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Where did the well known trope of a 'City in a Bottle', as associated with middle eastern mythology, originate?

It is referenced in modern culture (see the City in a Bottle Magic: the Gathering Card, Sandman #50: Ramadan by Neil Gaiman, etc), and is always associated with the Middle East, Arabia in particular. I thought that it originated somewhere in the 1001 Nights, but I have not been able to locate the particular story.

Can anyone shed light on the origins of this concept?

  • Again, I'm not convinced it has anything to do with Middle Eastern mythology. If you have some specific reference it woudl help your question to add it. – Spencer Feb 23 at 20:09
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    There is apparently a "Bottle City Of Kandor" from the Superman comic books, and there is "The Crystal Crypt" by Phillip K. Dick about a weapon of sorts that is used to miniaturize a city so it can be smuggled out on a transport. – Todd Wilcox Feb 23 at 21:12
  • Perhaps the Arabic connection comes from Aladdin's genie? Although that was a lamp, not a bottle. – Harry Johnston Feb 23 at 22:27
  • Cross-post at mythology.stackexchange.com/q/5483/197 – b_jonas Feb 24 at 11:24
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    The obvious point of reference is RA Heinlein's "Universe". I wonder if our expert searchers can find anything earlier. – Spencer Feb 24 at 22:34

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