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)