The following was taken from a letter included in a book Missionary Researches in Armenia: Including a Journey Through Asia Minor … By Eli Smith, Harrison Gray Otis Dwight, Josiah Conder, Published in London, 1834


Salmas is mentioned by ancient writers as a town in the Armenian province of Persarmenia. The modern village is scattered over a considerable space, on the site of the old one. Its houses are poor and it has an aspect of decay. The only remains of antiquity we saw, were two or three cylindrical monuments or towers of an order similar to that at Shamkor, but much inferior in height. They were constructed of brick and marked with inscriptions in the Arabic character, betraying a moslem origin.

The plain extends hardly more than a mile south westward from the town, and then commence the semi independent mountains of the Kurds. Though so near that lawless people, however, the district is never disturbed by them, except when the Persian government is in a weak and disorganized state.


We found the Jewish synagogue neater and better carpeted than the churches and the Jews better dressed than the Christians; Their copies of the law were beautiful and we tried to purchase one, but in vain. They reckon 30 or 35 families here; in Oormiah they amount to 300 families; and in Khoy, I believe, there are a few; but elsewhere in Azerbaijan we heard of none. In Tehran, Kashan and Isfahan they are more numerous.

The priest at Khosrova said that these of Salmas are doubtless much oppressed, but less so than his own townsmen; for not being cultivators of the soil their property is not so tangible. Their appearance seemed to justify his opinion.

The Jews of Persia generally are the most ignorant, demoralized and oppressed part of the community. They are said to have neither tradition nor history to inform them when their ancestors came into the country. We naturally look among them for the remains of the ten tribes; but if such were their origin, all traces of it have been effaced. They now resemble their brethren elsewhere, except that their reverence for the Talmud is perhaps somewhat less, and there is some doubt whether they have all the books of the Old Testament. This resemblance may have been produced by long intercourse with Jerusalem Rabbies, who often pass by them on their way to the north.

We found one at Salmas, at the time of our visit They speak the languages of the country; but respecting the common use of a vulgar Hebrew among them.

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