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0429 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 429 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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to archaeological excavations on both sides of the Perso-Afghan border may soon be able to extend the activity of its scholars to the rich field reserved in Sistan. It only remains for me to add that it will be convenient in dealing with this region to disregard the chronological order followed elsewhere in recording my labours and to treat the remains surveyed by me according to topographical grouping.

Hill of Kôhi-Khwâ ja.


On December 6th I left the hospitable roof of the Sistan Consulate at Nasratâbad for Kôh-iKhwaja, and passing next morning beyond the village of Daudi over flat uncultivated ground liable to inundation, arrived at the edge of the Haman where it faces the rock island of Kôh-iKhwaja (Fig. 473). My reason for visiting the ruined site to be found there first was that this conspicuous hill, rising in complete isolation more than 400 feet above the central portion of the Haman marshes and the level expanse of the Helmand delta, bears on its top much-frequented Muhammadan shrines which form the object of regular pilgrimages. Its sanctitÿ is marked by its very name, the ` hill of the Saint ', i. e. `Ali. The very striking natural features of this hill, rising as it does in the very centre of a wide lacustrine basin, were calculated to attract local worship from early times, and belief in the tenacity of such worship suggested antiquity for the ruins.

The hill of Kôh-i-Khwâja is separated from the western edge of the alluvial plain by a stretch of reed-covered marsh, about a mile across in the winter season of low water but probably much wider later in the year. The elevation of the shore as recorded by the survey near this point, I,600 feet, is so low that the position occupied by the hill is likely to have been an island for a very long period in the past. Its ruined site is mentioned as an island stronghold in the Haman by a Muhammadan chronicle of Herat, in connexion with events of the 15th century A. D.1 The summit of the hill forms a rock-girt plateau (Fig. 475) extending, as the sketch-plan, PI. 52, shows, for over a mile from NE. to SW. and not much less across. For about 150 feet the cliffs below the plateau edge fall off with great steepness (Figs. 458, 463, 473), while lower down their foot is hidden in easier talus slopes stretching to the narrow fringe of salt-encrusted foreshore. At the south-eastern end of the hill a narrow ridge (Fig. 455) tails off from below the ruin-crowned knoll of Kok-i-Zal ; on the terraced slopes of this ridge stand the ruins of the site usually known as Ghegha-shahs, the ` town of the Ghagha '.2

Steep ravines separate the ridge both on the west and east from the adjacent slopes of the hill and account for the choice of this position as a place capable of defence. The main circumvallation, as seen in the sketch-plan, Pl. 52, is built, like the structures within, of sun-dried bricks, and encloses an area measuring about 170 yards from N. to S. and about 13o yards where it is widest. Where this area narrows in its highest portion, it reaches close to the foot of the cliffs crowned by the walls of Kok-i-Z5.1. An outer enclosure, of much weaker construction, appears to have stretched from the foot of the cliffs in a semicircle round this walled area at a distance varying from about 16o to loo yards. But this has badly decayed and is traceable only on the south and south-west ; scarcely any structural remains are found between it and the main walls.3 These show a thickness nowhere less than 8 feet and, where they ascend the slopes, are built on foundations far more massive. They rise in places still to 3o feet or more. The bricks, like those in most of the large

Rock-girt hill forms island.

Circum- vallation of Ghagha- shahr.

1 See Tate, Seistan, p. 267.

2 This is the form of the name as I heard it. Mr. Tate, Seistan, p. 265, spells the name as Kakha or Kak-hâ and connects it with that of a section of the Farsiwan, the supposed autochthonous population of Sistan ; cf. ibid., pp. 281, 295.


3 See the rough plan, Pl. 53. The measurements shown in this plan, owing to the difficulties presented by the ruined condition of the buildings, their extent, &c., must be treated as only approximate: Of the circumvallation in particular no detailed survey was practicable within the available time.