Bulletin 10 - March 1980: Extract from Arabia Felix
Extract from Arabia Felixby Bertram Thomas
The Road to Ubar
"Look, Sahib," they cried, "There is the road to Ubar!"
"Ubar?" I wondered.
"It was a great city, our fathers have told us, that existed of old, a city rich in treasure, with date gardens and a fort of red silver. (Gold?) It now lies buried beneath the sands in the Ramlat Shu'ait, some few days to the north."
Other Arabs on my previous journeys had told me of Ubar(1), the Atlantis of the sands, but none could say where it lay. All thought of it had been banished from my mind when my companions cried their news and pointed to the well-worn tracks, about a hundred yards in cross section, graven in the plain. They bore 325°, approximately latitude 18° 45' N., longitude 52° 30' E. on the verge of the sands.
Some days later Ma'yuf, the most intelligent Rashidi in my party, volunteered the information that as a boy while grazing his father's herds after rain, between Mitan and Rasad (he had long ago forgotten the precise site, but thought it within two days' march of the sand border) he had come upon a complete earthenware pot, with broken potsherds of red and yellow, a part of grindstone, two coffee pestles (?) of black polished stone, and two large white rounded blocks of stone, notched at the edge and both alike, but each so big as to require two men to lift it (drums of a column?); he had turned the sand over to look for more, only to come upon black ashes. But these humble things he had never associated with a mighty city; though it had surprised him to find pottery in the sands, for no true nomad of the desert carries earthenware pots on his camels, but only vessels of woven reeds and an occasional iron one.
It is possibly more than a coincidence that Arisha (the land of the Ruler Zenaiti of the desert folklore) is the Shahari equivalent of Ras (Arabic).
Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan
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