Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen

Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen

by Nicholas Clapp

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Overview

In this exhilarating archaeological adventure, Nicholas Clapp seeks the truth behind the legend of the Queen of Sheba. Ever since she swept into the court of King Solomon three thousand years ago, her story has been told and retold, often getting diluted, amended, and reworked along the way. In a quest to collect clues to the mystery of Sheba, Clapp travels to Ethiopia, Yemen, Israel, and even a village in France. Using the latest technology, including satellite images and carbon-14 dating, and some recent archaeological discoveries, he pieces together the facts behind Sheba's multifaceted myth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618219261
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 06/20/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 402
Sales rank: 1,103,529
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Nicholas Clapp, a noted documentary filmmaker, has lectured at Brown University, the University of California at Los Angeles, California Institute of Technology, the National Georgraphic Society, and the Goddard Space Center. Clapp lives in Los Angeles, California.

Read an Excerpt

Prologue
On a sleet-streaked november afternoon I ducked into the New York Public Library, collapsed my umbrella—broken-spoked on the dash from the subway—sloshed up a grand marble staircase, and turned down a dark hallway leading to the Oriental Division. ("Oriental," in the nineteenth century's world-view, meant anything to the east of Greece, as in "We Three Kings of Orient Are . . .") In the hallway, the division's recent titles could be accessed on two computer terminals glowing green on a table to the right. To the left, shelves of black volumes recorded older entries, typed on antique machines and even handwritten. Both sources had pages of entries beginning: "Queen of . . ." Queen of Bubbles, Queen of Frogs. Queens of Sorrows, Spies, the Swamp, Tears, Tomorrow, the Universe, Rage, and Ruin. But on this damp day, one entry shone, the one I was looking for: the Queen of Sheba. Further crosschecking would pull up hundreds of entries bearing on her life—if she did ever live—and times. I had no way of knowing it at the time, but the pursuit of the queen of Sheba would take me from Canterbury Cathedral to a Czech alchemist's tower. I would venture to the Orient of old and to Jerusalem, the city where Sheba appeared before King Solomon, a city so at the crux of Western religion that it was long held to be the center of the world. Curiosity, that old cat-killer, would prod and beckon me on, through the cobbled streets of ancient caravansaries, through grassy green African highlands, across a stormy Strait of Tears, and into the trackless red sands of the Rub‘ al-Khali, the Empty Quarter of Arabia. The desert, I've found, is a good place for the curious, for even on a short walk you can expect the unexpected, a glimpse of something you've never seen before, be it an oddly striped caterpillar, a rare ghost flower or, as I once found in California's Mojave, a barely tarnished fighter plane abandoned since World War II. This really doesn't make sense. One imagines the surprises of the world of nature and of man to be hidden in remote alpine canyons and mist-shrouded jungles. And certainly such places have their share of the unexpected. But it's in the desert—open, apparently lifeless, with few places to conceal anything—where secrets, perhaps the best secrets, are to be found. Or may still lie buried. On again, off again, for a decade and more, I would seek Sheba in lands (like her?) exotic, sensuous, even sinister. Would the mists of her myth dissolve, and a real queen of a real country step forth? Or, upon investigation, might she prove to be Sheba, Queen of Illusion? I had no idea. But on a winter's day in New York, I scanned volume after worn volume and was warmed by the promise of adventure offered by Alexander Kinglake, a Victorian "traveling gent": There comes a time for not dancing quadrilles, not sitting in pews . . . and now my eyes would see the Splendor and Havoc of the East. May, 2000 Copyright © 2001 by Nicholas ClappPrologue

Table of Contents

Mapx
Prologue1
Part IIn Which the Queen of Sheba Appears and Her Legend Unfolds
1.In the Monasteries of the East5
2.I Kings 1018
3.Songs of Sheba20
4.The Desert Queen29
5.With Eyes Shining As Stars47
6.Touched By the Queen60
Part IIIn Which We Seek Solomon and Sheba in the Holy Land
7.O Jerusalem!79
8.Looking for Solomon90
9.Zabibi and Samsi109
Part IIIIn a Desert Oasis, an Unexpected Sheba
10.Further Suspects127
11.The Caliph's Command130
Part IVIn Which We Venture to a Land of Incense and Spices
12.To Far Arabia143
13.A Trail of Ruins161
14.City of Divine and Mysterious Pleasure180
15.Chiseled in Stone202
16.A Secret of the Sands210
Part VA Journey Reveals the Power and Dominion of the Queen of Sheba
17.The Glory of Kings221
18.The Holy City of Aksum230
19.By Dhow from Djibouti242
20.The Road to Sirwah251
21.In the House of the South Wind258
22.Sheba and Solomon272
Epilogue: Sheba's Tomb288
Appendix 1The Names of Sheba297
Appendix 2Chronology of the Sabean (Sheban) State299
Appendix 3Demon Sheba302
Appendix 4Alchemical Sheba309
Notes314
Bibliography337
Acknowledgments357
Illustration Credits360
Index361

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