Archaeology: Arabia's Lost Sand Castle

Space-age gadgetry helps explorers in their quest to find a 4,000-year-old city famed for frankincense -- and sin

In all ancient Arabia, the most fabled land was the city of Ubar. As legend had it, one Shaddad ibn Ad created a jewel-encrusted oasis town in the southern deserts to stand as an "imitation of Paradise." Islam's holy Koran, which called the site Iram, evoked the grandeur of "lofty pillars, the like of which were not produced in ((all)) the land." This was also Islam's Sodom, however, a place that God destroyed because of its wickedness. Ever since, warns an Arabian saying, "anybody who finds Ubar will go crazy." And according to an Arabian Nights tale, "Allah blotted out the...

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