912 THE SACRED HILL OF SISTAN [Chap. XXVIII
the higher ground. Between the two middle buttresses the position of a stairway 8 feet wide leading from the quadrangle to the terrace can be clearly made out.
Central On the line marked by the stairway rises the central structure of the upper group of ruins,
structure on v (Fig. 463). Its importance is marked by its position and certain peculiar structural features. terrace.
Unfortunately it has suffered great decay, and without careful clearing its character could not be determined with certainty. Through a wide porch a kind of anteroom over 4o feet long is entered, and from this a cella-like apartment, about 22 feet square. This appears to have been spanned by a dome resting on four wide arches, as suggested by what remains of the abutment walls in the four corners. A passage, 41 feet wide, on three sides of the ` cella' and accessible from the anteroom at first looked as if intended for circumambulation. Behind the cella there are ranged several oblong apartments extending right up to the circumvallation ; on the left or western side a narrow passage separates the latter from the complex just described.
Stucco On the outside of the massive wall, g, with which the anteroom faces the terrace in front, my
relievos on attention was attracted by small tamarisk pegs, 5-6" long, sticking out in irregular rows. Recollec-
outer walls. tion of the use made of such pegs in the plaster friezes of shrines at the Ming-oi of Shôrchuk 6 and at other Buddhist shrines of the Tarim basin made me think that here, too, they may have served to support stucco relievos. Repeated inspection from farther off and in favourable lighting soon revealed remains of such relievos actually surviving higher up on this wall, and also on the face of the enclosing wall h where it faces the terrace on a line parallel to the former. The stucco figures, executed in flat relievo, have all greatly suffered by rain and exposure. Yet the outlines were brought out by the shadows when the sun stood high, and permitted confident interpretation and also photographic record (Fig. 466). On the wall h there could be recognized three figures on horseback in procession all turned to the left. Very little was left of the riders' figures above the
Relievo waist. But much of the bodies of the horses and their heads survived, as seen in Fig. 466. The
figures of horses show distinctly the same heavy short-necked type that we know from the Sasanian rock horses.
sculptures and thus furnish a valuable chronological indication. Their bodies are about 8 feet
above the terrace level and measure about 31- feet from the back to beneath the belly. Lower down, about 5 feet from the ground, rows of holes mark the position of a frieze, about 1' 2" wide, which has completely disappeared. On the wall portion marked g I could recognize a similar rider and horse turned to the left, and in front the figure of a lion, almost erect, jumping at the horse's head. The stiff attitude and modelling of the beast looked to me distinctly reminiscent of the style in which corresponding hunting scenes are represented in Sasanian rock sculptures and even earlier in Achaemenidian relievos.8 The extant portion of the lion measured about 4i feet and the horse's head about 2' 3". These characteristically Sasanian figures on the walls of the central structure of the whole ruined site would by themselves suffice to establish its pre-Muhammadan origin.
Smaller This lends additional interest to the constructional features observed in the cella, iii, which
apartments. occupies the western corner of the terrace (Fig. 461). They are typical also of some other small
vaulted apartments found in a more decayed condition in the upper portion of the site. Four massive abutments projecting from the alignment of the walls carry semicircular arches. The masonry resting on the arches reaches to a height of about 12 feet above the extrados. By squinches in the corners the square plan of the cella is converted into an octagon, over which rose the circular drum now destroyed. Square holes found on the sides of the abutments and also in the corners of the masonry above the arches probably served for the insertion of beams intended to counteract the thrust due to the dome. One such small vaulted cella, vii, adjoins the gate chamber, vi, at the
6 See Serindia, iii. pp. 1191 sqq. 7 See, e.g., Sarre, Kunst des alten Persien, Pl. 70-74.
8 See ibid., PI. 17.