National Geographic : 1966 Dec
PAINTING BY TOM LOVELL Our interrogation lasted late into the eve ning. At length our baggage was impounded and we were escorted to the village rooming house. We slept fitfully as hooded figures peered in at us through the window in our bedroom door. Outside, crisp flags of the Syr ian Arab Republic rattled and snapped in the cold night wind from the desert. Morning brought what appeared to be our release. Our Iraqi driver was sent home, weak with relief, and we were installed, bag and baggage, in a Syrian car with a French speaking driver and a ferocious-looking young man wearing an imitation suede jacket and an imperfectly concealed Browning auto matic pistol. We were, presumably, on our way to the Turkish border and Haran. En 758 route, we stopped a few miles northwest of Abu Kamal to see what remained of Mari, the greatest city of Northern Mesopotamia in the time of the Patriarchs. I hoped also to meet the famed archeologist Andre Parrot, who had worked the site for 30 years. OW mounds and mud-brick foundations evoked no picture of the great trade cen ter young Abram saw as his father's car avan approached Mari's walls. The river ran beside the town in those days. There was a tall ziggurat and a palace of 300 rooms. Mari was ruled by sophisticated Babylonian Sem ites, many generations out of the desert, who spoke the refined Akkadian tongue. But large numbers of western Semites were in the city N.G.S.