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Bettie's Books

A Stuga On the Cusp of the Orust Riviera, tucked away next to a hobbit hole in the woods.

The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands

The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands - Nicholas Clapp

bookshelves: travel, arabian, archaeology, adventure, mythology, nonfiction, hardback, history, paper-read, one-penny-wonder, yemen, oman, teh-brillianz, autumn-2012

Recommended for: Armchair Travellers
Read from October 04 to 07, 2012

No dustcover.

Map of the Kingdoms and Incense Roads of Ancient Arabia.

For Kay, Christina, Jenny and Wil

Prologue (which I always read after)


I. Myth.


Over Iran, December 1980... The small cargo plane flew on into a starry but moonless night

Arabian Oryx, the souce of the Unicorn myth.

Far are the shades of Arabia,
Where the Princes ride at noon,
'Mid the verdurous vales and thickets,
Under the ghost of the moon;
And so dark is that vaulted purple
Flowers in the forest rise
And toss into blossom 'gainst the phantom stars
Pale in the noonday skies.

Sweet is the music of Arabia
In my heart, when out of dreams
I still in the thin clear mirk of dawn
Descry her gliding streams;
Hear her strange lutes on the green banks
Ring loud with the grief and delight
Of the dim-silked, dark-haired Musicians
In the brooding silence of night.

They haunt me — her lutes and her forests;
No beauty on earth I see
But shadowed with that dream recalls
Her loveliness to me:
Still eyes look coldly upon me,
Cold voices whisper and say —
'He is crazed with the spell of far Arabia,
They have stolen his wits away.'

'Arabia' by Walter de la Mare

Page 61: a curse recorded in The World History of Rashid al-Din (1290)*:"whoever shall find and enter Ubar will be driven mad with fear."

*In here: A Compendium of Chronicles: Rashid Al-Din's Illustrated History of the World

Travels in Arabia Deserta, Volume 1

Arabia Felix

Sand Kings of Oman
P.30 - In all fairness to O'Shea there may have been some truth to his story. It may be that he simply got carried away promoting it and couldn't resist the temptation to caption a certain photograph of Muscat as 'Qidan'.

The Singing Sands



RECONNAISSANCE: In the Sultinate of Oman on an August morning in 1990, the overnight Gulf Air flight from London rolled to a stop.

page 159: ... he mentioned casually that were in the domain of a solpugid commonly known as the camel spider...

"The spiders are 6" long, hairy legs and big mandibles. For their size they have the strongest jaws in the animal kingdom. One of them couldn't get into Ibrahim's sleeping bag, so it started to eat his face. It desensitizes before it bites, so that you don't know it is biting. The fellow woke up in the morning with half his nose and all of his cheek gone AWOL. Sleep well."

Page 201: Ubar reconstruction:

DESTRUCTION: The legend of Ubar climaxed as the city "sank into the sands". It surely did. Ubar wasn't burned and sacked, decimated by plague, or rocked by deadly quake. It collapsed into an underground cavern. Of all the sites in all the ancient world, Ubar came to a unique and peculiar end, an end identical in legend and reality.


OLDER THAN 'AD: In the vocabluary of our bedouin friends, "old" meant when their grandfathers were alive, and "really old" meant a hundred years or so. If you were interested in something thousands of years old, you said "as old as 'Ad" or "older than 'Ad".

Page 255: In Hud's era, Judaism in Arabia wasn't all that monotheistic; it appears to have been entranced with the worship of a hierarchy of angels, with the archangel Metatron rivalling the majesty of God.

Strabo notes: Brothers are held higher than children... One woman is the wife to all, and he who first enters the home before any other has intercourse with her, having first placed his staff across the door.