43$ PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
Balkis, a descendant of Yarab Ibn Kahtan of Yamen, and that Solomon married her. This
would account for their naming a hill in Palmyra " Tell Balkis," had Solomon actually built or
reconstructed Palmyra; but if Solomon had nothing to do with Palmyra, it would be difficult to
explain the association of the Queen of Sheba's name with a spot so remote from Jerusalem.
One cannot cease to wonder how Palmyra could have sustained so great a population with
so meagre a water supply. The fountain on the south-west of the city furnishes a copious
stream, but the water is warm, and so impregnated with sulphur as to be extremely offensive.
After flowing eastward, however, nearly two hundred rods, it becomes cooler, and the
sulphurous taste partly disappears; but it could hardly have served the great city for other than
medicinal, bathing, and agricultural purposes. For drinking water the ancient city must have
had recourse to wells and rain-water cisterns. This fountain, however, must have determined
the importance of the site and made it the key of the East. It is now resorted to in the summer
by the Bedawin Arabs, of whom no less than twenty thousand are often encamped here at
once. It is so necessary to the 'Anazeh, that the rulers of Syria in different ages have found its
possession to be a guarantee of subjection on the part of these lords of the desert. South of the
fountain is a large cemetery with about twenty tower sepulchres of great antiquity. In one of
them are two life-sized statues, sadly mutilated, " with flowing robes and close jackets curiously
and elaborately laced over the chest." Near by are numerous subterranean tombs, whose
arched roofs rise just enough above the surface of the ground to reveal their existence. A few
are open, but the majority are buried beneath the debris of ages, and in all probability still
undisturbed, with all their treasures of statuary and memorial tablets. One which was broken
through a few years since is cruciform, with three tiers of loculi in each compartment. Several
statuettes and other ornaments were discovered in it.
The Count de Vogue, French Ambassador at Vienna, has published an extended account
of the Palmyrene inscriptions. His translations and comments are invaluable. In his view
the inscriptions are of four kinds : the monumental, chiefly attached to the pedestals and
brackets of statues ; those on tombs ; the religious, on votive altars ; and those on articles of
terra-cotta. The oldest (on a tomb) bears date of b.c. 9.
On one of the columns of the Grand Colonnade is an inscription once attached to a statue
of Odenathus, who is called " King of Kings," and on an adjoining column is the name of his
wife, the world-renowned Zenobia, the date on both being a.d. 271.
According to this same author the Palmyrenes worshipped three gods, or a threefold god,
the first person being " Baal Samim," the god of the heavens ; the second, " Malek Baal,"
answering to the sun, and the third, " Agli Baal," to the moon. There are traces of this same
worship in our own day in that strange people, the Nusairiyeh, supposed to be the descendants
of the ancient Hittites, whose kingdom extended in ancient days from Antioch to Damascus,
and from the sea to or even beyond the Euphrates. The Nusairiyeh, who now number a
quarter of a million people, chiefly between Antioch and Tripoli, observe so many of the old
rites of the Baal-worshippers, with adoration of the sun, moon, and stars, that their religion is