Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/794

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has never ceased from that to our own time. This presents a very striking illustration of the continuity of type.

About one hundred miles east of Tehran, there is a curious village called Lasgird[1] (Fig. 6). It is supposed to be very old, and its circular plan is said to have been first drawn on the ground by Las, the son of Noah. The statement has already been made that the villages in Persia are square; such is the rule, and it will explain so far how a round one in their midst appears as something strange and remarkable. This great circular wall is so massive that the houses of the people are constructed on the top of it, and form in a rather irregular manner two stories. There are rude balconies, or I ought to say narrow ledges, on the outside which form communications. These are made of untrimmed branches of trees interlaced with twigs, on which mud is laid, but without a protective railing of any kind. The interior space formed by the circular wall is filled with storerooms and places where the cattle can be safely housed in case of an attack from the Turkomans. The only entrance into this strange structure is by a small opening about four feet by three, which can be closed by a stone door turning on pivots. The smallness of this doorway was intended to prevent raiding enemies from entering during the chances of a rush, for it would be necessary to keep it open to the last moment to admit those of the villagers who were running home for protection.

I have dealt with this building material in the past; regarding its future I can say but little. In England here it was largely in use, so was wood, and that which is well expressed by the words "wattle and dab," which might be described as a combination of wood and mud. All these, as our material conditions have improved, have been slowly supplanted by the burned brick or stone. "Cob" is still in use, to a limited extent only, in north Devon. It may be assumed that it is not suited for our damp climate. In dry climates, such as Persia and Egypt, it is likely to continue, for the simple reasons that it is a cheap material, and that a comfortable dwelling can be made from it.[2]

I might mention a country like California as one where this material might be valuable. California has a dry climate. When I was in San Francisco, in 1873, that town was almost

  1. Gird in this word is said to have the same signification as "girdle" in English—which may be rendered as "circle."
  2. The author might have dwelt, to a greater extent than he has done, on the mud buildings of North America, which are abundantly exemplified in the adobe structures of Mexico, California, and New Mexico. As it is, he only refers to them incidentally. The log-cabins of our early settlers were of a mixed construction, in which the "dabbing" of mud played nearly as important a part as the framing of logs.—Ed.