Skip to comments.Sahara Desert Was Once Lush and Populated
Posted on 07/20/2006 3:55:53 PM PDT by Marius3188
At the end of the last Ice Age, the Sahara Desert was just as dry and uninviting as it is today. But sandwiched between two periods of extreme dryness were a few millennia of plentiful rainfall and lush vegetation.
During these few thousand years, prehistoric humans left the congested Nile Valley and established settlements around rain pools, green valleys, and rivers.
The ancient climate shift and its effects are detailed in the July 21 issue of the journal Science.
When the rains came
Some 12,000 years ago, the only place to live along the eastern Sahara Desert was the Nile Valley. Being so crowded, prime real estate in the Nile Valley was difficult to come by. Disputes over land were often settled with the fist, as evidenced by the cemetery of Jebel Sahaba where many of the buried individuals had died a violent death.
But around 10,500 years ago, a sudden burst of monsoon rains over the vast desert transformed the region into habitable land.
This opened the door for humans to move into the area, as evidenced by the researcher's 500 new radiocarbon dates of human and animal remains from more than 150 excavation sites.
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
Rainer Stadelmann has worked on the plateau for years, and his view is that Khufu (Khafre's daddy) built the Sphinx. That's a nice dodge, because it fits what little pharaonic documentation survives, and there's only one known portrait of Khufu (it's about three inches tall, a seated figure). Other Egyptologists persist in their unfounded, baseless belief (which originated in modern times) that Khafre built the Sphinx.
The reason we tend to date civilization itself from Sumer is simply that the Sumerians were the folks who invented record keeping.
Given that the head looks remarkably like a mushroom, I can give you several reasons why the ancient Egyptians "saved it".
OIC, that does make sense.
Zahi "Zowie" Hawass will always be my favorite, because no one could write jokes that funny. ;')
"Histories"The sea-coast beyond the Lotophagi is occupied by the Machlyans, who use the lotus to some extent, though not so much as the people of whom we last spoke. The Machlyans reach as far as the great river called the Triton, which empties itself into the great lake Tritonis. Here, in this lake, is an island called Phla, which it is said the Lacedaemonians were to have colonised, according to an oracle.
Book IV "Melpomene"
tr by George Rawlinson
The following is the story as it is commonly told. When Jason had finished building the Argo at the foot of Mount Pelion, he took on board the usual hecatomb, and moreover a brazen tripod. Thus equipped, he set sail, intending to coast round the Peloponnese, and so to reach Delphi. The voyage was prosperous as far as Malea; but at that point a gale of wind from the north came on suddenly, and carried him out of his course to the coast of Libya; where, before he discovered the land, he got among the shallows of Lake Tritonis. As he was turning it in his mind how he should find his way out, Triton (they say) appeared to him, and offered to show him the channel, and secure him a safe retreat, if he would give him the tripod. Jason complying, was shown by Triton the passage through the shallows; after which the god took the tripod, and, carrying it to his own temple, seated himself upon it, and, filled with prophetic fury, delivered to Jason and his companions a long prediction. "When a descendant," he said, "of one of the Argo's crew should seize and carry off the brazen tripod, then by inevitable fate would a hundred Grecian cities be built around Lake Tritonis." The Libyans of that region, when they heard the words of this prophecy, took away the tripod and hid it.
The next tribe beyond the Machlyans is the tribe of the Auseans. Both these nations inhabit the borders of Lake Tritonis, being separated from one another by the river Triton. Both also wear their hair long, but the Machlyans let it grow at the back of the head, while the Auseans have it long in front. The Ausean maidens keep year by year a feast in honour of Minerva, whereat their custom is to draw up in two bodies, and fight with stones and clubs. They say that these are rites which have come down to them from their fathers, and that they honour with them their native goddess, who is the same as the Minerva (Athene) of the Grecians. If any of the maidens die of the wounds they receive, the Auseans declare that such are false maidens. Before the fight is suffered to begin, they have another ceremony. One of the virgins, the loveliest of the number, is selected from the rest; a Corinthian helmet and a complete suit of Greek armour are publicly put upon her; and, thus adorned, she is made to mount into a chariot, and led around the whole lake in a procession. What arms they used for the adornment of their damsels before the Greeks came to live in their country, I cannot say. I imagine they dressed them in Egyptian armour, for I maintain that both the shield and the helmet came into Greece from Egypt. The Auseans declare that Minerva is the daughter of Neptune and the Lake Tritonis -- they say she quarrelled with her father, and applied to Jupiter, who consented to let her be his child; and so she became his adopted daughter. These people do not marry or live in families, but dwell together like the gregarious beasts. When their children are full-grown, they are brought before the assembly of the men, which is held every third month, and assigned to those whom they most resemble...
