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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Goldsmid describes a fine caravanserai at Kala i Fath


This, however, is the case with everything Persian, whether ancient or modern, especially in regard to architecture, and a great deal of the humbleness of the buildings is, I think, due to the facts that the inhabitants of Persia are nomads by nature; that the shifting sands drive people from their homes; that rivers constantly alter their courses, and that the water supply is a constant source of difficulty in most parts of Iran; moreover the terrible wars and invasions made the natives disinclined to construct themselves very elaborate houses which they might at any moment have to abandon.

These reasons account for the extraordinary number of abandoned villages, towns, fortresses, and whole ruined suburbs of towns all over Persia, a sight which I think cannot be seen on such a large scale in any other country in the world.

At Kala-i-Fath the question of the water may not have been the principal one, but the fear of constant attacks must have deterred the natives from erecting magnificent buildings. Or else how could we account for these enormous fortresses which are found all along to protect the great city?

Goldsmid describes a fine caravanserai at Kala-i-Fath, built of large baked bricks, each brick eleven inches square, and displaying a nicety of design foreign to Sistan. The caravanserai seems to have been domed over a large central courtyard, with wings for rooms and stabling; and an adjoining ice-house of mud bricks. In the graveyard fragments of alabaster and tiles were found.

The wall round the city which Goldsmid describes--six feet at the base tapering to one foot at the summit--is somewhat different in character from that of Zaidan, and is, to my mind, of much later construction, as are many of the buildings.

"Some of the streets," he says, "which all run from east to west, are in excellent preservation and as if they were of recent construction."

It is quite possible, in fact, very probable, that this portion of the great city--which, by the bye, is said to have been the last capital of the Kayani Kings, and was deserted by them when attacked by Nadir Shah--has, owing to its favourable geographical position on the east bank of the Halmund, been inhabited to a certain extent until a much later date. The local accounts, at least, would point to that conclusion.

A dry canal exists, which we shall cross on our way to the Beluchistan frontier; it is fed by the Halmund, north of Kala-i-Fath, and strikes across the plain in a westerly direction.

If all the accounts given by people who have been there are taken into consideration, together with the photographs here given, which seem to me to show that the place was one of unusual grandeur; if the fact is grasped that, whether considered as a single city or a conglomeration of adjoining successive cities, Zaidan was undoubtedly a continuous and uninterrupted row of houses of no less than eighty-six miles; I think that whatever theories may be expounded by the usual scientific speculator at home, the fact must remain that this ancient London of Asia marks a period of astounding prosperity in the history of Eastern Persia.


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