The Necronomicon mentioned by H.P. Lovecraft is more than an account of Cthulhu and a source of creepy art by H.R. Giger. The Necronomicon "book of the dead" is an ancient manual of spells and incantations which was rediscovered in the 1920's. Certain details of the text were published by Lovecraft, though he was but one of several authors of the time who mention the cursed book in their works.

In reality the Necronomicon was composed in the year 735 by Abdul Alhazred, who was also known as the "Mad Arab". The lost city of Babylon was discovered by modern man in the 17th century by the Italian adventurer Pietro Della Valle.

It was also found one thousand years earlier by the "Mad Arab". Abdul Alhazred was a seeker of forbidden knowledge. He probed the Egyptian tunnels beneath the ruins of Memphis before the collapse of the passages buried their secret contents, as represented here by the artwork of Giger. For ten years he lived as a hermit in that part of the Arabian desert where the sand rings like a bell, attracting the unwary with its song before swallowing the victim whole. There he explored the empty streets of the "City of Pillars" mentioned in the Koran. After its inhabitants were annihilated by God, the city remained standing. The original title of the Necronomicon was "Al Azif". "Azif" was the Arab word used for the sound of insects in the night which the superstitious believed to be the whispering of demons. Alhazred spent his final years in Damascus where he wrote "Al Azif".

He died in the middle of a crowded marketplace in front of a hundred witnesses. Seized by an invisible force, he was torn by it, limb from limb. Alhazred was known for treating the religion of Islam with indifference. He worshipped an entity unknown at the time, which he called Cthulhu. The original text has been lost but in 950 A.D. a rare copy fell into the hands of Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople. He translated it into Greek and gave it another name... the Necronomicon, which translates as "the book of the laws for the dead".

When the Bubonic Plague swept through Copenhagen, unlike other physicians of Middle Ages, Olaus Wormius remained in the city to minister to the sick. Dr. Wormius was also a student of antiquity and he translated the Necronomicon into Latin. The last copy of the Greek version is believed to have perished in Salem Massachussetts, the same year in which the famous witch trials were held.

The private library that held it was burned to the ground. The Latin translation was immediately banned by Pope Gregory IX. Of the Latin volumes that still exist, single copies are held under lock and key by the British Museum, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Widener Library at Harvard and the library of the University of Buenos Aires. Other copies of the Latin version are held privately. Microsoft magnate Bill Gates is rumored to possess one of them. The Necronomicon is suppressed by governments and organized religions.

Merely reading it is said to lead to dire consequences, misfortune and madness. But because of insitutional suppression of the work we have few details of its contents, nor is there any photograph of its appearance. H.P. Lovecraft was often asked about Cthulhu and the Necronomicon. He did not believe it was the product of human imagination.

He must have been one of the anonymous owners of the terrible book, keeping it secret lest he attract the attention of the authorities. He described it as voluminous, having more than 750 pages, bound in leather and secured by metal clasps. Lovecraft quotes a chilling passage directly from the pages of the Necronomicon. "The hands of the Old Ones are at your throats, yet you do not see them. Their habitat exists on a different plane, but occupies the same space as your guarded threshold. Man rules now where they once ruled, soon they shall dominate where man dominates now."