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100 Years Ago: November 1919

This is installment #58 in my series of reviews of National Geographic magazines upon reaching the 100th anniversary of their publication.

The first article is entitled “The Rise of the New Arab Nation” and was written by Frederick Simpich, author of “Mystic Nedjef, the Shia Mecca”, “A Mexican Land of Canaan”, and other articles. The article contains seventeen black-and-white photographs, seven of which are full-page in size. The article also contains a sketch map of the Arabian Peninsula and adjacent areas on page 374.

Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

At the end of the World War many new states emerged in its wake. The Ottoman Empire was broken up with France overseeing Syria, the British watching over Mesopotamia and Arabia, leaving only Anatolia to Turkey. The war caused a rapid change in Arabia. Before the war men were killed for saying that Christ was the Son of God; after Agha Khan’s manifesto against the Turks, Arab troops were marching in Allenby’s column that captured Jerusalem. The Grand Sharif penned a telegram requesting that Arabia be admitted to the family of nations. The author envisioned a modern, open Arabia.

Even before the war Arab students in Europe protested for Arabian independence. One of them, Najob Azoura, wrote a book called “Le Reveil de la Nation Arabe”. It pleaded for a united Arabia, independent and progressive. This new Arabia would become a cradle of the renaissance of Arabian art, literature, and science.

The Turks’ control of Arabia was never more than nominal. Barring parts of Hejaz, Turkish authority was never fully recognized by Arabs anywhere. At the Peace Conference the Turks pleaded for the status quo antebellum of the Ottoman Empire. The Christian nations rejected this. In Europe, as in Arabia, the Turks proved they lacked the capacity to rule over alien races. The Turks only destroy what they have conquered.

With the British taking over stewardship of Arabia it was expected that Arab tribal wars would end, and the Bedouin clans and nomad outlaws would now have to be good. British supervision would protect the trade caravans and the pious pilgrims so they may go to Mecca in peace and safety.

When the author arrived at Jidda, the Red Sea gateway to hidden Mecca, a quarantine for cholera was in effect. The port sprawls over hot, treeless hills. For days he waited aboard ship for the yellow flag to be pulled down. Once in Jidda, he was shown a long stone tomb. It is claimed to be the tomb of the Biblical Eve. The Arabs believed that Adan and Eve were big people. Eve could hold a lion in her lap and stroke it like a kitten.

Forty-five miles east of Jidda was Mecca itself, the famous holy city of Islam. In spite of its religious and political importance it was small and mean, with a population of 100,000. It had no trade or manufacturing, but it had the largest tourist traffic of any city on earth. The Meccans peddled food and clothing to the pilgrims, rented them housing, acted as guides, provided transportation, and even arranged temporary marriages. In the countryside, the Bedouins profited from the pilgrims through either robbery or protection money.

The origin of the Arab race was a matter of conjecture but they were a unified political body with a king long before the Christian era. They once ruled from the Indus to the Atlantic with schools in philosophy, medicine, and other sciences. At the time of the article there were perhaps 10,000,000 Arabs worldwide. They are classified into two groups – “Al Bedoo” (Bedouin), “Dwellers in the Open Land”, and “Al Hadr”, “Dwellers in Fixed Locations”.

Most of present-day Arabia was so dry that it was unsuited for anything except grazing; and moisture so scant that grazing areas failed from time to time. This fact alone led to the Bedouins’ lifestyle. Although nominally Mohammedan, the average Bedouin, worried little about the Koran’s rules. Marriage was early and easy and divorce simple and frequent.

About 80% of all Arabs lived in towns, villages, or other fixed locations. This was the “Hadr” class. In this group was found the aristocracy of Arabia; old, reputable families, with records running back generations. Perhaps the most noted family is the house of Koreysh, tracing its connections back to the Prophet.

It is ironic that education, as it was known in America, was almost unknown in Arabia when you consider it was Arab learning and skill, in the long ago, that started civilization on its way to its high efficiency. Most learning was confined to the classics of religious and secular literature. The Koran was learned by rote. In the smaller towns there were no schools at all.

Slave traffic along the Arab coast was illegal, but slavery, nevertheless, was said to still exist to a considerable extent. In the interior towns, slaves were used mostly for personal servants, body guards, and hostlers. By an old Arabian law, a slave was freed after seven years of service, as long as he had converted to Islam. There was no prejudice against marriage with blacks in Arabia, especially after they are freed. This intermarriage had scattered a black population all over Arabia. In Muscat and Aden mulattoes and half breeds were so common that the pure Arab was a rarity.

