476 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
Temple, with the platform of colossal stones, as the work of Solomon. In 1174 Saleh ed Din,
commonly called Saladin, captured Damascus, Hums, Hamath, and Ba'albek. In 1260 the
general of Mogul Khan destroyed the fortress. Early in the fourteenth century Abulfeda,
the Hamathite, describes Ba'albek as an ancient city enclosed by a wall, with a large and strong
fortress. At this time one of the quarters of the city was called El Makriz, and here was
born the celebrated historian Taki ed din Ahmed, better known by his more usual name
El Makrizi. In 1400 Tamerlane, the Tartar conqueror, captured Ba'albek when on his way
The great work of Wood and Dawkins on Ba'albek represents nine columns of the Great
Temple standing a.d. i 751. Three of these were destroyed by earthquake in a.d. 1759.
The Harfush Emirs and their retainers ruled this region for many years, paying a nominal
tribute to the Turks, and grinding the peasantry with merciless extortion. In i860—the
massacre summer—they burned the houses of the Christians in Ba'albek and the adjacent
villages, murdered many of the people, and plundered their property. Being themselves
Metawileh, or Muslims of the Shia, followers of Ali, they forgot their hatred of the orthodox
Sunni Mohammedans, and joined them in the massacre of the infidels. But Beit Harfush
were always hostile to the Turks, and soon after i860 were outlawed by the government.
The Emir Soleiman and his men fled to the mountains, and for years eluded the pursuit of the
irregular cavalry. In 1866 Soleiman was finally captured in a cave near Hums by Hulu
Pasha, and brought into that city with a list of his crimes written on a placard fastened to his
breast. He was led to Damascus, and there exhibited for a few days with the card on his
breast, and then poisoned. His name will never be forgotten by the people of Ba'albek and
To-day, the ruthless destruction of the fallen columns and cornices goes on unchecked.
The modern town, with the waggon road of the Wali of Damascus, are using up all the
movable fragments of the ancient temples. The papal Greek bishop Basileus is now engaged
in building a cathedral at the foot of the slope, south of the Hotel Arbid. He has bought the
site of a small temple on the summit of the southern hill, and is rolling down the fluted columns
and cubical blocks of the temple walls to be used in the modern edifice. Various partial
attempts have been made to excavate both within and without the ancient ruins. The colossal
headless statue now standing at the gate of the Turkish Serai is an example of what may be
expected when a thorough exploration of the ruins shall be made. A few more earthquakes,
and a few more winter frosts and gales, will lay the six lordly columns prostrate in the dust.
Happy the traveller whose lot it shall be to see Ba'albek, even in its present declining glory,
before the relentless forces of nature, and the not less relentless hand of man, shall have
completed the work of destruction.