The thing you have to remember about Doom That Came is that--some of you know this--it's partially based on an authentic tradition. There were the fishmen or man in Babylon or Sumeria or somewhere over there in Akkadia named Ionaes, who brought all sorts of learning, but there is another tradition that probably goes back to an earlier period. I was looking for a book I read once that mirrors something I've read in Lovecraft about this, for the thread in Literary about "create yor own HPL cycle," but couldn't find it, not completely anyway... something about a European explorer creeping up on some ruins in Arabia or Iraq or something late at night, a place locals all abhor, and a wind issuing forth from within the structure, stones above a deep system of tunnels... (in one of the fictional treatments of what seems to be the same actual place, the tunnels are lined with small coffins or cases containing small reptile-like beings, after the protagonist passes all the murals about the history of the ancient race etc., forgive me for failing to remember who wrote what when).
Sarnath is a real place, in India, but Lovecraft isn't really latching onto that
Sarnath, a sort of holiday resort for British colonials and the odd freebooter such as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky...
Instead, if I remember correctly, Lovecraft situates his Sarnath near Irem, and the Pillars thereof.
Now, Irem and the Pillars of Irem are an esoteric Islamic tradition. In fact, you can find a book called Weird Orient by Henry Iliowizi (Philadelfia 1900) on archive.org which contains as its first two "tales" The Doom of al Zameri and Sheddad's Palace of Irem. "Tales" in inverted commas/quotation marks because Iliowizi didn't write them, he collected them in North Africa. The footnote to Sheddad's Palace on page 61 might be of interest:
* The Koran has this reference to the Palace of Irem, showing that it was already a tradition before the time of Mohammed :
"Hast thou not considered how the Lord dealt with Ad, the people of Irem, adorned by lofty buildings, the like whereof hath not been erected in the land?" (Surah 89; "The Daybreak.")
That Sheddad, having planted a garden in imitation of the heavenly paradise, had been smitten by lightning on his way hither, is another variation of the widely known legend.
(end of footnote)
I think this tale from this book is probably the source of the Irem in Through the Gates of the Silver Key:
That antique Silver Key, he said, would unlock the successive doors that bar our free march down the mightly corridors of space and time to the very Border which no man has crossed since Shaddad with his terrific genius built and concealed in the sands of Arabia Petraea the prodigious domes and uncounted minarets of thousand-pillared Irem. Half-starved dervishes--wrote Carter--and thirst-crazed nomads have returned to tell of that monumental portal, and of the Hand that is sculptured above the keystone of the arch, but no man has passed and returned to say that his footprints on the garnet-strewn sands within bear witness. The key, he surmised, was that for which the Cyclopean sculptured Hand vainly grasps.
Get it here:http://www.archive.org/details/weirdorientninem00iliohttp://www.archive.org/details/weirdorient00iliorich
The dark stone temple where winds irrupt in the night is in another book. I thought it might be Adventures in Arabia among the Bedouins, Druses, Whirling Dervishes and Yezidee Devil Worshippers by W. B. Seabrook (New York 1927), but I can't find it now. You can acquire the latter at archive.org by searching under Texts then following the results and scrolling down the poorly-arranged page to All Files, clicking that, then choosing from among several formats (djvu, pdf etc.) and right-clicking to Save As. Here are some more direct links that might work:http://www.archive.org/details/AdventuresInArabiahttp://ia700400.us.archive.org/5/items/AdventuresInArabia/
find some things of interest in the latter. Here are some excerpts:
I interrupted him because I had heard of those Seven Towers more than once before, and I believed them to be as absolutely mythical as the Chinese "subterranean kingdom" or the caves of Sinbad. The tales I had previously hear, and which are widely current in the East, may be reduced to this:
Stretching across Asia, from Northern Manchuria, through Thibet, west through Persia, and ending in the Kurdistan, was a chain of seven towers, on isolated mountain-tops; and in each of these towers sat continually a priest of Satan, who by "broadcasting" occult vibrations controlled the destinies of the world for evil.
Things began to ping against my shoulder and the side of the car. I thought they were little stones, but they turned out to be grasshoppers. Soon we were running through clouds of them. They battered the windshield and came in at the side. Those which weren't stunned by the impact crawled all over us. We forgot our hatred as we fought them off. They spat "tobacco juice" like any Christian grasshoppers, but swarmed like Pharaoh's plague. Presently there were gone as suddenly as they came. We had run through them, and left them behind. Katie and I grinned at each other sheepishly and made up our quarrel.
One must take care never to pronounce the name of Shaitan [Satan] and must avoid the use of any words or syllables, whether in English, French or Arabic, which could, by any chance, be mistaken for that word--such Arabic words, for instance, as khaitan
[thread] and shait
One must neither wear nor exhibit any article of clothing that was blue--no necktie of blue, for instance, no ring with a blue stone in it--for blue is taboo and anathema among the Yezidees, because it is supposed to have magical properties inimical to Satan. Blue amulets and charms, particularly blue beads, are worn universally among the Moslems as a protection against devils and to ward off the evil eye. All babies of Arabia have a necklace or collar of blue beads, and I have even seen a woman, in a bazaar at Baghdad, with a string of blue beads on her Singer sewing-machine, to prevent demons from breaking or tangling the thread. Blue, therefore, was a color accursed among the Yezidees, who worshiped the Arch-Demon.
A third prohibition was that one must take care never to spit in fire or to put out a dropped match by stepping on it with the foot, for to them all fire is sacred.
Since they were confessedly worshipers of Satan, I asked Mechmed Hamdi why was it forbidden to pronounce his name.
It was prohibited in their scripture, their Khitab al Aswad [Black Book], he said, of which he himself had studied the copy of a partial translation made from Kurdish into Arabic more than a hundred years before by one of their own priests in the Sinjar. In the Black Book, Shaitan says:
Speak not my name nor mention my attributes, lest ye be guilty, for ye have no true knowledge thereof; but honor my symbol and image.
The basis of the Yezidee belief, as Mechmed Hamdi outlined it to me, was briefly this:
God created seven spirits "as a man lighteth one lamp after another," and the first of these spirits was Satan, whom God made supreme ruler of the earth for a period of ten thousand years. And because Satan was supreme master of the earth, those who dwelt on it could prosper only by doing him homage and worshiping him.
Since the true name was forbidden, Mechmed Hamdi told me, they referred to Shaitan as Melek Taos [Angel Peacock] and worshiped him in the form of a brass bird.
I asked Mechmed whether he had ever seen this bird, and he said absolutely no, and that he knew of no man not a Yezidee who had ever seen it, but that it supposed to be rudely carved, more like a rooster than a peacock, mounted on a brass pole, of such size as one man might easily carry.
While the name of Shaitan was forbidden, he said--so much so that if a Yezidee hears it spoken, their law commands him either to kill the man who uttered it or kill himself--yet we could talk as freely with them about Melek Taos "as we could to a Christian about Jesus."
[end of excerpts]
Iliowizi puts Irem northeast of Yemen and north of Oman apparently. I think tradition has it in the Empty Quarter on the Arabian Peninsula. Black basalt needles seem to mark its approaches. I might have more to say about it later, if I can remember and find some sources. It has to do with a pre-Islamic and pre-Sumerian civilization in Arabia if I remember it right.