire what my fortune shall be.

Whether I shall find the joy & charm that I seek, or the sorrow that seeketh for me.”


Left N. O. on June 14.  Arrived Philadelphia on June 16.  Most delightful visit with Mr & Mrs Watkins & Mrs Walker’s parents Mr & Mrs C. C. Clements & Helen Rowland[.]

June 17 – [1928]

Arrived N. Y – wild hullabaloo seeing every body & every thing -  Sailed on Friday night, June 22 on Paris.

Arrived at Havre on Friday, June 29 at 9.  Got boat train at 10, arrived Paris about 2 -  Friend Mr Gelat on platform waiting for us -  Took us to the Hotel Albany 202 Rue de Rivoli where we have a beautiful room overlooking the Tuilleries garden - & the Louvre with the dome of the Pantheon, Eiffel Tower, etc in the background –

[June] 29 [1928]

Matilda Gray and Vera Morel came to lunch & we went to a wonderful private view of a jeweler who has made up the most gorgeous things in emeralds & [word torn away.]

July 1 – [1928]

Mr G came & took us thro’ Cluny museum – and afterwards to the Luxembourg park where we heard the band.  Went into the old church near the Sorbonne where Richlieu [sic] is buried & where there is a marvelous monument to him, which was saved during the commune riots by a man flinging himself on it & receiving the blows intended to demolish the tomb –

July 3 [1928]

Went up to Brussels for the dedication of the fine library given by the American schools & colleges to replace the one destroyed by the Germans –

July 4 – [1928]

Went out by morning train to Louvain[,] a pretty little college town [word torn away] miles out.  The new [word torn away] a magnificent Flemish Rennaisance [sic] building, with the names of the High schools & colleges that gave to its erection on the outer wall.  At one side of the main entrance is carved the Belgian coat of arms, on the other the American -  The steps of the gable bear the heraldic devices of the allies – the Am eagle, the Brittish [sic] lion, the Russian bear, the French cock, the Italian griffin[.]

The exercises were very picturesque, beginning with a procession headed by the cardinal, the archbishop & clergy in their gorgeous canonicals, followed by hundreds of college men in the wondrous caps & gowns, & mantles & collars -  the prince Leopold & his young wife Astrid were present, with many other notables.  The inscription chosen by Cardinal Mercier for the building: Destroyed by German fury.  Restored by American generosity was forbidden by the present Cardinal, but just as Ambassador Gibson turned over the key of the building an aeroplane swooped down out of the sky & dropped hundreds of slips of paper bearing those words - & the populace cheered like mad.

At night we heard the carillon played by the great bells in the tower.  The music dropping down like a benediction from on high, on the silent company under the stars[.]

July 6-16 – [1928]

Going on wonderful sight seeing trip with Mr Gelat – to the Louvre to see the stones of Babylon & Ninevah [sic] we shall not see there – to the Concergerie [sic] where we lived over the French revolution – to the Pantheon, the old church of St Genevere, to the Gobeleen & so on –

To Buz to Matildas [sic], to Mr Gelats to a ravishing lunch & many times to the dress makers[.]

June[sic: should be July - crossed out: 17] 16 – [1928]

Left Paris, which was intensely hot, for Marseille -  Started at 9 – arrived 9.40 – a blistering day with dirt galore.

June [sic: should be July] 17-18-19-20- [1928]

A most heavenly sail across lapis lazuli waters in the Ankghor[,] a boat of the Meisanguies Maritimes – fine food, nice room[,] splendid cocktails – everything heart could wish – passed the toe of Italy – Strombouli [sic]; passed thro the straits of Messina, the old Scylla & Charybdis of mythology[;] passed Messina where so many perished in the earthquake a few years ago[.]

July 22 – [1928]

Arrived at Alexandria at 6- a.m.  Had ride around the town.  Saw the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor which is the first lighthouse ever built in the world & which has guided Phoenician galleys & Roman fighting ships & English men of war into port -   All of the old town is gone except the tall column Pompey built to commemorate his own victories, & an old mosque or two – nothing left of the Alexandria in which Cleopatra exercised her wiles on Caesar & where she & Anthony spent some of their most hectic moments.  Gone the Alexandria that once had the finest library in the world & was the center of cultivation for the world, but a new Alexandria is growing up on the ruins of the old one, & it is becoming a great commercial port.  On every side were evidences of prosperity & much building – among other things a huge new casino in which there is to be gambling with the lid off[.]

It is 3 ½ hours from Alexandria to Cairo, on a fine fast train -  The trip is a fascinating one thro’ the rich delta of the Nile which bears 3 or 4 crops a year -  Everywhere fields of cotton, interspersed with rice & here & there sugar cane.  Everywhere irrigation ditching & canals & the creaking of waterwheels as the patient blindfolded cows & buffalos or camels went round & round on their tread mills pumping up the life giving fluid -  Twice the road crosses the Nile – a broad placid stream, & always it threads the irrigation canals.  Every few hundred yards was a mud village – where the fellaheen live -  A huddle of huts of unbaked mud that literally dissolves in every flood & that they rebuild as casually & as much of a matter of course as the birds do their nests in the spring.  Only in the most pretentious of these dwellings are there any windows -  The humbler sort content themselves with a few small appertures [sic] that afford a little light, - but no passage of air & there seems no way to close them -  The plowing was all being done with oxen hitched to either end of a long pole, & dragging a sharpened stick that some how seemed to turn up a creditable fallow -  In the rice fields men & women stood knee deep in the water weeding the crop –

The men wore either the long Mother Hubbard like robe they call a Gal-a-biah, and the trousers that seem cut out with a circular saw & whose seats come within a foot of the ground – or both -  The women wore the curious Egyptian face veil that begins with a metal ornament that covers the nose – like a football players - & from which depends a black face veil.  On her head is a monstrous mushroom affair of black that trails off into a cloak that completely envelops her & that reduces all women young & old, pretty & ugly to a common denominator – but how any woman works in all this hampering garb must forever remain a mystery to the occidental mind -  The children were clothed either in their simple birthday suits or exactly as their elders -  The fez has not been abolished in Egypt as in Turkey – every man whether Christian or Mohammedan or Jew or Copt wears the tarbush which certainly sets off their olive skins.

        Arrived at Cairo at 12.20 & went at once to the Continental Savoy, which is grand & expensive.  Rested until 5 then went for a drive thro modern Cairo which appears to be on a regular Florida boom – rows & rows of fine apartments & private dwellings being built along fine paved highways –

Went to a beautiful garden just outside of the city called Materina [Mataria] in which there is a knotted & gnarled old tree – the oldest looking thing I have ever seen.  It is propped up & has only one branch that shows any sign of life -  This has a few green twigs growing at one end - & this ancient tree is believed by the faithful to be one under which Mary & the babe & Joseph rested on their weary flight from Palestine & Herods fury.  For hundreds of years it has been a place of pious pilgrimage & on the limbs & attached to the bark were hundreds of bits of rags & strings left as votive offerings.  The tree belongs to a catholic [sic] order whose chapel is a few hundred yards away - & who tend it with assiduous care.  [word crossed out: Certainly]  Just a dozen yards away [word crossed out: is] a water wheel was bringing up from a cool well under the shade of a group of trees a bold stream of water.  Just so 2000 years ago was the water pumped, and it made a graphic picture in ones mind to think of the weary man & the tired young mother [word crossed out: resting] with the babe resting under the shade of this tree, and drinking of the well before starting on their journey again –

From the tree we went to the site of ancient Heliopolis, which was a great and brilliant city before even Cairo was.  It had a great university in which Moses was educated -  It is now covered over, feet deep with earth, the only reminder of it being the obelisk erected by Thomely – Mr G. read some of its heiroglyphics [sic] for us – the Key to the Nile, spoon represented power[,] the 3 peacocks beauty – the sacred crow – the emblems of Isis – Osiris – Horus -  The all seeing eye.

