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0371 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 371 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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entered through a still recognizable gate, i, apparently double and flanked by round towers. From there a wall 4 feet thick and in part still standing to a height of II feet runs to the north-east, where it ends (ii) at precipitous cliffs descending into the gorge of the Yamchin stream. The side of this gorge along the whole length of the fortified area is formed by unscalable precipices, and thus provides a natural line of defence, rendering walls unnecessary.

The outermost line of wall continues from the gate to the NW. until it meets the inner circumvallation. Where it ascends the steep slope it has been much broken. But where well preserved it clearly shows a thickness of 6 feet. The walls of the stronghold are throughout built of unhewn blocks of stone, set in irregular layers, yet with care, and compacted with mud plaster which shows much consistency. Of the round towers that strengthen this line of walls, the one at the eastern end is the best preserved, showing an inside diameter of 13 feet. Like the rest, it is built of sun-dried bricks, i 2" x 9" x 4" in size, on a solid foundation of stone about 3 feet high. Its wall is about 62 feet thick and provided with loopholes at a height of about 3 feet from the inside ground level. The width of the loopholes, i 2 inches within, narrows to 8 inches outside, suggesting that they were meant for the use of bows and not of fire-arms. The same arrangement was observed elsewhere, the height of the loopholes varying from 2' 3" to 3'.

The second line of wall starts from the edge of the Yamchin gorge where it faces on the other side the ruins of the outlying fort of Zulkhomâx (Fig. 409). From there it runs for a distance of some 450 yards across the width of the spur to the SW. as far as a steep knoll which overlooks the deep-cut canon of the Vichkut stream. The wall, from 4i to 5 feet in thickness, shows loopholes, of the type above described, at approximate intervals of about 8 feet. Where it ascends over a steep rocky slope towards the knoll just mentioned, it still rises to 15 or i6 feet and shows a double row of loopholes. This portion of the line is strengthened by 17 towers (Fig. 405), most of which are round, having an average diameter of about 13 feet within. Their state of preservation differs much, but it seems that about half the perimeter of the round ones projected beyond the curtain wall, loopholes piercing the tower wall also on the inward side. An inner wall appears to have originally accompanied the second line of defence throughout, keeping at a distance of about 6 feet from the curtains. But being only i 2 to 2 feet thick, it has disappeared over considerable stretches. It is best seen along the western face of the circumvallation, as shown by Fig. 403. It deserves to be noted that this inner wall shows no loopholes. In some places traverses seem to have divided the passage between the double lines of wall, as if intended to permit independent defence of separate sections of the enceinte. Communication between these might ordinarily have been maintained along the parapet of the outer wall. The gate passing through this was located at the point, marked iii in the sketch-plan (PI. 47), where a quadrangular bastion flanks a re-entering angle of the wall line. Small rooms traceable within the bastion served, no doubt, as quarters for the guard. From outside a walled ramp led up to the gate.

The line of wall, here badly broken, curves up to a massive tower occupying the top of the above-mentioned knoll and then turning NNW. ascends across a small dip in the western flank of the spur. This depression is reached at the present day by a path which comes from cultivation beyond the Vichkut gorge and traverses the latter where its rock walls are somewhat less difficult than elsewhere. Thence the line of walls turns to N. and where it approaches a somewhat less inaccessible portion of the scarp above the Vichkut gorge is guarded by a fairly well preserved tower, iv, measuring 15 feet in diameter within and having its superstructure built of bricks, i6"x i r"x 5" in size (Fig. 403). Below it projects a very massive outwork (Fig. 408), built up on the slope above the Vichkut gorge before it falls off in sheer cliffs. The walls of this oblong outwork as well as of the tower are decorated above with a course of triangular niches formed of large bricks

Construction of walls.



Towers above Vichkut gorge.