Garden of Eden

The only known authenticated photographic record of a trip to the actual ‘Garden of Eden’ of the Bible

Jakob Zaaiman
6 min readJun 8, 2022


Artwork depicting trip to the Garden of Eden. Prologue.
Garden of Eden: Prologue (Artwork by Jakob Zaaiman).


Keep down, they say. This involves lying alone on the back seat of a car in a canvas hood, being driven for hours on end, always at speed, tyres whining, changing cars many times. They took my watch, and set everything in my camera to zero. No one talking. Then holed up in windowless rooms, waiting. My guides speaking Arabic, I think, I wouldn’t know. Iraqi middlemen. Photographs, but not their real faces. Military airport. Difficult to know which country I was in. Not Israel. Not Russia. Somewhere airless, and dry. I have no idea. I feel jetlagged, confused. Finding it hard to breathe. Suddenly feeling captive, as if I had been kidnapped. I am shown an ancient picture of a locust. I lose consciousness.

Artwork depicting trip to the Garden of Eden. Day One, Hour One.
Garden of Eden: Day One, Hour One (Artwork by Jakob Zaaiman).

Day One, Hour One

First sight of Eden! It has an amazing sky, uniformly black, quite devoid of light. Impossible to see anything clearly. Unidentifiable plants, foliage, floating in the darkness. Then a juju statue, some kind of grim fetish. Then a ghostly silver white garden spade (!), lying in front of me, seemingly illumined from within. Then a single dove, flying silently, quickly swallowed up by the black haze. Then a screen, or fence, lying on its side, oily to the touch. Don’t touch it, they said. Sure. Wide angle of distant white line at eye level, maybe the horizon. Unsettling bird like creatures to my left, middle distance, not moving. Plants in…