July 23 – [1928]

Went to see the beautiful alabaster mosque, a gem of architecture with its slender minarets pointing up into the sky -  Saw the old citadel & the spot where the Mamaluke [Mameluke] is said to have jumped his horse -  Passed the tombs of the Mamalukes & other picturesque mosques then went down into the Mosque, the Arabian shopping part of the city.  A wonderful turmoil of huddled people, living and working in tiny shops – sweet meats vendor, sellers of liquorice water,  men splashing water on the dusty streets from bags made of skin – squalor, poverty, dirt everywhere.  Tiny shops full of coarse grain[,] meat shops with gaily decorated carcasses hanging before them[,] men sewing, embroidering with fine gold thread, women with babies on their shoulders, their faces hidden with the hideous nose guard & veil –

Went to the great university where all of Islam comes for its degree -  A hughe [sic] building built around a great court.  In the centre the fountain for making ablution – around a long, wide arched corridor on which sat, or lay groups of men, reading, studying, talking.  Along the walls were lockers in which each student kept his food & poor belongings.  Different sections were allotted for different nationalities – Japan – China – India, Algeria, wherever men believe in the religion of Mohamet[.]  Some of the teachers in this school are very learned.  The tuition & living are free, & the students too poor to buy books may borrow them from the magnificent library that belongs to the university.

        In the afternoon went to the oldest mosque in Cairo[,] built soon after the Mohammedan conquest, in the 6 century – a vast tumble down old place with hundreds of columns taken from various heathen temple[s].  Here is the miraculous column that flew from Medina to Cairo in order to be included in the mosque & that still bears the stripe of Mohammeds whip lash upon it.  Wow!

Rowed across the Nile to the Island of Rodan to see the spot where Pharaohs daughter found Moses in the bull rushes.  It is a lovely spot, & on it was once a palace of surpassing splendor with 2 bathing pools for the women in which the water flowed from the river.  Only a fragment is left of the palace & part of one of the pools – still beautiful with its arched opening for the water & with its ancient carved Coptic inscription.  It is new and used as a nileometer [sic] for gauging the depth of the river[.]

Went to the Coptic village & saw unbelievable squalor & poverty & filth -  The Coptics are the Aegean Christians – the Puritans – much given to fasting & prayer & little to washing & cleaning.  I should say there hasn’t been a broom or a scavenger in the settlement since the Crusades -  Narrow, stinking, dirty streets, filthy women, sore eyed children[,] beggars thicker than the flies, people living under unspeakable conditions - 
The heart of the village is the Coptic church built above the grotto in which Mary & Joseph & the Child are believed to have lived when they were in Egypt, & where Mark preached when he came to Egypt -  In one dark corner is a little tank in which they baptise children – sousing them down 3 times, head & all – a genuine immersion[.]

     And always the fascinating street scenes of the Orient – a group of placid cows being milked on the side walk – women squatting down in the blazing sun on their heels – men lying asleep on the sidewalk – a mother mursing her babe its eyes covered with flies that she did not bother to brush off – men with curved brass recepticles [sic] strapped around their waists in which were glasses, selling all sorts of drinks – sort of perambulating soda fountains – mainly liquorice water –

The bazaar – narrow, tiny streets filled with embroideries, with jewelry, with brass work, with everything under the sun -  Men reaching out trying to pull you in – calling after you – in Arabic, in French[,] in English – lady come by [sic] -  Then the chaffering, the bargaining, the sending for lemonade, the final smiling arriving at a price & the merchant almost swooning with a sense of his own generosity as he assures you[.]

July 24 – [1928]

Spent morning in the great museum of antiquities viewing the glories of dead & departed centuries – scarcophigi [sic], Kings, mummies – still in their winding sheets in which they were tucked away so many thousands of years ago -  The coffins were sort of obituaries – their life stories being painted or carved upon them[.]  Certainly the looted tombs of Egypt prove there is nothing new under the sun for the jewels, the beads, the necklaces might many of them been bought in any fashionable shop today -  The golden sandals –

Naturally the chief interest lies in King Tut & he has a room to himself & 2 huge glass cases in which are exhibited his 2 coffins -  The outer painted one & the inner one of solid gold, with the sacred scarab that was laid on the dead wrought out in as fine blue & red cloisonné work as ever artist did in Japan.  The balance a mass of intricate carving – other cases held his crowns – his jewels, his sacred imagines [images], unimaginable riches –

July 25 – [1928]

Got up at 6.a.m. & took motor down to Memphis.  Fascinating spectacle of the native world getting itself awake & to work – the streets crowded with men & children & donkeys, & laden camels -  The road runs along a big irrigation canal bordered on either side with date groves in which men were working cleaning the ditches, & pumping fresh water into the channel, with a machine that looks like an old fashioned wooden churn -  Passed hundreds of falleehen [fellaheen] women unveiled, but all dressed in black, the universal garb of the Arab women & God knows she has a right to be in a state of perpetual mourning if anybody has -  Occasionally a woman of the better class would have on a Yarhmak [yarmulke] – often of red & embroidered in thread, but all bore on their heads heavy burdens – huge baskets often filled with earth or manure –

Memphis, once the proud capital of lower Egypt & with a population of a million & a half lies under 30 or 40 feet of Nile mud & sand, waiting its resurrection day at the hands of the excavators – all that is left now is the prone statue of Rameses II, the largest statue ever made, its double crown of Egypt broken off & lying at its head as valueless as any other symbol of royalty to the dead & its mutilated legs lost & gone -  There is also a beautiful alabaster sphynx [sic] believed to be one of an avenue of sphynxes [sic] that will yet be unearthed -  About ¾ of an hours ride is the great cemetery of Memphis in which is the underground burial place of the sacred bulls, who were [word crossed out: also] mumified [sic] & given a sepulchre worthy of Kings[.]  There are 21 great granite scarcophagi [sic] & a little one marking the burial of the last bull when the Persians conquered Egypt & forbad the worship of them –

From Memphis we drove to Giza & saw the great pyramids which didnt look so big by half in reality as they did in my old geography book[.]  But they are wonderful enough with their great piles of hughe [sic] stones, when one reflect[s] on the lives every stone must have cost -  Originally the pyramids were smooth covered  & carved on the top with brass, which reflected the sun -  They are, of course, mausoleums for the dead kings & all about was one vast cemetery --  Down a little hill from the Pyramid is the great Spynx [sic] – man & woman – whose secret no man can guess – brooding in silent

Majesty over the desert -  No wonder it has been worshipped for centuries & has piqued the curiosity & excited the admiration of the ages –

We had our photos taken with the Sphynx [sic] & pyramids as a modest back ground -  The Photographer was waiting for us & instantly a couple of little ragged boys posed with water jars on their heads -  Go away, I exclaimed wishing to monopolize the centre picture[.]  “No lady,” one of the boys firmly replied, “little Moses is always taken with tourists.”  So I succumbed & little Moses leaned against my camel in a nonchalant attitude born of much practice –

But the sublimity of the Pyramids & everything else in Egypt is spoiled by the beggars who hound you from spot to spot, & never cease their importunities[.]  Bakseeh [baksheesh] is the first word an Egyptian child learns to utter & the last that flutters across his dying lips -  There are countless families along the Easy streets of the Tourist route who never do a lick of work from generation to generation except hold out their hands.  The Egyptian government almost tearfully implores people not to give, but nothing stops it[.]

July 26 – [1928]

Spent morning at the Arabian museum.  Most beautiful exhibition of tiled house fountains, grille work[,] fine damascened & bejewelled swords, & brass work of every description.


July 26 – [1928]

Started a little after six for Luxor which we reached after ten & went to the Luxor Hotel, a delightful Oriental hotel in a big compound full of date trees, palms etc -  The trip down was most picturesque, the whole country a network of irrigating canals, the fellaheen busy with his heavy crops, the green stretching away to the Libyan desert on one side & the Arabian desert on the other.  The Nile valley grows narrower and narrower as you go up the river until the two deserts with their barren sand cliffs almost meet at Assouan.  All along are millions of date trees with their crop almost ripe now & little mud villages everywhere with their clustered house tops combined chicken runs, for every one seems to raise their poultry on top of their houses, & pigeon cotes, & to make them the parking place for all the household rubbish.  The canals were filled with water buffalo taking their daily soak, & naked children trying to drive them ashore -  Everywhere water wheels creaked & poor old cows went round & round[,] their eyes blinded to keep them from getting dizzy & committing cow-i-cide.  No wonder the butter is so thin when the poor creatures have to supply the motor power, & the milk & the calves for the escalop de veau without which no Egyptian hotel dinner is considered a real meal.  Also it is the country where every Mary has her little lamb, as the sheep takes the place of the dog & cat as household pet, & they milk the lady sheep as they do the goats which also adds to the mystery (impenetrable) that pervades the butter, & makes it a riddle that none but strong men are fitted to grapple with.  We passed thro’ the province that worshipped the cat & the mumified [sic] remains of thousands of these have been found in the sepulchers round about.

