The Arabian Horizon – Lost Lands Travel Guide


Writing a Travel Guide is a daunting challenge for any seasoned traveller unless they possess a good eye for detail and an engaging writing style.

Conversely, writing a Travel Guide is a severe challenge for a professional word smith who never ventures further afield than their local supermarket where they buy familiar food and assiduously avoid the foreign muck which gives them indigestion.

However, once upon a time, writing a Travel Guide [without ever leaving home] was a low risk occupation because so few readers ever visited a foreign land – let alone survived long enough to make the return trip.

Unsurprisingly, in those far off days, armchair adventurers wrote voluminous Travel Guides that became standard sources packed with fabulous fictions.

That was then.

In the modern age readers visit the foreign lands described in their Travel Guides and many Artful Academics are gainfully employed waving their arms about trying to obscure from view the fabulous fictions in their long cherished standard sources.

For example:

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by “fire and brimstone” is a well know Biblical narrative.


What is not so well remembered is that Sodom and Gomorrah were allied with three other cities [Admah, Zeboim and Bela] and these five cities were collectively known as the “cities of the plain” because they were situated on the Jordan River plain – just north of the Dead Sea.

Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and in the deuterocanonical books, as well as in the Quran and the hadith.

According to the Torah, the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were allied with the cities of Admah, Zeboim and Bela.

These five cities, also known as the “cities of the plain”, (from Genesis in the Authorized Version) were situated on the Jordan River plain in the southern region of the land of Canaan.

The plain, which corresponds to the area just north of the modern-day Dead Sea, was compared to the garden of Eden [Gen.13:10] as being a land well-watered and green, suitable for grazing livestock.

Four of these “cities of the plain” were destroyed by “fire and brimstone”.

Divine judgment by God was then passed upon Sodom and Gomorrah and two neighboring cities, which were completely consumed by fire and brimstone.

The “cities of the plain” destroyed by “fire and brimstone” were [apparently] overwhelmed and consigned to the depths of the Dead Sea.


The Dead Sea, at the present day, is generally known as the Bahr Lut, or “Lake of Lot“.

In earlier days it is spoken of as Al Buhairah al Miyyatah, the “Dead Lake“, Al Buhairah al Muntinah, the “Stinking Lake“, or Al Makhlb, the “Overwhelmed“, from the cities of Lot that were overwhelmed in its depths.


It is also referred to under the name of the Sea of Zughar or Sughar, from the celebrated town of that name on its banks.

It is to be noted that nowhere in the Bible is this lake called the Dead Sea, this denomination first occurring in Justin (xxxvi. 3, 6), who speaks of the “Mare mortuum“…

Palestine under the Moslems; Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500.
Translated from the works of the mediaeval Arab geographers
Guy Le Strange – 1890


The sole surviving city of the plain was Bela.

Neighboring Zoar (Bela) was the only city to be spared.

As the day began to dawn, the angels urged him to hurry up and leave; when he lingered, the angels took hold of Lot, his wife and two daughters, and transported them beyond the city and set them down.

The angel told Lot, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”[Gen.19:15–17]

Lot argued that if he went to the mountain some evil would cause his death, and he requested to be allowed to flee instead to the “little” city which was closer.

(This city of Bela was later called Zoar because it was little.)

His request was accepted, and they headed for Zoar instead.

This is where the fun and games begins.

The Artful Academics [desperately] need to locate Bela because so many of their revered standard sources are Travel Guides describing the wonders of Bela.

In the 19th century the Artful Academics covered their embarrassment by invoking “the lapse of so many centuries”, “misapprehension” and “confusion” as they attempted to associate the long lost “little” city of Bela with the equally elusive Zughar of which “no traces apparently remain”.

