The deeply-cut square holes, arranged outside the trefoil niche in the form of a pentagon, undoubtedly served to support a wooden framework which once protected the image.
Colonel Biddulph has already noticed the remains of an ancient irrigation work, which can Ancient
be traced close by, along the right or eastern side of the mouth of Kergah-Nullah. The square water-con-
sockets which are seen there, sunk into the steep rock face at a uniform level and for a con-
siderable distance, were manifestly designed to hold stout pieces of timber, on which a wooden
trough could be fixed to conduct water from the stream of the Nullah for the irrigation of fields
in the main valley. The comparatively high level at which this conduit runs above the rock-
strewn bottom of the Nullah is easily accounted for by its purpose of carrying water to slopes
which could not be reached by irrigation cuts taken from the stream at its actual mouth.
That the construction of this watercourse belongs to an early period, certainly pre-
Muhammadan, is proved beyond doubt by the excellent cutting of the sockets, which shows
a command of stone-craft long lost among the population of these valleys. We may well suppose
that in a period of greater material culture Gilgit was more thickly inhabited than it is now,
and that in consequence portions of ground on the hill sides and on alluvial plateaus more
elevated than any now under cultivation were utilized for fields and required to be irrigated.
Throughout the Gilgit valley it is only the water obtained from the side-streams that renders
agriculture and the growing of fruit trees possible 4.
In connexion with these few notes on ancient remains in Gilgit, I may mention that the Ancient
ruined mounds which Major J. Manners Smith and other officers on duty in Gilgit have noted mGounilgitds in
at Hanzil and Jutial in all probability represent the remains of Stûpas. I was not able to
visit them, but the photograph of the mound near Hanzil (a village about nine miles above
Gilgit Fort) which is reproduced in the report of the Pamir Boundary Commission, distinctly
suggests this origin b. The fact that in either place the ruin shows only rough masonry of
unhewn stone would render it difficult to arrive at any conclusion as to the date of construction
without systematic excavation.
The valley of the Hunza river, through which I passed from Gilgit to the Taghdumbash Valley of
Pamir, is, alike by the stern grandeur of its peaks and glaciers, the natural difficulty of its Hunza.
communications, and the strange mixture of races and languages among its population, a mountain
region of exceptional interest. But the same ice-crowned ranges and almost equally formidable
gorges which have rendered Hunza until our days so secure against foreign invasion, have
also effectively barred the valley from ever serving as a real line of communication or otherwise
acquiring historical importance.
We have striking evidence of this isolation in the survival of Burisheski, the tongue spoken
in Hunza proper, which has no relation whatever to any of the great language families (Indian,
Iranian, Turki, Tibetan) that meet close to this easternmost point of the Hindukush watershed.
Nor can it be doubted that these secluded communities, in their customs, traditions, and economic
conditions, must have preserved much that would prove highly instructive to antiquarian students.