Luxor is about 400 miles south of Cairo & was the capital of Upper Egypt & here is the magnificent Temple of Luxor & about a mile & a half the superlative one of Thebes, or Karnak as it is known by both names.  The two temples in ancient times being connected by an avenue of Sphinxes set about 4 ft apart.  These have the bodies of lions & the faces of rams, the ram being worshipped in these parts -  [word crossed out: Another]  There is still a long line of these sphinxes to be seen, keeping their silent watches as they used to do in the days when kings & courtiers came here to pray & priests & priestesses of Isis & Osiris trod their stately way down the solemn aisles.  And doubtless more will be brought to light when the archeologists dig them out of the graves that the sand of uncounted centuries have [sic] filled above them[.]

Of course for the most part the temples of Egypt are masses of magnificent ruins, but there are still standing enough to give you a vivid picture of the glory & the splendor that once was theirs -  There are vast halls that are forrests [sic] of carved pillars of ineffable beauty that flower into the capitals from which the Greeks got their idea for the Corinthian & Ionic & Doric columns with which we are still adorning our classic buildings.  Some of these columns end in the graceful swirl of the lotus flower, & in the coloring which not even time has wholly dimmed you can see what master painters the old Egyptian artists were.  Others represent the paprus [papyrus] plant, many are 75 feet in circumference, & from top to bottom they are carved with the history of their day, thousands upon thousands of hieroglyphics telling of the deeds of valor of some king, or warrior & petitioning the gods for some favor -  You may also see perfectly preserved the bed chambers in which they slept, the walls solid masses of hieroglyphics[,] beautifully colored[,] that put to shame any of the picture wall paper of our day.

And speaking of hieroglyphics[,] they present to the amateur all the fascination of the cross word puzzle.  And you get so absorbed in trying to decipher the thing that looks like a patent corckscrew [sic] & that was the Key to the Nile, & denoted power -  & the short cane that was the rod of power & the broken stick that was the lack of authority that were the insignia of royalty, & the little wiggle [words crossed out: that represented] that looks like a worm having the coloic [colic] that represented the Nile, & the short triangular apron that only the aristocracy & priests could wear & that indicated nobility, & the curl on one side of a head that was called the curl of youth & belonged alone to young princes, & the three straight feathers that [word crossed out: indicated] look like a spade that are the feathers of holiness, & the cobra that represents wisdom & the peacock that showed that the individual under discussion was some looker[.]  The sacred eye that keeps off trouble[.]  The sun disc – a thing that is perfect representation of a kitchen spoon that then as now was the club of power[.]

And always, over & over, & over again are what they called the Holy Trio – Isis & Osiris & their son Horus, with some times Horus wife [word crossed out: added] Hator added -  These are legendary figures about whom all Egyptian mythology centers [words crossed out: royalty that] a royal family that was deified, & that existed so far in the past that no record of them exists.  It is an exciting game to identify them for they are pictured sometimes with the head of a bull, sometimes a ram, sometimes a bird, sometimes a tiger or lion, for worshipping animals was a positive craze with the ancient Egyptians, & they clapped the head of any beast they happened to be worshipping on them.

        [words crossed out: One of our interesting experiences]

        At night we went back home thro’ the silent dusty streets of the little town, where white robed men made dim shadows as they sat around the doors of a coffee house & smoked water pipes & women flitted like black shadows from house to house, a baby on their shoulders, to gossip as [sic] with a neighbor as women do the world over, to see the great temple of Karnak again.  It was a full moon when miracles happen, & the great pile reared itself like a mighty bastion against the black blue of the sky -  The avenue of the sphinxes loomed white & stately once more -  The superb pillars turned to alabaster & in the dim shadows of the rooms one saw veiled women in scarlet & gold [word crossed out: flit] moving & heard the tinkle of jewels as the bangles slid up slim brown arms.  Priests went about the business of their craft, & the kings who have slept for five thousand years in their stone & gold mausoleums in the Valley of the Kings across the river, shook off the wrappings of their mummy cloths & [word crossed out: paced] trod once more up & down the stately corridors planning fresh conquests, bothered with problems of love & jealousy, thinking of the bright eyes & warm arms of the newest favorite in the harem – or wondering why the slave drivers were so slow in getting out that new obelisk on which was to be perpetuated their fame at Assouan, & complained that men died like flies in the withering heat of the granite quarry at Assouan -  We looked & looked our fill at the wondrous scene – so strange to our young eyes from a country where [word crossed out: even] a fifty year old bed is an antique & a ten year old house has to make way for something moddern [sic.]

And we tried to sense the gap of time that lay between that day & ours & failed because we couldn’t understand it & gave it up -

And as we turned away our last glimpse was of the heroic statue of Memnon guarding the outer wall, & we recalled with a chuckle what modern science did to the poor old chap.  For for [sic] hundred[s] of years Memnon was an oracle -  From his stone lips came sounds that the priests interpreted into cryptic utterances.  Then came the archaelogists [sic] who have dug Karnak out of the sand, & finding Memnon was about to topple over they braced him & stopped with cement the cracks in his underpinning so that the wind could no longer whistle thro them, & lo the [word crossed out: voice] oracle was stilled.  Score one for science.

One of our interesting experiences was with Moussa the snake charmer.  Moussa is an individual held in mingled admiration & awe by his acquaintances.  He drops by with a basket full of lively looking cobras in one hand & a book full of autograph letters from Princess Mary, & Lord & Lady Allenby, & Lord Cromer, & Lord Carnevan [Carnarvon] & assorted English dignitaries who have lived in these parts & Egyptians who testify to his having some unusual power over serpents.  Lord Carnevan brought him to Luxor to help clear out the snakes in King Tuts tomb & said that Moussa made his work much easier by ridding it of cobras & centipedes & stinging scorpions.  The British red cross head said he had sent for Moussa to rid the hospital of a cobra they knew was about but couldnt find.  Also the local housewives testified to having him come & catch the snakes in their garden as they would send for a rat catcher.  To these were added the earnest solicitations of the hotel porter.  “Better see him lady, he got power over snakes from his father & grandfather, he calls snake & snake got to obey him.  Some day snake wont answer Moussa then Moussas blood change & Moussa die by snake.[“] 

For 10 piasters Moussa will make a cobra eat out of his hand, so to speak, spread his hood, then wrap itself around his neck.  For 100 piasters he will show you his snake gathering feat.  I have always $s worth of curiosity – so at five o’clock Moussa appeared & we sallied forth to the neighborhood of the old temple, & Moussa after stripping off layer after layer of clothing until we began to get nervous to show us he had no snakes concealed about his person, began his [word crossed out: journey] feat, after first having us designate the location.

He went about sniffing saying I smell no snake or I do smell snake, & when the scent appeared good he began reciting verses from the Koran.  Personally I couldn’t see this appealed particularly to the snake but Moussa would, after he had invited the snake to come forth, & it declined the invitation, he would thrust his hand in [words crossed out: & yank] a hole & yank it forth.  Never once did he fail, & two of them were as vicious looking cobras as you could wish to see, but he stroked these down the back & they quieted down & let him make a necktie of them.  One snake bit him viciously on the arm, & the arm swelled, but whether this was a poisonous snake or not I do not know.  Moussa said it was.  And as a fact one snake that was making for the safety of the rocks at a lightning pace he stopped stock still with a command, & it never made even an effort to move –

Perhaps [word crossed out: then] Moussa does have an occult power, as many believe, perhaps there are so many snakes around Luxor you can find one under every stone & in every hole, I dont know – and some of the Egyptians we asked about him were equally at sea[.]

July 27 – [1928]

Went down to Assouan which is 560 miles below Cairo.  Weather fearfully hot with a wind blowing over from the Arabian desert that was like a blast from a furnace -  Assouan is the end of the railway & the gateway to the Soudan, & here in the fall come the traders from the hinterland with their ivory, & rugs, & desert woven rugs, their cattle & dates.  The streets were full of tall, slim Nubians, black as jet with straight noses & clean cut features, black coarse Sudanese, & here & there a weary looking Englishman, thin & white & worn with heat - some of the keepers of the dam the English have built to hold back the waters of the Nile in flood time, &  furnish it later on when needed for irrigation –

At Assouan too is [sic] the stone quarries from which came the granite to build the temples & palaces & obelisks & tombs of all Egypt -  We went to these & saw one great obelisk, cut out, just ready to move which still lies after a millennium of time just where it was quarried.  It is said that these great stones were moved on rollers to the river, then floated on barges to their destination & there again moved on rollers [words crossed out: the miles] to the places, often miles inland where they were to be set up.  It took slave labor to do that, & it gave one a pang of compassion to think how many sweating, struggling men must have perished in that fierce heat, driven on by the lash of their masters.

