Floating around the world there are now numerous Pratchett-inspired T-shirts, scarves and other quality merchandise. It turns up in the strangest of places. Here, we see that the ancient city of Petra has not been spared exposure to Pratchett leisurewear. Michael Grant explains how it came to be there.

Fan with shorts and camel The photograph shows me in front of the mausoleum called Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") which greets travellers' eyes as they emerge from the siq. As is well known, this was where the climax of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed. Having an interest in archaeology, I'd wanted to go to Petra for years, but until recently it was illegal for me to enter the country, being Jewish. Since the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, though, that has changed, and I finally visited Petra as part of the first Jewish student Peace Process tour of Israel, Egypt and Jordan in the summer of 1995.

Petra is the ancient capital city of the Nabataeans, in Jordan. Unlike the Romans the Nabataeans knew how to cross the deserts of Saudi Arabia and, by getting goods from India to the Roman Empire five days ahead of the Romans' ships, they cornered the market and became filthily rich.

Petra is surrounded by high mountains on all sides, and is accessible only via a very narrow, very deep canyon, called the siq, and it resisted the Romans' attempts to conquer it for a long time. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the fourth century, but the impressive mausoleums (mausolea) that were carved out of the mountainside survived intact.

Petra remained unknown to the Western world, guarded jealously by the Bedouins, until a German, posing as a Syrian businessman, risked his life to go there last century on a pilgrimage to Jebel Haroun (Mount Aaron).

Michael Grant

If you have any photographic evidence of Pratchett wear finding its way to strange and wonderful places, why not send them to us with an explanation of where it was discovered and who you are. The most outrageous will receive a prize at the Convention in 1998.

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December 1997