Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/361

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SOGDIANA—SOIL

mausoleum contains the remains of Prince Alexander; there are monuments to the tsar Alexander II., to Russia, to the medical officers who fell in the war of 1877 and to the patriot Levsky. A public park has been laid out in the eastern suburbs. The city is well drained and possesses a good water supply; it is lighted by electricity and has an electric car system. It contains breweries, tanneries, sugar, tobacco, cloth, and silk factories, and exports skins, cloth, cocoons, cereals, attar of roses, dried fruit, &c. Sofia forms the centre of a railway system radiating to Constantinople (300 m.), Belgrade (206 m.) and central Europe, Varna, Rustchuk and the Danube, and Kiustendil near the Macedonian frontier. The climate is healthy; owing to the elevated situation it is somewhat cold, and is liable to sudden diurnal and seasonal changes; the temperature in January sometimes falls to 4° F. below zero and in August rises to 100°. The population, of which more than two-thirds are Bulgarians, and about one-sixth Spanish Jews, was 20,501 in 1881, 30,428 in 1888, 46,593 in 1893 and 82,187 in 1907.

History.—The colony of Serdica, founded here by the emperor Trajan, became a Roman provincial town of considerable importance in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D., and was a favourite residence of Constantine the Great. Serdica was burnt by the Huns in A.D. 447; few traces remain of the Roman city, but more than one hundred types of its coins attest its importance. The town was taken by the Bulgarians under Krum in A.D. 809; the name Serdica was converted into Sredetz by the Slavs, who associated it with sreda (middle), and the Slavonic form subsequently became the Byzantine Triaditza. The name Sofia, which came into use towards the end of the 14th century is derived from the early medieval church of St Sophia, the massive ruins of which stand on an eminence to the east of the town. The church, which was converted into a mosque by the Turks, was partly destroyed by earthquakes in 1818 and 1858. The town successfully resisted the attacks of the emperor Basil II. in 987; between 1018 and 1186, under Byzantine rule, it served as a frontier fortress. During this period a number of prisoners of the Petcheneg tribe were settled in the neighbourhood, in all probability the ancestors of the Shôp tribe which now inhabits the surrounding districts. In 1382 Sofia was captured by the Turks; in 1443 it was for a brief time occupied by the Hungarians under John Hunyady. Under Turkish rule the city was for nearly four centuries the residence of the beylerbey or governor-general of the whole Balkan Peninsula except Bosnia and the Morea. During this period the population increased and became mainly Turkish; in 1553 the town possessed eleven large and one hundred small mosques. In the latter half of the 15th century Sofia, owing to its situation at the junction of several trade routes, became an important centre of Ragusan commerce. During the Turco-Russian campaign of 1829 it was the headquarters of Mustafa Pasha of Skodra, and was occupied by the Russians for a few days. On the 4th of January 1878 a Russian army again entered Sofia after the passage of the Balkans by Gourko; the bulk of the Turkish population had previously taken flight. Though less central than Philippopolis and less renowned in Bulgarian history than Trnovo, Sofia as selected as the capital of the newly-created Bulgarian state in view of its strategical position, which commands the routes to Constantinople, Belgrade, Macedonia and the Danube.  (J. D. B.) 


SOGDIANA (Sugdiane, O. Pers. Sughuda), a province of the Achaemenian Empire, the eighteenth in the list in the Behistun inscription of Darius (i. 16), corresponding to the modern districts of Samarkand and Bokhara; it lay north of Bactriana between the Oxus and the Jaxartes, and embraced the fertile valley of the Zerafshan (anc. Polytimetus). Under the Greeks Sogdiana was united in one satrapy with Bactria, and subsequently it formed part of the Bactrian Greek kingdom till the Scythians (see Scythia) occupied it in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. The valley of the Zerafshan about Samarkand retained even in the middle ages the name of the Soghd of Samarkand. Arabic geographers reckon it as one of the four fairest districts in the world.


