By C. Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence
The Wilderness of Zin was first published as the Annual of the Palestine Exploration Fund for 1914/15. It describes an incredible archaeological survey carried out as cover for a British military mapping operation in southern Palestine just before the outbreak of World War One in 1914. In the space of less than two months, the two men had traversed much of the Negeb Desert and the Wadi Arabah, recording numerous monuments from previous eras. Such was the whirlwind of war that both men were already serving with Military Intelligence in Cairo when their report was published in early 1915. It was to be the most comprehensive account of the region at the time and is still vital reading for scholars in the field. However, it is also of interest to the general reader because it gives an insight into archaeological research in the early 20th century. Finally, it is wonderfully written.
This edition also includes much extra material, most of it from the extensive Palestine Exploration Fund archives. There are numerous unpublished letters written by Lawrence, Woolley, and the expedition leader Stewart Newcombe. Official War Office and PEF letters are also included and help to set the survey against its political background. Four book reviews of the 1935 Jonathan Cape Edition and timeline round off the supplementary material.
Byzantine Cistern on the Darb el-Shur near Bir Birien. Dahoum is seen acting as scale (Plate VIII:1).
Ain Kadeis: Spring and Rivulet (Plate XI:1). This was where the American Scholar Trumbull had claimed to have found a large oasis. Woolley referred to his account as a 'farrago of lies' in one of the unpublished letters included in the new edition.
Selected review comments from 1936 for the 2nd edition of The Wilderness of Zin, published by Jonathan Cape:
"... an excellent work of archaeological research .... It introduces the reader to a portion of the earth that has changed little since the time of Moses."
"... a brilliant record of hazardous adventure ..." New York Sun
"... admirers of T. E. Lawrence will find it a valuable addition to the ana of that strange and impressive personage." The Montreal Gazette
"... the quality of writing throughout is of a very high order, with the easy attractive style of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom." The Egyptian Gazette
"... it is an astonishingly rich harvest to have been garnered in less than seven weeks."
"... a magnificent proof, if proof were needed, of the work of such institutions as the Palestine Exploration Fund." Great Britain and the East
"... exquisite style and occasional flashes of unexpected humour." Jewish Chronicle
"They really give the impression of a 'god-forsaken' land .... Was it ever so?" The Guardian
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