Just below Assouan is the Island of Phillae, or the Elephantine Island which was the summer palace of the kings of Egypt – and  where there are the well preserved ruins of the famous temple of Phillae -  There are still standing wondrous carved columns [word crossed out: adorned] with the intricate [words crossed out: with the] hieroplyphics & adorned with lotus blooms & paprus [papyrus] -  And one especially lovely colonnade that lead[s] to the river which here makes almost a lake.

But Phillaes chief treasure is the great carved stone called the table of offering on which are inscriptions in 3 languages – hieroglyphics, Greek and Chaldean & which with the Rosseta [Rosetta] stone, & the table at Abydos gave the key that enabled the archaeologists to discipher the hieroglyphics, & opened up all the treasure house of Egyptian history[.]

In 1864 Marriott Bey, a Frenchman, found the Rosseta [sic] stone at a little village near Alexandria, & began the life time study of Egyptiology [sic] that has resulted in digging up buried cities & brought to light the wonders of a civilization that had been lost & forgotten[.]

So far all the records go no further back than King Minas who reigned 5004 years B.C.  It has been established that at that time Egypt had a well organized military system, a judicial system, an engineering system & was proficient in many arts –

At Phillae is the ruins of a small palace, with beautifully carved pillars that some call Pharoahs bed, but others say is the lovely palace that Cleopatra & Caesar built for their love nest, what time Caesar dallied with the temptress of the Nile[.]

July 31 – [1928]

Came back to Cairo by night – so hot in the upper berth I got up & sat all night by the window -  Lovely view of the desert cliffs white as snow in the moonlight & the dark shadows of the palms in the water[.]

Aug 2 – [1928]

Left Cairo at 6 for Jerusalem -  Crossed Suez canal at 9.30 at a little place called Kantara – on the quaint ferry.  Got sleeper at 11.30 & awoke in a newer & cooler world.  Our first glimpse of Palestine is of a fruitful land, with enormous orchards of young orange trees – the Jaffa oranges and said to be the best in the world, every thing neat & well cultivated, many camels & flocks of sheep & goats.  Early in the morning passed Giza where Sampson pulled down the temple on his enemies, & later on Lidda where Dorcas the Mother of sewing societies once lived.  Evidently she left no descendants as there were many natives squatting around sadly in need of repairs –  Also passed the mountain on which Moses stood in prayer [words crossed out: until his] while the Israelites battled with the Philistines & his troops were victorious only so long as he held up his arms etc[.]

Went to Hotel Allenby to stay – a queerly built hostelry with blue walls to temper the light -  In the afternoon accompanied by our guide Alexander & Mr G went for our first walk – just a stones throw from the hotel in the middle of the street is a lamp post at which Allenby dismounted when he made his triumphal entry into the city, & with sword pointing downward in evidence of humility entered the holy city on foot.

Hard by is the famous Jaffa gate, & next to it the breach in the wall that the Kaiser caused the Turks to make when he paid his famous visit to Jerusalem 28 years ago because he would not walk under the Turkish [word crossed out: flag] ensign carved above the gates -  Entering we passed into David street, a narrow, conjested thoroughfare that is merely a series of wide paved steps, slick as glass, pollished [sic] by millions of feet thro’ thousands of years.  On either side are tiny shops no bigger than a butlers pantry, the wares – fruit, vegetables, meat, overflowing on to the pavements[.]  In front of the butchers shop hung fat tailed sheep, the goatie looking tails as big as a melon, & all covered with flies -  A medly of heterogeneous people filled the tiny thoroughfare almost to suffocation – bearded Jews with stringy curls hanging down their cheeks, stately Bedouins in long white ghasibeahs, with tunics wrapped with ropes of camels hair & veils hanging down their backs.  Frowsy Jewish women, dusty children, beautiful young girls from Bethany wearing the gorgeous embroidered robes [as] they work, veiled Moslem women swathed in black, beggars – beggars – beggars every where.

Soon we pass a great building in which men are lying on mats smoking the water bubble pies [pipes] & sipping coffee from tiny cups -  It is the old hospice of St John built by the Crusaders – more steps & we turn into a cleaner street, still narrow & still congested, & the rabbis little caps bound with bands of fur around them [word crossed out: head] on their heads, blue & yellow velvet [word crossed out: robe] gabadines [sic] on [sic] trailing in the dirt, crying aloud for the people to shut their shops for the Sabbath day approaches.

  At last we reach the wailing wall at which the orthodox assemble to lament over Jerusalem: If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning & my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.

The wall itself is all that is left of Solomans [sic] temple.  The heavy stones of which it is composed have many cracks & fissures in them & these are stuffed with tiny bits of paper on which are written the hearts desire of some poor unfortunate wretch.  These are believed to be mysteriously sucked down into some crevice that leads to wherever Soloman [sic] may be, & to assure good luck.

[Word crossed out: Against] As we approached we could hear a dolorous moan – a sort of chant in a minor key, that ran before the sight of a long line of men & women & children their faces pressed to the rock that they were kissing passionately.  At one end of the line 3 rabbis with stringy face curls, - ones curls, I greatly fear were false as they were bright blond while his hair & beard were jet black, fingered their locks while they chanted passages from the Talmud.  [Word crossed out: One] The women seemed passionately in earnest – one womans face was sodden with weeping, tears ran down her face, but this may have been because she grieved more over her own sorrows than those of the city, for the place has become a shrine for personal prayer & in the rocks etc – (see the page before)

Aug 4 – [1928]

Went to the Temple of the Dome, or the Mosque of  [name crossed out: Ali] Omar.  This is the heart of what is called the Temple Area which is 35 acres in extent -  [words crossed out: It is built above what] & covers the places scared [sacred] to 3 religions -  No [word crossed out: Jew] orthodox Jew ever enters the Temple Area because he believes that somewhere in it are buried Moses staff, Aarons rod & the tablets of the 10 commandments & he is afraid that he might step on one of these holy relics & so defile it.

The great rock over which one, if not the, most beautiful edifices of worship in the world has been built has a strange history – once the threshing floor for [Araunah] the Jesudite [Jebusite], it became the scene of the most crucial test ever made of a mans faith when the Lord ordered Abraham to sacrifice his dearly beloved son, Isaac on it.  Later Soloman [sic] built his temple of Magnificence upon it, which later on was destroyed -  Then from this stone Mohammed ascended to heaven according to the Moslem belief, & so anxious was the stone to go with him, the Angel Gabriel had to put forth a detaining hand & push it back to earth - & you may still see the angels finger prints in the rock -  So the Moslems built above it a mosque which was later destroyed, & the crusaders built above it the first Christian church, making an altar on the rock itself, and here they formed the order of the Knights Templar, & the church they erected has served ever since as a model for some of the most famous churches in the world.  The rock itself is a great rough, brownish yellow stone some 40 by 60 ft, & is surrounded by a wrought iron grille erected by the crusaders & forming part of their church decoration –

The out side [sic] of the Mosque is covered by beautiful tiling and pierced by windows of stained glass that give the effect of a rich Persian carpet -  Within the walls are covered by marble slabs & the dome is richly ornamented by inlay – the floor covered by Persian rugs & the whole incomparably beautiful.

One of the doors of the Mosque is only opened for the funerals of the great.  It is called the Paradise gate, & the body is borne in thro’ it & deposited on the floor where prayers are said & it is then carried out thro’ the door that looks towards Mecca -  The Moslems believe that on the Judgment day a silver wire will be suspended from the Mosque to the Judgment seat where will sit Christ, & Mohammed & Moses each to judge his own, & that those who are unworthy will fall off of this wire into the pit –

On one side of the great platform on which the Temple of the dome is built, once stood Soloman’s [sic] palace & under it are the Solomans stables & granary & across from is the Mosque of El Aqsa[.]

[Words crossed out: In the afternoon we ascended]  From there we went to the pool of Bethesda, now in the gardens of the White Brothers & saw by the way the cave in which Jeremiah dwelt while writing his lamentations & across the brook of Kedion, the Valley of Jehosophat & rising from that the Garden of Gethsemane[.]

