Garamanthians — heirs of Atlantis?

At the moment, Libya — is a battlefield, where there is pain, destruction and chaos. Cultural and historical monuments are erased from the face of the earth, and perhaps very soon nothing will remain of once mighty culture of the state, which is located in the dunes, under the name Garamantida. Its inhabitants were prominent among the local population tall and white skin! And their achievements in the world of science still put scientists in a deadlock. One of the puzzles are a foggary — many kilometers of water pipes stretching across the desert, many of which are operated and 500 years later, in the 50 reptiles, the last century …

Watch Fogarra Garamantes — Libya

The origin of the Garamantes, belonging to the white Mediterranean race is unknown. Rather, they were one of those mysterious "Sea Peoples" who invaded North Africa in the XV-XII centuries BC. e. In the XI century BC. e. Garamanthians who had moved into the center of the Sahara, have created their own state. In the VIII century BC. e. their kingdom is already included all the current Fezzan (or Fezzan), the southern regions of Tripolitania, and a significant part of MARMARIK.

Among the thousands of petroglyphs on the rocks Aka-locus, one of the spurs of the mountain range Tas-silica present in Libya, I managed to find images Garamantes — high long-legged men in white robes and red cloaks. On the feet — sandals, ostrich feathers adorn their heads in their hands they hold bows. Or image-Garaman tskih chariots: Sprawled in running the four horses, coachmen, lashing them with whips, the rear wheels are quickly gaining speed carts off the ground.

The heart, the center of Garamantidy was wadi (the so-called Arabs, dry valleys in deserts) Al Adzhyal where most garamantskih settlements, including garam. And still it is a blossoming fertile valley through which scattered small villages, wells, palm plantations, growing tamarisk. On the one hand glisten in the sun dazzling bright yellow sand dunes of the sea, on the other hand — loom dark black mountains of the plateau Murzuq. On their slopes eye pulls countless ledges. This — dumping Garamantes. They are scattered around the Wadi al-Adzhyal is in the form of individual burials, in the form of whole cemeteries. Sometimes grave Garamantes (already found 45,000 graves) look like small constructed of sandstone mounds, in other cases — as oval recesses surrounded by stones or as a small stele.

At the plains also show traces of an ancient civilization, from the mountains, like beads, chains stretch hills. That entrances to the underground galleries built Garamanthians (foggary), moisture drained aquifers and channel water to the oases. Such structures allow to avoid a very significant loss of water in the desert, to save it from evaporating. Construction foggar require precise engineering calculations and careful execution: the length foggary had to comply with a uniform and very little elevation change — a millimeter or even less than a meter. It is hard to imagine the effort it took to construction of such tunnels, if the length of each is a few kilometers away. But the work was carried out only with the help of hoes yes baskets for carrying earth!

A total of Wadi al-Adzhyal 200 foggar, two of which operated in the 50-ies of XX century.

Residents Garamantidy engaged in agriculture and sedentary pastoralists. From time to time they raided the neighboring countries, and in the Egyptian papyri Garamanthians mentioned among the peoples who invaded Egypt. However, its prosperity must not Garamantida agriculture, animal husbandry and not the military expeditions, and the trans-Saharan trade. We do not know the name of the conductor, who spent the first caravan across the Sahara. But the committed comparable in importance with the discovery of the sea route around Africa, and it deserves the same admiration of posterity, like Vasco da Gama.

For the first convoy was followed by dozens, hundreds, thousands of others. Sahara crossed numerous caravan routes that linked Garam with Chad, Niger, Sudan, in the south of Timbuktu and Carthage, Sabratha, Ea (modern Tripoli) and Leptis Magna on the Mediterranean coast. Of particular importance was the path running through the wilderness of Carthage in Egypt, Arabia and the Levant. Thanks to him, the Carthaginians were able to conduct long war with the Greeks and then the Romans, avoiding the blockade, when the sea were fighting, and coastal roads found themselves cut off the enemy.

