To trace in any detail the fortunes of Herat would be to write the modern history of the East, for there has hardly been a dynastic revolution, or a foreign invasion, or a great civil war in Central Asia since the time of the prophet, in which Herat has not played a conspicuous part and suffered accordingly.
Thence he seems to have returned to Kandahar, and in May 1740just one year after his departure from Delhihe was in Herat displaying the imperial throne and other costly trophies to the gaze of the admiring inhabitants.
The original inhabitants of Ariana were no doubt of the Aryan family, and immediately cognate with the Persian race, but they were probably intermixed at a very early period with the Sacae and Massagetae, who seem to have held the mountains from Kabul to Herat from the first dawn of history, and to whom must be ascribed - rather than to an infusion of Turco-Tartaric blood introduced by the armies of Jenghiz and Timur - the peculiar broad features and flattish countenance which distinguish the inhabitants of Herat, Seistan and the eastern provinces of Persia from their countrymen farther to the west.
The stipulations regarding Herat were much as before; but there were to be apologies made to the mission for past insolence and rudeness, and the slave trade was to be suppressed in the Persian Gulf.
Every pass of importance is known and recorded; every route of significance has been explored and mapped; Afghanistan has assumed a new political entity by the demarcation of a boundary; the value of Herat and of the Pamirs as bases of aggression has been assessed, and the whole intervening space of mountain and plain thoroughly examined.
More to the purpose is it that Sultan IJosain Mirza, great-grandson of Omar Sheikh, son of Timur, reigned 10 in Herat from 1487 to 1506.
Other routes there are, open to trade, between Herat and northern India, either following the banks of the Hari Rud, or, more circuitously, through the valley of the Helmund to Kabul; or the line of hills between the Arghandab and the Tarnak may be crossed close to Kalat-i-Ghilzai; but of the two former it may be said that they are not ways open to the passage of Afghan armies owing to the hereditary hostility existing between the Aeimak and Hazara tribes and the Afghans generally, while the latter is not beyond striking distance from Kandahar.
Again the Persian troops advanced to Herat itself under the command of Mahomnied Mirza, son of Abbas; but the news of his fathers death caused the commander to break up his camp and return to Meshed.
The valley about Herat includes a flat alluvial plain which might, for some miles on any side except the north, be speedily reduced to an impassable swamp by means of flood-water from the surrounding canals.
Of the last, occurring mainly in the north, the chief are the longitudinal valley stretching from near the Herat frontier through Meshed, Kuchan and Shirvan to Bujnurd, the Derrehgez district, which lies on the northern skirt of the outer range projecting into the Akhal Tekkeh domain, now Russian territory, and the districts of Nishapur and Sabzevar which lie south of the Binalud and Jagatai ranges.