The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan

Damghan to Neishabur

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On Tuesday, the 15th of July, before dawn, they departed, and passed the night in the open air; and on Wednesday they also slept in the open air, as they came to no village during those two days. The road was very rugged, and passed over very hot mountains, and there was no water, or at least very little. On Thursday they reached a great city, on the banks of a river, and two deserted castles. On Thursday, the 17th of July, in the night, they arrived at a city which is called Damghan, situated in a plain, and surrounded by an earthen wall, with a castle at one end {Damghan, a town in Khorassan (Iran) , is described by modern travellers as a mass of desolate ruins, in a vast gravelly plain, with a wretched vaulted lane of mud-built huts for a bazar}. This city is in the province of Media. On this day it was so hot, with a hot fierce wind, that it was quite wonderful. The wind was so hot, that it seemed as if it came out of hell; and on this day a ger falcon escaped, and flew away. Outside the city there were two towers, so high that a man could scarcely throw a stone to the top of them. They were made of mud, and the heads of men; and there were two other towers, fallen to the ground. These towers, which are made of heads, are built of the heads of a race of people called 'white Tartars,' natives of a country between Turkey and Syria. When Timur Beg departed from Sebastria, and marched towards Damascus, he encountered these people, fought, and conquered them; taking many prisoners, and sending them to settle at Damghan, which was thinly populated. When they arrived there, they collected together, and lived in the plains, as was their custom. When they were all assembled, they desired to return to their native land, and they set out on their journey, robbing every one they met. When they were near this city, the army of the lord met them, defeated them, and killed them without mercy. The lord then ordered that these four towers should be built, of their heads, plastered together with mud. He also ordered that every white Tartar, wherever he might be found, should be put to death, and so it was done. The army, when they received this order, killed every white Tartar they could find; so that along the roads, in one place ten, in another twenty dead bodies might be seen, and they say that sixty thousand of these Tartars were killed. The people of the city say, that they often see lights burning on the top of these towers in the night.