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362                  JOURNEYS IN KURDISTAN    LETTEK xxsm

Akhlat Kalessi, or the castle of Akhlat, stands on the
sea-shore, on which side it has no defences. It is a
fortress with massive walls, with round and square towers
at intervals, and measures about 700 paces from the
water to the crest of the slope, and about 330 across.
The enclosure, which is entered by two gates, contains two
ancient mosques solidly built, and a few houses among
fruit trees, as well as some ruins of buildings. The view of
the Sipan Dagh from this very striking ruin is magnificent.

There are many Circassian villages on the skirts of
the Sipan Dagh, and their inhabitants bear nearly as
bad a reputation as that of the Kurds. They are
well armed, and defy the local government They are
robbers and pilferers, and though they receive, or did
receive, an allowance raised by a tax on the general
community, they wring what they please out of the
people among whom they live.

A mile from Akhlat, on a table-land of smooth green
sward high above the silver sea, facing southwards, with
a glorious view of the mountains of Central Kurdistan
whitened with the first snows of winter, lies in an in-
describable loneliness—the city of the dead. The sward is
covered though not crowded with red sandstone monoliths,
from six to fourteen feet in height, generally in excellent
preservation. Each has a projecting cornice on the east
side with carved niches, and the western face is covered
with exquisite tracery in arabesques and knot-work, and
inscriptions in early Arabic. On the graves are either
three carved stones arranged on edge, or a single heavy
hewn stone with a rounded top, and sides decorated with
arabesques. Few of these beautiful monoliths have fallen,
but some are much time-worn, and have a growth of
vivid red or green lichen upon them.

Besides these there are some lofty turbehs or mauso-
leums, admirably preserved and of extreme beauty. The