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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Illustration The Gandun Piran Ziarat on Kuh i Kwajah


[Illustration:

A Family Tomb (Eight Compartments) on Kuh-i-Kwajah.]

On reaching the summit we found ourselves on an undulating plateau covered with graves, but these graves, unlike all others which I had seen in Persia, had not only the characteristic points of the Zaidan ones in which the body was encased in the tomb above the level of the ground, but were in compartments and contained whole families. The first grave we examined was made of huge boulders and was six yards long, four yards wide and had four sections, each occupied by a skeleton and covered over with flat slabs of stone. Each compartment was about 11/2 feet high, 21/2 feet broad, and 6 feet long. Near this family grave was a quarry of good stone from which stones for grinding wheat, hand-mortars, &c., had been cut. At the foot was a reservoir for rain-water.

One was rather surprised on reaching the summit of Kuh-i-Kwajah to find it so undulating, for on approaching the mountain from the plain one was specially impressed by its straight upper outlines against the sky. The summit is actually concave, like a basin, with numerous hillocks all round, and one portion, judging by sediments left, would appear to have contained a lake. In the centre of the plateau are two extensive artificial camps dug into the earth and rock, and having stone sides. On a hillock to the west of one of these ponds stands a tomb with no less than ten graves side by side.

justify;">From this point eastwards, however, is the most interesting portion of this curious plateau. Numerous groups of graves are to be seen at every few yards, and two dead-houses, one with a large dome partly collapsed on the north side, the other still in the most perfect state of preservation. The photograph facing page 240 gives a good idea of them. The larger and more important dead-house had a central hall 41/2 yards square, and each side of the square had an outer wing, each with one door and one window above it. Each wing projected three yards from the central hall. To the east in the central hall there was a very greasy stone, that looked as if some oily substance had been deposited on it, possibly something used in preparing the dead. Next to it was a vessel for water.

Outside, all round the walls of this dead-house, and radiating in all directions, were graves, all above ground and as close together as was possible to construct them, while on the hillocks to the south of the dead-houses were hundreds of compartments for the dead, some in perfect condition, others fallen through; some showing evident signs of having been broken through by sacrilegious hands--very likely in search of treasure.

[Illustration: Kala-i-Kakaha, the "City of Roars of Laughter."]

[Illustration: The "Gandun Piran" Ziarat on Kuh-i-Kwajah.]

On the top of a hillock higher than the others was a tomb of thirty-eight sections, all occupied. A lot of large stones were heaped on the top of this important spot, and surmounting all and planted firmly in them was a slender upright stone pillar 61/2 feet high. It had no inscription upon it nor any sign of any kind, and had been roughly chipped off into an elongated shape. Near this grave, which was the most extensive of its kind that I had observed on the plateau, was a very peculiar ruined house with four rooms, each four yards square, and each room with two doors, and all the rooms communicating. It was badly damaged. Its shape was most unusual.


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