Page 3. " a yellow, choking cloud of brimstone "


GNU Free Documentation LicenseBrimstone - Credit: de:User:Man77

Brimstone is sulfur.  English translations of the Bible commonly referred to burning sulfur as brimstone, giving rise to the term 'fire-and-brimstone' sermons, in which listeners are reminded of the fate of eternal damnation that awaits the unbelieving and unrepentant.  Bartimaeus is trying his best to scare the magician who dared summon him.

Page 4. " The column hung above the middle of the pentacle "


A pentacle is five-point star figure.  In the book, it is drawn on the floor by magicians and used as a tool for summoning and controlling spirits.  The pentacle is also commonly called the pentagram. Isolated pentagrams have been found on broken fragments of burned clay in Palestine, in layers dating from around 4000 B.C. It was a common sign among the Sumerians around 2700 B.C. 

After the Sumerian time,  the sign appears in Pythagorean mysticism. There it is said to have symbolized the human being. The points represent the head, arms, and legs of the body. The Pythagoreans are believed to have used it when signing their letters to each other around 400 B.C.  The pentacle was the main ideogram in the logotype or official seal of the city of Jerusalem during the period 300-150 B.C.The pentagram has been called the seal of Solomon or Solomon's shield in medieval Jewish mysticism.

Page 5. " summoned by the magicians to repair the walls of Prague? "


Public DomainPrague - Credit: Petritap

In the book a parallel Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire from the 15th to the 19th Century. Although the Holy Roman Empire was dependent on magic, the magicians remained loyal to their nominal ruler. Prague was conquered by the British magician Gladstone in 1868.

In real life, Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic; it is situated on both banks of the Vltava River. The old section of Prague is an architectural treasure full of  many beautiful buildings.   A long white defensive wall dating back to the 14th century   goes from Strahov across Petrin Park to Ujezd, and it is visible from many parts of Prague. It used to serve as the fortification of the southern part of the Lesser Town and Prague Castle  for more than 500 years (1362-1848). It has been reconstructed several times, and these days only about 1,200 metres have remained of the original length of the walls.

Page 5. " I have rebuilt the walls of Uruk, Karnak and Prague "
Map of Mesopotamia - Uruk
Public DomainMap of Mesopotamia - Uruk - Credit: Zunkir

Bartimaeus has been around for a long time. When he introduces himself, he boasts about his many contribution to history. Uruk refers to a region, a "city" that is located about 155 miles south of Baghdad, and a period in early Mesopotamian history from c. 4200-3300 B.C. when Mesopotamian city-states emerged. Uruk was at one time probably the largest city in the world and remained an important city from the time of the Akkadians through the Seleucids. Uruk had the earliest known colonial system, which was used to support commercial expansion in the Zagros Mountains, Syria, and south-eastern Anatolia. The legendary king Gilgamesh is said to have built the walls around the city of Uruk.

Karnak Temple - Columns
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeKarnak Temple - Columns - Credit: Hedwig Storch

Although badly ruined, no site in Egypt is more impressive than Karnak. It is the largest temple complex ever built by man, and represents the combined achievement of many generations of ancient builders. The Temple of Karnak actually consists of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located about three kilometres north of Luxor. Karnak is the site's modern name; its ancient name was Ipet-isut, meaning "The Most Select (or Sacred) of Places". This vast complex was built and enlarged over a thirteen hundred year period. The three main temples of Mut, Montu and Amun are enclosed by enormous brick walls.

Page 5. " I am Sakhr-al-Jinni, N'Gorso the Mighty and the Serpent of the Siver Plumes "
Genie in a lamp
Creative Commons AttributionGenie in a lamp - Credit: monkeywing, Flickr

In Arabian legend, Sakhr Al-Jinni steals Solomon's ring. It is then trapped in a bottle, thrown into the sea and found by a fisherman.

Stone scuplture of feathered serpent
Public DomainStone scuplture of feathered serpent - Credit: Thelmadatter

In Mesoamerican religions, the Feathered Serpent was a prominent deity or supernatural being. It was called Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs, Kukulkan among the Yucatec Maya, and Tepeu Gukumatz among the K'iche Maya. The double symbolism reflects the dual nature of the deity: the feathers represent its divine nature or ability to reach the skies; the serpent represents its human nature or ability to creep on the ground among other animals of the Earth.  Such dualism was very common in Mesoamerican deities. Several other serpent gods existed alongside the feathered serpent in the pantheon of Mesoamerican gods.

