The climate, therefore, in parts is exceedingly cold and bleak in winter, and as it is very wind-swept and parched in summer by the terrible qibli or "sirocco" it is much less attractive in appearance than the favoured region on the northern littoral.
Within a recent geological period, central Aragon was undoubtedly submerged by the sea, and the parched chalky soil remains saturated with salt, while many of the smaller streams run brackish.
Irrigation of the arid western regions of the United States began in the Great Basin of Utah when the Mormon pioneers in 1847 diverted the waters of City Creek upon the parched soil of Salt Lake Valley.
Apart from the fact that reckoning from the birth of Christ was by no means universal, and consequently the mass of men were ignorant that there was such a thing as the year 1000, one wonders how that most enduring type of architecture, the Romanesque, reached its maturity among men who thought that the earth itself was so soon to "shrivel like a parched scroll."
About the time of setting out on his Indian expedition he was described as a most comely man, upwards of 6 ft., tall, well-proportioned, of robust make and constitution; inclined to be fat, but prevented by the fatigue he underwent; with fine, large black eyes and eyebrows; of sanguine complexion, made more manly by the influence of sun and weather; a loud, strong voice; a moderate wine-drinker; fond of simple diet, such as pilaos and plain dishes, but often neglectful of meals altogether, and satisfied, if occasion required, with parched peas and water, always to be procured.i During the reign of Nadir an attempt was made to establish a British Caspian trade with Persia.
But generally the low grounds are parched and rocky, presenting only a few thickets of Peruvian cactus and stunted shrubs, and a most uninviting shore.
Over the greater part of this region rain is of rare occurrence; and not infrequently more than a year passes without a drop falling on the parched surface.