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The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of…
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The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands

by Nicholas Clapp

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Excellent resource book. Easy to read and understand. ( )
  Childs-Pancorvo | Apr 26, 2010 |
I really like to first half of the book. It chronicles the search for this lost city and it's really interesting how they used satallite imagery to find it. The second part of the book I was less please with. It's a fictionalization of what life may have been like there. I would have preferred it if they stuck to the science.
  Readermom68 | Oct 6, 2009 |
Generally contains three parts: 1) Myth 2) Expedition and 3) The Rise and Fall of Ubar. Being a plot-motivated reader, I enjoyed the expedition the best. Having done a little research myself, I can appreciate the desire to document it as Clapp has done in "Myth," however I found this tedious. Unlike some other books of this type, there is are excavations and findings associated with the expedition, which made it interesting. The text includes illustrations, maps, three appendices, notes, a bibliography, and index. ( )
  VaterOlsen | Mar 16, 2009 |
Let’s face it: There just aren’t that many places left here on earth for a good adventure story. The Arabian peninsula’s “Empty Quarter” may be one of them, but it doesn’t get its due in The Road to Ubar.

About 2,000 years ago, Ubar controlled the caravan routes for the highly profitable frankincense trade, mostly because of its unique location as the only oasis in the area. “Something” happened, though, and the Koran uses Ubar as an illustration of how god destroys the cities of those who have more interest in profits than prophets.

The author assembles a semi-colorful cast of characters to look for the city and find out what happens, but what really helps is his flukey ability to get help from some acquaintances at NASA, who leverage shuttle flights to take photos from earth orbit. The images somehow work to discern areas of sand compression, even through dunes, so the literal “road” to Ubar becomes quite obvious.

With that kind of help, and the availability of friendly helicopter pilots and durable Land Rovers, finding the city simply wasn’t that impressive of a feat.

Okay, there are two close calls, but one is averted through the use of GPS. The other, involving the author and some of the team being left in the desert while a helicopter flies off to get more fuel and comes back a few hours late, doesn’t seem to make a real impression on the author. So, likewise, it didn’t make that much of an impression on this reader.

Even the presence of Ran Fiennes (see my library for his very good tales of Arctic exploration) as a supporting player failed to really hold my attention.

Part of the problem may have been an unfortunate incident at the beginning of the book that made me a bit queasy. The author is going over stuff an earlier (1930s) explorer had written about Ubar, and he describes this explorer’s “take” on the area, which includes: “By contrast, a household’s slaves enjoyed a happy-go-lucky freedom that unimaginable to their masters.” But this isn’t a direct quote from the original explorer; in fact, it’s placed in such away that I had the nagging feeling this was an attitude the author endorsed.

For all these reasons, I cannot recommend this book. ( )
2 vote KromesTomes | Jul 30, 2007 |
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Prolog: Boston, Massachusetts, Februar 1797 ... Als der Wagen schliesslich vor der Buchhandlung Ecke Proctor's Lane anhielt, war es bereits dunkel, und es schneite.
1.: Im Luftraum über dem Iran, Dezember 1980 ... Der kleine Frachttransporter flog hinein in die sternenübersäte, aber mondfinstere Nacht.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0395957869, Paperback)

What is it about the inhospitable corners of the world that so attracts the imagination? Scott in the Antarctic, Hillary on top of Everest, and a multitude of wanderers--from Wilfred Thesiger and T. E. Lawrence to Gertrude Bell--wandering through the vast, empty sands of "the empty quarter" in what is now Saudi Arabia; each of these explorers has been drawn to places most of us would never think of going and found there an unexpected window onto their own souls. In The Road to Ubar, filmmaker Nicholas Clapp follows in the footsteps of earlier visitors to the Arabian peninsula as he seeks the legendary city of Ubar. Going back at least two millennia, stories about a vast city filled with gold that disappeared almost in an instant haunt the literature and lore of Arabia. And for almost as long as the stories have been around, so have the rogues and dreamers who have tried to find it. His interest sparked by the accounts of earlier travelers in the region such as Thesiger and Bertram Thomas, Clapp decided to put together his own team in hopes of finding and filming the lost city.

Using both modern tools (photographs taken from space, courtesy of NASA) as well as old ones (maps, descriptions, and written accounts), Clapp and his team slowly pieced together the clues until they arrived, at last, at the site where they would spend the next four years digging. How they got to the end of The Road to Ubar and what they found there is at the heart of this unusual travel memoir.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The most fabled city in ancient Arabia was Ubar, described in the Koran as "the many-columned city whose like has not been built in the whole land." But like Sodom and Gomorrah, Ubar was destroyed by God for the sins of its people. Buried in the desert without a trace, it became the "Atlantis of the Sands." The story of its destruction was retold in The Arabian Nights Entertainments (first published in the New World in 1797 as The Oriental Moralist by an ancestor of Nicholas Clapp's). Over the centuries, many people searched unsuccessfully for the lost city, including the flamboyant Harry St. John Philby, and skepticism grew that there had ever been a real place called Ubar.Then in the 1980s Nicholas Clapp stumbled on the legend. Poring over medieval manuscripts, he discovered that a slip of the pen in A.D. 1460 had misled generations of explorers. In satellite images he found evidence of ancient caravan routes that were invisible on the ground. Finally he organized two expeditions to Arabia with a team of archaeologists, geologists, space scientists, and adventurers. After many false starts, dead ends, and weeks of digging, they uncovered the remains of a remarkable walled city with eight towers, thirty-foot walls, and artifacts dating back 4,000 years - they had found Ubar.… (more)

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