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  • Writer's pictureMateusz Zalewski-Grzelak

Iram of the Pillars, Ubar of Columns, Eden. Kingdom of Shadad.

(an article from 2015)

I loved you, so I drew these tides of Men into my hands And wrote my will across the Sky and stars To earn you freedom, the seven Pillared worthy house, That your eyes might be Shining for me When I came

- Lawrence of Arabia, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

We then learn that “God called it ‘of the pillars’ because of the emerald and sapphire pillars that [were] under [the city][1]

[1] Al-Ṭabarānī, al-Tafsīr, VI, p. 494 in Neuenkirchen, P. (2013). Biblical Elements in Koran 89 , 6-8 and Its Exegeses : A New Interpretation of “ Iram of the Pillars ” (Vol. 60).

When I was an eight-year-old kid visiting my mother in the United Arab Emirates, travelling on a plane from Warsaw, Poland, to Dubai, entrusted to the care of a stewardess, it was something new and exciting to me. My mother was on a working contract, employed as a harpist in a hotel restaurant, and I attended Arabic and British schools for the time of my residency. I don't have many memories from this time, but I vividly remember having a dream of a magnificent underground chamber with tall, monumental, extremely thick pillars that were all emerald-greenish in color, shining in the darkness, and engraved with ancient symbols. I was dreaming that I would descend there with an archeological expedition through a small passage with carefully carved stairs. While falling asleep in the backseat of my mother's rented car while watching the moonlit deserts and listening to Spyro Gyra, the two most evocative scenes that I recall were this dreamscape and the desert. As a 29-year-old, this image is still evocative. I still believe that the ancient city of Ubar, also known as the City of Pillars, lies beneath the dunes of the Rub al Khali desert, waiting to be discovered.

When I was still working, I wanted to use my meager resources to stay in the area and rent a Jeep from Oman into the Rub Al-Khali region, but that was impossible due to a variety of factors. Although there were countless attempts to discover the city, satellite pictures near the Wabar craters only revealed a trading post-fortress under which there were some caves located at 21 31 2 N 50 28 4 E, which was taken for Ubar, and hence the search was considered finished by some, but it is clearly stated in the Quran that it was an underground city. It is also written in the Quran:

"(Saw you not how your Lord dealt with `Ad Iram of the pillars,) These were the first people of `Ad. They were the descendants of `Ad bin Iram bin `Aws bin Sam bin Nuh. This was said by Ibn Ishaq. They are those to whom Allah sent His Messenger Hud. However, they rejected and opposed him. Therefore, Allah saved him and those who believed with him from among them, and He destroyed others with a furious, violent wind. (…) (of the pillars.) is because they used to live in trellised houses that were raised with firm pillars. They were the strongest people of their time in their physical stature, and they were the mightiest people in power. Thus, Hud reminded them of this blessing, and he directed them to use this power in the obedience of their Lord Who had created them."[1]

Now the ante-diluvan period might be coupled with the age of the Wabar craters, 14, 000 years (0.00014 MA) ago impact; [2] and an impact of a bolid.

"From these we calculated a minimum original mass of the bolide at about 3,500 tons, with an impact (kinetic) energy of about 10 to 12 kilotons equivalent TNT (this is about 10 to the 21th power ergs, or comparable to the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima in August 1945). These energy values are approximate. The incoming bolide probably arrived at the upper fringes of the Earth's atmosphere with over 100 kilotons (TNT equivalent) of kinetic energy; it appears to have lost most of its energy during a shallowly oblique (probably between 20 and 45 degrees from the horizontal) passage before it hit the desert floor. The object arrived from roughly the N60W (300o) direction, i.e., the direction of modern Riyadh, the capital of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."[3]

Rub Al-Khali region was not always a desert; since the beginning of cuneiform writing (at least since the Uruk IV period), there has been a legend of an ancient land where people achieved immortality, called the Kingdom of Dilmun, but of an unknown location, as historical Dilmun was a later northern kingdom and ancient Magan was a southern one. "The excavations at the Sumerian city of Eridu, where the Sumeriana stated that they had come ashore to establish first, revealed material sequences stretching back to 5500 BME called the Ubaid period".

According to German researchers aboard the Meteor ship in 1969, the Gulf experienced dry desertification after a major glaciation (60 000-10 000 BC), which is consistent with the dating of the ante-Diluvan Sumerian Kings List. There were oases and gardens in a long, dry plain (Eden/Edin in old arabic) there are only a few surviving settlements, and the little incense trading post that was mistaken for Iram was most likely a much later development. The infilling raised the sea level by 3 meters by 5000 BC, but the current sea level was not reached until 2000 BC. It suggests that the then-ancient Sumerians migrated northwards into the Tigris and Euphrates plains only later; it is unclear how Sumerian genetic material developed, but if anything, they were autochthonous, having neither Indian nor South Asian ancestry; the only genetic material available is from later mixtures, after Sumerians intermixed with northern populations, possibly related to Iraqi Marsh Arabs.

The rate of sea level rise slowed between 14,000 and 12,000 years ago during the Younger Dryas cold period and was succeeded by another surge, "meltwater pulse 1B", 11,500-11,000 years ago, when sea levels may have jumped by 28 m according to Fairbanks, although subsequent studies indicate it may have been much less.

The flood was geologically registered at approximately 14,600-13,500 BME, thus ending the kingship of Ante-Diluvan rulers. There was a bolide impact in the region of Rub Al'Khali Wabar (0.00014 [4] MA), although some sources claim it was more likely later, 6400-2500 [5] BME. The black stone was quarried to make god statues during the time of Gudea, Patesi of Lagash (2144-2124 BC). Who knows, perhaps the Black Stone of Kaaba was quarried there? Note that homo sapiens sapiens appeared at first 300,000 years ago, and modern humans descend from an mtDNA mutation present circa 120,000 years ago. According to Berossus, the pre-Diluvian period lasted 120 sars of years, or 432,000 years.The tablet has 127? sars, or 459,000 years, for the same period [6]. Modern mtDNA human migrants reached South Arabia around 90 000 to 55 000 years ago.






[6] Langdon, S. (1923). The Chaldean Kings before the Flood. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 2(1), 251–259.

Bibliography and useful resources:

Philby, H. S. J. (1933). Rub“ Al Khali: An Account of Exploration in the Great South Desert of Arabia under the Auspices and Patronage of His Majesty ‘Abdul’ Aziz ibn Sa”ud, King of the Hejaz and Nejd and Its Dependencies. The Geographical Journal, 81(1), 1–21.

Neuenkirchen, P. (2013). Biblical Elements in Koran 89 , 6-8 and Its Exegeses : A New Interpretation of “ Iram of the Pillars ” (Vol. 60).

Edgell, H. S. (2004). The myth of the “lost city of the Arabian sands.” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 34(July 2003), 105–120.

And – Sumerian Ante-Diluvan Kings; the Black Stone of Mecca and the statues of the Gods made in time of Lagash;

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