From Babylon I embarked in one of those small vessels which ply upon the Tigris between Babylon and Basora, which are built after the manner of foists or galliots, having a speron and a covered poop. They use no pumps, being so well daubed with pitch as effectually to exclude the water. This pitch they have from a great plain near the city of Heit on the Euphrates, two days journey from Babylon. This plain full of pitch is marvellous to behold, and a thing almost incredible, as from a hole in the earth the pitch is continually thrown into the air with a constant great smoke; and being hot it falls as it were sprinkled all over the plain, in such abundance that the plain is always full of pitch. The Moors and Arabs of the neighbourhood allege that this hole is the mouth of Hell; and in truth it is a very memorable object From this native pitch or bitumen the whole people of that country derive great benefit, as with it they pay or serve their barks, which they call Daneck and Saffin.
[Footnote 122: In imitation of the original translator Hickocke and Hakluyt, this word must be left untranslated and unexplained.—E.]
[Footnote 123: This account of the hole which discharges pitch or native bitumen mixed with water is most true; the water and pitch running into the valley or island, where the pitch remains, and the water runs into the Euphrates, when it occasions the water for a long way to have a brackish taste with the smell of pitch and brimstone.—Hakl.]
When the river Tigris is well replenished with water, the passage from Babylon or Bagdat to Basora may be made in eight or nine days, less or more according to circumstances; we were fourteen or fifteen days, because the water was low, and when the waters are at the lowest it requires eighteen days. Having no rocks or shoals in the river, the voyage may be continued day and night. There are some places by the way at which you have to pay so many medins for each bale, as toll or custom. Basora, Bussora, or Busrah, [in lat. 30 deg. 20’ N. long. 47 deg. 40’ E.] is a city on the Arabian side of the united rivers Euphrates and Tigris, which was governed of old by those Arabs called Zizarij, but is now under the dominion of the grand Turk, who keeps an army there at great charge. The tribe of Arabs called Zizarij still have possession of a large extent of country, and cannot be overcome by the Turks, as the sea divides their country into islands by many channels, so that the Turks are unable to bring an army against them either by land or sea, and likewise because the inhabitants are brave and warlike. A days sail before coming to Basora, we pass a small castle or fort called Corna, on the point of land where the Euphrates and Tigris join; whence the united waters of these two rivers form a very large river that runs into the gulf of Persia.