94 EXPLORATIONS IN PERSIAN MAKRAN [Chap. III
would render it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to continue field work far into the spring. There was an additional, practical reason prompting an early start northward. News received from Chahbar showed that a large military escort was coming from Ramishk, the temporary head-quarters of the General Commanding, Baluchistan, to join me; and time might be saved by moving ahead to meet it. For the journey to Bampûr I proposed to follow the route passing the valleys of Qasrqand and Geh containing the principal settlements to be found in the hills which border the basin on the south.
The first march lay across a bare plain of clay, where only a few wretched huts of herdsmen were to be seen and some patches of abandoned cultivation. It brought us to Bandagah, where a rain pool of muddy water allowed us to halt at the foot of the outermost hill range. Next day the utterly barren range was crossed, first into a belt of low and much-decayed sandstone hills and beyond this into an area where precarious cultivation is maintained in years of some rainfall by scattered small hamlets of mat-huts. The remains reported near Turkani, where we halted, proved to consist of a few insignificant stone-heaps marking decayed rubble-built dwellings. There were also some low cairns or dambs, hard to distinguish from the heaps of decomposed rock which cover a small hill visited as a ziârat, about 3 miles to the north of the hamlet.
Since the camel transport brought from Tiz had absconded during the following night, it was a special relief when next day there arrived the large escort of eighty Persian Nizamis or regulars, all mounted on camels ( Fig. .50). Their commander was `Sultan' Agha Husain Ansari, a pleasant and energetic officer from Tabriz, whose readiness to facilitate our work and cheerfully to face any hardships incidental to rough travel I soon learned fully to appreciate. With him there came Sirdar Husain Khan of Geh ( Fig. 52), whom the Persian Government, since the overthrow of the régime of Döst Muhammad Khan, the late semi-independent chief of Bampûr, had installed as the head of the Balûch tribes of Makran. The Sirdar remained with us all the way to Jiruft, well beyond the area nominally in his charge, and in spite of his youth and other impediments made himself very usetul in various practical ways. I soon had occasion to realize how great our difficulties about `supply and transport', to say nothing about local guidance and labour, would have been in this but recently pacified region without the effective protection and help kindly provided by General Muhammad Khan Nakshiwan under the orders of the Persian Government. I may record here at once also how glad I was to note the attention paid to the discipline and wellbeing of the men, all from Sistan, constituting the escort, as well as the care which had been taken to provide them with a sufficiency of transport and food.
A day's rest had to be given to the escort, which since leaving Ramishk had