Zughar [also spelt Sughar, and Sukar] and The Cities of Lot

The town of Zughar, so frequently mentioned by early Arab historians, is the Segor of the Crusading Chronicles, situated at the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Whether or not this occupies the site of the Biblical Zoar of Lot is a point on which certainty is hardly to be obtained after the lapse of so many centuries
, and when taking into account the extreme paucity and obscurity of the topographical indications afforded by the Book of Genesis.

It has, however, been stated that the Arab geographers place Zughar at the northern end of the Dead Sea, near Jericho; and on this authority the Zoar of Lot has been identified with Tell esh Shaghur, not far to the east of the Jordan Ford.

The Arab geographers are, however, unanimous in placing Zughar at the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, and in this they may be taken to confirm the tradition preserved by Josephus (who is followed by Eusebius and Jerome in the Onomasticon who speaks of the Dead Sea as stretching from Jericho on the north to Segor on the south.

The misapprehension of the texts of the Arab geographers is, doubtless, due to a confusion of the two Ghaurs.

For it must be borne in mind that the valley leading south from the Dead Sea to the head of the Gulf of ‘Akabah is known to the Arabs as the Ghaur (see above, p. 31), and hence bears the same name as that applied by them to the Jordan Valley running up north from that lake.

To the Arab mediaeval writers, Zughar, the City of Lot, was as well known a place as Jerusalem or Damascus.

It was the most noted commercial centre of the south country, and the capital of the Province of Ash Sharah (Edom), being comparable even to Basrah, the Port of Baghdad, for the extent of its commerce.

To sum up the indications detailed below, Zughar lay near the Dead Sea, one or two days’ march from Jericho, three days’ from Jerusalem, one from Ma’ab (near Karak), and four from the head of the Gulf of ‘Akabah.

From all of which it is impossible that a town opposite Jericho, across the Jordan Ford, can be intended.

Though Zughar was such a large and well-known town during all the Middle Ages, no traces apparently remain of it at the present day ; at any rate, none have been described by modern travellers, who have visited the southern shores of the Dead Sea.

Palestine under the Moslems; Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500.
Translated from the works of the mediaeval Arab geographers
Guy Le Strange – 1890

However, the “the lapse of so many centuries” coupled with “misapprehension” and “confusion” didn’t prevent 19th centuries cartographers from boldly displaying the long lost “little” city of Bela [aka: Zoar, Zoara, Zughar, Sughar or Sukar] on their maps.


Unsurprisingly, this uncertainty has evaporated in the modern age of Settled Science and the Artful Academics now proudly proclaim Bela has been “securely identified”.

Of the five “cities of the plain”, only Bela, modern Zoara, is securely identified, and remained a settlement long after the biblical period.

Not only have the Artful Academics “securely identified” the long lost “little” Bella [that was situated on the Jordan River plain – just north of the Dead Sea] but they have also managed to transport it to a mountain south of the Dead Sea.

Zoara, the biblical Zoar, previously called Bela (Genesis 14:8), was one of the five “cities of the plain” – a pentapolis apparently located along the lower Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea plain and mentioned in the Book of Genesis.


Unsurprisingly, the co-ordinates quoted by the Artful Academics for the “securely identified” Bela direct the reader to somewhere else: Lot’s Cave in the mountains.

31°02′49″N 35°30′09″E

Several excavation surveys have been conducted in this area in the years 1986-1996.

Ruins of a basilical church that were discovered in the site of Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata (“Monastery at the Abata Spring” in Arabic), were identified as the Sanctuary of Agios (Saint) Lot.

An adjacent cave is ascribed as the location where Lot and his daughters took refuge during the destruction of Sodom.

Genesis 19:30
And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.


Similarly, when the Artful Academics lyrically describe Bela [aka: Zoara and Zoar] as “a flourishing oasis” with “balsam, indigo, and date trees” they are actually describing somewhere else: Zughar [aka: Sughar and Sukar] of which “no traces apparently remain”.

Owing to its tropical climate and to the waters coming down from the mountains of Moab, Zoara is a flourishing oasis where the balsam, indigo, and date trees bloom luxuriantly.

