By Donald Maxwell
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Extra info for A Dweller in Mesopotamia
It had rained heavily two or three days before, consequently there were lake districts, slimy reaches of mixed oil and mud and dried, hard-looking islands that were in reality traps to the unwary. The top only was firm, and it had the playful property of sliding rapidly on the greasy substratum and thus sitting you down without warning when you thought you had reached dry land. " Had I known more about Abadan before I started I would have taken a course of lessons in tight-rope walking, for that seems to be a great asset in getting along.
The paddler coming down has a lighter on each side of her as the one sketched on page 38. She will come down toward the leading marks shown on the right-hand side of the picture, and then slide along the bank, using the lighter on the port side as a fender. Then she will leave the bank and shoot across to the other side of the river, taking the next turn with her starboard lighter. This drawing will serve to show the general nature of most Mesopotamian river scenery, dead flat, with nothing or little to relieve the monotony, a great expanse of muddy waters and featureless dust, with just a suggestion in one direction of a low line of blue—very faint.
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.