462 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
feet, the height of the entablature, ascertained by measuring the fragments on the ground,
and the wall of forty feet below, and we have a total height of one hundred and twenty-five
feet above the plain. What adds greatly to the beauty of the six columns now standing is
the orange-coloured weather rust, which gives them a golden glow in almost every light,
whether morning, noon, or sunset, and a mellow tint even by moonlight. One cannot look
upon them without a feeling of indignation at the vandalism of the Arabs or Turks, who have
dug them away at the bottom to secure the paltry value of the iron dowels which hold them
in place. (See page 468, and for a distant view of the columns, see page 473.)
The base of the third pillar from the east is undermined to a depth of three feet on
the northern side. The western column overhangs the base on the north-west side some
thirteen inches, and the upper section of the eastern column is so crumbled that it would
seem only a matter of months that its noble capital and entablature will come plunging to
the earth. The three stones of which each is composed were jointed with mathematical
precision, so that at a short distance, even after the attrition of centuries, the joints are almost
invisible. The carving of the capitals on the northern face is almost completely gone,
while on the south side it is perfect. The reason is, the bitter freezing winds which blow
from the north during the winter months are gradually disintegrating the stone.
You are never wTeary of looking at the columns. At any distance, from any side, and in
any light, they are the same majestic awe-inspiring objects, and you envy the artist traveller
who can transfer to canvas their inimitable proportions and exquisite colouring. In the
time of Wood and Dawkins, in 1751, nine of these columns were standing. It is impossible
to decide whether this matchless peristyle once enclosed a cella with arched peristyles and
sculptured soffits, as in the Temple of the Sun (see page 455). An eave trough ran along the
whole length of the cornice on the top, and over every column was an eave spout of stone,
some of which in both temples are still perfect.
Whether roofed or open, whether vaulted or hypaethral, it must have been the glory
of its age, and the finest specimen of Corinthian architecture ever built. How were these
ponderous cornice blocks, each weighing nearly one hundred tons, raised to this great height ?
Expensive and clumsy as modern science might regard it, we see no other practicable
hypothesis than that which we have offered for the removal of the four cyclopean stones,
namely, on rollers moving on inclined planes or embankments of earth from the quarries
to the very summit of the columns.
Moving eastward, we now leave the six columns (see page 468) and enter the vast
quadrangular area known as the Great Court, our course being that of the ancient devotees
on passing out of the great temple. In front we see in the distance the triple gateway with
the hexagonal court, and in a direct line another triple portal leading to the great portico.
We pause in the great quadrangle. Here, around the sides, are gems of ancient sculpture
enough to detain the artist for weeks. This court is four hundred and fifty feet from north
to south, and about four hundred from east to west. Beginning on the western side nearest