Sec. vii] EXPLORATION OF RUINS N. vi—xii 375
2 ft. 9 in. high. The sides of the platform were formed by a facing of solid planks rising in two steps and held in position by massive round posts. Towards the middle of the southeastern side of the platform, and at a distance of about 2 ft. from it, were the much-decayed remains of a small semicircular plaster base, about 6 in. high, having embedded in its centre the stump of a wooden post, which looked as if it might have served as the support of a stucco image constructed after the fashion illustrated by the Dandan-Uiliq sculptures.
Owing to the top of this base lying almost exposed on the surface, no remains of any kind were discovered on it. But just in front of it there turned up a small relief image carved in wood, only 6 in. long, so completely rotted by exposure as to be barely recognizable. It broke into small splinters when I attempted to move it. On the first step formed by the wooden revetment of the platform towards the north-west was found another and much better preserved wooden image, N. xvi. i (see Plate LXX), measuring, with its tenon-like base, 12 in. in height. It is rudely carved and shows a nude standing figure, with a top-knob on head and with hands folded at the breast in the attitude of worship (krliznjali). The features are marked in black, now but faintly visible, while traces of red colour at the base may probably be due to daubing with Sindura. Along the same edge of the platform were found the well-preserved Takhti-shaped tablet (N. xvi. 2), the interesting Kharosthi text of which has been discussed in the preceding section 1, as well as a much-perished rectangular covering-tablet (N. xvi. 3). The discovery of the two figures in wood, which manifestly had connexion with worship, together with the arrangement of the platform, make it highly probable that this isolated small structure had served as a shrine, similar in character to the small cellas of Dandan-Uiliq. The fact that one portion of the text in N. xvi. 2 contains a letter from two Sramanas, probably a draft as explained above, tends to confirm this supposition. It may also be noted that the arrangement of the platform with its wooden facing exactly recalls that observed at the small Strip base which came to light in the course of my excavations at Rawak 2.
About 34o yards to the south of N. v lay the remains of a small dwelling N. vi (see plan in Plate XXXIII) covered only by a slight layer of sand, and hence badly eroded. Its southernmost room (N. xvii.), which must have once been provided with a raised roof over its central area, was the only one yielding any finds. Among the five documents discovered here the pair of rectangular tablets N. xvii. 2+3 (see Plate CIV) were remarkably well-preserved, considering that the protecting sand lay here only about i ft. deep. An avenue to the east of the dwelling was clearly marked by a row of large fallen poplars.
The excavation of the last-named small ruin having been effected under the Surveyor's supervision while I was still engaged in the clearing of N. xv. close by, I was able to turn, on February 9, to the remains of the relatively large dwelling, N. vii (for plan see Plate X X X I I I), which occupied a conspicuous position on a loess-bank rising island-like above much-eroded ground nearly one mile to the north of N. v. A good deal of timber-débris strewing the eroded slopes to the west and north showed that the building must once have been more extensive. The same conclusion was indicated by the dimensions of the hall, seen in the plan at the south-eastern end of the extant ruin. Here the sand lay 6 to 7 ft. deep, and its clearing cost a good deal of labour. The row of smaller rooms on the north-west side, separated from the rest of the building by a passage 4 ft. broad, occupied a level fully 5 ft. higher, a circumstance which may possibly indicate construction at a different time. Here the sand-layer was much slighter, and along the outer faces of the rooms the ground was undergoing erosion. On the