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When All the Lands Were Sea
A Photographic Journey into the Lives of the Marsh Arabs of Iraq
Tor Eigeland; foreword by Anthony Sattin

published 2014 • 9” x 9” • 112 pages • b&w and full-color photos
ISBN 9781566569828 • hardback • $30.00

“During the 1990s, the Iraqi government drained the marshes between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, destroying the millennia-old heritage and homeland of its residents, the Marsh Arabs. Decades before, in 1967, photojournalist Tor Eigeland visited and recorded their way of life. This book is that precious record and it stands as a valuable complement to the scarce books on these people, including explorer Wilfrid Thesiger’s classic The Marsh Arabs and Edward Ochsnenschlager’s ethnoarcheological study Iraq’s Marsh Arabs in the Garden of Eden. Eigeland entertains with his adventures and captures the atmosphere with his prose, but his photographs are this volume’s strength. Most are candid; where they’re posed, the people’s warmth and character shines. He records all aspects of their lives such as building with reeds, cooking, fishing, hunting and playing. This book suits home coffee tables as well as the bookshelves of anyone interested in the human history of Iraq.”
—Aramco World


This remarkable collection of photographs, captured by internationally acclaimed photojournalist Tor Eigeland in 1967, offers unprecedented insight into the daily life of the Marsh Arabs of Iraq. These photographs illustrate the beauty of this unique environment—the marshlands between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers—and show a culture that existed practically unchanged for over 2,000 years. Some have even speculated that this place was the site of the original Garden of Eden. Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, vast areas of the marshlands were dammed and drained, causing catastrophic environmental damage and brutally forcing the marshes’ inhabitants to abandon their way of life. Now Tor Eigeland’s photographic journey stands as a monument, a rare record of a lost world and an ancient civilization. These precious photographs celebrate the people and culture of the marshlands and bring us back to a time and place where people lived in harmony with their environment.

In the course of his long and distinguished career, Tor Eigeland has been published in such publications as Time-Life Books, Fortune, Newsweek, and Saudi Aramco World, to name but a few. He has collaborated on ten books for the National Geographic Society, and his assignments have taken him to some of the most remote corners of the globe. He now resides in the south of France.

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