In physical characteristics, flora, and fauna, Arabia was more like Africa than Asia. In shape it was almost a triangle. It was bound on the east, south, and west by the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea respectively. On the north it joined Syria and Mesopotamia. Its western length was about 1,300 miles, and its greatest breath was about 1,500 miles. The coast of the Red Sea, with dry and barren mountains behind sandy, empty strips of country, reminded the author of the Pacific coast of Baja California. The southeastern coast, similarly empty, was broken by several good harbors, like Aden. This port was a British possession. It was heavily fortified and a waystation for commerce between Europe and India.

The Persian Gulf coast country was somewhat more cheerful, cultivated here and there with high, slightly forested mountains. Muscat was the capital of Oman. It was once the haunts of Sinbad the Sailor. Later it was the stronghold of Portuguese buccaneers. Oman had been under British protection for many years. Though part of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman could hardly be called part of Arabia. Whether it would be included in the boundaries of the new Arab nation was as yet undetermined.

Along the Red Sea coast lay three provinces, the most important in Arabia. Yemen, the southernmost and most populous, had many arable valleys, producing coffee, figs, spices, hides, and dates. It had two port cities, Mocha and Hodeida. Aseer province lay north of Yemen, and north of Aseer and extending to the Suez Canal stretches Hajaz, wherein lay the famous Moslem cities of Mecca and Medina.

The ancients, for convenience, divided Arabia into three parts – the Stony, the Desert, and the Happy. Our knowledge shows most of the interior, except for the Nejd province, was comprised of four great deserts: the Syrian, the Nefud, the Ahkaf, and the Dehna. The Mahrah and Hadramaut provinces were unmapped and practically unknown.

Nejd was declared by Arabs to be the birthplace of their most cherished institutions and traditions, isolated from the outside world by a surrounding desert girdle. To reach this hidden paradise and the unknown city of Hail one had to survive the hardships and perils of crossing these seas of sand.

Hasa province was located at the head of the Persian Gulf. Its port city, Koweit (Kuwait), was busy with cargos of dates, sponges, and pearls shipped. It was projected that it would become busier when the British finished its railway in Mesopotamia. Before the war, the Germans selected Kuwait as its salt-water terminus of the Bagdad railway. The British, however made a treaty with the Sheik of Kuwait blocking the Keiser’s plan. The British built a light railway from Bassora (Basra) to Bagdad.

With the exception of dates, Arabia produced few crops: some coffee in Yemen; millet, barley, and wheat, drought permitting; and where there was water, rice, melons, gourds, cucumbers, garlic and onions. Grapes were also grown but the Koran made Arabia “dry”. Winemaking was forbidden. Some Bedouins and a few town Arabs got a “kick” out of arrak, a drink made from date juice.

In Nejd additional crops were grown: Indian fig, banana, and papaya, all imported from India. Agriculture was primitive, crooked sticks scratched the soil and seeds were tossed by hand. Such improvements as fertilizing, crop rotation, pruning, and cultivating were unknown. Hand sickles were used for reaping

The birds of Arabia include the “hoopoe” bird, a carrier pigeon said to be used by King Solomon to send notes to the Queen of Sheba. There are also rock and wood pigeons. In cultivated areas there were many larks, sparrows, cranes, and finches. In Kuwait, wild grouse were abundant. In Yemen, there were peacocks, parrots, and quail. A peculiarly drab-looking desert grouse called “kata” lived on the edge the desert. Eagles, vultures, bustards, hawks were common, as were the ostrich. Except for lizards, reptiles were rare. Only two vipers were found in Arabia. There were, however, scorpions, centipedes, and spiders.

It appeared that the horse was indigenous to Arabia. The finest, most handsome horses in the world lived there. They were not the largest, or the swiftest, but the “Nedjee horse” had no rival in symmetry and beauty. These horses from the Nejd were considered the aristocrats among horses. Their family histories were traced back to the fifth century. They were never exported but some had been given away as gifts to royalty or other distinguished foreigners.

