ABU DHABI – The National Library of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage published the Arabic translation of “Vanished Cities of Arabia” written by Steuart Erskine and illustrated by Major George Henry Benton Fletcher.
The translated book is part of the National Library’s “Visitors of the Arab Orient” series.
Erskine talks about the sunrise in the Jordanian city of Petra, describing it as the most beautiful sunrise she has ever seen in her life. She notes that all those who come from Europe must get their eyes used to the new habit of concentration. Everything in Arabia is visibly old and ancient. Everything that was old must have been scattered. Civilisations emerge and vanish, nations rise, gain a period of welfare and then disappear like the cities that we have come from afar to see their remnants. The goal of this trip becomes the sites of cities whose mention and history have disappeared.
The book contains 28 chapters addressing many cities, including Petra in different periods: the Nabati city, Pharaoh's Treasury (El-Khazneh), the Crusaders' Castle Château de la Valée de Moyse, Karak, the feudal castle, Saha, Deuteronomy, Madaba, Ammon, Philadelphia, Decapolis, Ptolemy II, Greek Theatre, Jerash, Jerassa, the Temple of Artemis, Hippodrome, the Silver Era, Neo-Plutonian, Arab geographers, and Christian pilgrims.
The author unveils many historical surprises such as the whereabouts of the Pharaoh’s Treasury. She offers a rare reading of other plain and mountainous cities and others overlooking the desert or near the sea, searching the hidden of their long deep-rooted history.
The list of illustrations describes the Pharaoh’s Treasury and all what is related to the ancient town of Petra including its entrances, theaters and galleries and those forgotten cities and surrounding areas. There are drawings that illustrate Wadi Musa and Wadi Araba, the sunrise and sunset at the Dead Sea from the Mount of Olives, as well as many of the Roman remnants in Amman, Jerash and its Bab al-Nasr (Gate of Victory), the colonnaded street, the forum, temples, Roman baths and public arena.
The book has been translated by Abdul Ilah Al Mallah.
The National Library at ADACH launched in 2009 the 'Visitors of the Arab Orient' series, as there are tens of works related to the journeys of foreign travellers to the Arab region, particularly the Arabian Gulf region, dating back to different periods of time, which were either completely forgotten or not translated yet to the Arabic language.
The National Library sought to bridge this gap, given the importance of collecting this big material in one place, which provides deeper and greater knowledge, whether through the travels themselves or the characteristics of the region and its culture and heritage during periods when there was little history writing and writing of accounts.
This is why the series of the 'Visitors of the Arab Orient' was launched and tens of works have been published until now. The concern was not to publish these works only, but to check and edit them correctly in order to come out with the smallest possible amount of errors and fallacies.