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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The western filled by the Farah Rud


city boundary made a detour to the south-east at the third tower, all the buildings visible being on the east of the wall and none to the west. The modern village of Zaidan should, of course, be excepted.

There seems to have been a great space intervening between this wall and the nearest habitations, but why that was would now be difficult to ascertain except by digging to a considerable depth. It seems hardly likely that a moat with water should have been constructed on the inside of the fortress, although at first sight one might be led to conclude that this was the case.

[Illustration: S.E. Portion of Zaidan City, showing how it disappears under distant sand accumulations.]

[Illustration: Double Wall and Circular Unroofed Structures, Zaidan. In the distance high sand accumulations above City.]

The city does not seem to have had a great general breadth, and is mostly remarkable for its enormous length, although at several of the most important points it has indeed considerable width. It extended mostly like a long line, and one could still perceive, as far as the eye could see, partially destroyed domed roofs, fragments of walls, and in some cases entire structures still standing and bearing roofs. The ice-house, which we had passed on the way, stood prominent to the north by north-west and also the pillar, the _minar_ of Mil-i-Zaidan.

style="text-align: justify;">Major Sykes makes a very quaint statement in the _Geographical Journal_ for February, 1902. He says: "I have seen it stated by previous travellers" (presumably Sir F. Goldsmid and Bellew) "that the ruins of Zaidan extend for fourteen miles, but the fact is that _there were villages lining the Rud-i-Nasru throughout its length_ (a length of 30 miles according to Major Sykes's maps), and these have been mistaken for suburbs of the capital of Sistan."

It seems to me that Major Sykes has only strengthened the contention of previous travellers and that, whether one calls them suburbs or a continuity of habitations, villages, or by any other name, the fact is that continuous miles of buildings can be traced. The Rud-i-Nasru canal, according to Major Sykes's own maps as given in the _Geographical Society's Journal_, is over 30 miles in length, and if the 30 miles are lined _throughout_ by villages surely that fact further establishes the continuity of the city.

Personally, however, I have my doubts whether Major Sykes is correct in placing the Rud-i-Nasru to the west of the city in Zaidan's days of glory. There are signs of a canal, but to the east of the city. The Hamun, too, I think, no more stretched across from east to west in the northern portion than it does to-day, but rather formed two separate lakes--the eastern one fed by the surplus water of the Halmund; the western filled by the Farah Rud. The space between is liable to be occasionally flooded by the excess of water in these two lakes, but that is all.

All the evidence goes to show that the great city, under different local names, extended continuously northwards as far as Lash Yuwain, passing between the two marshy lakes. In the next chapter I have brought undoubted evidence pointing to that conclusion, and if any one is still sceptical about it, all he has to do is to go there and see for himself. In such a dry climate the ruins, although gradually being covered over with sand, will remain long enough for any one wishing to spend some time there and to make a thorough study of them.

To the east of the Zaidan fort, about 100 yards and 200 yards respectively, are the remains, still fairly well preserved, of a high double wall, castellated and with loop-holes half-way up the wall. These two walls, where free from sand, stand some 40 feet high, but in most portions the sand has accumulated to a height of 15 to 20 feet.

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