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From Sphinx to Oracle

‘…to fully realize the desert, one must travel far into its solitudes and drink deep of its silence.’ In From Sphinx to Oracle Arthur Silva White sets out to reach the sacred site of Jarboub in the Libyan desert, in search of the tomb of Mohammed Ibn Ali Senussi, founder of the Senussi Muslim order and a prominent figure in Sufism. It was a place to which no European had been permitted to pass and, as it turned out, White was to be no more successful than his...

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‘…to fully realize the desert, one must travel far into its solitudes and drink deep of its silence.’ In From Sphinx to Oracle Arthur Silva White sets out to reach the sacred site of Jarboub in the Libyan desert, in search of the tomb of Mohammed Ibn Ali Senussi, founder of the Senussi Muslim order and a prominent figure in Sufism.

It was a place to which no European had been permitted to pass and, as it turned out, White was to be no more successful than his predecessors in achieving his aim. However, his small caravan — seven men besides himself, and six camels — did complete the journey of nearly 500 miles across the desert to the oasis of Siwa, within which verdant island are to be found the ruins of the ancient Oracle of Jupiter Ammon.

In recounting the long march from Cairo to Siwa and his sojourn among the antiquities of that desert town, the author presents a series of fascinating glimpses of the desert and its people which, taken together, convey an acutely realised impression of nomadic life at the turn of the century.