SOGNE FJORD, a great inlet of the west coast of Norway, penetrating the mainland to a distance of 136 m. It is the longest fjord in Norway, and the deepest, approaching 700 fathoms in some parts. Sognefest at its entrance is 50 m. by water from Bergen, in 61° 5′ N. The general direction from the sea is easterly. For the first 50 m. the sombre flanking mountains are unbroken by any considerable branch, but from this point several deep, narrow inlets ramify, penetrating the Jostedalsbrae and Jotunfjeld to the north and the northward extension of the Hardangerfjeld to the south, walled in at their heads by snow-clad mountains and frequented by travellers on account of the magnificent scenery. The principal are Fjaerlands, Sogndals and Lyster fjords to the north, Aardals fjord to the east, Laerdals and Aurlands fjords to the south. From the last branches the Naerö fjord, with a precipitous valley of great beauty (Naerödalen) at its head, traversed by a road, from Gudvangen on the fjord, across the Stalheim Pass to Vossevangen. The other principal villages are Vadheim on the outer fjord, the terminus of the road from Nordfjord; Balholm and Fjaerland (centres for visiting the fine glaciers of Jostedal); Lekanger, Sogndal, and Laerdalsören, whence a road strikes south-east for the Valders and Hallingdal districts.


SOHAM, a town in the Newmarket parliamentary division of Cambridgeshire, England, 5 m. S.E. of Ely by a branch of the Great Eastern railway. Pop. (1901), 4230. It lies in the midst of the flat fen country. To the west a rich tract, still known as Soham Mere, marks the place of one of the many wide and shallow sheets of water in the district now drained. The church of St Andrew is cruciform and had formerly a central tower; the existing western tower is of fine and ornate Perpendicular work. The body of the church, however, is mainly transitional Norman with additions principally Decorated, including a beautiful east window, much ancient woodwork, and other details of interest. The grammar school dates from 1687. The road from Soham to Ely was constructed as a causeway across the fens by Hervey le Breton, first bishop of Ely (1109–1131). The trade of the town is agricultural, fruit-growing and market-gardening being largely carried on in the vicinity.


SOIGNIES (or Soignes, the Walloon form), a busy and flourishing town of the province of Hainaut, owing its prosperity to the important blue granite quarries in the neighbourhood. It contains a fine abbey church of the 12th century and in the cemetery connected with it are many tombstones of the 13th and 14th centuries. Pop. (1904), 10,480.

The forest of Soignies extended in the middle ages over the southern part of Brabant up to the walls of Brussels, and is immortalized in Byron's Childe Harold. Originally it was part of the Ardenne forest, and even at the time of the French Revolution it was very extensive. The first blow towards its gradual contraction was struck when Napoleon ordered 22,000 oaks to be cut down in it to build the celebrated Boulogne flotilla for the invasion of England. King William I. of the Netherlands continued the process in the belief that he was thus adding to the prosperity of the country, and from 29,000 acres in 1820 the forest was reduced to 11,200 in 1830. A considerable portion of the forest in the neighbourhood of Waterloo was assigned in 1815 to the duke of Wellington, and to the holder of the title as long as it endured. This portion of the forest was only converted into farms in the time of the second duke. The Bois de la Cambre (456 acres) on the outskirts of Brussels was formed out of the forest, and beyond it stretches the Forêt de Soignies, still so called, to Tervueren, Groenendael, and Argenteuil close to Mont Saint Jean and Waterloo.


SOIL,[1] the term generally applied to that part of the earth's

  1. This word comes through O. Fr. soil from a Late Latin usage of solea for soil or ground, which in classic Lat. meant the sole of the foot, also a sandal. This was due to a confusion with solum, ground, whence Fr. sol. Both solea and solum are, of course, from the same root. To be distinguished from this word is “soil,” to make dirty, to stain, defile. The origin is the O. Fr. soil or souil, the miry wallowing ground of a wild boar, whence the hunting phrase “to take soil,” of a beast of the chase taking to water or marshy ground. The derivation is therefore from Lat. soillus, pertaining to