214 FROM GALEHDÄR TO BUSHIRE [Chap. VIII
be abandoned in recent years. The ascent of the rugged coastal range proved so steep and difficult from the start that I could scarcely feel surprised at two of the local donkeys having clandestinely been taken away by their owners during the night, and two more breaking down completely after only about 1 miles had been covered on the bare slope of calcareous rock up which the track led. I had previously noticed scanty traces of an old road, and as the ascent continued we soon passed walls built with large slabs of cut stone which had once carried a winding, properly engineered road. These and other remains observed farther on left no doubt that this route, difficult as it must always have been, had been in regular use for the traffic which once was carried on between the emporium of Siraf and the old trading centres of Iran.
After gaining the height of the rocky spur the old route, still difficult but less steep, was followed along its crest north-eastwards to a narrow plateau known as Yahûd-kush ( `the Jew's murder' ) . There two cisterns and the ruins of several domed structures occupy the small available space, marking an old halting-place for trade caravans. At the bottom of a confined little valley to the north could be seen patches of date groves irrigated from a spring-fed streamlet and visited by semi-nomadic herdsmen known here, as all along the coast, by the designation of `Balûch'. The brushwood brought down by them from the higher hill-sides and shipped to Bahrein, partly in the form of charcoal, forms nowadays practically the only article of export from this desolate coast.
Ascending the bare rocky ridge for another mile, we reached the foot of precipitous cliffs known as Shash p ch. The name, meaning literally `the six screw turns or twists', is not inappropriately derived from the very steep winding path which clambers up the side of the cliffs between fissured masses of rock (Fig. 80) . The path is too difficult for any but local donkeys to follow and in places would scarcely allow our mule-trunks to be got through. An ascent of some 300 feet by this rock ladder brought us to almost vertical cliffs of limestone which looked as if barring progress for any laden animal. Yet a track had been carried up here, to a further height of some 400 feet, by means of walls of very solid construction. They showed regular courses of masonry set in mortar. The route was thus made practicable also for camels which, as our Galehdar tufangchis explained, could be brought here by means of a detour leading across a side spur lower down, thus avoiding the `Six Twists'.
On gaining the top of the main spur we found its narrow crest occupied by the ruins of a square sarai and some other smaller structures. They are known by the name of Gachino, from the gypsum cement (gach) used in the rough masonry. They obviously date from the same period as the remains of Siraf, and their better preservation may well be due to the force of earthquakes having made itself less