Gold and Frankincense
Photographs of Southern
by the Early Oil Explorers, 1947-71
Michael Quentin Morton
Hardback: 404 pages (half in English, half in Arabic),
142 b+w photographs,
56 colour photographs, maps
When the author's father, Mike Morton, arrived with
René Wetzel and Tony Altounyan in Aden at the start of their first expedition to southern Arabia in the autumn of
1947, they met Wilfred Thesiger, the great explorer, who was about to embark on his second crossing of the Empty
Quarter. Their meeting was a crossing of paths both real and symbolic: the oilmen’s path led to the future,
the search for oil and the promise of wealth and rapid change, while Thesiger’s path led to the past, the
Bedouin way of life, of camels and encampments in the desert. Each, in their own way, compiled a lasting record
of the people they met and the places they encountered.
Black Gold and Frankincense, in English and
Arabic, expands on the author's first book, In the Heart of the Desert, with photographs of
local people in a variety of settings: in their villages, at water wells, working in salt mines, riding camels,
dancing, attending weddings, or simply posing for the camera. For many of these subjects, this was the
first time their photograph had been taken. The book also depicts the ancient monuments and artefacts
that the geologists found on their journeys, and concludes with the advent of the oil age in the countries
known today as Yemen, Oman and the UAE.
Black Gold and Frankincense is now available in the United Kingdom
and elsewhere as an In-App purchase for £7.99 from the UAE National Archives. The App can be obtained using an iPad
or iPhone from the iTunes Store. The App will also give you a choice of English or Arabic versions: get the App here.
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