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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And about half way up the mountain a huge fossil

The mountain itself to which I had climbed was most interesting. Imbedded in the rock were quantities of fossil white and black sea-shells, and about half way up the mountain a huge fossil, much damaged, resembling a gigantic turtle. Near it on the rock were impressions of enormous paws.


A long detour--Mount Darband--A water-cut gorge--Abandoned watch towers--Passes into the desert--A wall-like mountain range--The tower and fortified caravanserai at camp Darband--Brackish water--Terrific heat--Compensating laws of nature better than absurd patents--Weird rocks--Cairns--Chel-payeh salt well--Loss of half our supply of fresh water--Camels and men overcome by the heat.

When we left camp soon after midnight on November 13th, we had to make quite a long detour to take the caravan around the Darband Mountain, which barred our way directly on the course we were to follow. On foot one could have taken a short cut in a more direct line by climbing up to a certain height on the western mountain slope, but it was out of the question to take camels up by it. We had to go some distance due north, through very broken country with numerous hillocks, after which we followed a narrow gorge cut deep by the action of water. The sides of this gorge were like high mud and gravel walls, occasionally rocks worn smooth, averaging from 60 to 100 feet apart.

The river bed, now absolutely dry, evidently carried into the desert during the torrential rain all the drainage of the mountainous country we had traversed, practically that from Abid, the Leker Mountains, and the combined flow of the Lawah plain from the mountains to the west of it, to which, of course, may be added the western watershed of the Darband Mountain itself. A glance at the natural walls, between which we were travelling, and the way in which hard rocks had been partly eaten away and deeply grooved, or huge hollows bored into them, was sufficient to show the observer with what terrific force the water must dash its way through this deep-cut channel. The highest water-mark noticeable on the sides was twenty-five feet above the bed. The impetus with which the rain water must flow down the almost vertical fluted mountain sides must be very great, and immense also must be the body of water carried, for the mountain sides, being rocky, absorb very little of the rain falling upon them and let it flow down to increase the foaming stream--when it is a stream.

Some sixteen miles from our last camp we came across a circular tower, very solidly built, standing on the edge of a river cliff, and higher up on a ridge of hills in a commanding position stood the remains of two quadrangular towers in a tumbling-down condition. Of one, in fact, there remained but a portion of the base; of the other three walls were still standing to a good height. The circular tower below, however, which seemed of later date, was in good preservation. According to the camel men, none of these towers were very ancient and had been put up to protect that passage from the robber bands which occasionally came over westward from Sistan and Afghanistan. It had, however, proved impossible to maintain a guard in such a desolate position, hence the abandonment of these outposts.

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