среда, 16 января 2013 г.

11. Lost shrines

Small buildings of a cubic shape with white domes located on the top of the hills are part and parcel of the Palestinian landscape. At least, so it was until 1948. According to J. Geikie, "There is, however, in nearly every village, a small whitewashed building with a low dome — the "mukam," or "place," sacred to the eyes of the peasants. In almost every landscape such a landmark gleams from the top of some hill, just as, doubtless, something of the same kind did in the old Canaanite ages; or you meet it under some spreading tree covered with offerings of rags tied to the branches, or near a fountain; the trees overshadowing them being held so sacred that every twig falling from them is reverently stored inside the "mukam." Anything a peasant wishes to guard from theft is perfectly safe if put within such a holy building. No one will touch it, for it is believed that every structure of this kind is the tomb of some holy man, whose spirit hovers near, and would be offended by any want of reverence to his resting-place." (1888 I 578)

Travelers of the 19th and 20th centuries often depicted maqams, sometimes without even knowing their names and the name of a person buried there.




Many of these shrines have been lost forever. Maqam Neby or Sheikh Samat, also known as the tomb of the Prophet Samson, doesn’t exist already for more than half a century. He used to stand in the former Arab-Palestinian village Sar'a, on the top of the mountain now called Tel Tzor'a. Maqam Neby Samat was noted by C. Conder, J. Geikie and other researchers 19th century. We can see how this shrine used to look like in the drawings of the 19th century and 1920s.

Picture from The Survey of Western Palestine (1881)
Picture by G. Harper (1894)
"A mukam, or shrine, of a Muslim saint stands on the south side of the village; a low square building of stone, with a humble dome and a small court, within an old stone wall, at the side. You enter the yard through a small door in this wall, up two or three steps, but beyond the bare walls, and a solitary palm-tree, twice the height of the wall, there is nothing to see. Sheikh Samat, whoever he was, lies solitary enough and well forgotten in his airy sepulchre, but the whitewash covering his resting-place marks a custom which is universal with Muslim tombs of this kind." (1888 I 67)

Photo of 1930s

Photo from the article by C. McCown (1922)
J. Geikie presented such description of the shrine: "A mukam, or shrine, of a Muslim saint stands on the south side of the village; a low square building of stone, with a humble dome and a small court, within an old stone wall, at the side. You enter the yard through a small door in this wall, up two or three steps, but beyond the bare walls, and a solitary palm-tree, twice the height of the wall, there is nothing to see. Sheikh Samat, whoever he was, lies solitary enough and well forgotten in his airy sepulchre, but the whitewash covering his resting-place marks a custom which is universal with Muslim tombs of this kind." (1888, I 67)

The Jews accepted Muslim tradition. Now Tel Tzora is a home for Jewish shrines — the tomb of the biblical hero Samson and his father Manoah, but these are nothing but two modern tombstones painted blue. Former luxurious maqam is long gone. Even its foundation cannot be seen anywhere.


Note also that in The Survey of Western Palestine III 150 there is an unfortunate blunder. The description of the well-known tomb of the Prophet Samuel, to the north of Jerusalem, is illustrated with the photos of the tomb of Samson (Neby Samat) located in the village Sar'a.
Location of the object on Google Maps

Nothing remained of the Maqam Sheikh Abu Hilal on Hurvat Sokoh (Sokho). Only the drawing of the end of 19th century in "Picturesque Palestine" gives us an idea of what it used to look like (Wilson III 159).

Location of the object on Google Maps

The Maqam Sheikh Gazi is also completely destroyed, though A. Petersen examined it back in 1994 (2001, 282–283). Muslim shrine stood in the way of the growing Jewish moshav Aviezer. Even Petersen saw the destructive work of bulldozers. Now the residents of Aviezer do not even remember if there was a Muslim tomb on their territory.

The plan of the maqam (from the book by A. Petersen)
 Map of 1997 (section)

Location of the object on Google Maps

Equally sad fate overtook the Tomb of Sheikh Jobas (Jubas), which was situated to the south of Tel Gezer (Tell Jezar). It was noted by Palmer (1881, 273). At the beginning of the 20th century the tomb was already lying in ruins. R. Macalister examined the monument and drew its plan. "Some of the stones have been removed, probably to provide material for the old field boundaries, fragments of which still remain here and there. As is so often the case, however, the sanctity of the place still persists, and has been inherited by the modern Sheikh Ju'bas. There is a grave of the usual kind in memory of this holy man, with a rude rectangular enclosure surrounding it. This encroaches on the ancient structure. There are no modern graves surrounding the shrine, as is unfortunately the case of the wely on the hill-top." (1912 II 409)

In 1984 Jewish settlement Karmei Yosef was founded on the hill and Muslim shrine was completely built up with modern houses.

Photo and plan of the tomb of the book by R. Macalister
Location of the object on Google Maps

About the Maqam Sheikh Ahmad el-‘Urayni, who was in the former Palestinian village of ‘Iraq al-Manshiya, A. Petersen says: “The shrine of Shaykh Ahmad was located on the summit of the tell. It is described by Conder and Kitchener although they do not provide the name of the occupant (SWP III 259, 266). It consisted of a roofless walled enclosure made of reused stone blocks. The doorway was located in the middle of the north wall. Above the doorway there was a marble lintel and either side there were two inscriptions. A deep concave mihrab was located in the back (south) wall of the enclosure.

The shrine stood until at least 1946 when it was inspected by the Antiquities Department. During the 1950s it was reported to be in a very ruinous condition and now there are no standing remains. An outline on the ground is the only visible remains of the building.” (2001, 155)

Tell el-'Urayni. Photo of 1940s

Location of the object on Google Maps

In fact, in 'Iraq al-Manshiyya were three Muslim shrines: the Maqam Sheikh Ahmad al-‘Urayni, the Maqam Sheikh Abu Sell and the Maqam Sheikh Abu Raddan (Palmer 1881, 378, 379).

The tomb of Sitt Zahra, one of five sisters of sheikh (or neby) of Bir Ma‘in settlement disappeared although it stood until recently. 1968 photograph from Israel Antiquities Authority archive shows how it looked like. This tomb was situated to the north of the former Palestinian settlement Bir Ma‘in, in the area which is now completely built with state-of-the-art houses of Modi‘in town. For information about tombs of Sitt Zahra sisters see Section 3 Maqams. Judaean Mountains: Maqam Sitt Mana, Maqam Sitt Huria.

Location of the object on Google Maps

Not a trace remains of the Tomb of the Neby Burk (Barq) – one of the shrines of the former Palestinian village Burka, or Barqa, which was situated not far from Ashdod. In his time, L. Gautier described the tomb so "picturesque wely, surrounded with the trees" (1898, 95). The Israeli town Gan Yavne was founded in 1931 to the north of the Burka village. W. Khalidi in the 1980s already saw no "picturesque wely" among the ruins of Burka.

Photo of 1898 (from the book by L. Gautier)
Location of the object on Google Maps

In the list of the shrines that no longer exist we should also include such tombs as the Tomb of Sheikh Ibrahim in Tzova (see Section 13 Not maqams: Palestinian house (Tzova)) and the Maqam Sheikh Mu'annis in Sufla (Sufle).

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