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routes being closed, and this trade was doing its share to awake into consciousness the vast inert mass of wandering men in the northern Asian Plain with results later apparent. The only fruit of the shock between the East and the West from Nicæa to Edessa, from Edessa to Montroyal, was to leave no one eastern power equal to the eruption of the Mongol swarm when it burst on the world just after the close of the crusades. These hordes from the north had poured through the open gate which the extension of the provinces of the Caliphate into Transoxiana had provided. First the Turkoman of the Oxus came, later Chingiz' Mongols, in the center of the Northern Plain, and last the more civilized organization of Timur. From Novgorod to Pekin, over the entire. stretch of the Great Plain in which the Urals are so small an interruption; from Siberia to India, their descendants ruled.

Their only check came in the Ayyubid dynasty, founded by Saladin, which the crusades had consolidated, and which held the ends of the trade routes that found their way up the Red Sea and across the caravan routes to the ports of Syria. In all the annals of the relations of this region, for the first time the Asian swarms closed all the traffic by land. The route north of the Black Sea, which had so often been opened when all others were shut, was in their hands. The lines which passed across Persia were blocked by all the internecine feuds whose rapine darkens the Quatrains of Omar. stantly a new relation was established. The real close of the crusades is the treaty between Venice and an Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt, Adil, 1208, by which the city of the Adriatic obtained a monopoly of the trade of the East. Straightway there arose in Cairo and every Italian city those buildings, the mosques and tombs of Ayyubid and Mameluke sultans, and the churches of the later Romanesque and earlier re


naissance. In every age, wherever the opportunity of levying toll upon this traffic between the East and the West comes, there also buildings rise and a new architecture is born-from the Ziggurats of Babylonia to the dome of St. Paul's, itself the first fruits of that growing trade which marked England's appearance in the East. Through nearly two centuries of the free-flowing profit of Italy, the narrow duct through which flowed the trade of the East, was the open way kept by the independent government of Egypt in close communication with the small republics of the peninsula. When the Othman Sultan, Selim, in 1517, swept over Egypt the last shred of the passageway which nature has provided between the Asian and the European centers of population passed into the hands of the representatives of the northern flood which had first burst forth when Hulaku ended the civil power of the Abasside five centuries before. The flask of pepper instantly arose from six to eightfold in the markets of Europe. Sugar increased in proportion. The trade of the Italian cities was ruined. The trade routes along which the cities of central Europe had grown were swept with bankruptcy. There succeeded an economic convulsion such as always accompanies every shift in the channel of this great trade, which had no small share in precipitating the Reformation, acting not SO much as cause as furnishing the occasion for the sudden appearance of a growing ferment.

First Portugal and then northern Europe, since all paths across the bridge were at last held and closed, began their attempts to find a way around the continent of Africa. Out of this attempt grew the voyage of Columbus. Through successive maritime discoveries the northern half of Europe made its connection with the Asiatic centers by sea instead of by land, and there came that fission in faith, in trade, and in devel

opment between Teuton and Latin Europe which has so powerfully influenced modern history, one half having and the other lacking a direct route to the East. Asia remained in the hands of the men of the Northern Plain; Ming and Manchu dynasties rose at Pekin, and the Turk sits on the throne of the Eastern Cæsars. The descendants of Timur ruled in India until the English Raj, itself a product of the maritime movement which the control by the Tatar over the natural connecting link between India and Europe made necessary. If I were to select the one object in human history which sums and typifies this great march of events in the long defiles formed by nature creating and guiding its course, it would be those shivered fragments once the serpent's seat of the Pythian oracle at Delphi-the spoil of the Persian when he first made Asian the coast of the Egean, won by the Greek at Platæa, for seven centuries the seat of prophecy, and when "Apollo from his shrine can no more divine," transferred by Constantine to his new capital, at last the trophy of the Turk

when the last of the Constantines fell in the breach broken by the mace of the conqueror as he rode into the Hippodrome.

Not until the Russian railroad crossed the plain east of the Caspian and extended itself to the Pacific had civilization its full revenge and established across the plain, whose folk had so long closed the connection between the East and the West, another sure pathway. With it the history of this central region enters on a new chapter and becomes secondary in its relations. Today it only plays its part in that wider duel extending over civilization between the approach to the eastern centers of population of the Russian railroad and the English steamer, the division of Asia between Slav and Briton. But through all its history the same continuous thread has run, which has made it the connecting link between the three great groups of population in the Eurasian mass, and, beyond any other of earth's tracts, it has had as its share and part

Res gestæ regum ducumque et tristia bella.

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HREE hours by rail east of Tiflis, in Transcaucasia, lies the little hamlet of Akstafa, which has been the northern terminus of the postroad to Persia by way of Erivan since the completion of the Transcaucasian Railway. It is a wretched village, and what little importance it has enjoyed for some years will soon disappear, since it is far away from the line of the railway which the Russian government is about to open from Tiflis to Kars, one link of the great chain which is to stretch through Erivan to Tabriz and the Persian Gulf. The advent of the railway will render easily accessible a picturesque and interesting region which is now rarely visited by tourists, and will eventually make familiar to many the marvelous beauty of the Mountains of Ararat.

