Frankincense People Places Animals Objects


Towns on the journey

This is the old town of Ait Bennhadou in Morocco... very similar to how I imagined Teloum.

Ait Bennhadou Ait Bennhadou Ait Bennhadou Ait Bennhadou Ait Bennhadou

This is a village in Yemen. The nations of Arabia, Yemen, and Oman didn't exist at the time of the story; the region was made up of several smaller kingdoms (see maps below). The journey begins near the border of present-day Yemen and Arabia, and one of the towns Alia passed through might have looked like the one below. The buildings (which really are ancient) and the mountain setting are how I imagine her first sight of Samhar.

This one doesn't really look like anywhere in the story, but the photo is so gorgeous, I had to include it!

A street like the one Alia wanders up in Samhar:

The desert

For all the times that I could spend days searching for the one right photo, there are also times when there are dozens that fit the story.
The caravan arriving:

What the tents would have looked like:
camp camp

Setting out
Setting out Setting out

There is some life in the desert, but not much...
Desert plants

Alone in the desert Sunset

The Pond

The pond on Alia's journey. The last image is probably the closest to how I pictured it.
Ayoon pools Dhofar Pond Ain Sahalnout
Wadi Shab Pond


These photos are of the real region of Dhofar (Zufar) in Oman. When Alia gazes from the temple across to the mist-shrouded mountains, they could be these ones:


Dhofar Salalah Mountain Dhofar

Rakin's waterfalls:
Dhofar waterfalls Dhofar

Dhofar extends south all the way to the coast:
Dhofar beach and camels         Dhofar beach Dhofar beach and camels


Alia's journey doesn't go to Petra, but Kardal mentions that he has gone there often. Petra was an important trading crossroads. Caravans from Egypt, Asia, the Roman empire, and the Arabian peninsula all passed through Petra. It is located in Jordan and can only be accessed through a narrow canyon (siq). All the buildings are carved out of the cliff rocks.
Petra was part of the Nabataean kingdom; today, still not much is known about he Nabateans.

The siq:
Petra Siq

The temple:
Petra temple


Stone carving:
Petra Petra carving

The landscape
Petra Petra landscape


A map of the world during the time the story is set:
World 200BC

For comparison, how the world looked 300 years later, after the growth of the Roman empire:
World 100CE

The kingdoms of Arabia, during Alia's time:
Asia 200BC

The modern-day Arabian peninsula... some of the political divisions aren't very different from the map above!Modern-day Middle East

The incense-growing regions — these are the only places in the world where the frankincense tree grows.
Frankincense growing regions

The incense trade routes:
Nabatean trading routes

Alia's journey:
Frankincense Trail illustrated map
Illustrated by Elizabeth Monahan