Please help me to understand the following sentence from The Sign and the Seal by Graham Hancock.

A soft afternoon breeze, laden with the fragrance of distant deserts, blew through the tawny canyons beneath me, circulated amongst the ravines and foothills, and soared on eagles' wings across the first battlements of the escarpment

"The first battlements of the escarpment" puzzles me the most. There are no 'battlements' (no fortifying construction in sight judging by context). A very prolonged slope is present in the scene as a geological feature. I guess that the 'battlements' has some indirect, idiomatic (?) meaning here. Is this correct? It is difficult for me to perceive the literary beauty of the sentence without comprehending details. Adding that 'battlements' and 'escarpment' have (imho) very similar meaning.

1 Answer 1


Just from reading the wider context of the passages surrounding the quote I could not rule out the writer using poetic licence, likening the rocks of the landscape to battlements.

Seeking to test this theory I looked at aerial images if Aykel, which were inconclusive.

I then did an online search for images of Aykel and found this image escarpment rocks above hills with shacks in foreground on a travel blog which, with the dramatic enclosure of the rocks on the skyline, while not conclusive, may be seen as supporting a metaphorical reading.

  • I have got a similar idea long after I had posted the question, e.g that the author likens the topmost ridge of the escarpment to kinda fortress (the battlements). The idea came to me rather late and was more a hunch that any clear understanding therefore I decided to change nothing. Thank you for you elaborate and well investigated answer! PS Literary sentences are the most difficult for me to understand. In my head there's little or no Hamming code in them. Oct 9, 2017 at 6:35

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