Our party for the journey across Russian Armenia consisted of several members of the great International Geological Congress which met in St. Petersburg in 1897. We gathered at Akstafa early one beautiful morning late in September to begin our long ride southward to Mt. Ararat, our objective point. When we finally sallied forth from the post-station our caravan consisted of four comfortless carriages and a baggage wagon, under the protection of a military guard of six Cossacks in full equipment. We had been warned. that traveling in this part of the world was dangerous, and we could well believe it when we saw the armament of these men. In addition to the regulation rifle, short sword, and ornamental powder pockets, they wore belts fitted with ball cartridges and two or three extra revolvers in the most convenient

places for instant use. The most conspicuous part of their dress was the bash-kil, which is a simple hood made of scarlet cloth, with long streamers. This was usually worn with the streamers crossed over the breast and tied at the back, the hood hanging on the shoulders. The bash-kil is a very useful article of dress in a climate subject to the sudden extremes which occur in Armenia and the Transcaucasian Mountains. After sundown the hood is drawn over the head beneath the fur cap, while the streamers are wrapped around the throat to keep out the sharp winds.

The Cossacks form a kind of semivolunteer military organization, their services exempting them from certain items of taxation. The governor of the district is obliged to furnish a Cossack guard to travelers demanding protection, and this guard is supposed to serve gratuitously, but we noticed that when we changed guards, which took place about once in two hours, our leader handed the head man of the band a handsome fee. The changing of the guard was always accompanied by much saluting and some maneuvering.

For several miles our ride across the plain was dusty and uninteresting, except for the exhibition of fine riding given us by our Cossacks, who looked very picturesque with the streamers of their bash-kils floating in the wind. From time to time we met strange vehicles, and as we began to enter the mountains, following the valley of the Akstafa River, we encountered villainous-looking gypsies who had to be beaten away from our carriages by the guards, so persistent were they in their demands for



Our Guard of Mounted Cossacks

Nor did the tales related to us of recent exploits of brigands along this road lead us to regard these gypsies with very high favor.

We had entered the home of the Oriental rug-in fact, we were on the borders of the Carabagh country-and we soon began to understand the process of making them "antique." Beautiful rugs are used in fastening loads on to camels and donkeys, leaky roofs are mended with them, and people use them in place of chairs or beds in the houses, on the streets, and while on a journey. At Caravan-Sarai, in the Anti-Caucasus Mountains, we espied an especially pretty one on a bench, and asked the man who was sitting on it how much he would take for it. Twenty roubles ($11) was his price. On general principles we offered him ten, but he shook his head. His neighbors at once perceived a chance for a trade and flocked around us, each

one offering his rug for sale and descanting upon its merits-at least, we took for granted that that was what they were doing, for we could understand scarcely a word of what was said. Indifference is the price of success in this kind of bargaining, and we walked through the village apparently paying little attention to the numerous rugs held out to our view. The first man, who had the rug we wanted, kept following us in the crowd, deducting a rouble every time we made a move to look at an attractive rug, but our invariable reply to him was "Desyat roubli" (ten roubles). Not until we started for our carriage did the other people despair of selling us anything, and then they all turned upon number one, urging him to accept our offer. It was funny to watch the men, for they are so excitable and use gestures to such an extent that one can almost understand them by these

alone. At last our man came forward with his rug, asking piteously for twelve roubles, and we compromised on eleven. His sharp Armenian instinct served him well at the last, however, for he suggested so ingenuously that the boy who rolled up the rug ought to have twenty kopecks (eleven cents) for his services that we could not resist the appeal.

Late in the evening of the first day we arrived at Delijan, a picturesque little village at the foot of the pass of the same name, and as we looked across the Akstafa Valley we could see what most of the United States contingent of our party had never seen before-the lights of a large camp of soldiers who were in active service. Delijan is the military headquarters of a district. The principal house of the village was thrown open for our accommodation, and we were settled for the night on beds and benches and on mattresses placed on the

floor in the house and in the barn. The seven ladies of our party were put into the best room, which was so small that some of them had to retire before all the beds could be put into place. A fiftymile drive in the mountains is apt to produce sleep under any circumstances, even if there are seven people in one small room and two of the beds fall to the floor during the night, and one of the occupants of the room has such a severe cold that her breathing sounds like the exhaust of a steam-engine and another has the nightmare!

Three o'clock in the morning came all too soon, but we had to arise to continue our journey. It was bitterly cold and many of us performed our toilets with as little ceremony and delay as possible, but others showed the influence of long and stylish habits. I saw one gentleman of the party, a noted English geologist, out on the porch

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