1909: Letter, dated May 22, from Gertrude Bell
Friday May 22. [22 May 1909] Midyat, which you may see in the maps perhaps. I had a great day with monasteries yesterday. The first lay on our road and I stopped for an hour and planned its little chapel. Nothing more could be done; the plan was such a rabbit warren of rooms and vaults in all directions and on all levels. There was a bishop here very unlike the other bishops. He was affable to the point of being boring and I was not sorry when I got to Der el Amer at noon to find that its bishop was away. It is a splendid place standing all by itself on the top of a hill. I spent hours and hours working on its vaults - they say Tamberlane destroyed it in part. Oh I wish he had destroyed the fleas at the same time! They are really a most serious drawback; one can scarcely give proper attention to places, however beautiful, when they are absolutely chock full of fleas. Today I suffered more from the inhabitants of Midyat than from the fleas. The principal church was ruined, so they took up points of vantage about the walls, hundreds and hundreds of them, and I had to sweep them off when I came round with the measuring tape. The result is that I haven't done that church anything like in the way it deserves, for it is a most interesting place, with fine mouldings and all sorts of reconstructions.
1900-1999 A.D. Assyrian History Archives