Skip to comments.Lost Cities of the Sahara
Posted on 12/26/2010 9:06:39 PM PST by SunkenCiv
...the Garamantes - a mysterious desert people of Greco-Roman date (broadly 500 BC AD 500)... Inhabiting a region that had already been for several thousand years a hyper-arid desert environment, with negligible rainfall, elevated summer temperatures and blistering expanses of barren sand and rock... have long been an enigma. They were depicted by Roman sources as ungovernable nomadic barbarians, who raided the settled agricultural zone and cities of the Mediterranean littoral. Following up earlier work by Daniels, the current project allows a different picture of the Garamantes to be drawn. Archaeological evidence shows them to have been a complex and urbanised society, with a strong emphasis on oasis agriculture a picture far removed from the shiftless nomads of our ancient sources...
With over 500 Garamantian sites now recorded, and many susceptible to dating for the first time, a reappraisal of this early Libyan state can be made on the basis of concrete evidence. The picture that emerges is of a powerful Saharan polity, employing a wide range of material culture and architectural styles to reinforce a pronounced social hierarchy. Faunal analysis shows that there were animals in the diet, notably sheep/goat, but it is clear that pastoralism lagged far behind sedentary agriculture in this desert kingdom... the very scale of Garamantian irrigated agriculture may have had a long-term impact on the aquifer they were tapping into... by the later middle ages all the foggaras appear to have been abandoned in favour of small-scale garden cultivation based on wells.
(Excerpt) Read more at le.ac.uk ...
I've seen quite a few of those while perusing Google earth.
Sole Survivor is on youtube, there’s part one, the rest are there as well.
I think if you check your history you'll find it was the SUC, or Sport Utility Camel. Lots of uncontrolled methane emissions.
It wasn’t jungle like. However, it may not have been as dry and dead as it is today. The Sahel is losing its lakes and dying of “desertification” from over-grazing by goats and sheep. These cities may have been on the edge of dry grassland in their time before their livestock destroyed the grasses, causing the areas to dry up.
Actually, we were told that modern urban civilizations, in addition to natural phenomena, can effect climate change on a large scale.
We already knew that pre-modern civilizations can effect climate change. Diamond’s “Collapse” gives a great explanation of what occurred on Easter Island as it was gradually deforested.
Cape Verde Island is another great example of man-made climate (in this case, micro-climate) change. Named “Cape Verde” by European explorers because it was so lush and verdant, the island was deforested over 200 years of intense habitation. Rain clouds had formerly been “caught” by the forests as they moved out from the African continent. With the trees gone, the clouds just passed right over without dropping precipitation.
Today Cape Verde is dry, dusty, impoverished. We’ve known for centuries that men can effect the climate, just as natural phenomena can.
“They were depicted by Roman sources as ungovernable nomadic barbarians.”
Well, it’s pretty obvious that the Garamantes could by governed by themselves. It’s the *Romans* that they weren’t interested in being governed by.
Of course, the Romans wrote the history books after the Garamantes were gone, so they could depict them in any way they wanted. That’s usually the way it works: empires always depict the people that fight back as “barbarians,” “uncivilized,” “pagans,” “primitive.” That why I love Herodotus. He reports these civilizations as an anthropologist would, without judgment. It makes for much more informative reading.
This thread is an interesting mix of ancient and modern history. Thanks, guys.
Yup, Herodotus had no axes to grind, unlike his ancient-world critics and the mob of misinformed and/or Muzzies out there. He traveled in Egypt as well as in the Persian empire, and preserved an invaluable corpus of testimony that would otherwise have been lost. The example I usually cite is his discussion of why the Nile floods out of season. He lists three that he heard, including the real reason, which he notes is the least likely of all, then offers a fourth of his own that’s unintentionally hilarious. :’) That’s a good example of his honesty, something often lacking in historians then and now.
:’) We have a sixth sands about what FReepers will like.
Back when I was younger and seemed to have time to read fiction, I read several books by this author. His stuff is set in South Africa.
As I recall, some rip-roaring stuff.
Thanks bert, that’s interesting.
That works, provided there are non-brackish wells. :’)
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