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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The domed room was well preserved


We

were now getting near the ruins of Sher-i-Rustam or Sher-i-Sukhta, the city of Rustam, the Persian hero. North-east of it one came first to a ruined tower, then to a burial ground with single graves and graves in sets of two and three, very similar in shape to those we had seen on the Kuh-i-Kwajah. These, too, were above ground, but were made of mud instead of stone. Most of the graves had been broken through. The graveyard was situated on a sand hillock.

In the distance, to the east and south-east of Rustam's city, there spread from the north a long stretch of ruins, which probably were part of the continuation of the great Zaidan. A number of towers--as many as six being counted in a line--and a high wall could be perceived still standing. This must evidently have been a fort, and had what appeared to be the wall of a tower at its north-west end. Other extensive ruins could just be observed further south-east, and also to the south-west, where a high tower stood prominent against the sky.

When close to Rustam's city we went through a walled oblique-angled parallelogram enclosing a tower. A great portion of the wall had collapsed, but it appeared to have been an outpost north of the city.

The next thing was an ancient dry canal which came from the east by south-east, and we then found ourselves before Rustam's abode. The photograph given in the illustration was taken as we

approached the city and gives a good idea of the place as it appeared beyond the foreground of sand and salt. The place was in most wonderful preservation considering its age. There were four high towers to the north, the two central towers which protected the city gate being close together and more massive than the corner ones, which were circular and tapering towards the summit. The wall of the city was castellated and stood some 30 feet high. The city gate, protected by an outer screen, was to the east, and was two-storeyed. It led directly into the main street of the city.

I cannot do better than enumerate the characteristics of the city in the order in which I noticed them on my visit to it. A path, like a narrow platform, was visible all round half-way up inside the wall, as well as another on the top which gave access from one tower to another. There were no steps to reach the summit of the towers, but merely inclined planes.

On entering the city gate--the only one--one came at once upon Rustam's palace--a three-tiered domed structure with a great many lower annexes on its western and southern sides. A wall adjoining the city gate enclosed Rustam's quarters, and had a large entrance cut into it leading to the dwelling. The various floors were reached by a series of tunnelled passages on inclined planes. Rustam's favourite room was said to have been the top one, represented in the photograph facing page 266, where the outside of the two top storeys of the building can be seen.

The domed room was well preserved, and had a sort of raised portion to sit upon. The ceiling was nicely ornamented with a frieze and a design of inverted angles. The room had four windows, and a number of slits in the north wall for ventilating purposes. It was a regular look-out house, commanding a fine view all round above the city wall of the great expanse of desert with its ancient cities to the east, and distant blue mountains to the west. There were a number of receptacles, some of which had been used for burning lights, and five doors leading into other rooms. These rooms, however, were not so well preserved--in fact, they had mostly collapsed, their side walls alone remaining. No wood had been used in the construction of the building and all the ceilings were vaulted.


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