Page images

tioned by Ptolemy, in which district Hecatompylos; its capital, was built, and which is supposed to be the modern Damghan. Nasroddin-al-Tossi, and other Persian writers as cited by Golius in his notes on Al-Fargan, state, that this is a vast plain encompassed by mountains, and watered by a multitude of brooks of clear salubrious water, which issue from these mountains. These streams were called the waters of Khosru, because that monarch caused them to be conveyed by aqueducts into the city, and would drink no other water in any part of his empire. In the orchards and gardens of Damghan apples are produced, which, from their beauty, size, fragrance, and taste, were placed on the tables of the Parthian sovereigns.

It is supposed by some writers that the ancient Parthia' corresponds to the modern Irak Ajemi. But this is erroneous. Irak Ajemi corresponds to the ancient Media Magna, and is at present the most western province of the Persian empire, Aderbigan and Persian Armenia excepted. It is a larger province than the ancient Parthia, occupying the middle space between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Orosius says that the Media of Scripture was that country generally called Parthia.


This province, which is the modern Fars or Farsistan, comprehends almost one half of the Dushtistan, or stony district," a low, hot, sandy strip extending along the shores of the Persian Gulf, the northern portion of the mountain region of Faristan and Kerman, and the hilly plain which extends north-east to the lake of Bakhtegan and the great desert. According to Ptolemy, it was anciently bounded on the north by Media, on the west by Susiana, and on the south by the Persian Gulf, now called Phars. The mountain ranges, which separate the table-land of Iran from the Persian Gulf, are little more than thirty or forty miles wide, but they are exceedingly steep towards the sea Between Kazerun and Shiraz, the Kotuls Dokhter and Pirazün are to be traversed; for though Kazerun is situated on this table-land, several ridges of considerable elevation intervene, especially in the northern districts. That portion of the table-land which lies southward is less mountainous, and contains several salt lakes. For the most part, this province, though containing, many well-cultivated districts, is nearly a desert, especially towards the north. Near the boundary line of Khusistan is VOL. III,


an extensive and highly-cultivated plain. Ainsworth says of the plain of Shiraz, that it is chiefly formed of silt and mud, deposited by waters of inundation.


This province was bounded on the north by Assyria, on the west by Chaldea, on the east by Persia, and on the south by the Persian Gulf

. Thus defined, Susiana nearly corresponds with the modern Khuzistan, which comprehends the southern part of the mountains of Kurdistan, and that part of the plain of the Tigris belonging to Persia, and which is, therefore, naturally divided into two portions. The plain, which is in the possession of the wandering Arab, contains good pasturage in the northern and western districts, on which the Bedouin feeds his cattle. The southern and eastern portion of the district is a sandy desert, occasionally intersected by extensive morasses, and only cultivated in some places on the banks of the rivers, where rice, wheat, and barley are raised. There are also some plantations of date trees. The mountainous part of the country contains several plains and extensive valleys, among which the valley of Ram Hormuz, which is forty miles long, and from six to eight miles in breadth, is distinguished for its fertility and picturesque beauty. All these valleys and plains are fertile, but they are only partially cultivated. Between the higher ranges of the mountains and the level plain there is a hilly tract several miles wide, which contains the most fertile soil in the province; only the borders of the river, however, are under cultivation. The high mountain ranges in the eastern part of Khuzistan are in the possession of Lurish tribes, which cultivate the ground very extensively, growing large quantities of tobacco.

There were two other provinces of ancient Persia, namely, Curdistan and Schirwan; but as the former corresponds to the ancient Assyria, and the latter to Media, the reader is referred to those histories for their geographical details.


There is no country more mountainous than that of Persia. From the one end of it to the other, these stupendous monuments of the omnipotence of Jehovah point their summits to



ward the skies. Some of these have passed under notice in the description of the several provinces; for the rest we refer the reader to the map, whereon they are distinctly delineated. It will be sufficient to state here, that many of them are situated on the frontiers, and serve as natural ramparts to this vast region, and that it is very probable they may contribute in the interior to make the country wholesome, by sheltering the valleys under them from excessive heat. At the same time, they are far from being advantageous; for many of them yield neither springs of water nor metals, and but a few are shaded with trees. Besides, they make travelling a most laborious and difficult task. This may be seen by the following passage from Pottinger's Journal, which refers to a branch of the Brahooick mountains. “Being unprovided with a barometer," he says, or other instrument calculated to mark the perpendicular height of Kelat, as the most elevated spot of the Brahooick mountains, it is only by a comparison of facts that I am prepared to offer my sentiments on This head.

