1902 Encyclopedia > Arabia > Arabia - Hadramaut and Mahrah

(Part 7)


(7) Arabia - Hadramaut and Mahrah

Next to Yemen, and lying along the coast of the Indian Ocean, from Aden to Cape Ras-el-Hadd, a distance of 1200 miles, are situated the provinces of Hadramaut and Mahrah, the former mentioned in Genesis under the name of Hazarmaveth, and more celebrated in ancient Arab chronicles, and in the notices of Strabo and Ptolemy, than it has been in later times. This coast has been visited and even partially explored by Captain Wellsted and other navigators. It presents everywhere much the same dreary appearances as that of the Hejaz and Tehamah,-a narrow fringe of sand or of equally sterile shore; beyond this rises a mountain range, varying, so far as any tolerably accurate calculations have been made, from 1000 to 3000 feet in height; its formation appears to be in many places volcanic; behind this comes a second and loftier mountain belt, Jurassic in its general character, resembling the highlands of Yemen; while far beyond stretches away the great sandy desert; varied, however, where it approaches the mountain-foot, by oases of considerable fertility, among which that of Wadi Doan is said to be the most extensive. Several barren islands and reefs fringe the waste. The mountains of Hadramaut form one system with those of Yemen, but, unlike the latter, seem to be of an almost monotonous sterility. Torrents descend from them, but no rivers; nor, though lakes are mentioned in the very apocryphal records of the Arabs, has any sign of their existence been verified. The climate is intensely hot, and is said to be unhealthy, at least to strangers; the vegetation is scanty. No part of the peninsula has been less explored than this, even by the Orientals themselves; and European travelers have supplied few reliable data for what regards the physical characteristics of the interior, any more than of its inhabitants and products.

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