The desert and the sown by Gertrude Lowthian Bell
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This is an OCR edition with typos.
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. m Ruwalla branch of the latter tribe, but the bulk of the Bedouin have been driven out by cultivation. The Kamu'a Hurmul bears the record of them in the shape of ancient tribe marks. It was more curious to reflect that we were in the southern headquarters of the Hittites, whoever they may have been ; the famous examples of their as yet undecyphered script which were found at Hamah are now lodged in the museum at Constantinople, where they have baffled all the efforts of the laarned. The present population of Kseir is composed partly of Christians and partly of the members of a sect called the Nosairiyyeh. They are not recognised by Islam as orthodox, though, like all the smaller sects, they do their best to smooth away the outward differences between themselves and the dominant creed. They keep the tenets of their faith secret as far as possible, but Dussaud has pried into the heart of them and found them full of the traces of Phoenician tradition. Living apart in mountain fastnesses that have remained almost inviolate, the Nosairiyyeh have held on to the practices of ancient Semitic cults, and they occupy an honourable position in the eyes of Syriologists as the direct descendants of paganism, while remaining themselves profoundly ignorant of their ancestry. Native report speaks ill of their religion, following the invariable custom by which people whisper scandal of what they are not allowed to understand, and I was told that the visible signs of it as expressed by the conduct of the sect left everything to be desired. Dussaud has, however, washed away the stain that lay upon their faith, and my experience of their dealings with strangers leads me to adopt an attitude of benevolent neutrality. I spent five days in the mountains west of Homs and a week near Antioch, ...