While horses were more popular, the camel is the most useful of all animals in the East. The Arabs worked it 15 hours a day, sheared it in the spring, milked it, then killed and ate it when it got old. All over Arabia the camel was the chief commodity of trade. Goats and sheep were also plentiful. Thousands of skins were exported to America from Yemen each year. Cattle with humps were found in Oman and Yemen, and a stouter, hump-less variety lived in the northern provinces. In the Hasa province the rich rode the ass. The best of them were pure white. In rougher regions of Arabia, the asses ran wild, as in Nebuchadnezzar’s time. There were two kinds of dogs found in Arabia, a wild-looking part wolf and the slughi, a type of greyhound used for hunting.

There were few wild animals in Arabia. A small, fierce tiger roamed the hills north of Oman. The panther bothered flocks throughout the peninsula. There were wolves, foxes, and hyenas. A long-tailed, black-faced monkey lived in Yemen. As far north as Bagdad was found the jerboa, or kangaroo rat. The Bedouins ate it and said it tasted like rabbit.

The nomad tribes tanned their own leather, wove course cloth, and practiced rough blacksmith work, saddlery and sandal making. In the towns some beautifully woven stuffs were produced, including silks and gold-thread embroidery. Jewelry production and metal work also occurred in the towns, but it was crude, with the absence of lathes and drills. There were few skilled workers and no factories.

Bahrein, a remote island in the Persian Gulf, was the reputed birthplace of the Phoenicians. It was famous for its lustrous pearls as far back as Biblical times. From June to November up to 5,000 small boats, each with 6 to 15 men, were busy fishing for pearls off Bahrein and along the Arab coast. The divers remained under water a minute or more. They worked from 5 to 20 fathoms of water averaging around 7 fathoms. Tied to a stone, when the divers had gathered their oysters, they tugged on a lifeline and were hauled up. Black pearls were often found near Bahrein, as are steel-colored “seed pearls”. One romantic Arab legend said that pearls were mermaids’ tears.

An Arab sheik ruled Bahrein and had a treaty with Great Britain to protect him from pirates. The British were consulted before any pearl concessions were granted. For a long time, Persia claimed Bahrein. Later Turkey asserted its ownership. A colony of American missionaries were active and well known in the region. On the mainland, in Kuwait, the pearl trade was also lively. American trade in Arabia was brisk but Yankee salesmen were seldom seen, American goods being handled by native importers.

There was only one railway in Arabia, the British line that ran from Damascus to Medina. Most other trade routes in the country were caravan trails. Most internal shipping was done by mule and camel. American cotton goods, kerosene, sewing machines, phonographs, “dollar watches” were widely known. In Aden, Yankee-made motor cars, bicycles, safety razors, clocks, and typewriters were sold. In return, Uncle Sam bought much from Arab traders; dates, mocha coffee, and hundreds of thousands of goat and sheep skins.

The author ended the article with the hope that the fall of the Ottoman Empire and a new Arab State under British control would lead to a closer and more confidential relationship between Christian and Moslem nations. Long ago Arabia conquered from India to Spain. Freed of the Turkish yoke, Arabia may rise again.

The second article is entitled “The Land of the Stalking Death” and was written by Melville Chater. It has the subtitle “A Journey Through Starving Armenia on an American Relief Train”. The article contains twenty-three black-and-white photographs, three of which are full-page in size. The article also references in a footnote the sketch map that appears in the first article since this region is also covered by the map.

The author reached the Transcaucasus, that mountainous isthmus between the Black and Caspian Seas, on a British transport ship at the port of Batum in the country of Georgia on the coast of the Black Sea. The author immediately began searching for transportation to Tiflis, the Capital of Georgia and from there Armenia. Mr. Chater was there to assess the situation in the latter country and the relief efforts there. He found a train and shared a carriage with a doctor. The train carried much needed American flour, guarded by British soldiers, for the famine-stricken people in Armenia.

By siding with the Germans in the World War, Georgia escaped the wrath of the Turks. Likewise, being Muslim like the Ottomans saved the people of Azerbaijan. It was the Armenians who suffered, especially after the Russian revolution when the Russian soldiers dropped their rifles and deserted the region.

Georgia had a coast on the Black Sea and Azerbaijan had a coast on the Caspian. Sandwiched in between was the landlocked Erivan Republic, the Armenians. There is a railway that runs across the Transcaucasus from Batum, and Poti on the Black Sea to Baku on the Caspian. When the British entered the Transcaucasus in Baku both the Germans and the Turks vacated the region.

Armenia had suffered greatly at the hands of the Turks even before the invasion which came within six miles of its capital. The country was overflowing with Armenian refugees escaping the genocide that was waged against them throughout the Ottoman Empire. There were between 200,000 and 300,000 refugees within Armenia’s borders. When the Turks withdrew from the country, they took everything: food, livestock, seed, and farm implements leaving the Armenians to starve.

