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248                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA               FAREWELL

extends from a few miles north of Burujird to the walls
of Urrni and far beyond, may with equal fidelity describe
it as a land of abounding waters, a peopled and well-
watered garden.

The direction of my journey has been fully indicated.
It is only from the descriptions of others that I know
anything of the arid wastes of Eastern Persia or of the
moist and malarious provinces bordering on the Caspian
Sea, with their alluvial valleys and rice grounds, and
their jungle and forest-covered mountains, or of the
verdureless plains and steppes of Kerman and Laristan.

Persia proper, the country which has supplied the
race which has evinced such a remarkable vitality and
historic continuity, may be described as a .vast plateau
from 3500 to 6000 feet in altitude, extending on the east
into Afghanistan, on the north-west into Armenia, and
overlooking the Caspian to the north, and the Persian
Gulf and the vast levels of Mesopotamia to the south and

To reach this platform from the south, lofty ranges,
which include the Jcotals of Shiraz, must be crossed.
Prom the Tigris valley on the west it is only accessible
by surmounting the Zagros chain and lesser ranges; and
to attain it from the north the traveller must climb the
rocky pathways of the Elburz mountains. This great
"Iranian plateau," except in Eastern Persia, is inter-
sected both by mountain ranges and detached mountain
masses, which store up in their sunless hollows the
snowfall on which all Persian agriculture depends, the
rainfall being so scanty as to be of little practical value.

Thus the possibility of obtaining supplies of water
from the melting snows dictates the drift of population,
and it seems unlikely that the plains of Eastern Persia,
where no such supplies exist, were ever more populous
than now. It was otherwise with parts of Central Persia,