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[GEOGRAPHY
ARABIA

advance geographical interests in south Arabia, continued Wellsted’s work in Oman; starting from Sohar on the Batina coast he crossed the dividing range into the Dhahira, and reached Birema, one of its principal oases. His investigations show that the Dhahira contains many settlements, with an industrious agricultural population, and that the unexplored tract extending 250 m. west to the peninsula of El Katr is a desolate gravelly steppe, shelving gradually down to the salt marshes which border the shores of the gulf.

Leaving southern Arabia, we now come to the centre and north. The first explorer to enter the sacred Hejaz with a definite scientific object was the Spaniard, Badia y Leblich, who, under the name of Ali Bey and claiming Exploration in Hejaz. to be the last representative of the Abbasid Caliphs, arrived at Jidda in 1807, and performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. Besides giving to the world the first accurate description of the holy city and the Haj ceremonies, he was the first to fix the position of Mecca by astronomical observations, and to describe the physical character of its surroundings. But the true pioneer of exploration in Hejaz was J. L. Burckhardt, who had already won a reputation as the discoverer of Petra, and whose experience of travel in Arab lands and knowledge of Arab life qualified him to pass as a Moslem, even in the headquarters of Islam. Burckhardt landed in Jidda in July 1814, when Mehemet Ali had already driven the Wahhābi invaders out of Hejaz, and was preparing for his farther advance against their stronghold in Nejd. He first visited Taif at the invitation of the pasha, thence he proceeded to Mecca, where he spent three months studying every detail of the topography of the holy places, and going through all the ceremonies incumbent on a Moslem pilgrim. In January 1815 he travelled to Medina by the western or coast route, and arrived there safely but broken in health by the hardships of the journey. His illness did not, however, prevent his seeing and recording everything of interest in Medina with the same care as at Mecca, though it compelled him to cut short the further journey he had proposed to himself, and to return by Yambu and the sea to Cairo, where he died only two years later.

His striking successor, Sir Richard Burton, covered nearly the same ground thirty-eight years afterwards. He, too, travelling as a Moslem pilgrim, noted the whole ritual of the pilgrimage with the same keen observation as Burckhardt, and while amplifying somewhat the latter’s description of Medina, confirms the accuracy of his work there and at Mecca in almost every detail. Burton’s topographical descriptions are fuller, and his march to Mecca from Medina by the eastern route led him over ground not traversed by any other explorer in Hejaz: this route leads at first south-east from Medina, and then south across the lava beds of the Harra, keeping throughout its length on the high plateau which forms the borderland between Hejaz and Nejd. His original intention had been after visiting Mecca to find his way across the peninsula to Oman, but the time at his disposal (as an Indian officer on leave) was insufficient for so extended a journey; and his further contributions to Arabian geography were not made until twenty-five years later, when he was deputed by the Egyptian government to examine the reported gold deposits of Midian. Traces of ancient workings were found in several places, but the ores did not contain gold in paying quantities. Interesting archaeological discoveries were made, and a valuable topographical survey was carried out, covering the whole Midian coast from the head of the Gulf of Akaba to the mouth of the Wadi Hamd, and including both the Tehama range and the Hisma valley behind it; while the importance of the W. Hamd and the extent of the area drained by its tributaries was for the first time brought to light.

Burckhardt had hoped in 1815 that the advance of the Egyptian expedition would have given him the opportunity to see something of Nejd, but he had already left Arabia before the overthrow of the Wahhābi power Exploration in Nejd. by Ibrahim Pasha had opened Nejd to travellers from Hejaz, and though several European officers accompanied the expedition, none of them left any record of his experience. It is, however, to the Egyptian conquest that the first visit of a British traveller to Nejd is due. The Indian government, wishing to enter into relations with Ibrahim Pasha, as de facto ruler of Nejd and El Hasa, with a view to putting down piracy in the Persian Gulf, which was seriously affecting Indian trade, sent a small mission under Captain G. F. Sadlier to congratulate the pasha on the success of the Egyptian arms, and no doubt with the ulterior object of obtaining a first-hand report on the real situation. On his arrival at Hofuf, Sadlier found that Ibrahim had already left Deraiya, but still hoping to intercept him before quitting Nejd, he followed up the retreating Egyptians through Yemama, and Wushm to Ras in Kasim, where he caught up the main body of Ibrahim’s army, though the pasha himself had gone on to Medina. Sadlier hesitated about going farther, but he was unable to obtain a safe conduct to Basra, or to return by the way he had come, and was compelled reluctantly to accompany the army to Medina. Here he at last met Ibrahim, but though courteously received, the interview had no results, and Sadlier soon after left for Yambu, whence he embarked for Jidda, and after another fruitless attempt to treat with Ibrahim, sailed for India. If the political results of the mission were nil, the value to geographical science was immense; for though no geographer himself, Sadlier’s route across Arabia made it possible for the first time to locate the principal places in something like their proper relative positions; incidentally, too, it showed the practicability of a considerable body of regular troops crossing the deserts of Nejd even in the months of July and August.

Sadlier’s route had left Jebel Shammar to one side; his successor, G. A. Wallin, was to make that the objective of his journey. Commissioned by Mehemet Ali to inform him about the situation in Nejd brought about by the rising power of Abdallah Ibn Rashid, Wallin left Cairo in April 1845, and crossing the pilgrim road at Ma’an, pushed on across the Syrian desert to the Wadi Sirhan and the Jauf oasis, where he halted during the hot summer months. From the wells of Shakik he crossed the waterless Nafud in four days to Jubba, and after a halt there in the nomad camps, he moved on to Hail, already a thriving town, and the capital of the Shammar state whose limits included all northern Arabia from Kasim to the Syrian border. After a stay in Hail, where he had every opportunity of observing the character of the country and its inhabitants, and the hospitality and patriarchal, if sometimes stern, justice of its chief, he travelled on to Medina and Mecca, and returned thence to Cairo to report to his patron. Early in 1848 he again returned to Arabia, avoiding the long desert journey by landing at Muwela, thence striking inland to Tebuk on the pilgrim road, and re-entering Shammar territory at the oasis of Tema, he again visited Hail; and after spending a month there travelled northwards to Kerbela and Bagdad.

The effects of the Egyptian invasion had passed away, and central Arabia had settled down again under its native rulers when W. G. Palgrave made his adventurous journey through Nejd, and published the remarkable narrative Palgrave’s journey to Nejd. which has taken its place as the classic of Arabian exploration. Like Burton he was once an officer in the Indian army, but for some time before his journey he had been connected with the Jesuit mission in Syria. By training and temperament he was better qualified to appreciate and describe the social life of the people than their physical surroundings, and if the results of his great journey are disappointing to the geographer, his account of the society of the oasis towns, and of the remarkable men who were then ruling in Hail and Riad, must always possess an absorbing interest as a portrait of Arab life in its freest development.

Following Wallin’s route across the desert by Ma’an and Jauf, Palgrave and his companion, a Syrian Christian, reached Hail in July 1862; here they were hospitably entertained by the amir Talāl, nephew of the founder of the Ibn Rashid dynasty, and after some stay passed on with his countenance through Kasim to southern Nejd. Palgrave says little of the desert part of the journey or of its Bedouin inhabitants, but much of the