Upon reaching Tiflis, the author found there were 20,000 Armenian refugees being cared for by the American Committee. They were given about seven ounces of bread per day and given an opportunity to earn a living wage at the Committee’s weaving factory. The Committee also worked with the 4,000 Armenian orphans, and had them attend classes and tend vegetable gardens.

Once several cars of flour had been unloaded, Mr. Chater was back aboard the train and heading through Alpine-like mountains. At a mountain village the train stopped. This was a disputed zone between Georgia and Armenia. The train’s engineer, who was Georgian, demanded 300 rubles to continue. A British soldier would have none of that, and the train went on without further incident.

From time to time an extra boxcar was hitched behind the train filled with refugees, who wandered from station to station aimlessly. They were all emaciated, specters attempting to flee starvation. Upon crossing the border in the mountain town of Karakillisse, the author found its environs containing ten thousand refugees. The American Committee distributed 85 tons of rice and flour in three weeks just to hold off starvation. The daily death toll was thirty, with ten of those children.

The next day the train reached Alexandropol. Before the flour unloading began, children were about the cars, begging for food. The number of refugees here had swelled to 58,000. They were dying at a rate of two hundred to two hundred fifty souls a day. The manager of the American Committee told the author that walking from his home to his office he saw seven bodies lying in the street. With the supplies available, the American Committee distributed from three and a half to seven ounces of flour and two ounces of rice per person per day.

Another day’s travel and the train reached Erivan, the Armenian capital. Its population of 40,000 had been doubled by the influx. There was starvation and typhus. The death rate fluctuated between fifty and eighty a day. Eighty food stations scattered throughout the republic had distributed five thousand tons of American flour by March 1, 1919. Unfortunately, this was woefully inadequate.

There were two markets in Erivan, the Bazaar of the Living and the Bazaar of the Dead. The former served those who were fortunate enough to have paper rubles. Behind this market stood the second bazaar, a sun-scorched acre of dirt. Here was where the dying came to sell the goods of their dead. Here too five hundred children, aged six to twelve, were herded into a sort of clearinghouse. Every day and ox-cart carried off a half a dozen of them for burial. The dead lying among the living went almost unnoticed.

A war-battered American car with Russian tires and parts from all over the world took the author and his doctor companion the forty miles to Igdir. Igdir and its surrounding had a population of 30,000 Armenians, 20,000 Tatars, and 15,000 Yezidis. The streets were empty; the only children to be seen were in an orphanage. There was a stench of death throughout the city. The children were sick and bed-ridden, whithered and dying. “They all die,” observed the doctor, “We can’t do them any good”.

There were thirty villages in the district. A recent census showed 2,277 deaths for a period of fifty days. Etchmiadzin contained 7,000 refugees, of whom 1,000 were dying each month. At Evgilar a population of 1,900 was reduced to 1,519 in tens day. During the same ten days Alletly’s population fell from 965 to 612 and Atgamar’s from 2,093 to 1,530. The dead toll may be higher because they cannot search every house each day.

Cats and dogs were eaten, and some of the disparate resorted to cannibalism. In one case a relief worker found a living sister and dead brother in a house. The next day when he returned to remove the body, the brother’s arm was missing. The author was shown the cemetery where a small girl was breaking a bone with a rock to get to the marrow.

As the author and his companion, the doctor, drove their car away from Igdir, they were depressed and angry. The car broke down several times and they argued about everything. They were cheered by the sight of a long line of oxcarts loaded with flour moving towards Igdir. The next morning, they ate breakfast, a little shamefully, and they both apologized for their rudeness. They both knew it was nerves caused by the ordeal they had both endured.

The third item listed on the cover is entitled “Where Slavs and Mongols Meet”. The “author” is listed as Maynard Owen Williams. It is not an article but a set of sixteen full-page colorized photographs by Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams is the author of many articles including the recent “The Descendants of Confucius – Toilers of Shantung”. The photographs in this spread were originally black-and-white photos that appeared in other articles by Mr. Williams. Most of them are from “Russia’s Orphan Races”, and at least one is from his article “Between Massacres in Van”.

The last article in this issue is entitled “Syria: The Land Link of History’s Chain” and was written by Maynard Owen Williams. The article contains twenty black-and-white photographs, five of which are full-page in size. The article also contains a sketch map of Syria on page 441.

Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

Syria, forming the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, is bound on the north by the Taurus Mountains. The Arabian deserts confine it to the east and south. It was always central to trade routes lying between The Nile valley and the rivers of Mesopotamia. It was anticipated that once the Dardanelles were internationalized and the Berlin-to-Bagdad railway was completed, the region would only increase in importance as a trade hub. The railway only needed about 300 miles of track to be laid between Nisibin and Tekrit, north of Samarra. This line connected the oldest routes of international commerce, and served as a kind of boundary, with Turkish spoken to the north and Arabic to the south. A branch line off of this railway ran south from Aleppo through Syria, and down to Medina in Arabia.

There were two ports anticipated to gain importance, Alexandretta and Haifa. A rail line linked Alexandretta to the Euphrates River at Jerablus by way of Aleppo. The Haifa Railway separated northern Syria from the southern part, long called Palestine. It ran from the port of Haifa east to Derat on the main north-south railway. A railway ran south from Haifa all the way to Egypt. Haifa was the southernmost Syrian harbor capable of large development. It was expected to be the key to Jerusalem, as well as a port for Damascus and trade coming from Mesopotamia.

The author envisioned two great breakwaters, each four miles long, being built; one from Haifa and the other from Acre across the bay. These would tame the rough waters caused by the evening winds and make the bay a calm harbor for large freight ships to dock and unload. He had firsthand experience of those rough waters on his first visit to Haifa. He envisioned the day where “huge liners can tie up and discharge their prosaic cargos for the poetic East”. He regretted the dehumanizing processes of modern commerce, and that the region would lose something to become part of the workaday world.

When the Turks spread unrest in Syria it drove Columbus across the Atlantic and Vasco da Gama around the Cape. The Turks robbed Syria of greatness for three hundred years. Then came the Suez Canal, demoting Syria to a “wallflower among nations”. But while the world ignored Syria, Germany started a railroad that followed the ancient trade route to Syria and Mesopotamia. Germany’s dream of Pan-Germanism failed, of course, but the railway was still there, almost completed, and along with the ports mentioned above, the trade routes of old would become busier than ever.

Mesopotamia was as fertile at the time of the article as it was at the birth of agriculture. The key is irrigation. The land could either be left to grazing with a small nomadic population or it could be watered and cultivated supporting a large, developed populace. The Nomad were mutual enemies of good government.

The Greeks were coaxed to become navigators by their thickly scattered islands. The Phoenicians were forced to the sea by an unbroken mountain chain. Phoenicia, today’s Lebanon, was a fertile plain, and according to the author, Syria’s garden land of his time. The tradition for sea travel that began in Phoenicia came down to Lebanon through the centuries. When the massacre of 1860 occurred Syrians from the persecuted land fled to America, where more than 400,000 were now residing.

According to the author, soon heavy trains would thunder along trade routes which plodding camels marked out when the world was young. Already, one could dine in Cairo and have lunch the following day in Jerusalem. The step to Aleppo, Mosul, and Bagdad were short and all but 300 miles open to traffic. Regardless of how popular the Berlin-to-Bagdad line would become, the British Empire demanded that the railroad linking the Nile Valley and the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates be kept in a state of perfection. The large part of the right of way for an envisioned Cairo-to-Calcutta express was relatively flat and absent of heavy grades. It would beat the fastest sea route by several days.

Slowly but surely the iron rails were reaching out to bind Cape Town to Cairo and Suez to Shanghai by way of Persia, India, Burma, and the Yangtse Valley. The supreme strategy of a railway linking the valleys of the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus, the Ganges, the Irriwaddy, and the Yangtse was that it flanked the most thickly settled portion of the world’s surface. It would have immediate commercial as well as strategic value. Syria would be the hub of this rail system spanning the Afro-Eurasian continents, the world’s greatest landmass.

Water bounded Syria on the west. The lack of it defined the eastern and southern boundaries. Water was precious in a dry land. Muslims and Christians alike held it in high regard. The main attraction of a Damascus café was a tiny fountain. Dan, near the source of the Jordan, and Beersheba with its age-old wells were considered the northern termini of Palestine, as they were formerly Hebrew territory. A single spring determined the site of Nazareth. In Lebanon there were many springs and streams. The early inhabitants of Syria said the land flowed with milk and honey. There were two springs in Lebanon called the Honey Spring and the Milk Spring. They were the sources of the Dog river which refreshed Beirut. Even on hot plains the water that bubbles up from subterranean sources was very cold, 38 degrees Fahrenheit at Shiba and 42 degrees at Banias. The Jericho region had three types of water, the Dead Sea, seemingly a mixture of salt, kerosene, and lye; the muddy Jordan river, and the cool and clear Sultan’s Spring.

