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ASIENTO—ASIR

completely destroyed, and all Asia Minor was ravaged. From these disasters the country never recovered, and the last traces of Western civilization disappeared with the enforced use of the Turkish language and the wholesale conversions to Islam under the earliest Osmanli sultans. The recent large increase of the Greek population in the western districts, the construction of railways, and the growing interests of Germany and Russia on the plateau seem, however, to indicate that the tide is again turning in favour of the West.

Bibliography.—1. General Authorities:—C. Texier, Asie Mineure (1843); P. Tchihatcheff, Asie Mineure (1853-1860); C. Ritter, Erdkunde, vols. xviii. xix. (1858-1859); W. J. Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor (1843); E. Reclus. Nouv. Géog. Univ. vol. ix. (1884); V. Cuinet, La Turquie d’Asie (1890); W. M. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. of A. M. (1890); Murray’s Handbook for A. M. &c., ed. by Sir C. Wilson (1895). For Geology see Tchihatcheff, Asie Mineure, Géologie (Paris, 1867-1869); Schaffer, Cilicia, Peterm. Mitt. Ergänzungsheft, 141 (1903); Philippson, Sitz. k. preuss. Akad. Wiss. (1903), pp. 112-124; English, Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. (London, 1904), pp. 243-295; see also Suess, Das Antlitz der Erde, vol. iii. pp. 402-412, and the accompanying references.

2. A. Western Asia Minor.—J. Spon and G. Wheler, Voyage du Levant (1679); P. de Tournefort, Voyage du Levant (1718); F. Beaufort, Ionian Antiquities (1811); R. Chandler, Travels (1817); W. M. Leake, Journal of a Tour in A. M. (1820); F. V. J. Arundell, Visit to the Seven Churches (1828), and Discoveries, &c. (1834); C. Fellows, Excursion in A. M. (1839); C. T. Newton, Travels (1867), and Discoveries at Halicarnassus, &c. (1863); Dilettanti Society, Ionian Antiquities (1769-1840); J. R. S. Sterrett, Epigr. Journey and Wolfe Exped. (Papers, Amer. Arch. Inst. ii. iii.) (1888); J. H. Skene, Anadol (1853); G. Radet, Lydie (1893); O. Rayet and A. Thomas, Milet et le Golfe Latmique (1872); K. Buresch, Aus Lydien (1898); W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (1895), and Impressions of Turkey (1898).

B. Eastern Asia Minor.—W. F. Ainsworth, Travels in A. M. (1842); G. Perrot and E. Guillaume, Expl. arch, de la Galatie (1862-1872); E. J. Davis, Anatolica (1874); H. F. Tozer, Turkish Armenia (1881); H. J. v. Lennep, Travels (1870); D. G. Hogarth, Wandering Scholar (1896); Lord Warkworth, Notes of a Diary, &c. (1898); E. Sarre, Reise (1896); D. G. Hogarth and J. A. R. Munro, Mod. and Anc. Roads (R.G.S. Supp. Papers iii.) (1893); H. C. Barkley, A Ride through A. M. and Armenia (1891); M. Sykes, Dar ul-Islam (1904); E. Chantre, Mission en Cappadocie (1898).

C. Southern Asia Minor.—F. Beaufort, Karamania (1817); C. Fellows, Discoveries in Lycia (1841); T. A. B. Spratt and E. Forbes, Travels in Lycia (1847); V. Langlois, Voy. dans la Cilicie (1861); E. J. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey (1879); O. Benndorf and E. Niemann, Lykien (1884); C. Lanckoronski, Villes de la Pamphylie et de la Pisidie (1890); F. v. Luschan, Reisen in S.W. Kleinasien (1888); E. Petersen and F. v. Luschan, Lykien (1889); K. Humann and O. Puchstein, Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien (1890).

D. Northern Asia Minor.—J. M. Kinneir, Journey through A. M. (1818); J. G. C. Anderson and F. Cumont, Studia Pontica (1903); E. Naumann, Vom Goldenen Horn, &c. (1893).

See also G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, Hist. de l’art dans l’antiquité, vols. iv. v. (1886-1890); J. Strzygowski, Kleinasien, &c. (1903). Also numerous articles in all leading archaeological periodicals, the Geographical Journal, Deutsche Rundschau, Petermann’s Geog. Mitteilungen, &c. &c.

3. Maps.—H. Kiepert, Nouv. carte gén. des prov. asiat. de l’Emp. ottoman (1894), and Spezialkarte v. Westkleinasien (1890); W. von Diest, Karte des Nordwestkleinasien (1901); R. Kiepert, Karte von Kleinasien (1901); E. Friederich, Handels- und Produktenkarte von Kleinasien (1898); J. G. C. Anderson, Asia Minor (Murray’s Handy Class. Maps) (1903).  (C. W. W.; D. G. H.) 

