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Jerwan campaign

During the early 1930s, an archaeological team of the Chicago University visited and examined Jerwan. The campaign of archaeological survey was supported by Yezidi laborers.

The photos are published on the Yezidi Photo Archive with the kind permission of of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Jerwan is a small Yezidi village, which is 10km from Ain Sifni. The site is also part of the larger canal and aqueduct built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib between 703 and 690 BC. During the early 1930s, an archaeological team of the Chicago University visited and examined the place. The campaign of archaeological survey was supported by Yezidi laborers.

On our arrival the village came suddenly to life, and we were met by the mukhtar, Ali, an impressive old man of pure Yezidi type, who showed us round the place. The houses were indeed built partly of mud brick and partly of pieces of hewn stones many of which bore cuneiform characters. [...]

When questioned as to where these inscribed blocks had come from, the mukhtar answered that together with the stones in the walls they had been taken from the old stone dam against which the village was built. He admitted the existence of other, similar stones still in place, but said they were now covered with turf. Later, however, he offered to have some villagers clear them; and while this work was in progress we followed him to the village guestroom, where a delicious meal of curds, honey, and the crisp bread baked by the Yezidis had been prepared for us. During the meal conversation flagged a little, partly because the mukhtar and the villagers knew only a few words of Arabic and partly because of our preoccupation with the art of balancing curds and honey on pieces of bread which served temporarily as spoons.

 

It was therefore not until later, when pipes had been lighted and coffee brought around, that we were able to obtain information concerning the curious stone wall behind the village.

 

Hussein, who spoke the Yezidi dialect and Arabic equally well, proved a rather skilful interpreter. With his help we learned how once long ago the whole of the plain below Jerwan had been a great lake and how a man by the name of Suliman Titi had built an enormous stone dam and stemmed the water so that the lake dried up and its bottom became a fertile plain.

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