The author visited Jerusalem at Easter and witnessed a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Holy Fire celebration. He sat in the second gallery of a high rotunda. Below were thousands of pilgrims huddled around the traditional tomb. To the left were the Greeks and to the right were the Armenians. Directly below the author was the small Coptic chapel at the rear of the sepulcher. Each pilgrim held 33 candles, one for each year of Christs life, to be carried back to their homelands.

The Armenian runners took their place near one of the holes where fire was to appear. A little later the Greek runners appeared near their fire hole. When the fire was to appear, these men would fight through the crowd to carry the fire to villages around Jerusalem. The Greek Patriarch paraded around the sepulcher three times then, joined by the Armenian prelate, entered the sepulcher itself.

The bells began to toll. The excitement increased. The bells increased their noisy ringing and a great flame shot out of each side of the tomb. The runners caught the fire in large wads of cotton and fought their way through a sea of people reaching for the blessed fire. A Copt, carrying a burning mass of cotton shoved his way through the crowd. He dashed inside the barred chapel and clanged the door shut. A thousand candles were already lit, flickering and multiplying all over the great floor. Smoke and smell began to rise. The lamps in the sepulcher were lighted. The Greek chapel had become a sea of fire. The holy fires disappeared. The pilgrims pressed toward the one entrance, bathed in hot wax, scorching hair and chests with flicking candles. The tourists in the gallery lit their candles to be taken home.

Beirut was of great interest to Americans because this was where the Syrian Protestant College was located. This great institution ranks with Robert College on the Bosporus. These two American schools had a tremendous power throughout the Near East. The author once taught a course in history at this cosmopolitan university of 1,100 students, representing a dozen races and a half dozen religions. Beirut was the center of modern Arabic literature and liberalism.

From Rameses the Great to the Assyrians, the Hittites, the Crusaders, up to Allenby with a combined Muslim and Christian army, Syria, because of its central location has always had conquerors, invaders, or just armies passing through.

T. E. Lawrence was one of two archeologists in pre-War 1914 who solved the mysteries of the Hittite. At the time of the article, he was a colonel in the English army, champion of Arabian rights in Syria, and alien prince of Mecca. His colleague was Mr. C. Leonard Woolley. Lawrence had an innate ability to communicate with the Arabs, and he later won over the Arabs to the Allied cause and enabled Allenby to win a decisive victory in Palestine. Lawrence’s power to handle men proved a deciding factor in swinging the Arabs from loyalty to Turkey, as head of Mohammedanism, to co-operation with Christian forces in the capture of Jerusalem and Damascus.

Carchemish, the site of Lawrence’s dig, had English and Germans working side by side in the spring of 1914. One building an intellectual link to the past, and the other constructing a material link to a future empire. The Kaiser even intervened to prevent the Bagdad Railway from cutting through Carchemish. Woolley and Lawrence returned the favor when they convinced the Kurds, Arabs, and Syrians, whom the Germans had offended, to return to work saving the bridge over the Euphrates from floodwaters. Later, Lawrence aided in the Germans’ downfall.

The author had visited Carchemish and wrote about Woolley and Lawrence in an article published in 1913. He again visited the archeologist. They took pride in the unglazed Hittite cups, 4,000 years old, from which they sipped Turkish coffee. One evening their entertainment was a Kurd singer. The man sang of the lament of a Kurdish woman at the death of her husband, a great warrior, and her pleas for vengeance.

Just south of the Hittite ruins at Carchemish the Bagdad Railway crosses the Euphrates and enters Mesopotamia. The author envisioned an ever-growing complex of railways across the heart of central Asia and on to India. The Syrian and Mesopotamian routes were essential to the commercial and industrial development of Europe and the cultural development of Asia.

At the bottom of the last page of the last article is a notice to the members with a headline stating: “YOUR NEW MAP OF EUROPE WHEN THE BOUNDARIES ARE DEFINITIVELY ANNOUNCED”. It was to include the pre-war boundaries as well as the official new boundaries agreed upon. Note: This map would eventually be published with the February 1921 issue of National Geographic.

Tom Wilson

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As always, well done Tom!

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