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The Lost City of Ubar

(lonesomenumber1 suggested that I crosspost this to here from my own journal)

I have been re-reading one of my favorite books, "Declare", by Tim Powers the past few days. I came across the part of the book where he narrates about going to the lost Arabian city of Ubar, the details of which are fascinating. There is some mention of it it Arabian tales as well as the Koran, as a wicked city that Allah destroyed. T.E. Lawrence as well as St. John Philby and Wilfred Thesiger had done searches in the past with no result. I remembered suddenly I had a book on this city that I had bought some years ago and hadn't gotten around to reading, so I found it on one of my bookshelves.

The book is called "The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands", by Nicholas Clapp. The author, Clapp is a film maker who was largely responsible for finding the location of Ubar, starting in the 1980's. Using literature, the Koran and other clues he finally found the place with the help of NASA imaging satellites, which identified old incense trade routes. The area of Ubar is located in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula, in a region called "The Empty Quarter" which is claimed by no country but is surrounded by Oman, Yemen and the Emirates. The Bedu are the only ones who claim it for their own.

Ubar was a major trade city in ancient times for frankencense, and was located near groves where it was harvested.

I saw some of these trees in the desert when I was in the UAE and Oman. The frankencense is sap that weeps from the trees and hardens into an amber-like resin. The smell of frankencense is very pervasive in the souks of Arabia, where you can find large burlap sacks of it for sale everywhere. I brought some back with me and burn it once it awhile, it brings back very vivid memories of the time I spent there.

I love making these kind of connections with books, it's not difficult to do most of the time. It makes reading such an enjoyable and personal experience for me.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 18th, 2005 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. Very interesting!
Jun. 19th, 2005 06:37 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. :-)
Jun. 19th, 2005 08:47 am (UTC)
I love Tim Powers work-Declare was great stuff, so its really wonderful of you to put up the link/info-thanks very much :)
Jun. 19th, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, it's kinda Tim Powersish to post it. ;-)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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