- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
189

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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EXCURSIONS IN DAGHESTAN
189
ground. It is a large undertaking, meant for an
output not only to supply Daghestan, but also a
great part of Russia. One of the most costly items
in glass-works is the heat for melting the glass, and
here this costs nothing, owing to there being the
natural gas, which is mainly methane (95 per cent.).
It has been streaming up here out of the ground
since time beyond memory; near where it now
comes up is a platform, which is thought to have
been the old altar and holy place offire-worshippers,
where the everlasting fire burned, kept alight by
this gas.
Besides the heat for smelting there is also a
plentiful supply on the plain near of raw materials
needed in glass-making, both pure siliceous and
shelly sand. Wc saw the beds from which it is tåken.
The works were under the management of Germans
from Bohemia, and they seemed to be very capable.
For the present only bottle-glass was being made,
but the intention was soon to start on window-glass
and the finer glass-ware as well. Evidently this
industrial undertaking was bound to have a very
promising outlook.
The plan was for us to go on farther south from
here to the old historie town of Derbent, which for
long years was the frontier town between Persia
and the warlike nomads (the Scythians, Massagetae,
Sakae, etc, and later the Khazar kingdom in the
north), and guarded the passage. Besides the
difHcult and narrow passes through the Caucasus
mountains themselves, of which the Darial pass
was the most important, the one and only way

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