Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/737

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ARA


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ARABIA


the four judges of the Council of Trent, and Filippo Filonardo (bishop, 1608) became a cardinal. Tlie poet Juvenal (about a. d. 60-140). the Koinaii Kiii- peror Pe.scennius Niger (a. d. 190), and the .\ngelic Doctor, St. Thomas (a. d. 1225), were born at Aquino.

B.\TTANDiF.R, Ann. pont. cath., 190G.

Ara Coeli. See Rome, Churche.s of.

Arabia. .Vrabia is tlie cradle of Islam and, in all probal)ility, the primitive home of the Semitic race. It is a peninsula of an irregularly triangular form, or rather, an irregular parallelogram, boimded on the north by Syria and the Syrian desert; on the .south by the Indian Ocean; on the east by the Persian (Julf and Babylonia; and on the west by the Red Sea. The length of its western coast line, .along the Red Sea, is about 1,800 miles, while its breadth, from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf, is about 600 miles. Henco its size is about one million square miles and, accordingly, it is about four times as large as the State of Texas, or over one-fourth of the size of the Unitetl States, and as large as France, England, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Servia, Ruma- nia, and Bulgaria all combined.

The general aspect of .\rabia is that of a central table-land surroundetl by a desert belt, sandy to the west, south, and east, and stony to the north. Its outlying circle is girt by a line of mountains low and sterile, although, towards Yemen and Oman, on the lower .>;outli-\vest and lower south-east, these moun- tains attain a considerable height, breadth, and fertility. The surface of the midmost table-land is sandy, and thus about one-fifth of .-Vrabia is culti- vated, or rather two-thirds cultivable, and one- third irreclaimable desert. .According to Doughty, the geological aspect of .\rabia is simple, consisting of a founilation stock of plutonic rock whereon lie sandstone and. above that, limestone. Arabia has no rivers, and its moimtain streams and fresh-water springs, which in certain sections are quite numerous, are utterly inadequate, considering the immense geographical area the peninsula covers. Wadys, or valleys, are very numerous and generally dry for nine or ten months in the year. Rains are infre- quent, and consequently the vegetation, except in certain portions of Yemen, is extremely sparse.

The most commonly accepted division of .\rabia into Deserta (desert), Felix (happy), and Petriea (stony), due to Greek and Roman writers, is al- together arbitrary. .Vrabic geographers know noth- ing of this division, for they divide it generally into five provinces: The first is Yemen, embracing the whole south of the peninsula and including Hadra- maiit, Mahra, Oman. Shehr, and Nejran. The second is Hijaz, on the west coast and including Mecca and Medina, the two famous centres of Islam. The third is Tehama, along the same coast between Yemen and Hijaz. The fourth is Nejd, which in- cludes most of the central table-land, and the fifth is Yamama, extending all the wide way between Yemen and Xejil. This di\nsion is also inadequate, for it omits the greater part of North and East .\rabia. A third and modern division of .\rabia, according to politico-geographical principles, is into seven prov- inces: Hijaz, Yemen. Hadramaut. Oman, Ha.sa, Irak, ami Nejd. .\t present, with the exception of the Sinaitic peninsula and about 200 miles of the coast south of the Ciulf of Akaba which is imder .\nglo- Egj-ptian rule. Hijaz, Yemen, Ha.sa, and Irak are Turki.sh provinces, the other three being ruled by independent .-Vrab rulers, called Sultans, .\meers, or Imams, who to-day as of old are constantly fighting among them.selves for control. .Vden, the island of Perim, in the Strait of Bab-el-Mendeb, and Socotra are under English authority.

The fauna and flora of Arabia have not been as


yet carefully investigated and studied. The most commonly known flora-products are the date-palm, of about forty varieties, coffee, aromatic and medi- cinal plants, gums, bal.sams, etc. The fauna is still more imperfectly known, .\mong the wilil animals are the lion and panther (both at present .scarce), the wolf, wild boar, jackal, gazelle, fox, monkey, wiUI cow, or white antelope, ibex, homed viper, cobra, hawk, and o.strich. The chief domestic ani- mals are the ass, mule, sheep, goat, dog, and above all the horse and the camel.

The actual population of .-Vrabia is a matter of conjecture, no regular or official census having ever been undertaken, .\ccording to the most modern and acceptable authorities, the population cannot be les-s than eight, or more than twelve, millions, all of whom are Mohammedans. The personal ap- pearance of the Arixh is rather attractive. He is, as a rule, undersized in stature, dark in complexion, especially in the South, with hair black, copious, and coarse; the eyes are dark and oval, the nose aquiline, and the features regular and well-formed. The ordinary life of the .■\rabs is simple and monotonous, usually out-of-doors and roving. They are usually peaceful, generous, hospitable, and chivalrous, but jealous and revengeful. In later times, however, they have greatly deteriorated.

MODEKN ExPLOK.\TIONS OF Ar.\BIA. — Up to a

century and a half ago our information concerning Arabia was ba-sed mainly on Greek and Latin writers, such as Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, and others. This was meagre and imsatisfactory. The references to Arabia found in the Old Testament were even more so. Hence our best sources of informa- tion are Arabic writers and geographers, such as Hamadani's " .Xrabian Peninsula", llekri and Yaqut's geographical and historical dictionaries, and similar works. These, although extremely valuable, con- tain fabulous and legcndarj' traditions, partly ba.sed on native popular legends anil partly on Jewish and rabbinical fancies. The cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria have also tlirown great and unexpected light on the early history of Arabia. But above all, mention must be made of the researches and di.s- coveries of scholars like Hal^vy, Miiller, Glaser, Hommel, Winckler. and others. The first European scientific explorer of .\rabia was C Niebuhr, who, in 1761-64, by the order of the Danish government, undertook an expedition into the .Arabian peninsula. He was followed, in 1799, by Reinaud, the English agent of the Ea.st India Company. The Ru.ssian scholar U. J. Seetzen undertook a similar expedition in 1808-11. and for the first time copied several South-.\rabian inscriptions in the district of Ilimyar. In 1814-10, J. L. Burckhardt, a Swiss, and probably the most distinguished of .Vrabian explorers, made a journey to Hijaz and completed the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. Burckhardt 's information is copious, interesting, and accurate. Captain W. R. Wellsted made (in 18.'J4-3.')) a journey into Oman and Hadramaut; and Ch. J. Cruttonden completed, in 1838, a similar journey from Mokha to Sana, copy- ing several South-.Vrabian inscriptions, which Rodiger and Gesenius attempted to decipher.

Then came the German, .\dolf von Wrede, who, in 1843, \'isited Wady Doan and other parts of H.adramaut, discovering anil copying an important in.scription of five long lines. In 1843 Thom;is Jo.sepn .Vmauil made a very bold and successful joumev from Sana to Marib, the capital of the an- cient kingdom of the Sabeans, and collected about fifty-six inscriptions. In 184.")— 18, fi. Wallin travelled through Haj-il. Medina, and Taima, proceeding from west to east. In 18.53 Richard Burton, the famous translator of the ".Arabian Nights", undertook a pilgrimage to Mecca and Meilina, and, in 1877 and 1878, twice \-isited the land of Midian, in North