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Volume 54, Number 2 March/April 2003

In This Issue

March/April 2003
The Lost Portfolios of Robert Hay
Written by Jane Waldron Grutz
Photographed by The British Library

"Mr. Hay's portfolio is the most magnificent which has ever been brought from that country," wrote George Hoskins in 1835, the year Hay returned to Scotland following eight years of work in Egypt. "It comprises plans, sections, and detailed drawings, by eminent architects; also delineations of sculpture from the tombs and temples, by himself and able artists, whom he employed, with a complete series of picturesque views, entirely by his own pencil." But few beyond Hay's circle ever saw the works. "I often think of Egypt," wrote Hay later, "but do nothing concerning it." His family passed his little-known collections to the British Library.

The Treasure of Tarthuth
Written by Robert W. Lebling Jr.
Photographed by Faisal I. Al-Dossary

In the scrub deserts of Saudi Arabia, after the winter rains, thumb-sized stubs of red begin to poke up through the sands. It's the appearance of tarthuth, an asparagus-shaped, parasitic plant once so renowned for its taste and its medicinal value that it was guarded by Maltese crusaders and presented as a gift to the crowned heads of Europe. Today, science may be rediscovering it, and the people of the desert still enjoy digging up a seasonal snack.

Tunisia's Center of Ceramics
Written and photographed by Charles O. Cecil

In the city of Nabeul, tile and pottery have been facts of daily life, commerce and craftsmanship since the earliest times. With more than 350 businesses now working harder than ever, the city produces a dazzling range of ceramics, renewing its long reputation as one of the Mediterranean's most energetic centers of this traditional art.