Front Page Titles (by Subject) 4.: THE TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES — ( P. 127 ) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 4
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4.: THE TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES — ( P. 127 ) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 4 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 4.
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THE TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES — (P. 127)
The recent publication of a geographical description of Mesopotamia and Baghdād by an Arabic writer, Ibn Serapion, of whom nothing is known except that he wrote in the early years of the tenth century, by Mr. Guy Le Strange (with translation and commentary, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Soc., 1895, January and April; cp. addenda in July, and 1896, October), is of considerable importance.
It shows that since the tenth century great alterations have taken place in the course of the Tigris and Euphrates, and shows what these alterations were; it gives a clear account of the canal system which drew the overflow of the Euphrates into the Tigris; and it supplies most important data for the reconstruction of the topography of Baghdād.
Before the Caliphate, the River Tigris followed its present course, from Kūt-al-Amarah (about 100 miles below Baghdād) flowing in a south-easterly direction to its junction with the Euphrates. But during the middle ages — in the tenth century for example — it flowed almost due south, “running down the channel now known as the Shatt-al-Hay, and passing through the city of Wāsit” (Le Strange, ib., Jan., p. 3). The changes in the Euphrates are thus summed up by Mr. Le Strange (p. 4): A little above Al-Kūfa “the stream bifurcated. The branch to the right — considered then as the main stream of the Euphrates, but now known as the Hindiyya Canal — ran down past Al-Kūfa, and a short distance below the city became lost in the western part of the great Swamp,” which also swallowed up the waters of the Tigris. “The stream to the left or eastward called the Sūrā Canal — which, in its upper reach, follows the line of the modern Euphrates — ran a short course and then split up into numerous canals whose waters for the most part flowed out into the Tigris above Wāsit.” The great Swamp in which the streams of both Tigris and Euphrates lost themselves was drained by the Tidal Estuary which reached the sea at Abbadān, “a town which, on account of the recession of the Persian Gulf, now lies nearly twenty miles distant from the present shore-line.”
It should be carefully remembered in reading the account of the events after Julian’s death that the Tigris has also altered its course to the north of Ctesiphon since the tenth century. From a point below Samarrā to a point above Baghdād, it followed a shorter and more westerly channel than at the present day.
As to the canal Nahr-al-Malik (see above, p. 137), Mr. Le Strange says (ib., Jan., p. 75), that “roughly speaking it followed the line of the modern Radhwāniyya Canal.”
It may be added that the geographical work of Abu-l-Fidā, mentioned by Gibbon, p. 127, n. 54, is not very valuable, being neither good nor early. The authoritative Arabic text is that of Reinaud, 1840, and there is a French translation by S. Guyard, 1883. On early geographical works in Arabic, see Le Strange’s Palestine under the Moslems (Pal. Explor. Fund).