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1909: Letter, dated May 8, from Gertrude Bell
by The Gertrude Bell Archives - Robinson Library
Posted: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 02:29 pm CST

Sat May 8. [8 May 1909] Today I lunched with the prior of a Chaldaean monastery, Rabban Hormuzd is its name. It stands high up in the hills and is for the most part hollowed out of the rock. The prior was a delightful man, a keen politician - we brought him the news of the deposition of the Sultan at which he was much delighted. After a lunch of omelet and sour curds and honey, he showed me all over the monastery, but most of the built part has been rebuilt and there was nothing very old but the rock cut cells. Behind the church, in the rock, is a long pitch dark gallery leading to a small rock cut chamber in the roof of which are 2 iron rings. From these Rabban Hormuzd, who was a Sassanian bishop, was accustomed to suspend himself. "And here" said the prior "it is usual for visitors to make their offerings." So I made mine. On the wall of the church, Layard had carved his name and the date, 1846. The prior sent me off with a bunch of roses which soon withered, alas! in the blazing heat of the plain. I withered too; it was intolerably hot and heavy and steamy. We clambered over a beautiful little pass and then rode through a most wonderful wide valley between rocky hills. The grass and flowers touched our stirrups, but it was all deserted, practically no villages and no cultivation, because the Kurds wreck the whole world here. We got into camp at 4, just as I was making up my mind to die of fatigue. I hope I have not grown suddenly old and feeble.

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