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Not Just Your Ordinary Swamp

May 10, 2016

This unsigned photo provided a clue, which helped us figure out its location. Can you spot it?

 

The photo is focused on tall bushes to the center right. A quick consult with a plant dictionary reveals that these bushes are papyrus!

 

In Italy, papyrus grows only along the Anapo and Cyane rivers, and in the early 1900s, this site was a big tourist attraction. Here is what John L. Stoddard wrote about this very spot in his book "Sicily" in 1905:

 

"I must confess to being deeply moved in the presence of these last survivors of that once invaluable plant, which not alone suggested to Egyptian architects a graceful form of columns for their temples, but has brought down to us the treasures of Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman thought...

 

About a mile from the entrance of the river, the tufted stalks of the papyrus parted, and we found ourselves upon the surface of a deep and limpid pool. It was the classic Fountain of Cyane. No spot in Sicily is mythologically more romantic, or more inseparably linked with Grecian gods; for here it was that Pluto cleft the earth, and carried fair Persephone down into the nether world..."

 

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