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branches of human knowledge and belief. I will not detain you longer, because you have yet to hear an interesting address from Professor Hull, whom I now call upon.

The following Address was then read by the author ::


HULL, LL.D., F.R.S., &c., Director of the Geological
Survey of Ireland.


HAVE much pleasure in complying with the invitation of

the Council of the Victoria Institute to bring before them some of the results and conclusions arrived at by the members of the expedition, sent out in 1883-84, by the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, for the purpose of making a geological reconnaissance through Arabia Petræa and Western Palestine. Referring for fuller details to the narrative of the Expedition,* and to the memoir on the physical geology of the region traversed,+ I shall endeavour in this communication to give a short account of the leading physical features and gealogical structure of this remarkable section of our globe; nor will it, I should hope, be considered out of place if I make occasional reference to some of the great historical events connected with special localities, and their bearing on Biblical literature.

The region to which my observations will be directed is bounded by clearly-defined limits, having the Mediterranean Sea, and the Isthmus and Gulf of Suez on the west; the Red Sea on the south; and the great Arabian and Syrian deserts on the east. It includes the remarkable depression of the Jordan-Arabah valley, which, commencing on the north at the western base of Mount Lebanon, in Cole Syria, ranges southward along the line of the Jordan; and, being continued to the south of the Dead Sea through the Wâdy el Arabah, passes at Akabah into the Gulf of that name—a total length of 400 miles if we include the Gulf itself. It was one of the special

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* Mount Seir, Sinai, and Western Palestine ; being a Narrative of a Scientific Expedition, 1883–84. (Bentley & Son, London. 1885).

+ Memoir on the Physical Geology and Geography of Arabia Petrca, Palestine, and adjoining districts (1886).

objects of the Expedition to determine the nature and mode of formation of this long line of depression, which, at the borders of the Dead Sea, descends to a depth of 1,292 feet, below the surface of the Mediterranean, as determined by the officers of the Ordnance Survey of Palestine.*

The route taken by the Expedition may be briefly described as follows. On leaving Egypt, we entered the “ Desert of Etham," and took a southerly course from “Moses' Wells (Ayun Musa) by the Wady Gharandel (probably Elim of the Exodus), after which we turned towards the eastward by the valleys Suwig, Nasb, Kamileh, and others, and finally camped by the Wâdy es Sheikh, near the base of Mount Sinai (Jebel Mûsa). Having ascended the Mount (from the summit of which, 7,373 feet above the sea-level, Colonel Kitchener made a series of triangulations), we recommenced our journey by the Wadies Zelegah and Él Ain to Akabah (the Elim or Elath of the Biblet). Here we parted with our escort, the Arabs of the Towâra tribe, and entered into a contract with the head sheikh of the Alowins for an escort and camels to conduct us along the Arabah valley to the southern shore of the Dead Sead (Bahr Lût). On our way we had an opportunity of visiting the ancient city of Petra, and of ascending Mount Hor (Jebel Haroun), the altitude and geological structure of which we determined. After an encampment of eleven days at Es Safieh, on the southern shore of the Dead Sea, and having made excursions into the Moabite mountains, we traversed southern Palestine, by Beersheba, to the coast at Gaza, where we had to undergo quarantine for five days. Then continuing our journey to Jaffa by the coast road, we proceeded to Jerusalem, from which we made expeditions to the Jordan Valley, Bethlehem and Solomon's pools, and the gorge of the Kedron at Mar Saba. Finally we took ship at Jaffa, and returned home by Beyrût, Cyprus, Smyrna, Constantinople, and the Danube route. The actual survey occupied a period of about nine weeks, of which six were done on camels, the remainder on horseback.

Physical Features.-The region now described naturally separates itself into five districts, each contrasting with those adjoining in its features and geological structure.

1. The first is the maritime district, stretching from the

Russegger made the level 1,341 feet, a very close approximation. The fact that the level of the Dead Sea is so far below that of the Mediterranean was first ascertained by H. von Schubert and Prof. Roth, in 1836.

+ Deut. ii. 8. Ezion Geber probably stood near the head of the Gulf opposite Elath,

Isthmus of Suez along the coast to the base of Mount

2. The second includes the table-land of Western Palestine and the Desert of the Tih (Badiet-et-Tih).

3. The third is the line of depression of the Jordan-Arabah valley already referred to.

4. The fourth is the elevated table-land of Edom (Mount Seir) and Moab, stretching eastwards into the Syrian and Arabian Deserts.

5. The fifth is the Peninsula of Sinai, lying between the Gulfs of Akabah and Suez, and to the south of the table-land of Badiet-et-Tih.

(1.) The maritime district is in some measure a continuation of the plain of Lower Egypt. It has an average elevation of about 200 feet, and is largely formed of sands and gravels, with shells now living in the Mediterranean waters adjoining. These and other deposits evince that the land has been upraised to an extent of over 200 to 300 feet within very recent times, commencing with the Pliocene and coming down to the post-Pliocene epochs. A remarkable coast-line—first discovered by Oscar Fraas amongst the Mokattam hills near Cairo, at a level of 220 feet above the Gulf of Suez -has been recognised also in several places by the members of the Expedition in the Arabah Valley and Southern Palestine, and is also represented in the coast districts of Syria and Cyprus. In consideration of the recent period of this partial submergence, I have suggested that at the time of “the Exodus" the land had not fully regained its present level; and that, consequently, the waters of the Gulf of Suez extended as far north as the Great Bitter Lake, forming an arm of the sea, across which the Israelitish host had to make their

passage in the miraculous manner recorded in the Bible. Such a view is in accordance with the evidences of submergence to be found all along the line of the Great Canal.

