Sec. i] ALEXANDER'S ALTARS 5
bank there is to be found a series of small towns which before the advent of railways prospered from the river-borne traffic and the trade following roads leading across the river, before the construction of the Grand Trunk Road and the railway diverted most of this. These little towns, now deprived of their former importance and more or less languishing, are from south to north: Govindwâl, Vairowal-Darapur, Srigobindpur, Kahnuwân.
Local tradition, supported by the evidence of old mosques, Hindu shrines, and other structural remains, made it quite certain that these places dated back to Mughal times, if not somewhat earlier. The fact of the detailed maps marking mounds in their immediate vicinity supplied an additional reason for the close examination of these sites. This showed the mounds outside the small towns to be either so-called dwas, or artificial hillocks due to the prolonged accumulation of refuse from brick kilns, commonly found near old places in the Panjâb, or else natural outcrops of kankar, a limestone formation occurring widely in the northern portion of the Panjâb, and in frequent use for building purposes. But at almost all of these places and also near some others, mere villages by the bank of the river, it proved easy to trace debris strata of earlier settlements embedded in the ground. Erosion has partially disclosed them in the small ravines running down to the riverine flat.
Thus to the north-west of Govindwâl ( Plan 1) an elevated area stretching for about one-third of a mile along the river bank was pointed out as the site of the old town which was sacked and burned down during Ahmad Shah Abdd'li's invasion in the middle of the eighteenth century. Thin strata of debris, laid bare by erosion along the steep river bank to a depth of 8-10 feet, all contained plentiful potsherds. The decorated pieces (for specimens see Goi. 1, 2, Pl. I) showed simple geometrical patterns, painted in washy black or incised, and more rarely moulded floral designs. All of this pottery could safely be attributed to medieval or later times, as could also the rare fragments of glazed ceramic ware. Half a dozen smaller mounds, rising 30-40 feet above uneroded ground to the south of the town, proved to be formed by the remains of kilns for burning bricks and pottery ( Fig. 8 ) . Here, too, the debris did not date back to any earlier period.
The mounds marked farther up the river near the large villages of Vairowâl, Dd'râpur, Jalâlabd'd, all proved to be either dwas of similar date and origin, or else natural kankar hillocks bearing decayed Muhammadan tombs and shrines. More instructive was what the close inspection of two old sites known locally by the term the showed us in the vicinity of the small walled town of Srigobindpur. It lies some 16 miles above the point where the Grand Trunk Road and the main line of the North-Western Railway cross the Bed's. Close to the south of the town there stretches along the much-eroded river bank the