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 Alexander preferred Babylon, because he saw that it far surpassed the other cities in magnitude, and had other advantages. Although Susis is fertile, it has a glowing and scorching atmosphere, particularly near the city, as he (Aristobulus?) says. Lizards and serpents at mid-day in the summer, when the sun is at its greatest height, cannot cross the streets of the city quick enough to prevent their being burnt to death mid-way by the heat. This happens nowhere in Persis, although it lies more towards the south. Cold water for baths is suddenly heated by exposure to the sun. Barley spread out in the sun is roasted1 like barley prepared in ovens. For this reason earth is laid to the depth of two cubits upon the roofs of the houses. They are obliged to construct their houses narrow, on account of the weight placed upon them, and from want of long beams, but, as large dwell- ings are required to obviate the suffocating heat the houses are long. The beam made of the palm tree has a peculiar property, for although it retains its solidity, it does not as it grows old give way downwards, but curves upwards with the weight, and is a better support to the roof. The cause of the scorching heat is said to be high, overhanging mountains on the north, which intercept the northern winds. These, blowing from the tops of the mountains at a great height, fly over without touching the plains, to the more southern parts of Susis. There the air is still, particularly when the Etesian winds cool the other parts of the country which are burnt up by heat.
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