SOURCE OF THE JORDAN. 369
Another important fact connected with Hasbeiya is, that near it there are a large number
f bitumen pits or wells, some of which are fifty feet deep, and one which Dr. Thomson
easured extended to the depth of one hundred and sixteen feet. These are worked only in a
ooor way, but the mineral is hard and of the finest quality, and when cleaved it presents a
beautiful cdossy surface, which it retains for a long time. The people affirm that the bitumen is
constantly forming, and hence that an exhausted well, after being cleared for some time, will be
found filled and ready for mining again. Dr. Robinson learned that " the bitumen was sold
chiefly in Damascus, and mainly used on vines to keep off insects which destroy the grapes."
What is collected at present, however, is sent to Europe. A good deal of it exists about the
Dead Sea, and is said to appear upon the surface, especially after an earthquake. Doubtless
the deposits of this mineral are much more extensive and numerous than is at present known,
and they may hereafter prove a source of considerable wealth.
The mineral deposits of Syria have never yet been thoroughly examined, nor have those
that are known ever been worked in any adequate manner. Besides bitumen, the sulphur-beds
are rich and valuable. Rock-salt, also, could be mined with great profit south of the Dead Sea,
but the inhabitants are not allowed to touch it. Lead and copper also exist; but the most
extensive deposits that are at present known are iron. Valuable beds have been discovered at
different points in the Lebanon, and some of them have been worked in times past with
considerable success. We have examined one such bed lying west and south-west of the great
cedars, which extends in a north and south line for several miles and crosses Wady Kadisha.
This wady is a gigantic chasm that has been cut into the side of the mountain to a depth of
fifteen hundred feet. The walls are perpendicular, and the deposit of iron ore of which we
speak can be distinctly traced on either side, and appears to be about five hundred feet in
thickness. Ore from this deposit we have had examined, and it yields but eleven per cent, of
impurities, consisting almost wholly of silica. This bed is not more than fifteen miles from the
sea-coast. There are also extensive deposits of coal; but that found on or near the surface is
said to contain a good deal of sulphur. Beneath the surface, wherever examinations have been
made by experts, coal of excellent quality is developed ; and it is the opinion of these persons
that at a proper depth there is probably an unlimited supply. Coal and iron in untold amounts,
lying side by side in close proximity to the seaboard, and no one allowed to make them
productive! The Government either will not or cannot work them, and it certainly puts all
sorts of obstacles in the way of foreign capitalists who stand ready to develop these mines.
As the most remote and highest source of the Jordan is but half an hour north of
asbeiya, one will visit with pleasure the locality where that river of the Holy Land, with
ucn are connected so many sacred associations, actually has its rise. The fountain, like that
sesarea Philippi, bursts forth from the foot of a bluff which in this case is of volcanic origin,
^ends into the valley a large volume of water. A dam has been thrown across the
1 ' making a pretty waterfall, which, together with the pond and mill-race, the modern
1 ge and the old scraggy trees, form quite a romantic spot.