Thursday, February 04, 2021

First Paragraph

Stretching to the horizon, it was among the most serene and sublime plots of land on the face of the earth. As the last cliff bordering the Sahara desert, it was also one of the most dangerous. During the summer, the sun-soaked grounds around the Sphinx shimmered and swelled, while the temperatures perilously rose to above 110 degrees. Unknowing travelers grew disoriented, having never before encountered such pitiless heat, such enervating thirst, such relentless quiet, or such a trackless desert. So blazing was the light, reflected up from the sand, that the eye could not bear its dazzling glare. Even the weather itself played odd tricks with space and time. Then in late March came the dreaded khamsin, a torrential storm of great winds and grainy dust that often rendered the Giza plateau nearly uninhabitable for as long as fifty days. Over the years, whole flocks of sheep had been consumed in these hellacious blizzards, as had countless people, simply swallowed by the sand. For a millennium, the Sphinx itself, one of the world's oldest and most storied of monuments, had lain hidden beneath a mountain of shifting desert.

- From 1944: FDR and The Year That Changed History by Jay Winik

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