In the evening went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is simply indescribable[.]  Here 5 sects fight over the spot of the Agony of the Meek & lowly Jesus  – 320 years after the death of Christ St Helena, Mother of Constantine, Emperor of the Byzantine [Roman] Empire, who had been converted to Christianity came to Jerusalem to gather together such [word crossed out: fragments] relics as she could of his death.  She spent 8 mo in her search going from person to person asking questions -  At last she located the exact spot upon which the crucifixion took place, the holy sepulcher, & at last by excavating in a cave she found 3 crosses.  Thereupon she built three small chapels over the spots, & when the Crusaders came along they joined the three in one great church.  Here they are – splendors of gold & alabaster altars, rich ecclesiastical embroideries, frescoed ceiling & jewelled walls, & 5 sets of priests & their followers fighting over it all like dogs over a bone so that – irony of ironies a Moslem has to be custodian of the buildings & armed soldiers keep the peace –

At any rate they show you on the Greek altar a gold lined slit in which the cross stood, & a crack in the rock that is supposed to have been made when Christ died & the very rocks were rent -  In another place is the slab worn smooth by millions of reverent kissing lips on which Christ was laid out & washed & anointed for his burial -  In another place is the holy sepulchre to which you gain access by stooping very low & by which a Greek priest sits sentinel.  Thro the sides of this the Greek Patriarch passes the holy fire on Easter which swift runners catch up & carry to every part of the world -  Great fights take place here & cordons of soldiers have to be placed between the different religious sects.

We were also taken to see (still under the same roof) the grotto in which St Helena found the 3 crosses - & which she took out & tested by applying to a corpse which was being carried by – at the repentant thiefs it stirred[.]  At the real one on which Christ was crucified it arose & walked.  (Ahem!)  Here also dug out in the solid rock are 2 tombs said to be those of Joseph of Aremathia [Arimathea]  -  And here also is an altar to the repentant thief & the tomb of Adam.

Next we went to the convent in which is the one bit of authentic Roman pavement -  This is said to be the court of Pilates [word crossed out: house] palace in which Christ was [word crossed out: tried] brought -  Above the altar is the arch of the doorway in which Pilate stood & said I find no fault in this man.  This is the beginning of the via Dolorosa, up which Christ struggled to Cavalry [sic]

Aug 5 – [1928]

Went to tea to the house of Mr Norman Bentwhich, a cultured English Jew who is atty gen’l of Palestine.

Aug 6 – [1928]

Arose at 4, & drove down to Dead Sea[.]  A lovely ride with the sun rising above the bare Judean hills -  Country very barren & drear -  The dead sea a dull jade sheet of water, bitter & salt & oily to the taste -  Came back by Jerico[.]  Saw the ravine in which Elijah lived while the ravens fed him -  Saw the bare bleak mt on which Christ was tempted[,] passed thro the little village of Bethany & saw the ruins of a house said to be that of Martha & Mary & hard by the tomb of Lazarus where he was raised from the dead.

Went to the garden of Gethsemane where a beautiful church has been built above the rock on which Christ prayed in his night of agony[.]  In the garden are some gnarled old olive trees under which, or their predecessors, he must have sat for this seems to be one of the few authentic spots about which there is no controversy.  Near the entrance to the garden is the tomb of the Virgin Mary.

Aug 7 – [1928]

     Went up to the Mt of Olives from whose summit Christ is believed to have ascended to Heaven.  Theres a tiny mosque there, with a stone in the centre that marks the exact spot -  Wonderful view of the city –

Went to the Tombs of the Kings where it is believed the ancient Jewish Kings were buried -  The tombs are hewn out of the solid rock & have a rolling stone to shut up the entrances.

Went to the Monastery of St Stephens [sic] where the stoning of Stephen is commemorated in a beautiful church.

Then went to what is called the Garden Tomb.  Chinese Gordon some 50 years ago made some excavations that uncovered these tombs & which he & many others believe was the real sepulchre in which Christ was lain.  The argument is that this hill is shaped like a skull, which is rather farfetched & that this was a real Jewish cemetery.

Aug 8 – [1928]

Started at 6 for Hebron & Bethany -  Beautiful drive over the hills, with now & then a glimpse of the dull mirror of the dead sea -  Hebron is a quaint old city that was Davids capital for 7 years.  Near here in a grove – one oak is still standing & is claimed to be the very one – Abraham once pitched his black tents & hear [sic] Sarah died.  He went to the chief of the Hitite [sic] tribes & bought from them the cave of Macpealah [Machpelah] “that I may bury my dead” & in the cave Sarah is interred.  The crusaders built a church over it -  The Moslems took it when they took Palestine & turned the church into a mosque, & only once a year are the Jews permitted to enter it -  We were allowed to go up 7 steps of the approach & look at the holes in the stones in which the Jews may thrust wisps of papers on which are written prayers.  Abraham is also buried in the tomb –

Passed Rachels tomb also on the road to Hebron.

On the road to Hebron you pass the shepherds field where Ruth gleaned & vamped Boaz[.]

Went to Bethany -  Saw the church the Crusaders built above the [word crossed out: manger] stall in which Christ was born - & the manger in which he lay -  All swathed in gold embroidered velvet & with lamps so close together, belonging to different sects that they almost touch.  Here also a soldiers [sic] stands guard to keep the sweet religionist[s] apart[.]

Went to the house in which the Last Supper took place -  The Crusaders also built a church here, which the Moslems turned into a mosque, & it is guarded by a fierce tribe who believe they are descended of David who scowled at us as we passed & bit our money to see if it was genuine –

Aug 9 – [1928]

Went to Major Kuich for lunch & Mr Hachem for tea

[Beginning of sentence crossed out: Forgot to say that]

    Mr Bentwhich told about an excavation that went down 100 ft and uncovered first a perfect Byzantine house – then a roman [sic] pavement – below that a street with villas - & then a Jewish wall like the Wailing Wall[.]

Speaking of Moslem women Mr B said it was uncommon for a rich & prominent Moslem to have more than one wife – but very common among the poor for then the wife is an asset – a beast of burden & slave.  Rich men specify in the wedding contract the husband is to have only one wife -  If the man takes another he has to return the girls dowry – the women are getting restive under the veil & harem system & in 10 yrs he thot [sic] it would all be done away with[.]

Aug 11 – [1928]

Started for Tiberius at 6. a.m. in motor -  Wonderful drive out the Damascus gate & thro the hills -  Passed the cave of the witch of Endor, & thro the fruitful plains of Estraton – by [word crossed out: the] Mt Gilbra where Saul & his son Jonathan cast themselves upon their swords rather than be taken captive by their enemies – [word crossed out: past] thro Cana of Galille [Galilee] where Christ performed his first miracle – by Nain where he raised the widows son – under the shadow of Mt Tabor, the scene of the transfiguration[.]  At noon we stopped to drink of the cool clear water of Jacobs well which flow as boldly as they [sic] did when he stopped there to water his flock -  We lunched at Nazareth & saw the cave room in which the angel appeared to make the annunciation to Mary - & the carpenter shop next door in which Joseph labored.

In the afternoon we passed the little mt where Christ preached the Sermon on the Mt, & on its slope on the bank of a little lake at the bottom fed the multitude with the 5 loaves & four fishes –

About 4 we came to the Lake of Gallee [Galilee] lying like a sheet of dark blue jade & it setting of red & purple hills -  It is 600 ft below sea level & the heat rose in blinding waves to blanket us –

[Word crossed out: After] Just at dusk we took a boat ride on the lake where Christ walked upon the waters & performed his miracles of [word crossed out: fish] casting of the nets.

     Tiberius is an old Roman city built as a winter capital for the Roman Kings of Palestine.  It has wonderful hot baths that are still used.

Aug 12 – [1928]

Drove to Damascus along a road on which the heat waves shimmered[.]  Passed under the base of Mt Hermon that still had on it a patch of snow -  Passed a Bedouin camp on the move – hundreds of men, women & children, & camels – driving their cattle, & sheep - & goats -  Reached Damascus at 12 – a beautiful city lying in a wilderness of gardens -  Here 2 small rivers[,] the Abanna & the Parphar[,] separate into 7 small rivers that water a fertile valley, & Damascus sits in a bower of trees & vines -  At sunset drove up to the hill above the city & [word crossed out: saw] had a wonderful panorama of the city, lying white, with gleaming minarets at our feet –

Aug 13 – [1928]

Went to the Great Mosque that is quite as beautiful as St Sophia[,] a hughe [sic] building erected on the site of the Temple of Jupiter, & having many of its carvings & columns incorporated into it -  On the floor are 1200 beautiful rugs –

Went from the mosque to the tomb of Saladin, the great conquer[or] who finally drove the Christians out of Palestine – which is in the shadow of the great Mosque – a lovely court, with many trees & a great fountain is in front of the small building in which are the Tomb of Saladin & his son – the former an exquisite marble covered with sacred texts, the son[‘]s covered with a handsome embroidered cloth –

In the mosque by the way is a magnificent tomb, covered with a gold embroidered cloth in which the Moslems contend is buried John the Baptist[.]