Page 5. " I have spoken with Solomon "
Solomon and the plan for the temple
Public DomainSolomon and the plan for the temple - Credit: the Providence Lithograph Company

Solomon was a King of Israel. The biblical accounts identify Solomon as the son of David. The Bible accredits Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem, and portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power, but ultimately as a king whose sin, including idolatry and turning away from God, leads to the kingdom being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam. Solomon is the subject of many other later references and legends. One of the qualities most ascribed to Solomon is his wisdom.



Page 6. " I have watched over Old Zimbabwe "

Great Zimbabwe
GNU Free Documentation LicenseGreat Zimbabwe - Credit: Atamari

Zimbabwe is located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. The country's name was taken from a ruined mediaeval city known as Great Zimbabwe.  The word is thought to derive from "Dzimba dza mabwe," meaning "great houses of stone" in the Shona language.

Great Zimbabwe was the capital of the Empire of Zimbabwe. The 12th-15th century stone ruins extend over a 722 hectare area, near the town of Masvingo (previously Fort Victoria). The word "Great" distinguishes the site from the many smaller ruins, or Zimbabwes, spread across the highveld.

Great Zimbabwe - Stone lintel
Public DomainGreat Zimbabwe - Stone lintel - Credit: Ulamm

The monumental walls of Great Zimbabwe were built without mortar. Construction continued for over 300 years,  and the ruins are some of the oldest in Southern Africa. The site's most formidable edifice, commonly referred to as the Great Enclosure, has walls as high as 36 feet (11 m) and extends approximately 820 feet (250 m), making it the largest ancient structure south of the Sahara Desert.

Page 6. " I have run with the buffalo fathers of the plains. "


Public DomainBuffalo - Credit: U.S. federal government

The Great Plains are the westernmost portion of the vast North American Interior Plains, which extend east to the Appalachian Plateau. Historically, the Great Plains were the range of the bison (buffalo) and of the Great Plains culture of several Native American tribes.


Page 7. " I charge you to retrieve the Amulet of Samarkand "

An amulet is any object intended to bring good luck and/or protection to its owner.

Samarkand - Registan
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSamarkand - Registan - Credit:

Samarkand, situated in the valley of the river Zarafshan, is the second largest city of Uzbekistan.   The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic centre for scholarly study. 

Samarkand - Bibi Kanun
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSamarkand - Bibi Kanun - Credit: Mbenoist
The Bibi-Khanym Mosque remains one of the city's most famous landmarks. The Registan was the ancient centre of the city. In 2001, UNESCO inscribed the 2,750-year-old city on the World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures

Page 15. " into a rather traditional drawing room. "


The Grey Drawing Room
Public DomainThe Grey Drawing Room - Credit: Albert Chevallier Tayler

The drawing room is a formal reception room, usually in a prominent location in a large house. The term derives from the older "withdrawing room", to which ladies would withdraw after dinner, leaving the men to talk of more serious matters. The drawing room was carefully decorated to impress guests.



Page 20. " I had seen one of them before, in the head of a golem "


Reproduction of a Golem
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeReproduction of a Golem - Credit: Michal Maňas
In Jewish folklore, a golem is a giant made of clay. Its head contains two nominal eyes and a larger, more defined watch-eye that enables its master to administer control. Its mouth contains a magical manuscript that is the source of its power and renders it invulnerable to attack.


Page 22. " a very tall man with bright-red skin and the head of a jackal "
Public DomainAnubis - Credit: Ningyou

It is Jabor, a powerful djinni with a voracious appetite. His favourite form is reminiscent of Anubis, Egyptian god in charge of guarding the dead, depicted with a human body and the head of a jackal.

Nlack backed jackal
Public DomainNlack backed jackal - Credit: Simyre

A jackal is a member of the family Canidae, found in Africa, Asia and southeastern Europe. They are predators, scavengers and omnivores, similar in behaviour to the Coyote (sometimes called the American Jackal) in North America. Jackals may occasionally assemble in small packs, but normally hunt alone. Today they are one of the more commonly seen animals on safaris; they are found outside of national parks and do well in human altered landscapes and even near human settlements.