chapter  XXXVII
The Blossoming of the Desert
WithEdmund Candler
Pages 15

In July the temperature rose to 122.8 degrees in Baghdad and 122 degrees in Basra. In tents and dug-outs it was often ten degrees higher than the standardised official reading. The moment of waking on a still, hot-weather morning in Mesopotamia is one of the least pleasant of the day. Happily, the nights are generally cool and the morning fresh, however burning the days. Most of the houses in the city are provided with a serdab, or cellar, sunk some six feet under the ground level. The temperature in these serdabs is generally ten degrees lower than in the rooms of the first floor, and one is glad to escape to them, though the air is close and oppressive. The ventilating shafts which run up from the cellar to the roof end in hoodlike cowls, and all point the same way to catch the shamal, or prevailing north wind, which alone conveys any alleviation that the gods may provide.