Worldwide, most ancient cities have vanished. Not so Bashan,
in Syria. It is literally crowded with towns and large villages –
most of them, until recently, deserted.
Yet they are not ruined! Many of the houses in these cities are
perfect, as if only finished yesterday. The walls are sound,
the roofs unbroken, the doors, and even the window-shutters in
The walls of the cities are 15 feet thick and 30 feet high. The
huge gates have been found still in place.
Some of the buildings in the city of Bozrah would grace the
proudest modern Western city.
These ancient streets are paved – still perfect, not a stone out
Even the walls of houses are up to eight feet thick, built of
large squared blocks of basalt, without cement. The roofs are
made of basalt slabs, cut like planks and reaching from wall to
Heavy slabs form the ceilings. The massive doors hang
upon pivots, working in sockets, as do the window-shutters.
The black basalt used is almost as hard as iron.
One early explorer measured doors 9 feet high by 4½ feet wide
and 10 inches thick. In one door was seen a place for a massive
lock. The doors are tastefully ornamented with panels and
garlands of fruit and flowers, sculptured in relief.
Rooms inside private houses measure up to 20 feet high. Here
are huge rooms and apartments in perfect preservation.
Moss grows over the ruins. Groups of tapering columns spring
up from the dense foliage of the oaks. Luxuriant creepers twist
around the pillars. Brambles grow in festoons over the doorways.
Branches of trees shoot through gaping cracks in some old walls.
Owls flap their wings and foxes and jackals scamper along the
So perfect is every street, every house, every room – so perfect,
yet not a sound. Huge houses built among wild rocks, hundreds of
houses per city, still perfect, but not a man to dwell in them.
Remains of fountains and statues, too.
The private houses bear the marks of the most remote antiquity.
They leave us to conclude that the cities were built by giants –
a race of giants that has been extinct for more than 3,000 years.
As recently as the 1800s, the highways of Bashan were still in
place, completely covered here and there, with the branches of
oak trees and straggling brambles.
SHRINKING HEADS IN THE JUNGLE
On my first expedition into the wilds of the Amazon jungle,
I brought out photographs of the shrunken head of a German
engineer – as well as that of a Spanish priest.
I know of two white men who had fallen foul of the natives.
In his escape, one man was separated from his companion.
Years later, the fortunate escapee again met his lost companion
in a jungle hut. He recognized his friend’s face. The features
were identical, except that the head was a fraction of original
size – and now trussed up on a pole.
It takes about twelve hours to clean and shrink a head, then about
eight hours more to smoke it.
Back in the civilized world, on the coast, fake shrunken heads
are sold. However, a genuine one will have long hair – the lips
sewn or pinned, and all facial hair removed except eyebrows,
skin, black-smoked and polished.
Would you like to know more?