At the period of greatest depression—which Dr. Schweinfurth, Sir J. W. Dawson, and the author concur in considering to be that of the Pliocene—Africa became an island, and the plain of Lower Egypt was covered by the waters of the sea, which sent an arm up the Nile valley as far as the First Cataract. In the geological memoir already referred to the author has given a sketch map representing the relations of land and sea during this period.*

Along this maritime tract runs the high road between

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* Supra cit. Sketch Map, page 72, showing the position of land and sea during the Pluvial period.

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Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, connecting the former country with Jerusalem, Damascus, Jaffa, Tyre, Sidon, and the Lebanon. It has been trod by the iron heel of war from the days when Rameses II. led his hosts against the Hittites of Mount Lebanon, down to the end of the eighteenth century, when Napoleon retired, baffled and repulsed, from the walls of St. Jean d'Acre (December, 1799). The road generally lies inside a line of high sandhills, which are constantly advancing like a devastating wave on the land, with slow but certain steps. It is supposed that the Gaza of the time of Sampson is buried beneath the sands.

(2.) The tableland of Western Palestine rises somewhat abruptly from the maritime tract on the west, and generally terminates along the borders of the Jordan Arabah depression by ranges of bold cliffs, intersected by deep ravines. The tableland is formed of Cretaceo-nummulitic limestone, disposed in the form of an arch, the axis of which ranges in a general north to south direction, passing under the city of Jerusalem, and southwards by Hebron and Tell el Milh. Towards the south, and beyond the borders of Judah, the arched position of the limestone appears to alter, and the strata become spread out into low undulations, not yet properly determined, over the wide expanse of the Badiet-et-Tih, or “ Desert of the Wanderings. This plateau is intersected by dry valleys, and breaks off along a line of escarpment, which, commencing east of the Bitter Lakes, ranges in a southerly direction for about 150 miles, and then, bending round towards the east at Jebel el Ejmeh, ultimately reaches the western margin of the Arabah valley near the head of the Gulf of Akabah.

The average elevation of the tableland of Western Palestine may be taken at 2,500 feet above the sea, but the hills rise to 3,000 feet and upwards. The elevation of the Temple area at Jerusalem is 2,593 English feet. A line of watershed runs along this tableland, dividing the streams which enter the Mediterranean from those which find their way into the Jordan valley. The greater depth of this latter outlet above that towards the western side causes the streams which enter the Jordan and Dead Sea to fall with remarkable rapidity. Thus the stream of the Wâdy el Aujah has an average fall of 280 feet per mile. The Kelt (supposed to be the brook Cherith) has a fall of 190 feet per mile, and the stream of the Wady el Nar (Kedron) a fall of 264 feet per mile. This rapid descent accounts for the great depth to which these streams have cut down their channels; as the force of the water, at a time when the channels were copiously supplied, must have been unusually powerful.

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A very ancient road follows closely the line of the watershed, along which most of the towns and villages, such as Shechem (Nablous), Nain, Sychar, Bethel, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron have been built. Such a line of communication, and such sites, were a physical necessity in a country where the central ridge is so deeply intersected by ravines penetrating from opposite directions. By this road the Patriarch Abraham journeyed southwards towards the Plain of Mamre,* on the border of which stands Hebron, except Damascus, the most ancient inhabited city in the world.

(3.) The line of the Jordan-Arabah depression has already been referred to, and has been so fully described by travellers that little need here be added regarding its physical features. The Ghoror hollow-in which lies the Dead Sea is terminated along the south by cliffs of marl and gravel about 600 feet high; these beds form the floor of the Valley of the Arabah southwards as far as the Ain Abu Werideh-a distance of forty miles from their northern margin along the Ghor. The level of these marls at Ain Abu Werideh is a little over that of the Mediterranean; and, as there can be no doubt that they were formed over the floor of an inland lake which must have stood at this level, it is concluded that the waters of the great JordanValley Lake once rose to, at least, 1,300 feet above its present surface, and occupied the whole valley from the Ain Abu Werideh to the Lake of Huleh (or Merom), a distance of 200 miles from north to south. The evidence thus adduced for the former great size of the Jordan Valley Lake does not rest on observations made at the southern extremity only, but is borne out by similar phenomena observed at the northern extremity. Thus we find terraces on both sides of the Ghor (of which Jebel Usdum and the Lisan are fragments) at levels of 600 feet above the present surface; and near the margin of the Sea of Tiberias Dr. Lortet has recognised a terrace formed of gravel, with rolled pebbles, occupying a position south-east of Safed. This terrace is as nearly as possible at a level with that of the Mediterranean. Hence Dr. Lortet has inferred that the waters of the Sea of Tiberias formerly stood at that level. This terrace near the northern margin corresponds with that of Ain Abu Werideh at the southern margin of the ancient lake, which has since shrunk back into three fragments connected by the stream of the Jordan.

The expedition succeeded in establishing by observation in

* Genesis xii. 8, and xiii. 18.

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