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'Gazetteer of Arabia Vol. II' [‎1210] (259/688)

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The record is made up of 1 volume (341 folios). It was created in 1917. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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A halting place on the route between Kuwait and Qasr-as-Sabiyah, situated nearly
40 miles from the former. It possesses one well of fresh water which is liable to become
silted up in rainy weather.
The birthplace of Muhammad, the chief town of Hejaz and the great holy city of Islam.
It is situated about 50 miles eastward from Jiddah, on the Red Sea, in Lat. 21° 25' N.
and Long. 40° 8' E. Mecca lies in the heart of a mass of rough hills, intersected by
a labyrinth of narrow valleys and passes, and projecting into the Tihamah, or low coastal
plain along the Red Sea, in front of the great mountain wall that divides it from the
central plateau, though in turn they are themselves separated from the sea by a second
curtain of hills forming the western wall of Wadi Marr. The inner mountain wall ia
pierced by only two great passes and the valleys descending from these embrace on both
sides the Mecca hills.
The town itself is built in a deep, narrow valley, and is so completely hidden from the
seaward side that no sign of it is visible until almost the gate of the city is reached.
This valley runs approximately north-east and south-west and seems to extend for
a considerable distance.
There is a hospital for sick strangers. Any who die destitute aro buried at the ex
pense of the temple, and upon any naked wretch is bestowed a shirt cloth from the same
The hills east and west of Mecca, which are party built over and rise several hundred
feet above the valley so enclose the city that the ancient walls never actually surrounded
the city but only barred the valley at three points, where three gates led into the town.
In the time of Ibn Zubair the gates were still standing though the walls were in ruin
but now the gates have only left their names to quarters of the town. At the northern
or upper end was the Bab-al-Ma'la, or gate of the upper quarter, whence the road con
tinues up the valley towards Muna and 'Arafat, as well as towards Zaimah and Xajd.
Beyond the gate, in a place called Hajun, is the chief cemetery, commonly called Ma'la
and said to the last resting place of many of the companions of Muhammad. Here
across-road, laboriously cut through the rocks running over the hills to join the main
road to Al-Madinah, turns off to the west by the pass of Kada the point from which the
troops of the Prophet stormed the city. Here too the body of Ibn Zubair was hung on
a cross by Hajjaj. The lower or southern gate, at the Masfalah quarter, opened on to the
Yemen road, where the rain water from Mecca draims off into an open valley. Beyond
there are mountains on both sides, that to the east is Abu Kubays while on that to the
south, namely Jabal Jiyad, commanding the city is the great castle, a fortress of some
strength. On the north is the hill Jiyad Amir. The third or western gate Bab-al-
Umr, stood almost opposite the great mosque and opened on a road leading to the west
round the southern, spurs of the Red Mountain. This is the way tc Wadi Fatimah and
to Al-Madinah, the Jiddah road branching off from it to the left. Considerable suburbs
now lie outside the quarter named after this gate; in the middle ages a pleasant country
road led for some miles through partly cultivated land with good wells as far as the
)oundary of the sacred territory and gathering place of the pilgrims at Tanim, near
t e mosque of Ayesha. This is the spot on the road to Al-Madinah now called 'Umra
from a ceremonial connected with it which will be mentioned later. The length of the
sinuous main axis of the city from the farthest suburbs on the road to Al-Madinah is
a out 3,500 yards and the greatest breadth from the Jiyad quarter east of the great
mosque across the valley and up the western slopes, about 2,300 yards.
About the middle of the longitudinal line the thorough fares are pushed aside by the
vas courtyard and colonnades composing the Bait Ullah, or great mosque which, with
i s spacious arcades surrounding the Ka'abah and other holy places and its seven minarets
forms the only prominent architectural feature of the city. The mosque is enclosed by
houses with windows opening on the arcades and commanding a view of the Ka'abah.
Immediately beyond these, on the side facing Jabal Abu Kobais, a broad street runs
south-east and north-west across the valley. This is the Mas'a between the eminences
of bafa and Marwah and has been from very early times one of the most lively

About this item


Volume II of III of the Gazetteer of Arabia. The Gazetteer is alphabetically-arranged and this volume contains entries K through to R.

The Gazetteer is an alphabetically-arranged compendium of the tribes, clans and geographical features (including towns, villages, lakes, mountains and wells) of Arabia that is contained within three seperate bound volumes. The entries range from short descriptions of one or two sentences to longer entries of several pages for places such as Iraq and Yemen.

A brief introduction states that the gazetteer was originally intended to deal with the whole of Arabia, "south of a line drawn from the head of the Gulf of 'Aqabah, through Ma'an, to Abu Kamal on the Euphrates, and to include Baghdad and Basrah Wilayats" and notes that before the gazetteer could be completed its publication was postponed and that therefore the three volumes that now form this file simply contain "as much of the MSS. [manuscript] as was ready at the time". It further notes that the contents have not been checked.

Extent and format
1 volume (341 folios)
Physical characteristics

Foliation: This volume's foliation system is circled in pencil, in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. of each folio.

Written in
English in Latin script
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'Gazetteer of Arabia Vol. II' [‎1210] (259/688), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/MIL/17/16/2/2, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 29 March 2020]

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