194 ALONG THE PERSIAN GULF COAST [Chap. VII
direct consequences of the long preceding drought. But the famine produced by it had driven away a very large portion of the population to the island of Bahrein and the Arabian coast. What was to be seen of the rest strongly impressed me both here and farther on with the great preponderance of Arab stock in the population. Nowhere along the narrow coastal belt were old remains to be found; nor could I learn of any on the long island of Qishm, Nearchos's Oarakta, sighted across the narrow waters of the Clarence Strait, which the route up to the fishing hamlet of Birkeh Suflin skirts. Before reaching this halting-place, and also at Sidâr, some miles to the east of Khamir, we found the narrow passage left for the track between the foot of precipitous rocky spurs and the sea closed by decayed towers and walls, forming a chiusa. But these bore no sign of any
great age. •
Two marches from Birkeh Suflin brought us past Bandar Mu`allim, another hamlet almost wholly deserted, to Lingeh. Before reaching this once flourishing small port on Christmas Eve we passed the large fishing village of Kung, where, after the loss of Hormuz, the Portuguese had maintained a trading station of some importance for close on a century. Its history has been fully treated by Captain A. H. Stiffe.' Extensive low mounds close to the west of the village with remnants of walls extensively quarried for building material mark the position of the old settlement. But `the old Portuguese factory, a large white ruined building', the walls of which still stood at the time of Captain Stiffe's visit ( about 1857-60) though `in a very tottering condition', could not be definitely located.
About half a mile to the north-east of Kung there stretches for about 600 yards close to the shore a flat sandy area covered with pottery debris. Judging from the numerous fragments found there of a very superior glazed ware and the total absence of structural remains above ground, it appears that the occupation of this site preceded the establishment of the Portuguese factory and dates from medieval times. Besides fragments of Chinese porcelain, perhaps too small for exact dating, and some pieces of decorated Persian ware, many pieces could be picked up of a very fine glazed ware in varying shades of brown and green, often with a mottled appearance and showing a ribbed surface. Some pieces are skilfully decorated with patterns in different tints of brown (Kung. 29, 33, 40; Pl. xxvI ) . It is likely that the curious story recorded from local tradition by Captain Stiffe, about an artisan of former times who manufactured very superior pottery with the good clay to be found near Kung, relates to this ware.
The town of Lingeh occupies open ground between the sea and a low, much eroded plateau stretching away towards the great salt marsh of Mihrakân in the 1 See his paper `Former Trading Centres of the Persian Gulf", Geogr. Journal, 1899, March, pp. 294 sqq.