The Sumerians called it esir, the Akkadians called it iddu and in the ancient world - as in the modern - it was a vital and valuable substance: asphalt, the first petroleum product used by man.
On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings at Gallipoli, a descendant of one of the men who died there returned to the scene of the bloody World War I battles to make his peace with the Turks.
Gallipoli – A Campaign
In real life, Rose, the granddaughter in TV's "Little House on the Prairie" was the descendant of a crusader, a correspondent in Vietnam, and a writer who once faced death in the Syrian desert.
Sumerians and Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians, Parthians and Sasanids, they all left their mark on modern-day Iraq: an ancient presence no museum could ever hope to recreate.
At Washington's National Gallery of Art this year, an exhibition of a phenomenon called "Orientalism" showed the rich treatment accorded the Middle East by western artists.