Halfway down the steep escarpment on the southeastern edge of Carmona, there stands the little whitewashed chapel, or ermita, of San Mateo. Built to commemorate the recapture of the city from the Moors in 1247, it commands panoramic views over the Vega, the vast, fertile plains lifted from the seabed eons ago, upon which Carmona’s fortunes were made. For most of the year, it is locked up, but on October the 2nd, it throws open its doors as the Romería de San Mateo wends its way down from the town in an explosion of music and colour. Born somewhere in Palestine, possibly Galilee, Matthew may have died in Central Asia. At least, that’s what Pyotr Semenov Tyan-Shanski, geographer, explorer and head of Imperial Russia’s Geographical Society, believed. Best known for his work on the Tian Shan Mountains (hence that unusual surname), he relayed a story based on a 14th Century Venetian atlas about an Armenian monastery by Lake Issyk Kul (in today’s Kyrgyzstan) that ‘guarded’ over Matthew’s tomb. While the monastery has not been found, there may be some truth to the story, as expeditions by Russian archaeologists have uncovered remains that show evidence of Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Islamic settlements. Even more intriguingly, they claim to have discovered a previously unknown civilisation, some 5,000 years old, at the bottom of the lake, the second largest mountain lake after Titicaca, which itself is supposedly the home of another mysterious ancient civilisation. Coincidence? Almost certainly. But perhaps the Truth is Out There.