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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Here instead of the everlasting domes


The

country between was flat and uninteresting, except that here and there some low mounds had formed where the sand blown by the N.N.W. wind had been arrested by some obstacle, such as a shrub of camel-thorn or tamarisk. Most of these sand-barchans had a striking peculiarity. They were semi-spherical except to the S.S.E., where a section of the sphere was missing, which left a vacuum in the shape of a perfect crescent.

By the numberless waves on the sand surface it seemed evident that the sand had accumulated from the N.N.W. side.

The village was small and miserable, with a few scraggy trees bowing low, like all trees of Sistan, towards the S.S.E., owing to the severe, N.N.W. winds. Here instead of the everlasting domes, flat roofs were again visible--wood being, no doubt, available close at hand. More curious, however, were actual gable roofs, the first I had noticed in Persia in purely native houses. The ventilating apertures were not in the roof itself, as in the domed houses, but in the walls, which were of a much greater height than in the domed habitations. The doors and windows were invariably on the south wall, but to the north at the lower portion of the roof in each house one could observe a triangular, projecting structure, usually in the centre of the upper wall. This was a different type of wind-catcher, but in winter blocked up with sun-dried bricks and mud.

Between

this village and Zaidan there was again a good deal of water to be crossed, and in some spots it was so deep that our horses sank into it up to their chests and we had to lie flat, with our legs resting on the animals' backs, to escape a ducking.

To our left--to the north--could be seen in the distance a high tower, which is said to have a spiral staircase inside, and must be of very great height, as even from where we were--eight miles away--it rose very high above the horizon, some 70 feet, as we guessed, and looked very big. This tower stood alone several miles to the North of the principal Zaidan ruins for which we were steering, and I had not therefore time to visit it.

The pillar is locally called Mil-i-Zaidan, and is circular in shape, made of kiln-baked bricks cemented together by clay. On the summit, above a broad band with ornamentations and a much worn inscription can be seen the fragments of two smaller structures, also cylindrical, which may have been the supports of the dome of the minaret. There is said to be another illegible inscription about thirty feet from the ground.

According to Goldsmid, who visited this place in 1872, the tower then stood on a square foundation, and its circumference was 55 feet at the base and only 28 feet at the summit. The lower portion of the tower, as seen through powerful glasses, seemed very much corroded, and it will not be long before it collapses. There are various theories regarding this tower, which now rises directly above the flat desert. It is said by some to be one of a number of isolated watch towers, but this, I think, is incorrect.


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