Friday, 25 July 2008

Sam City

This is Sam City - Sana'a, Yemen, from the air. Sana'a must be one of the oldest continually-inhabited cities on earth, and one of the very few that still looks old and timeless.
It was reputedly founded by Shem, the son of Noah (hence Sam City).
Click on the pic for a better view.

When I first went there, in 1986, to try and sell them some airport kitchen equipment, I stayed at the Indian-run Taj hotel (roughly where the red arrow points) on Sana'a's High Street (the buildings to the left of it are palatial Government establishments of some sort).

Across the road, you could walk casually from the 20th to the 15th century.

You can see the old city on this aerial photo; roughly, all the big round bit in the middle. But, from this aerial photo, you can also make out the very, very ancient core of the city (Blob 1).

Nobody's ever been allowed to dig there, but, if they could, what they might find could put Catalhuyuk or Ebla to shame.

The streets of Sana'a are very, very private; a bit like the streets of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, or of many Spanish towns; tall multi-storey buildings fronting directly on the road, and hiding wonders behind.I never found the mosque in a pool (just south of Blob 1) or the ancient fortress (Blob 2) or the large gardens at ten o'clock from Blob 1.

My own photos of Sana'a have long rotted in my son's attic, so I'll have to refer you to Google Images:
This is a city still going through more history than we can imagine.
Look at:

Tomorrow, I'm going to do a bit of wandering on Google Earth -out to Ma'arib on the edge of the desert, where the Queen o' Sheba put that goddam' big dam. (And where the charming Italian lady I was discussing this stuff with, in the Taj bar, was kidnapped the next day).

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