Thursday, 8th February, 1894. Off Cape Cod, aboard SS Wakeful.
I'm finally away. Emogene and Wilhelmina came to see me off, Emogene begging me not to go, as usual - poor girl, she takes these partings hard. Jack wasn't there, of course. He thinks I'm making a laughing-stock of the whole family with these expeditions - has no time for what he calls "ancient superstitions." No matter. This time I'll return with proof that even Jack will not be able to deny.
Saturday, 10th February, 1894. In the Atlantic, aboard SS Wakeful.
The weather is fine and the captain promises a quick crossing to Lisbon. The red tape involved in organizing this expedition tried my patience almost to the breaking point, but I'm sure it was better to obtain the necessary permits from the Omani authorities through the State Department. I can only hope that my sheaf of documents (and ready cash) will be enough to placate the local governor when I arrive.
Wednesday, 21st February, 1894. In the western Mediterranean, aboard SS Wakeful.
So far so good. Uneventful crossing. Metternich was waiting for us in Lisbon - with the welcome news that he had perfected his electrical sensing apparatus, which is now safely on board in its crates. If it works as well as he claims, this may save us weeks or even months of excavation work.
Monday, 5th March, 1894. Suez, Egypt.
Still waiting to finish hiring our team of diggers. I am beside myself with impatience to be on my way - we are so close now - but I know from long experience that we will have better luck with an experienced Egyptian team than relying on the locals.
Wednesday, 14th March, 1894. Salalah, Oman.
At last! We docked yesterday and have been unloading at a feverish pace. Any more delays and we will be in danger of having to postpone until the summer heat has passed.
Friday, 16th March, 1894. Near Wadi Aydam, Oman.
We are on our way. Nothing more stands in my way but the impenetrable desert and the secrets of the ages. Ha! I welcome those challenges - they seem like child's play after the endless delays and paper-shuffling bureaucrats I've had to overcome to get here.
Thursday, 29th March, 1894. Empty Quarter, Arabia.
We have reached the spot without incident. Some superstitious grumbling from our local guide which I take to be a good sign. Tomorrow we see if Metternich's apparatus works. If not, we begin digging in the traditional way.
Saturday, 30th March, 1894. Empty Quarter, Arabia.
Metternich's apparatus has been balky - sand in its delicate workings, no doubt - but he has obtained a favorable reading in a depression to the south. Heat during the day is tremendous. We'll set to work tomorrow and see what we see.
Monday, 2nd April, 1894. Empty Quarter, Arabia.
Nothing yet at the southern depression. Metternich swears that it wasn't a false reading. 2 more days and then I'll have to begin a search grid across the whole site, as disappointing as that will be.
Tuesday, 3rd April, 1894. Empty Quarter, Arabia.
Success! Late this afternoon, the diggers struck worked stone. Apparently the edge of a large circular structure. More trouble from the guide - the wisdom of not hiring the diggers locally now even more apparent, as they pay little attention to him.
Friday, 6th April, 1894. Ubar, Empty Quarter, Arabia.
I'm now convinced we have found Ubar itself! We've uncovered several fragmentary inscriptions, with runes that match the ancient texts. We've made excellent progress clearing part of what appears to be a monumental plaza.
Wednesday, 18th April, 1894. Ubar, Empty Quarter, Arabia.
All work has stopped - sandstorm, one of the worst I've ever experienced. We are huddled in our tents in the lee of one of the large outcroppings and must hope to ride it out. The darkness is complete although it is mid-morning.
Friday, 20th April, 1894. Ubar, Empty Quarter, Arabia.
Sandstorm continues for a 3rd day. Like nothing anyone has ever seen. The guide is becoming very troublesome - some of the diggers are beginning to listen to his wild tales of ancient curses and forbidden secrets. Even the normally phlegmatic Metternich is beginning to show signs of cracking under the strain.
Saturday, 21st April, 1894. Ubar, Empty Quarter, Arabia.
The sandstorm is over, but two weeks of work has been undone - the area we had cleared is now buried under several feet of new sand. The guide disappeared in the night - I won't miss him, but the diggers are even more unsettled.
Thursday, May 3rd, 1894. Ubar, Empty Quarter, Arabia.
We've located what must be the foundations of the Great Temple! So far nothing but stone and rubble, but something must have survived. Weather getting worse by the day. Metternich talking again of resuming work in the winter, but I won't hear of it. Not when we're this close.
Sunday, May 13th, 1894. Ubar, Empty Quarter, Arabia.
I must record everything, while it's fresh in my mind. Although it's hard to concentrate with the crown right here in front of me. It's almost unbelievable, even to me, that I hold in my hands an artifact so clearly not made by any human civilization. But let me set down how it happened as clearly as I can.
We had worked for at least a week to clear the shaft beneath the Great Temple - even the diggers had caught the excitement. Then we hit solid stone - a cyclopean block (series of blocks, as it turned out) obstructing the tunnel, clearly deliberately sealed by the builders. We almost despaired of getting through - 3 days of laborious pick-work - I wouldn't risk explosives here of all places! - then, breakthrough into darkness.
I was first in - the dust of ages covered everything - clearly a burial crypt - sarcophagus at one end of the chamber. We lifted the lid, and inside - even I fell to my knees in shock. The diggers that were helping us fled; Metternich white-faced, I feared he was having a heart attack (luckily no).
We'll make a full catalogue of the tomb in the morning. I ordered it sealed up overnight - not that I really believe any of the diggers would dare to enter it again, but better safe than sorry. I removed only the crown, reverently, without disturbing the body or any of the other artifacts.
And so - vindication! The crown waits, gleaming as if new-made although I know it is older than any human artifact ever uncovered.
I now know that this city's name was not Ubar, and that this building was not a temple, and what was beneath it was not a crypt. I have so much to learn, and so much to teach Wilhelmina, and Jack, and Emogene. When we return, we will return together.
Monday, May 14th.
Metternich was extremely surprised to see me wearing the crown this morning, and tried to argue with me when I ordered the men to bury everything we've uncovered. It doesn't matter now. The sandstorms will erase all evidence that we were ever here long before anyone can stumble across this site again. And the city's location is now safe with me, until I can return and uncover more of her secrets - when I am ready.