Aug 14 – [1928]

Drove down the street called Straight – [words crossed out: where Peter had the vision] where Ananias was sent to Paul - & which is a typical bazaar street that winds & winds -  On either side are innumerable little shops, filled with a shirt tail full of goods or else workmen are busy making the brass, or inlay work for which Damascus is famous –

Went to the wall where Paul was let down in a basket so he might escape from those who sought his life & then to the house of Ananias, now turned into a shrine – why I know not except to encourage all good story tellers –

Then we went to a house once owned by a wealthy man, who failed in business & had to sell it -  It has been said that Damascus is mud out side & marble within.  This was a fine example as the outside was just a plain rubble wall windowless & hideous but once within we were in a palace built around a great court in which two fountains played & orange trees were in fruit & there were flowers & vines[.]  There was a collonade [sic] with carved marble or ornamented with bands of blue tiles & the doors were of cedar set with inlay of mother of pearl[.]

Aug 15 – [1928]

Went to the palace of Emir Abd-el-Kader whose grandfather was once Bey of Algeria, & who was banished to Damascus when the French took Algeria -  Entered a plain wooden door in a blank wall & entered into the realm of the Arabian Nights -  A marble floored court with flowers & roses & fountains with gold fish in them – then into a suite of rooms each more gorgeous than the other, the floor covered with fine rugs, gold embroidered tapestries on the walls – long divans [word crossed out: with] heaped with pillows, & with hubble, bubble pipes, every sort of carved & etched brass – furniture of fretwork, inlaid with ivory & pearl Oriental magnificence -  In one room was an exquisite marble fountain, that squirted jets of water & everywhere were souvenirs of Grandfather’s day of power – battle scenes showing him on a magnificent black stallion leading the charge – others showing him entering the Mosque of St Sophia -  [Sentence crossed out: Back of the house was the walled gar[den].]  & there were cases of decorations & gifts given him for protecting the Christians & Jews during the Moslem uprising in 1860 – a jeweled sword from Napoleon 3, a great rifle with the whole butt covered with carved gold from Queen Victoria & a pair of etched pistols from Uncle Sam – who is always a trifle frugal when it comes to making presents[.]  Back of the house is the garden with the Abanna flowing thro it –

Aug 17 – [1928]

Left at 7 in the great Nairn car for Baghdad – 6 passengers in all – Uneventful ride thro’ the desert except for the mirage that always dances before our eyes – cool water & green trees – not very hot -  At 6 were halted on the verge of Iraq & had to wait 3 hrs in the blazing sun for the balance of the caravan to come up -  The guard consisted of 2 cars load [sic] of desert patrol[,] tall Bedouins with bright scarlet head dresses, & bristling with arms -  They made coffee & served it drop by drop – you are supposed to take 7 cups if you are really polite – 2 anyway unless you court trouble like the Texas landlord who laid down his six shooter by the side of his dish of hash & said                                 any man who doesn’t like hash is a d liar -  The Arab coffee is made with cardamon [sic] seed to flavor it & is drank [sic] without sugar very bitter -  At last our straggling caravan of 36 cars all got together – 22 were new Dodge cars being taken from Beirut to Persia - & we started.  [Words crossed out: Just before] A little after sundown we stopped & waited another 1 hr – which made it one o’clock before we reached the rest [word crossed out: place] house at Bu          [sic] which we were supposed to reach at 7 -  where ordinarily we would have rested for 4 hrs – as we were so late we only stopped for dinner & then pushed on without our escort -  This was neccessary [sic] as on the trip before ours there had been a hold up by some Druse robbers.  They had halted their car by the roadside & when a motor lorry which was leading a string of cars came up & stopped they made the driver get out & take off a wheel & get under the car -  Another car came up & the robbers lined them up, took all their money & the Studebaker car they were in[,] 18 tins of petrol from the motor lorry -  Still another car came up & the driver tho’t he could make a get away, & put on speed & beat it, the robbers fired at it & killed one man & wounded another[.]

The big six wheeler comin [sic] on heard the shots & Tom turned & fled in the dust he managed to make the machine kick up.  The robbers fired & broke one lamp, but by then Tom was hidden behind a hillock & he never got near the highway again -  The car the robbers took had the mail, which they never touched –

All night we drove thro the desert – towards dawn it got very cold & we were glad of our rugs -  At 7 we stopped, the boys made a fire & fried sausage & made tea, & we saw the most marvelous mirage -  It got intensely hot as we got down into the valley of the Euphrates, & we were glad enough to reach Baghdad at 3 -  As we came in we saw the bee hive like tomb of Zobediah, Harun  el-Rachid[s] favorite wife on the out skirts of the town, [word crossed out: in]  Under it the freight engine puffs all night & never breaks her sleep[.]

Aug 18 – [1928]

We are staying at the Hotel Maud, on the banks of the Tigris – a big beautiful stream – across the river palms rise & there seem some nice houses -  The Maud bridge built on boats is under our windows & across it goes a never ceasing throng of men & boys – in every variety of uniform & costume – cant get used to not seeing any women at all about[.]

Baghdad has fallen from its splendor – it seems a squalid city with only one half way decent street, but we have scarcely seen it [all] of it [sic] –

Aug 19 – [1928]

Left at 9 p.m. on a little jerk water railroad that runs 108 miles to Khenigin [Khanagin.]  Arrived at 6. a m – ate breakfast at station buffet in a little rock floored room whose floor was a pool of water to cool things off -  Found out that we would have to take the bubonic plague inoculation which was given us by a native doctor.  Hot as hades.  Started out on our long ride in a Buick that belonged to some prehistoric age, & that hadnt a single spring in its whole anatomy.  The roads were rough & we bumped along mile after mile, pulling out of the way for caravans of camels, & donkeys & long strings of wagons, in the Russian fashion – big bellied, painted red with texts from the Koran on them & with 4 horses abreast, gaily bedizened with strings of bells & blue beads[.]  On each wagon seat was spread a fine rug –

Never saw such poverty as in the villages – little mud huts with holes for windows & doors – the inhabitants so ragged you could not possibly imagine how they held together their medley of patches –

Spent the night of the 19 at Kermanshah, a quaint mud city at the foot of the mountains -  A rushing stream furnishes irrigation & it is surrounded by gardens & fruit trees -  At the hotel we had plates of snow on the table, brought daily by packs of donkeys – 12 hrs up & 12 hrs down.  Cant understand why it didn’t all melt, but it didnt.

Aug 20 – [1928]

  Another long drive over the mountains in our bumping Buick -  Wonderful panorama of volcanic mountains -  Every[where] dry as tinder & a welter of heat & dust -  Saw remnants of the ruins that marked the splendor of Darius, the great Persian conqueror -  Every where herds of the sheep that furnish the wool for the famous Persian rugs & everywhere little black sheep flitting around in Persian Lamb & baby lamb coats –

Arrived at Hammadan for lunch & later went to see a rug factory run by a Swiss.  It is a [word crossed out: magnificent] large place employing hundreds of girls & although he has run it for 15 yrs it is only within the last 3 that he has been permitted by the Mullahs – the priests – to go into the work room while the women are there – they must be gazed upon by no foreign man.  So when we arrived he sent a man in to apprise them of his coming so they could veil -  Some of the workers were mere babes – certainly not over 6 or 7 - & it was too ridiculous to see them draw their head coverings.

The factory runs on American orders principally & Mr Wilmer was very sore because he had to execute designs that were not Persian in other motives or color[s] – he said it was a misnomer to call them Persian rugs at all – they were just rugs -  Also he said that the way Americans washed their rugs with chemicals destroyed half their life[.]

Met an interesting American engineer Maillord Butler, who is going to build the r.road from Barsurah [Basra?] to the Caspian [Sea] – the Southern end being financed by the English-French-Americans – the upper by the Germans on account of the Soviet.

