A. THE SITE AND DISAPPEARANCE OF OLD AKHSI iii
the Sir flowed close to the walls than it is to understand, when one says the Thames flows past below Richmond, that it washes the houses on the hill.
The key to the difficulties in the TurkI passage is provided by a special use of the word jar for not only natural ravines but artificial water-cuts for irrigation. This use of it makes clear that what 'Umar Shaikh did at Akhsl was not to make escarpments but to cut new water-channels. Presumably he joined those ' further out' on the deltaic fan, on the east and west of the town, so as to secure a continuous defensive cleft round the town* or it may be, in order to bring it more water.
Concerning the historic pigeon-house (f. 66), it can be said safely that it did not fall into the Sir; it fell from a jar, and in this part of its course, the river flows in a broad bed, with a low left bank. Moreover the MIrza's residence was in the walled-town (f. 1106) and there his son stayed 9 years after the accident. The slip did not affect the safety of the residence therefore; it may have been local to the birds' house. It will have been due to some ordinary circumstance since no cause for it is mentioned by Babur, Haidar or Abu'1-fazl. If it had marked the crisis of the Sir's approach, Akhsl could hardly have been described, 25 years later, as a strong fort.
Something is known of Akhsl, in the 10th, the 12th, the 15th and the 19th centuries, which testifies to ssecular decadence. Ibn Haukal and Yaqut give the township an extent of 3 farsdkh (12 miles), which may mean from one side to an opposite one. Yaqut's description of it mentions four gates, each opening into well-watered lands extending a whole farsakh, in other words it had a ring of garden-suburb four miles wide.
Two meanings have been given to Babur's words indicating the status of the oasis in the 15th century. They are,
1 Babur writes as though Akhsl had one Gate only (f. 1126). It is unlikely that the town had come down to having a single exit; the Gate by which he got out of Akhsi was the one of military importance because served by a draw-bridge, presumably over the ravine-moat, and perhaps not close to ttat bridge.