By Donald Maxwell
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Additional resources for A Dweller in Mesopotamia
As we soon encountered some palm trees every few yards we wondered whether they intended to be humorous. I don't think they did, however. The optimism of you-can't-possibly-miss-it type is too general. The man who says "turn down by some trees" knows the place well, and can see certain trees in his mind's eye. He will turn when he sees the right trees, but you will probably get lost. Needless to say, everything went wrong with our scheme of approaching the irrigation works from a picturesque angle.
But there is not a drop of water near and not a tree and no sign of any life. How came the change and how can such a network of channels have ceased to work entirely? The reason is to be found in some past neglect of the ancient dams that kept the water on a high level, so that it could flow by means of artificial canals at a greater height (and consequently at a slower rate) than the rivers themselves. The Tigris and Euphrates are rivers fed by the melting snow in the mountains of Armenia. The hotter the season and the more necessary a plentiful supply of water, the greater is the amount brought down.
Few travellers were in a position to test the accuracy of the comparison, and so it aroused little comment. No Venetians had returned from Basra burning with indignation and filled with a desire to get even with the writer who first thought of the parallel, probably because no Venetian had ever been there. A few simple souls, who had delighted in the mediæval splendours of Venice, dreamed of a Venice still more romantic—a Venice with all her glories of art tinged with the glamour and witchery of the Arabian Nights, a Venice whose blue waterways reflected stately palms and golden minarets.