Collage - Journal 1932...

Collage - Journal 1932...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Zerzura the lost Oasis...

Count Lazlo Almazy

Zerzura is a mythical white city or oasis. Myths does impact the spirit of exploration.

 In Arabic the word Zerzura is a location populated by starlings. Zerzura was first mentioned in the texts in the 13th century and is said to be located deep in the desert with riches beyond measures. Zerzura has been described in the 15th century by an anonymous Arabic treasure-hunter as a white washed city of the desert on whose gate is a carved bird.  It states "take with your hand the key in the beak of the bird, then open the door/gates to the city. Enter, and here you will find great riches..."

László Ede Almásy de Zsadány et Törökszentmiklós - Nicknamed - "Abu Ramla" Father of the Sands (22 August 1895 – 22 March 1951) Hungarian, aritocrat, explorer, aviator, soldier etc. 

He led an expedition to search for Zerzura from 1929-1930 and beleived it would be found in the area of Gilf Kebir. Gilf Kebir would be translated into "The Great Barrier" is a plateau in the New Valley of the remote southwest corner of Egypt and souteast Libya. It has been of great geological interest. Royal Geographic Society has sponsored several expeditions in their search to find Zerzura although without success. Until present day it has not been found.

In 1930 Ralph Bagnold formed the Zezura Club with the leading explorers of the Sahara one of the members were Count Lazlo Almazy who would be the lead character as well in the book "The English Patient"

"I like to think of Zerzura in that light, as an idea for which we have no apt word in English, meaning something waiting to be discovered in some out-of-the-way place, difficult to access, if one is enterprising enough to go out and look; an indefinite thing, taking different shapes in the minds of different individuals according to their interest and wishes. For the Arab it may be an oasis or hidden treasure; for European it may be a new archaeological site, some find of scientific importance, a new plant or mineral; or just an expectancy of finding anything that is not yet known.

Or for the less scientifically minded it may be still more vague; an excuse for the childish craving so many grown-ups harbour secretly to break away from civilisation, to face the elements at close quarters as did our savages, ancestor, returning temporarily to their life of primitive simplicity and physical vigour; being short of water, to be obliged to go unwashed; having no kit to live in rags, and sleep in the open without a bed.

Zerzura is sought in many places, in the desert, at the Poles, in the still unsurveyed mountain regions of Asia. There is no fear that the quest will end, even though the blank spaces on the map get smaller and smaller. For Zerzura can never be identified. Many discoveries will be made in the course of the search, discoveries which will make the seekers very happy, but none will surely be Zerzura. A new water-hole may still be found, a Stone Age burial-ground or a reef of gold, but it will not be Zerzura. The answer to the riddle of the dunes may be discovered, but it will not tell us where Zerzura lies.

As long as any part of the world remains uninhabited, Zerzura will be there, still to be discovered. As time goes on it will become smaller, more delicate and specialised, but it will be there. Only when all difficulties of travel have been surmounted, when men can wander at will for indefinite periods over tracts of land on which life cannot normally exist, will Zerzura begin to decay.

Perhaps a long time hence, when all the earth’s surface has been seen and surveyed, there may be nothing left to find. Fancifully we can picture the excavator rummaging about with his pick in the last yard of unexamined soil. Behind him we catch a glimpse of expert, microscopes and notebooks, while in front, very near now, stand the locked gates in the city’s misty wall.

The pick is withdrawn. The time has come at last when the experts can close their notebooks, for there is nothing else unfound. We see Zerzura crumbling rapidly into dust. Little birds rise from within and fly away. A cloud moving across the sun makes the world a dull and colourless place."

Ralph A. Bagnold - 1935
«Libyan Sands - Travel in a Dead World»

 Perhaps your adventure spirit will find the path in the Sea of Sands leading to Zerzura.

Time Will Tell