The third zone is that of the valleys of the (Jordan) Ghaur, wherein are found many villages and streams, also palm-trees, well cultivated fields, and indigo plantations.

Among the towns in this part are Wailah, Tabuk, Sughar, Jericho, Baisan, Tiberias, Baniyas.

Palestine under the Moslems; Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500.
Translated from the works of the mediaeval Arab geographers
Guy Le Strange – 1890

This somewhere else [Zughar of which “no traces apparently remain”] was originally deemed to be one degree south of the location that has been “securely identified” by the Artful Academics.


Palestine under the Moslems; Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500.
Translated from the works of the mediaeval Arab geographers
Guy Le Strange – 1890

Abu al-Fida (November 1273 – October 27, 1331) was a Kurdish historian, geographer and local governor of Hama.’l-Fida

Clearly, this amount of arm waving by the Artful Academics suggests a concerted effort is being made to protect some standard sources that contain fabulous fictions.

Luckily, Wikipedia provides a list of suspect standard sources.

Other ancient references

Egeria the pilgrim tells of a bishop of Zoara that accompanied her in the area, in the early 380s.


Antoninus of Piacenza in the 6th century describes its monks, and extols its palm trees.


The Notitia Dignitatum, 72, places at Zoara, as a garrison, the resident equites sagitarii indigenae (native unit of cavalry archers);


Stephen of Byzantium (De urbibus, s.v. Addana) speaks also of its fort, which is mentioned in a Byzantine edit of the 5th century (Revue biblique, 1909, 99); near the city was a sanctuary to Saint Lot.


Hierocles (Synecdemus) and George of Cyprus both mention it.


In the Madaba Map, of the sixth century, it is represented in the midst of a grove of palm trees under the names of Balac or Segor.


During the Crusader period it took the name of Palmer, or of Paumier.


William of Tyre (XXII, 30) and Foulcher of Chartres (Hist. hierosol., V) have left beautiful descriptions of it, as well as the Arabian geographers, who highly praise the sweetness of its dates.


It is not known when the city disappeared;

Evdently, these standard sources are Travel Guides full of fabulous fictions.


The Notitia Dignitatum is a “unique” and truly remarkable “central source” document because “no absolute date can be given, and there are omissions and problems”.

The Notitia Dignitatum is also a “unique” and truly extraordinary “central source” document because it “contains the earliest known depictions of the diagram which later came to be known as yin and yang symbol” which “predate the earliest Taoist versions by almost seven hundred years”.

The Notitia Dignitatum is also a “unique” and truly miraculous “central source” document because there are only “fifteenth and sixteenth-century copies” of this document which were derived [directly or indirectly] from the late lamented Codex Spirensis which was carelessly ”lost” sometime between 1542 and 1672.

Therefore, in summary, the Notitia Dignitatum is a mainstream “central source” that:

1) Provides “no absolute date”.
2) Contains Taoist symbolism which “predate the earliest Taoist versions” by almost 700 years.
3) Contains “omissions”, “problems”, “substantial duplication” and “lacunae”.
4) All extant examples are fifteenth and sixteenth-century copies derived from a “lost” source.

Obviously, the current generation of academics supporting this mainstream narrative aren’t keen readers of Dorothy L. Sayers or [even] Agatha Christie.


Unfortunately, these standard sources [packed full of fabulous fictions] were manufactured on an industrial scale to fill the Academic Abyss.

However, where there are neither strata nor tree samples the myopic mainstream has managed to unearth an estimated 269,636 European manuscripts in the Academic Abyss.



Personally, I’m looking forward to the Artful Academics taking an extended vacation in the “flourishing oasis” of Zoara “where the balsam, indigo, and date trees bloom luxuriantly”.

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3 Responses to The Arabian Horizon – Lost Lands Travel Guide

  1. rishrac says:

    Another good read. Thank you.

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