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PHILBY, Harry St John Bridger.

The Land of Sheba, parts I & II.

[and:] STEIN, Aurel, Note on Remains of the Roman Limes in North-Western Iraq. [in The Geographical Journal, Vol. XCII Nos. 1 & 2, July & August 1938].

Published: London: The Royal Geographical Society, July & August 1938

Stock code: 97475

Price: £250

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First editions. “Most of Philby’s later explorations were carried out by motor vehicle … [A]n opportunity for real exploration in an unmapped quarter arose in May 1936 when Ibn Sa’ud asked Philby to map the boundary between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Philby started his journey south at Mecca, and worked south to Khamis, Abaha and Najran in the Yemen border region. At Najran he made archaeological discoveries of great importance, including a script never before found in southern Arabia” (Howgego), evidenced in hundreds of inscriptions which Philby believed to date from “a period when the old astral religion of South Arabia was still an effective force”. He also became the first European to survey the Himyarite ruins of Shabwah, with its temple to Astarte. He considered his journey “the first recorded crossing of Arabia from north to south (or vice versa) by any human”, while conceding that many may have made the journey during the spice trade. His report here would form the basis for Sheba’s Daughters, published in 1939. Stein, flown by an RAF pilot, was able to elucidate the distribution of the defensive road system built by the Romans as a barrier against the Persians in Late Antiquity. Highly uncommon in this condition.

2 volumes, octavo. Original blue printed wrappers. Philby with: 7 plates from the author’s own photographs; folding map of south-west Arabia to rear of No. 1 (approx. 1 cm : 55 km) opening to 245 400 mm, large folding map of the same to rear of No. 2 (1 : 1,000,000), coloured in outline, opening to 410 720 mm, with sketch map of Shabwah ruins (1 : 20,000) inset. No. 1 lightly creased with a tear between rear wrapper and spine, map to rear of no. 2 with closed tear along fold; overall, very good.

Bibliography: Philby's piece: Macro 1788, Howgego IV P31. For Stein, v. ibid., S65

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