Aug 22 – [1928]

Left Hammadan at 5 a.m - & had terrific day to Teheran – long, hot, & bumpty[.]  Arrived at 5.30 – at the Hotel de France which is probably the worst hotel in the world -  Left without unpacking & went to Grand Hotel which is quite comfortable[.]

Aug 23 [1928]

Spent day trying in vain to get to see Peacock throne -  Nothing doing, although Mr Phillips, our Ambassador, & Mr Treat his secty did all they could for us.  Saw Mr Treats luxurious tent[.]  Went to the bazaar – apparently miles of covered stalls – every thing under the sun – jewels, tawdry trinketry, little stalls where savory stews were bubbling & mutton frying on skewers, & heaps of savory rice was topped by thick layers of yellow saffron -  A bedlam of noise, men hammering on copper, stringing silver coins into fillagree [sic] over tiny forges – tracing intricate patterns on brass – here a stall where bread was spread out in thin layers like saddle skirts, there down in a cellar like apartment, men sweat over green crucibles blowing glass -  Here was a great vaulted room where the caravans brought their carpet -  There were bales & bales of them – to be sold in bulk – here came the merchants – hawked [sic] faced men with flowing garments who felt & measured & bargained ----  Thro all these narrow streets there was an incessant passing of a great multitude – men with henna dyed beards, men in Russian blouses, men with veil like robes[,] men with every variety of turban – soldiers in the bright Persian blue, or a light brown, veiled women[,] children, beggars, camels, donkeys, men followed by a pet sheep as by a donkey[.]

The Persian women wear a kind of visor like lawn tennis players that they push up or down according to their degree of modernity -  Every now & then the chief of Police has to remind them they have got it too high & they lower it -  The upper class women dress at home like Parisians – Irak [Iraq] club - they occasionally meet to the scandal of the community.  The only really good cinema belongs to the women exclusively[.]

-----------Motor-tour around them –

Bread thin sheets of ground up wheat cooked like wafers on hot metal or stone – sometimes hardly thicker than tissue paper – roll it up like cornocopias [sic] & carry things in it a la ice cream cone, then eat the wrapping – carry it in sheafs [sic] over their shoulders – or under their arms or in piles on their heads for happily the germ theory has not penetrated these parts.

Aug 24 [1928]

Mr N & Mr G both sick so did nothing[.]

Aug 25 – [1928]

Left at 12.30 for Hammedan in a most over crowded car -  Drove like fury until 11 p.m.  Miserably uncomfortable but the scenery was superb in the twilight & moonlight & that made the mts look [word crossed out: like] as if they were made of mother of pearl.  There was one scene of ineffable beauty when we drove thro a narrow valley with the moon coming up over saphire [sic] mts on one side & the sun going down in a splendor of glory behind red & azure mts on the other.

Aug 26 [1928]

Reached Kermanshah again & had more plates of snow & waked in the dawn to see 150 little pack donkeys setting forth for their climb to the mts that furnish the snow -  It takes 12 hrs up & 12 hrs down to bring the hughe [sic] sacks.  Went to the bazaars – which are very extensive but bought nothing.

Aug 26 [27? 1928]

Left Kermanshah at 8.30 for the long drive [to] [word crossed out: Kirnigan] Khenigan [Khanagin] – stopped on the way & had a picnic lunch at the little Arab place where the water ran thro what we would call the porch.  The latter part of the drive was fearful – a furious wind as hot as the breath of hell blew right in our faces -  Reached Kehnigan [sic] at 4, & rested in the station until 9 when we went on out little jerk water train to Baghadad [sic] –

Aug 28-29- [1928]

Both Mrs N & Mr G sick in bed with heat –

Along here between the Euphrates & the Tigris is the traditional [word crossed out: sight] site of the Garden of Eden.  I have always felt a little bitter & resentful at Eve for gambling away the family fortune in the way she did & losing their inheritance to her children & grandchildren & forcing them to earn their living by the sweat of their brows instead of just lying under a date palm tree & let[ting] ripe dates fall into their mouths, but now that I have given the old homestead the once over I forgive her -  Anybody may have it that wants it.  I would rather have one green field in USA with a bungalow with modern plumbing & a frigidare [sic] in it than the whole of Asia Minor - & that isnt maybe[.]

 [date crossed out: Aug 30]

Drove over Baghdad with the Chaldeans -  Saw the exquisite mosques with their blue green tiles, the crowded bazaar – the palace of King Feisal & so on.  Many women with skirts to their knees but cloth of gold or silver abayas over their heads – are Christians – or Jews –

Aug 30 [1928]

Started at 1.30 on big car back over desert -  Hot as hades until night came -  Wonderful moon – light as day with the car thundering on -  Once we ran over a porcupine[,] once we stopped & the boys made tea - & a big snake ran across the road – a Dore picture – the white haggard faces of the boy driver – the tired men – the hypnotic hum of the motor – the moonlight playing queer pranks on the sand -  At 4 we stopped at Rutbah – a square caravanserai built like a block house for defense against the desert marauders – woke up the sleepy keepers who cooked us sausage & bacon – then on again to Damascus which certainly looked like home & mother with its spick & span French officers in smart uniforms – its green trees & flowing water & near approach to a bath.  Its one a fat person has to get in with a shoe horn and out of with a suction pump – but it has running water that is sometimes hot –

[Words crossed out: Sept 2 – Drove from Damascus]

Sept 1 – [1928]

Went to party at Marfus home – 30 veiled women – floor covered with babies – one strapped up like Bambino in Della Robia terra cotta[.]  The women all sat around on divans in a lovely court with beautiful rugs on floor & a fountain – one girl played on a guitar[,] another thumped a tiny drum, others had castanets -  All dressed in full evening dress – cloth of silver, spangled chiffon etc – all gowns decollete & up to their knees – had laid aside veil but had their heads covered -  Believe that it is a sin for a woman to show her hair & that in the hereafter she will be held over hell by the hair of her head if she does -  Sang dreary Arab songs – then dances – one by one – fancy & interpretative dancing very good – one girl dressed as a man – other in harem costume & did a good acrobatic all night long – their idea of a peppy party – absolutely no social intercourse between the sexes – but the girls are getting very restive & 5 yrs more will see the veil gone[.]  Turkey has set them wild.  And they want a more permanent form of marriage -  The mother of a son picks out his wife & asks her parents -  When the betrothal takes place the girl is [in] one room, the boy in another.  The sheik asks the boy if he wants to marry the girl & he replies “just as you say” – then he asks the girl & she replies the same – the dowry is arranged & later on the wedding ceremony takes place, after which the bridegroom lifts the veil & sees what he has got[.]

[Crossed out: Aug]  Sept 2 – [1928]

Left Damascus at 9 for Baalbeck[.]  Beautiful ride thro’ the valley of Lebannon [sic] -  Baalbeck which was once a temple built to Baal, the sun god, & later turned by the Romans into one to Jupiter & Juno is the most magnificent ruin I have ever seen -  The great columns with their carved capitals are magnificent.

Had a mean lunch by a dear babbling brook & then drove across the mountains to Beyrout – which the French are making into a fine port & city[.]

Sept 3-7 – [1928]

Beyrout, resting[.] On 7 embarked on the Lotus, a nice French boat for a cruise thro’ the Aegean & Ionia[n] seas.  Lovely weather – a heavenly experience –

Sept 10 – [1928]

Reached Syracuse, [word crossed out: once] before the war a fine city with a beautiful water front.  But war & fire gutted it & it is now only half the size it formerly was -  Went to the Bazaars & bought some wedding towels & 2 small rugs -  Above the town on the top of a high hill are the ruins of the Acropolis[.]  Near is Ephesus where Paul preached & to whose church he indicted his famous epistle –

There is no place more full of tradition & history than these waters for here ancient mythology laid the scenes of its stories or orgies between the gods & goddesses -  Here Io tormented by the god play swam the bosphorus [sic] – here Leander swam the hellespont [sic] to Leander [she means Sestos.]  Here is Rhodes across whose harbor was the gigantic bronze statue of Appollo [sic] with one foot on one shore & the other on the other that was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world -  Here are the plains where Troy once stood, but, alas, no Helen waved at us from the shore - there was no face that launched a thousand ships -  Instead the only one we saw would have stopped a submarine[.]

