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Philip Trauring <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 20 Nov 2023 18:08:42 -0500
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On the Twain’s Geography site, for Sept 16, 1867, it says “It seems more likely that, rather than Kefr Hauwar, then pilgrims traveled to Al Qunaitra, Jonesborough."

Is this based on Strathcarron’s identification of Jonesborough as Quneitra?

Ganzel identifies it as Kefr Hauwar, pointing out that the guidebooks mention the town was believed to have had the tomb of Nimrod, although they discounted it.

The 1858 edition of A Handbook for Travellers in Syria and Palestine notes:

Kefr Hauwar, a large prosperous village surrounded by gardens, orchards, and fruitful fields; and inhabited partly by Druzes, and partly by Muslems. Tradition or fate has placed here one of the numerous tombs of Nimrod but the spot is now unhonored, if not altogether unknown.

Tent Life in the Holy Land (also 1858) notes:

We passed Kafr Howaran…There is a fine ruin in the village, which I glanced at, but did not pause to examine. I believe this is the traditional tomb of Nimrod, but in this I may be in error.

It is similarly described in Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (1810) as:

…the village Kferhauar. Before we entered it I saw to the left of the road a tomb which attracted my attention by its size. I was told it was the Kaber Nimrod (the tomb of Nimrod)

Twain describes the town as "The village is built on some consumptive little water-course, and about it is a little fresh-looking vegetation” and then discusses the town as containing the tomb of Nimrod.

If you look on a map, it’s nearly a straight line from Damascus to Kafr Hawr ( to Banias (the next location). If Twain went to Quneitra, he would have had to double-back to get to Banias. It seems unlikely he would head northeast from Quneitra to get to Banias. Lastly, is there any reference to Nimrod’s tomb being in Quneitra?

I’m also wondering about Strathcarron’s identifying El Yuba Dam with Odem (also referenced on Twain Geography). He mentions that a 1922 British map says Yuba means Crater and Dam means Spring. And the current town of Odem is near an extinct volcano crater and a spring. However, Odem is south of Banias, so I’m again not sure Twain would have ventured out of his way to get to Banias. It’s possible there was an earlier town called something similar to El Yuba Dam, but I think it’s actually a joke. In 1863, while working in Nevada, a co-worker named William Wright (aka Dan De Quill) wrote a story about a man who asked the locals where he was, and they all answered Yuba Dam, which he assumed was them saying “you be damned”. If they were actually prevented from getting water because they were Christian, I certainly think Twain could be have been using this joke as a way to say they were telling him “you be damned”. Maybe I’m reaching a bit, but it seems much more in line with his humor to insert this joke, then to guess that it connected to the modern town of Odem (which didn’t exist in Twain’s time).

Philip Trauring