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The Unusuals

Exploring the unexplored


When the Orient arrived at the gates of Rome, it brought with it a rather discrete deity. This god was born to a virgin on the 25th of December. He was frequently represented as an infant, seated upon the knee of his mother before a group of kneeling wise kings who offered gifts. He was…

The Sultana

It was during the 13th century, in a world of men, that one woman would distinguish herself. Shajar al-Durr, once a Turkish slave, was the wife of the Sultan of Egypt, Al Salih Ayyub. Shajar possessed a tremendous character and refused to be locked in the harem, so she followed husband, even to war. Before…

The Countess of Palmyra

I discovered Palmyra in the winter of 1964. It was cold, terribly cold. We were staying at the Queen Zenobia Hotel, the only hotel around. This structure, located amid the low and crumbling ruins of the area, had been built by Countess Margot d’Andurain. Margot, a French woman, had long ago married a garrison officer in Palmyra,…