It was an offhand remark in a lecture that first got me, an introductory survey of Islamic civilisation, which I'd chosen to take as a global core elective. The professor spoke of a place in the near east in which the most delicious fruits—apples, peaches, pomegranates—still grow in isolated patches. The entire region used to be covered in such earthly abundance. It was only in our times that those lands had become the barren desert landscapes stereotypically portrayed in TV broadcasts and documentary films.

tl;dr: An example of the description of the past abundance of that "land of milk and honey"

"When Moses stood on Mount Nebo and looked across the Jordan to the 'Promised Land' about 3,000 years ago, he described the land to his followers as a 'land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive-oil, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness; thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.' The 'Promised Land,' as it is today, is a sad commentary on man's stewardship of the earth.

"The 'Promised Land' which 3,000 years ago was 'flowing with milk and honey' has been so devastated by soil erosion that the soils have been swept-off fully half the area of the hill lands.

W. C. Lowdermilk via topsoil-civilizationch. 6

Years later, this throwaway comment has turned out to be central to understanding the action of civilisation on this Earth we live on.

Civilised man has marched across the face of the earth and left a desert in his footprints.



topsoil-civilization Dale, Tom, and Vernon Gill Carter. 1955. Topsoil and Civilization. ↩︎ 1 2