ASIENTO, or Assiento (from the verb asentar, to place, or establish), a Spanish word meaning a farm of the taxes, or contract. The farmer or contractor is called an asentista. The word acquired a considerable notoriety in English and American history, on account of the “Asiento Treaty” of 1713. Until 1702 the Spanish government had given the contract for the supply of negroes to its colonies in America to the Genoese. But after the establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in 1700, a French company was formed which received the exclusive privilege of the Spanish-American slave trade for ten years—from September 1702 to 1712. When the peace of Utrecht was signed the British government insisted that the monopoly should be given to its own subjects. By the terms of the Asiento treaty signed on the 16th of March 1713, it was provided that British subjects should be authorized to introduce 144,000 slaves in the course of thirty years, at the rate of 4800 per annum. The privilege was to expire on the 1st of May 1743. British subjects were also authorized to send one ship of 500 tons per annum, laden with manufactured goods, to the fairs of Porto Bello and La Vera Cruz. Import duties were to be paid for the slaves and goods. This privilege was conveyed by the British government to the South Sea Company, formed to work it. The privilege, to which an exaggerated value was attached, formed the solid basis of the notorious fit of speculative fever called the South Sea Bubble. Until 1739 the trade in blacks went on without interruption, but amid increasingly angry disputes between the Spanish and the British governments. The right to send a single trading ship to the fairs of Porto Bello or La Vera Cruz was abused. Under pretence of renewing her provisions she was followed by tenders which in fact carried goods. Thus there arose what was in fact a vast contraband trade. The Spanish government established a service of revenue boats (guarda costas) which insisted on searching all English vessels approaching the shores of the Spanish colonies. There can be no doubt that the smugglers were guilty of many piratical excesses, and that the guarda costas often acted with violence on mere suspicion. After many disputes, in which the claims of the British government were met by Spanish counter claims, war ensued in 1739. When peace was made at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 Spain undertook to allow the asiento to be renewed for the four years which were to run when war broke out in 1739. But the renewal for so short a period was not considered advantageous, and by the treaty of El Retiro of 1750, the British government agreed to the recession of the Asiento treaty altogether on the payment by Spain of £100,000.

A very convenient account of the Asiento Treaty, and of the trade which arose under it, will be found in Malachy Postlethwayt’s Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce (London, 1751), s.v.

ASIR, a district in western Arabia, lying between 17° 30′ and 21° N., and 40° 30′ and 45° E.; bounded N. by Hejaz, E. by Nejd, S. by Yemen and W. by the Red Sea. Like Yemen, it consists of a lowland zone some 20 or 30 m. in width along the coast, and of a mountainous tract, falling steeply on the west and merging into a highland plateau which slopes gradually to the N.E. towards the Nejd steppes. Its length along the coast is about 230 m., and its breadth from the coast to El Besha about 180. The lowland, or Tehama, is hot and barren; the principal places in it are Kanfuda, the chief port of the district, Marsa Hali and El Itwad, smaller ports farther south. The mountainous tract has probably an average altitude of between 6000 and 7000 ft., with a temperate climate and regular rainfall, and is fertile and populous. The valleys are well watered and produce excellent crops of cereals and dates. The best-known are the Wadi Taraba and the W. Besha, both running north-east towards the W. Dawasir in Nejd. Taraba, according to John Lewis Burckhardt, is a considerable town, surrounded by palm groves and gardens, and watered by numerous rivulets, and tamous for its long resistance to Mehemet Ali’s forces in 1815. Five or six days’ journey to the south-east is the district of Besha, the most important position between Sana and Taif. Here Mehemet Ali’s army, amounting to 12,000 men, found sufficient provisions to supply it during a fortnight’s halt. The Wadi Besha is a broad valley abounding with streams containing numerous hamlets scattered over a tract some six or eight hours’ journey in length. Its principal affluent, the W. Shahran, rises 120 m. to the south and runs through the fertile district of Khamis Mishet, the highest in Asir. The Zahran district lies four days west of Besha on the crest of the main range: the principal place is Makhwa, a large town and market, from which grain is exported in considerable quantities to Mecca. Farther south is the district of Shamran. Throughout the mountainous country the valleys are well watered and cultivated, with fortified villages perched on the surrounding heights. Juniper forests are said to exist on the higher mountains. Three or four days’ journey east and south-east of Besha are the encampments of the Bani Kahtan, one of the most ancient tribes of Arabia; their pastures extend into the adjoining district of Nejd, where they breed camels in large numbers, as well as a few horses.

The inhabitants are a brave and warlike race of mountaineers, and aided by the natural strength of their country they have