IO EXPLORATIONS IN TURKESTAN.
nearest water, and in the heart of the desert. The remains of canals show that the cities were watered from the Atrek, but the river now lies too low to feed the canals.
Ancient Merv.—The ruins of ancient Mery are said to cover about 30 square miles and consist of several cities of different ages. Two of these—the Ghiaur Kala and the Iskender Kala—appear to be the more ancient. The remains of a circular wall extend, with a radius of about 4 miles, all around these several cities. To judge from its degraded condition, it may possibly represent a very ancient inclosure, within which diminishing populations have rebuilt after successive destructions by war. Mery existed in remote antiquity and is one of the cities mentioned in the Zend Avesta.
The walls of Ghiaur Kala, though now reduced to a hillocky ridge perhaps So or 6o feet high, of accumulated débris, inclose plateaus 3o to 50 or more feet high,
Fig. 5.—Remains of Earthen Wall in the Anau Tumulus.
and a mound So feet high which was evidently a citadel. From these walls we could see far away on the northern horizon, in the desert, other flat-topped mounds apparently of great height and extent.
Ruins of Paikent.—The ruins of Paikent represent the type of cities abandoned for lack of water and then buried by the progressing desert sands. Paikent was a great center of wealth and of commerce between China and the west and south till in the early centuries of our era. The recessions of the lower ends of the Zerafshan river brought its doom. Now only its citadel mound and the top of parts of its walls rise above the waves of the invading sands. (Fig. 7.)
Samarkand.—Next to those of Mery the ruins of Samarkand are the most extensive. Its position must have made it an important center of commerce and wealth probably throughout the whole period of prehistoric occupation, as it has been