Samaria ; the northern (Wady Kanah) is probably the brook Kanah, which divided the lot
of Ephraim from that of Manasseh. Both valleys form a junction near Ras-el-'Ain, and the
great pools beside that ruin are those fed by the rainfall from an area of four hundred square
miles of mountain country.
But on reaching the plateau near Sinjil the traveller will probably make a detour to the
east, in order to visit the secluded ruin of Seilun, the Shiloh of the Old Testament.
An ancient causeway leads up the slope of a chalky hill from the open plain of Turmus
'Ayya. Gaining the saddle, the traveller sees in front of him a grey ruin of tumbledown
stone huts clustering round the side of a kind of knoll. In the low ground near the approach
is a flat-roofed building shaded by a large oak ; this is called Jami'a-el-Yetaim, " Mosque of
the Worshippers." On the right, higher up, is another square structure, roofless and half
ruinous, with some smaller trees. This is called Jami'a-el-Arb'ain, " Mosque of the Forty "
(Companions of the Prophet). A little tank with steps is seen close to the first-mentioned
building. The view is restricted on either side by hills, and north of the ruins rises a long
barren ridge of grey limestone, with a few scattered fig-trees. Immediately behind the knoll
of the ruined village is a deep valley. Several tombs are cut in the rock on either side of
the town, and a fine spring, with some rock-cut sepulchres, exists about three-quarters of a
mile to the east, near the valley head. The site, remote from the main road, and hidden
in the bosom of the hills, is so secluded that it might easily escape the notice even of a
careful explorer; and it is not surprising that for so many centuries it remained altogether
unknown, though still preserving its ancient name among the villagers who, until quite of late
years, inhabited the place.
The " Mosque of the Forty," which is reached before arriving at the ruined village,
is a building of puzzling character. It has been constructed at different periods, and used
for different purposes. The mosque itself is a small chamber of inferior masonry, built
against the eastern wall of the ancient structure, with a small mihrab, or prayer recess,
towards the south. The main building is a square of thirty-seven feet side, with solid walls
of good masonry, the door being to the north. The doorway is spanned by a flat lintel,
having on it a representation, in low relief, of a vase flanked by two wreaths ; and the design
resembling those on the Galilean synagogues, and almost identical with that over an ancient
rock-cut tomb some few miles off at Beita, is of the character which belongs to the Jewish
art of the later period, from Herod to Hadrian ; and though possibly not in situ, we can
have little hesitation in identifying the lintel as of Jewish origin (see page 226). The remains
of four pillars, which seem to have supported the roof, are visible among the thorns and
weeds inside the monument; and a sloping scarp—apparently a later addition—is built against
the wall on the outside.
Isaac Chelo, of Aragon, almost the only traveller, Jewish or Christian, who mentions
Seilun, seems very possibly to refer to this building. He speaks of " a very remarkable
sepulchral monument where the Jews and Moslems keep lamps perpetually burning," and