- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
82

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
82
another—it may be the latest gossip, or it may be a
message deciding men’s fate.
Wc were in the Darial Gap (that is, the Gate of
the Alans; Persian, dar-i-Alari), also known as the
Gate of the Iberians (or of the Sarmatians) . How,
one may well ask, can there have been any passage
here for men and livestock and caravans, not to
speak of great armies and whole peoples with their
baggage, before this road was made? But wc also
know that people went through here already
in the Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago, and prob
ably long, long before then. Through here in
the Bth century b.g. the Kimmerian bands marched,
and fell on Georgia and the kingdom of the
Khaldians in what is now Armenia, threatening
Assyria. From Strabo’s description (xi, 3, 5) of
the crossing over the mountains (which took seven
days), wc may also conclude that there was a
regular road in his time, about the beginning of
our era. The Arab Yakut-el-Hamavi (about
a.d. 1230) speaks of the pass as being the way to
the Alans’ land, and he mentions, moreover, a
bridge over the stream (see below). In 1769 the
Russian general Todleben with four hundred men
and four guns went through the pass to Tiflis, and
in 1783 the Russians took four guns this way; next
year they began building a military road to it from
the north. The present splendid road was com
pleted, as wc said above, in 1861.
In olden times also there must have been some
kind ofroad partly built by the hand ofman through
this narrow gap; anyhow, something must have

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