313 PERSIA.-CLIMATE AND PRODUCTS.
At intervals Persia is greatly afflicted with locusts. They sometimes swarm up like the
devouring plagues of Syria and Egypt. They generally come on the winds which blow from the
coasts of Arabia. The sky is not infrequently darkened with the clouds of these
devastating creatures that drop in myriads on .every spot of greenness, leaving it a
desolation. It only remains for the inhabitants when visited with this plague to avenge
themselves by eating the eaters.
The domestic animals of Persia are the same as those of Media and Mesopotamia. The most
valuable are the sheep and the goat. Cows and oxen are less esteemed. The horses are of
many fine breeds, from the fleet Arabian to the heavy Turcomans .used for common service.
The sheep are, for the most part, black or brown, small and short-legged, but bearing
fleeces of great fineness. Camels were employed by the ancient, as by the modern Persians,
for carrying heavy burdens, and for other service requiring great endurance.
In the times of the Empire the mines of Persia were already in a flourishing condition.
Gold and silver, copper and iron, were the principal metals produced there from. It is
believed that the red-lead mines near Neyriz were also worked with advantage in the times
of the Achaemenians. As to salt, the supply was limitless. From the exposed beds of lakes,
and in some districts from the surface of the earth, it was taken up with little labor. In
Carmania and some other provinces rock salt was found of several colors, and in great
abundance. Near the city of Dalaki there were springs of naphtha and bitumen. Sulphur was
a product of several districts, but the values of this mineral were little known or
The pearl-fisheries of the Persian Gulf have been famous since the days of Darius. The
pearls gathered from this source were reckoned the finest of all the East. In the uplands
of the north several varieties of hard gems were found, but they were for the most part of
kinds less valuable than those of Babylonia and India. Passing beyond the limits of Persia
proper, we come again to those great countries-Egypt, Chaldaea, Assyria, Media- whose
animal and vegetable products and mineral resources have already been described in the
preceding Books. Outside of the borders of these countries, in regions of which only the
geography has thus far been sketched, there were many animals unknown in the dominions of
Nebuchadnezzar and Ramses. In the country between the Elburz mountains and the Caspian the
tiger has his haunts. He is also found on the borders of the Sea of Aral and in the valley
of the Indus. In the latter locality elephants were not infrequent objects of wonder to
Western' travelers. The water of the Indus and the jungles along the banks were the
native abode of the alligator and the crocodile. The hippopotamus was found only in Egypt.
In Bactria was the home of the two-humped camel, that creature of prodigious strength and
patient endurance, whose qualities made him almost a necessity of ancient civilization.
The celebrated goat of Angora, with its heavy fleece of white, silk-like wool, should also
be mentioned among the animals of the Empire. In Armenia and parts of Afghanistan the elk
flourished and was reckoned among the most royal beasts of the chase.
Around the peaks of the Taurus circled the great vulture. In the Delta of the Indus ibises
were abundant. The ostrich ranged the sandy regions of Mesopotamia, but was not found on
the Persian plateau. The other birds were either those which have been hitherto noticed in
the Books on Babylonia and Egypt, or were such as are common in most parts of the north
temperate zone. Some of the reptiles require particular mention.
Of these first the iguana. This creature is found in Syria and Egypt. It is from a foot to
three feet in length, and is the color of an olive, streaked with black. This is the
animal which is so cordially hated in Mohammedan countries. Its attitude is thought to be
in imitation of the followers of the Prophet when they go to prayer! Therefore it is
mercilessly killed by the faithful. Contrary to popular belief the Egyptian