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307 PERSIA-THE COUNTRY.

waters is the same as that of Neyriz. A few other small lakes are found in different parts

of the country, but none contain fresh water.

In its general features the country is mountainous. The geographical peculiarity of the

ranges is the frequent gorges and chasms by which they are cleft in twain. Not only where

the mountains are divided for the passage of streams, but in many other places where

nature makes no such demand, the chains are parted, so that transit from one side to the

other is easy. In many districts roads are made through these great chasms, on either side

of which rise frightful precipices of rock, some of which are two thousand feet high.

Sometimes the abyss is closed overhead, and the road winds under a grotto.

The range already referred to as dividing the Hot from the Cold region of Persia is cleft

in no fewer than four places by these striking and picturesque mountain gorges. These

passes have in all ages furnished the inhabitants with a safe and easy route from the

inland districts to the sea, and at the same time, from their defensibility, have ever

been a safe-guard in war. A few men at the top of the chasms can easily make the passage

of an army impossible. It was in the very entrance to one of these mountain gorges that

PASARGADJE, the ancient capital of the country, was situated.

Of political divisions in Persia proper there were five: Paractacene, Mardyene, Taocene,

Ciribo, and Carmania. The first of these lay among the mountains of Bakhtiyari. The second

was adjacent to the first, and extended from Bebahan to Kazerun. Taocene lay in the Hot

district along the coast. Ciribo was the other division of the same region. The eastern

part of the Persian, upland was known as Carmania-the modern Kerman. Between these

political districts into which the country was divided there were no natural lines of

demarkation, the only distinction of that kind being the mountain range already, referred

to as dividing the coast region from the table-lands.

Nearly one-half of Persia proper was uninhabitable. The vast mountain regions

could support only a scanty population. The sandy plains, devoid of vegetation and

incrusted with salt, could sustain no animal life. It was on the bill-slopes, and by the

banks of infrequent rivers, and in the valleys that a population accumulated and

flourished. The uplands generally tended to sterility, and the landscape in such regions

had a touch of desolation, dropping away to a brown horizon of cheerlessness and solitude.

The forests of Persia were in the mountains. Between Bebahan and Shiraz there is a tract

of fine wood land sixty miles in extent, and from the latter city eastward towards

Carmania is an attractive country of low hills covered with timber and divided by

luxuriant valleys. The plains about Shiraz and Kazerun are beautiful in appearance, and

even under their scanty supply of water produce abundant crops.

Turning to the provinces and countries which were conquered by the Persian monarchs and

added to their dominions, we find many of those already described in the histories of

Chaldaea, Media, and Babylonia. But the limits of Persia reached far beyond these

countries, and embraced others of which no account has hitherto been given. Some of the

regions with which we are now brought into contact lay eastward from Persia proper, some

to the far north-west, and some to the south-west, looking to Africa.

Beginning with the eastern part of the Empire, we have first of all the Great Plateau of

IRAN, a vast region extending through twenty degrees of longitude, and raised to an

elevation of five thousand feet above the level of the sea. It has a breadth of seven

degrees, forming a kind of rectangle with an area of five hundred and fifty thousand

square miles. The grand plateau extends from the Zagros mountains to the valley of the

Indus, and embraces the great countries of Khorasan and Afghanistan.

Two-thirds bf this vast region are a desert. The plain is high and rainless. The few

streams that descend from the mountain slopes flow a short distance and are swallowed in

the sands. Of all the