Thus from Egypt as far as Lake Tritonis Libya is inhabited by wandering tribes, whose drink is milk and their food the flesh of animals. Cow's flesh, however, none of these tribes ever taste, but abstain from it for the same reason as the Egyptians, neither do they any of them breed swine. Even at Cyrene, the women think it wrong to eat the flesh of the cow, honouring in this Isis, the Egyptian goddess, whom they worship both with fasts and festivals. The Barcaean women abstain, not from cow's flesh only, but also from the flesh of swine.
West of Lake Tritonis the Libyans are no longer wanderers, nor do they practise the same customs as the wandering people, or treat their children in the same way. For the wandering Libyans, many of them at any rate, if not all -- concerning which I cannot speak with certainty -- when their children come to the age of four years, burn the veins at the top of their heads with a flock from the fleece of a sheep: others burn the veins about the temples. This they do to prevent them from being plagued in their after lives by a flow of rheum from the head; and such they declare is the reason why they are so much more healthy than other men. Certainly the Libyans are the healthiest men that I know; but whether this is what makes them so, or not, I cannot positively say -- the healthiest certainly they are. If when the children are being burnt convulsions come on, there is a remedy of which they have made discovery. It is to sprinkle goat's water upon the child, who thus treated, is sure to recover. In all this I only repeat what is said by the Libyans.
The rites which the wandering Libyans use in sacrificing are the following. They begin with the ear of the victim, which they cut off and throw over their house: this done, they kill the animal by twisting the neck. They sacrifice to the Sun and Moon, but not to any other god. This worship is common to all the Libyans. The inhabitants of the parts about Lake Tritonis worship in addition Triton, Neptune, and Minerva, the last especially.
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The Western Desert and the oases at Farafra and Bahariyya
As it happened, as we waited for our hotel room to be readied we sat down next to Zahi Hawass, the famously egotistical Director of Antiquities in Egypt. Julie leaned over to ask him, "excuse me, are you..." and was unable to finish before he proudly declared, "yes, I am!"
The White Desert is remarkable for its white rock formations called inselbergs, carved into unlikely shapes by wind and sand...
The skull of 110 million-year-old Sarcosuchus imperator dwarfs a 20-inch (50-centimeter) adult skull of the living Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius). Newly discovered fossils in the Sahara suggest that it took 50 to 60 years for Sarcosuchus to reach its maximum adult size, estimated to be 37 to 40 feet (11 to 12 meters) in length and up to 8 metric tons (17,500 lbs).
Interesting set of Sphinx photos (some showing restoration work) here:
It was pointed out in the article that the Nile river valley was heavily populated as much as 22,000 years ago, and the population pressure was one influence in the migrations into the "newly" greened sahara savannahs...
This would infer that there may have been "civilization" of some sort in the Nile river valley prior to the emergence of the Phaoronic era of 10,500 BC..
Rivers flowed out of the Saharan savannahs into the Nile valley.. They were undoubtedly used for travel and trade..
And river channels change..
We know that the Nile river channel ran very close to the location of the Sphinx and the Pyramids at one time..
The present river channel is farther away...
A traveller during the savannah period would have passed downriver well within eyesight of the then existing Sphinx / Lion..
An excellent landmark delineating a territorial boundary or site of a civilization's main city and port of trade..
It is my personal belief that the Sphinx was originally in the shape of a Lion, and the head had absolutely no resemblence to a human, pharoanic or otherwise..
The recarving of the existing structure was done at a later time...
I believe you are justified in thinking there was an earlier civilization or society prior to the historically famous egyption one..
It may not have been as "glorious" or powerful as the later Pharoanic society, but glorious enough in it's own right, with population and trade centers, agriculture, and religion, politics, etc..
With the desertification of the Sahara that civilization may have fallen to the "barbarian invasion" returning from the dying savannahs..
Those barbarians then developed into the society we now know as ancient egypt..
A related formation is called yarddang. Or, maybe it is the same thing. The Sphinx itself was probably one of these before the stone carvers got at it.
...and the Bush stole the election!
Thanks for the ping. A green Sahara is not exactly news to those on the ping list, but it's an interesting article nevertheless.
Ping. As an earlier poster noted, this could help tighten the date range for the water erosion on the Sphinx...