Sept 12 – [1928]

Steamed into Constantinople just at sunset & had wonderful view of the city rising tier on tier from the waters edge, with the sun going down behind the Golden Horn & the whole scene swimming in an azure light –  [words crossed out: Just before us]  We anchored just off Seraglio Point – beautiful, mysterious, could see the grated windows behind which so many beauties lived out their caged lives in the harem, & could see the long line of the prisons in which so many royal prisoners lived for years & years, shut away from the world because literally the jealous Turk could bear no rival near the throne -  Close by St Sophia lifted its slender minarets to the sky & the pink dome of St Irene caught & held the last light of the dying day -  In front was the Galata bridge, once the most colorful scene in the world – now as commonplace as the bridge over Squeedunk Creek – Kemal Pasha has wiped the picturesque out of Turkey as completely as if you had blotted out an impressionistic picture[.]  No veiled women, no baggy trousers, no red fezzes – no embroidered tunics – just mostly ill fitting European clothes -  But the women have taken to [words crossed out: European clothes] Paris fashions with a vengeance -  when they [word crossed out: sheared] left off their veils they sheared off their skirts & not even on the Rue de la Paix will you see such short ones -  Knees as well as noses are on view in Turkey[.]

Sept 13 – [1928]

Had nice ride around Constantinople in car -  Seemed much improved harbor busy – streets cleaned [-] everybody busy -  Went to St Sophia where all the lovely rugs had been removed & cheap Anatolian ones substituted whether for good or not, couldn’t find out -  Went to St Irene which is now a military museum – saw the chain that once spanned the Bosphorus – bags of earth that were sent by conquered people – old Crusader armor etc[.]

Man who complained that they were being Europeanized against their will -  We had our donkeys, our simple ways – now they have brought us taxicabs & cabarets & rude dances -  We kept our women secluded – what are we to do when the Christian women appear nude – with nothing on here, & here & here – making vivid pantomime about decollete [sic.]  Christians set us only bad examples[.]

Sep 15 – [1928]

Landed at Piraeus[,] the harbor at [name crossed out: Constantinople] Athens -  Got car & drove 6 miles to Athens which we found a prosperous-modern up to date modern [sic] city -  Went to the Stadium which a rich Greek has rebuilt just as it was in the olden times, & which is most picturesque with its setting of dark tall cypress trees -  Hard by are the temple of Jupiter, still resplendent with its gorgeous columns with their Corinthian capitals.  On the top of a tall hill is the Acropolis with its four temples[,] one of them the one built by King Abaydos with the carytidides [caryatids] – the Amazon women who fought against their country with the Persians[.]  At the foot of the hill is Mars hill – a big rough rock where the altar to the unknown God was erected & where Paul preached -  Went to the old Market place & the temple of the winds, & so on & past the big barn like building that was [word crossed out: once] formerly the royal palace[.]

Sep 18 [1928]

Arrived Naples – Continental hotel -  Had pleasant aft in the museum mainly with the Firenzi Bull – the colossal marble carved by an ancient sculptor & restored by Michael Angelo -  It shows Ariadne & her sons tying Dreisa to the wild bull to be dragged to death in punnishment [sic] for Dreisas ill treatment of Ariadne -  The sons the result of Ariadne being “surprised” by Jupiter[.]

Sep 20 – [1928]

  Left Naples by boat at 7. 30 p.m for Palermo –

Sep 21 – [1928]

Palermo is a large & prosperous city -  At the center of the town 4 streets converge & there is a lovely group of old buildings with sculptures representing the North, South, East[,] West -  Sicily has been under 17 Dominations & each has left its impress on the architecture of the place -  Went to the cathedral which was formerly a mosque – very ornate & beautiful -  Then to the Palatine chapel in what was once the royal chapel – a gem of Norman architecture with a ceiling of carved cedar with plaques set in it & the walls a mass of marvelous gold & blue mosaic -  Nothing more beautiful could be imagined[.]

In the afternoon drove out Mont Reale – a magnificent church set on a hill in a quaint little village -  The walls of this church are also covered with gorgeous gold mosaic depicting bible [sic] scenes.  One strip represents the flood with Noah embarking on a vessel that looks like a stage coach – also him debarking from the same machine which is resting fore & aft on the peaks of 2 mountains – he is pushing a goat down a gang plank -  Another represents Eve [word crossed out: being] arising from Adams “ribber” as the guide said, in many folds while Adam is taking the twilight sleep -  There is also a magnificent chapel in inlaid marble - & hard by lovely cloisters.

Sep 22 – [1928]

Drove across the country to Taormina, thro the most beautiful mountain scenery – tall ranges of volcanic mountains interspersed with lush valleys of lemons & grapes – [word crossed out: hughe] vast fields of black lava – the whole country dominated by Aetna that loves & a[b]uses it for sometimes it has vomited on it stones & lava & sometimes the ashes that enrich the land & make it one of the most fertile in the world -  The scenes along the road are very picturesque for everywhere are the gay painted carts & gorgeously caparisoned mules, sleek & fat as butter -  These carts are often veritable works of art as the painting is done by artists of merit & represent scenes in Sicilian history & battle – romantic adventures of Knights errants – vendettas – girls dancing the fantastic peasant dances –

[words crossed out: One curious thing was the way]  A little jerk water railroad meanders thro the country & at all grade crossings a [words crossed out: care taker] guard puts up a chair across the track some 10 minutes before the train is due on schedule time -  No telephone connects with the R.R head quarters & if the train happens to be an hour late you simply wait until it comes –

Sicily is noted for its families – 8 or 9 being considered a small family[,] 15 being common – never saw healthier children.

Everywhere little cities built like dirt dauber nests to the side of mountains -  You climb to them by roads that are so steep a goat can hardly negotiate them & go thro streets so narrow the inhabitants have to flatten themselves out as you pass -  This is hard on them as they are carrying on most of their activities in their doors – washing babies, making lace & at present all the women are busy making tomato paste -  In the morning & at night the scene is compleated [sic] by herds of goats & bunches of cows being milked in front of every door –

Arrived at Taormina about 6 p.m -  The most beautiful place in the world almost – a quaint old city set on a great bluff that overlooks the Meditteranean [sic] -  There is a quaint old church & many Roman & Grecian ruins of temples & theatres, but it is the white houses, the turquoise sea, & the bougainvillea & the palms one remembers longest[.]

Sep 23 – [1928]

Another lovely drive thro’ the mts & along the seaside to Syracuse[,] once the proudest & most invincible city of Sicily, the last to be conquered by Greece -  Went to some wonderfully preserved ruins of the old Roman baths & theatre, & to a strange cavern that the ancients believed the entrance to Hell -  Part of it is called the Ear of Dionysus & has an opening at the top at which according to tradition Dionysus the tyrant used to listen to the murmurings of his prisoners who were confined in the cave below - & which he could hear because of the strange echo that magnifies sound, & when these were not sufficiently flattering the poor wretch was hurled from the top into the pit below -  Also saw the fountain of Arethusa which [word crossed out: connected] was formed on the very edge of the sea by a bubbling spring –

Sep 24 – [1928]

Drove to Agrigento[,] a splendid town set on a hill with a magnificent view - & containing magnificent ruins in its Acropolis, & the Temple of Neptune & the Temple of Diana[.]

Sep 26 – [1928]

Drove down to Palermo & took boat for Naples[.]

Sep 27 – [1928]

Drove to Sorrento via Paestum where the old Roman Emperors had their summer villas & from which Nero went to burn Rome.  Here the famous courtesan Papillae came with her train of female asses in whose milk she bathed to preserve her complexion[.]  Here are the most perfect of all the Roman ruins extant – temples to Isis & Neptune being almost perfect & showing the fluted Doric columns in their most lovely development –

  Lunched at Palermo & drove the whole of the beautiful Amalfi drive –

Beautiful restful time at the Hotel Royal, eating good food & looking at Vesuvius puffing its cloud of smoke by day & pillar of fire by night.

Oct 1 [1928]

Returned to Naples[.]

[Notes in back of journal:]


Gershon Agronsky

Col F. H. Kisch

1 Political advisor to the Zion executive

Mr Norman Bentwich, Att Gen

Tomb of Ali at Nedjif – Tomb of

Hussein at Kerbelor – Tomb of

Zobeide, favorite wife of Hussein-

Al-Raschid at Baghdad.

Spiral tower, of Babel at Samarra

Around Baghdad – garden of Eden

Am mission – Dr & Mrs Boyce


Rock of Bisitun

Querriah [Al-Qurnah], at the juncture of the Tigris & Euphrates

Considered the Garden of

Eden – others say Hilt



[On fly-leaf in back of journal:]