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A YEAR AT ERZEROOM, AND ON THE FRONTIERS OF
RUSSIA, TURKEY, AND PERSIA.
HE MONASTERIES OF THE LEVANT."
AUTHOR OF VISITS TO
ALMOST from time immemorial a border warfare has been carried on between the Koordish tribes on the confines of Turkey and Persia, in the mountainous country beginning at Mount Ararat towards the north, and continuing southwards to the low lands, where the Shat al Arab, the name of the mighty river formed by the junction of the Tigris and the Euphrates, pours those great volumes of water into the Persian Gulf. The consequence of the unsettled state of affairs in those wild districts was, that the roads were unsafe for travellers; merchants were afraid to trust their merchandise to the conveyance even of well-armed caravans, for they were constantly pillaged by the Koords, headed in our days by the great chieftains Beder Khan Bey, Noor Ullah Bey, Khan Abdall, and Khan Mahmoud. The chains of mountains which occupy great part of the country in question are for months every year covered with snow, which even in the elevated plains lies at the depth of many yards : the bands of robbers constantly on the watch for plunder of any kind prevented the mountain paths from being kept
open, so that those who escaped from the long lances of the Koords perished in the avalanches and the snow-drifts by hundreds every year.
To put a stop, or at least a check, to so lamentable a state of things, the governments of Turkey and Persia requested the assistance of England and Russia to draw up a treaty of peace, and to come to a distinct understanding as to where the line of border ran between the two empires; for hitherto the Koordish tribes of Turkey made it a virtue to plunder a Persian village, and the Persians, on their side, considered no action more meritorious, as well as profitable, than an inroad on the Turkish frontier, the forays on both sides being conducted on the same plan. The invading party, always on horseback, and with a number of trained led horses, which could travel one hundred miles without flagging, managed to arrive in the neighbourhood of the devoted village one hour before sunrise. The barking of the village curs was the first notice to the sleeping inhabitants that the enemy was literally at the door. The houses were fired in every direction; the people awoke from sleep, and, trying in confusion to escape, were speared on their thresholds by their invaders; the place was plundered of everything worth taking; and one hour after sunrise the invading bands were in full retreat, driving before them the flocks and herds of their victims, and the children and girls of the village