Michael Quentin Morton
This book is a documentary record covering an important era in the history of Arabia; namely the era of prospecting for oil and the early production of what came to be termed Black Gold, which has brought about significant changes in the pattern of life in the region. The documents in the book are photographs taken by the author’s father, Mike Morton, during his stay in Arabia and his work there as a geologist for different oil companies from 1947 to 1954. The book deals with various aspects of life and work in the desert while prospecting for oil in an area where the frankincense trade played a pivotal role. The author was keen on revealing how oil prospecting operations have also yielded pioneering geographical exploration works of which the West had no or little knowledge. In turn, such explorations have since revealed a wealth of anthropological information. Many of the photographs included in the book depict the people who lived and worked in the heart of the vast desert, their style of life, dwellings, oases, means of transportation (including camels and ships), customs and traditions, and sources of sustenance (including fishing and pearl diving), food and drink, villages and towns, and system of government (tribes and rulers). Black Gold and Frankincense is a welcome and valuable addition to the literature on a very strategic period in the region’s history.