Although the obliqui y be not visible in the immediate vicinity of that capital, yet to the southward we found a very marked one in places amounting to steep defiles and hills for a day's journey at a time, (after ascending the Kohunwat, or southern pass from Luz to Kelat, passing by Khosdar and Soheraub,) until we reached Rodinjo, twenty-five miles south of Kelat." Hence to Gurruck, seven miles north of Kelat, the slope is undistinguishable.' But in travelling from Gurruck, to Nooshky north-west, we crossed six lofty lukhs, or passes,

whose descent to the northward was invariably double, and, on one or two occasions, fourfold the ascent on the southern face. The accumulated differences of these alone would be equal to a very great declension ; and yet after we had got to the bottom of them, and came in sight of the great sandy desert, we found ourselves prodigiously elevated above its surface, and a seventh lukh, or pass, remained to be descended, the declivity of which was apparently double to that of all the others. Even then we were on an elevated plain, (when arrived at the foot of this last pass,) the waters of which, when augmented by the rains or melted snows amongst the neighbouring mountains, escape towards the sea by various outlets in the province of Mekran (the ancient Gedrosia) with excessive velocity. The temperature of Kelat, also, serves to prove its amazing elevation. That city, and the neighbouring district, though scarcely more than five degrees and a half removed from the summer solstice, or the torrid zone, are subjected to a most rigorous winter, and snow lies, even in the vales, from the end of November till the beginning of February. Snow has been known to fall fifteen days successively in the month of March at this place. Rice, and other vegetable productions that require warmth of climate, will not thrive here; and wheat and barley do not ripen so soon as in the British isles. From a philosophical estimation of all these concurrent particulars, it is inferible that the extreme altitude of the Brahooick mountains is not inferior to that of some ranges esteemed the highest in Europe. Recent discoveries teach us to look to Asia as the seat of the most sublime and stupendous piles on the face of the globe. Judging from the eye of the lukh, or pass, nearest the sandy desert, and comparing. its apparent altitude, length, and steepness, with some of the ghauts, or passes of India, of whose ascertained height I am apprised, I should pronounce its height to be 5000 feet above the sandy desert. If we add to this one half for the other six passes between that spot and the city of Kelat, and grant the desert, as the base of the whole, to be elevated of itself 500 feet above the level of the sea, it will produce an aggregate of 8000 feet.”. From this the reader will gather an idea of the great altitude of Persia. Pottinger says that it is here 8000 feet, but there are other geographers who think his estimate too low, and add 2000 more, making it 10,000 feet above the level of the sea. Nor does this appear to be exaggeration, for 500 feet of descent, at least, should be allowed for each of the six passes, and that number is by far too low an estimate for the level of the desert.

Another passage from Pottinger's Journal offers itself as still more illustrative of the mountainous features of Persia, " After quitting Gurruck," says he, “ seven miles north-west of Kelat, our road lay through a mountainous and barren country, and we ascended two lukhs, or defiles, one of them particularly hazardous, the rugged path, not exceeding two. feet wide, and, on the left, an abyss at least a quarter of a mile deep. Next day, we passed a miserable night from the cold, which was so intense, that, unprovided as we were with warm clothing or beds, it was impossible to sleep; and we were unable to make the least attempt to move, until nine o'clock, when the sunbeams began to operate, and, literally speaking, renovated us. We then mounted, and by five o'clock had proceeded thirty-one miles, the intermediate country being, if possible, more bleak and barren than that we had passed yes. terday, and the path equally winding. We had several lukhs, or passes, to surmount, the last of which I conceive worthy of a minute detail, as it would seem, from its situation, on the edge of the desert, to have been intended by nature as an insurmountable barrier to these elevated regions, and it is, beyond all comparison, the most difficult defile I have ever seen in any country. It is separated on the south-east side from Kelat, or from the other mountains, by a deep and narrow raviné, the sides of which are solid black rock, and nearly perpendicular. Emerging from this part by a rugged path, we ascended the south-west face of the pass, from the top of which the desert burst upon our view, extending as far as the eye could reach, with the resemblance of a smooth ocean, from the reflection of the sun on the sand. The emotions of my fellow-traveller and myself were, at this instant, of the most enviable nature. On descending the north-western side of the lukh, which cost us nearly five hours, it being eleven miles long, and extremely steep, we entered the bed of a river

а between the mountains, and on a level with their bases, which led us out into the desert by innumerable mazes. The last half hour of our route was through the bed of the river Ky. ser, which, though deep and rapid during the rains, is often quite dry in the hot months of May, June, and July. At this time, when we crossed it, it was from two to three feet deep, and six or seven yards across. The only shrubs we saw today were some scraggy bushes of the Farnesian mimosa, here called the babool tree, and in the river great quantities of tamarisk. One of the mountains which we crossed was literally studded with bulbous roots, similar to those of tulips, that were beginning to bud, whose fragrance, as I was assured, would, in another month, be perceptible to a great distance. The grass called by the natives kusheput, or desert grass, also abounds here, and is collected by the Brahooes, as winter food for their cattle

. It grows in bunches, or tufts, with thick coarse stalks, leaves long and serrated, and is very sweet and nutritious. The camel-thorn, called by the Persian khare shootoor, is also to be seen here, but not so plentifully as in the lower tracts."

Ainsworth, speaking of the general geological features of the rocks in Persia, says:

66. The most remarkable feature in the rocks of Kurdistan is, the invariable compactness and hard texture of the limestone rocks; but this only obtains in the mountain districts; for, as the indurated limestone of Rum-Kalah, on Euphrates, becomes a soft chalk, with many


« EelmineJätka »