Caravans were thousands of miles across the Sahara. The difficulties were compounded by the way that goods are then transported by camel is not as horses, donkeys, mules — the animal is not very suited for traveling in the desert. In those days, the camels used only in Asia (up to Arabia), but in North Africa for some reason they did not come through. Camels appeared here only in the beginning of our era, the same time as the Arabian Peninsula spread horse. Since then, the Libyan Arab camel and horse "entered into history."

On the Mediterranean coast and the islands of the Greek archipelago merchants delivered to tropical Africa fabrics, textiles, weapons. Sudan, Central and West Africa, caravans brought to Carthage, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, Egypt and Syria slaves, ivory, precious stones, ostrich feathers, wood. The most valuable item was extracted on the lakes scattered across the Sahara salt sold on the coast at the same price as the rare metals. Fees from caravans, taxes on palm, salt, and trade the markets from state monopolies annually to the kingdom means comparable with the budget of some modern African states.

Garamantida was unique to the ancient phenomenon — an original civilization, which arose in the wilderness (only analogue she was probably the only Palmyra). The power in the kingdom in the hands of the nobility, engaged in trade and tax collection. Garamanthians played a role in this "ruling class." The basic population consisted of Berbers. Lived in the kingdom and the "black Ethiopians" — mysterious, completely vanished race who inhabited the Sahara since time immemorial. Later in Garamantidu coast residents began to move, fleeing the wars ravaged North Africa. At the heart of the Sahara as the newcomers get a chance to live in peace and security.

The capital of the kingdom, garam, was a large, thick walls surrounded the city, the long, 5 kilometers from east to west and 3.5 kilometers from north to south. Its prosperity has contributed, in particular, the fall of Carthage (see "Science and Life" № 10, 2000). When in 146 BC. e. Romans destroyed the wealth of Carthage, its surviving inhabitants, and many of them are skillful architects and builders, fled to Garamantidu. In the city were oriented to the four cardinal gates. Eastern called "big", the southern — "Righteous", and Western — the "Gate Master." In the north-western part of garam located citadel, where the royal palace. To the west and south of its semicircle covered palm plantations, and from the north to the city were marching on the towering dunes of 200-300 meters of chain.

In the VI century BC. e. in North Africa, there were Persians. In 525, they conquered Egypt, and then the Greeks, Phoenicians and the Berbers of Cyrenaica recognized the authority of the Persian kings. Garamantida, however, retained its independence. And it's not just the fact that it has protected wilderness. We Garamantes was strong and, most importantly, well fitted for action in the Sahara army of cavalry and chariots. It consisted of groups of pathfinders, engineering units (including trained wells falling asleep), and parts intended for operations behind enemy lines (something like modern special forces).

In the II century BC. e. on the borders of the kingdom, a new formidable opponent — the Romans. But even they took more than a hundred years to conquer the Garamantes. The Romans moved forward step by step. Chains of military settlements shifted farther and farther to the south, pushing Garamantes into the desert. Finally, in 19 BC. e. Rome delivered a decisive blow.

At the point where now the borders of Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, is one of the most beautiful oases in the Sahara — Ghadames. Particularly impressive is the old town with its overlapped, like hallways and quiet streets shaded squares. The gardens are maturing oranges, lemons, tangerines. Through plantations of date palms on high embankments raised paved roads bordered by high walls. Sweeps across the desert sand drifting snow, and the streets pleasantly cool oasis reign, peace, peace. On benches set into the walls of the houses sit like white statues, filled with the dignity of the Arabs. Direct confident gait are Tuaregs in blue robes with muffled faces. In the crowd and then glimpses of bright clothing blacks tube …

Watch Ghadames. Oasis Libya

A few kilometers from Ghadames stands a lonely hill. Since it offers a breathtaking view of the dunes stretching beyond the horizon of the Grand Erg Oriental (sandy desert) and covered with black stones Hamada — rocky desert Libyan and Algerian Sahara. The top of a hill surrounded by ruined walls, which are preserved in the foundations of some buildings. This is all that remains of the Kidamusa — the second largest and most important city Garamantidy.

At the head of the Legion who approached Kidamusu was proconsul of Africa L.-K. Balbus, a young man who had fought bravely in the military dictator Gaius Julius Caesar, then with ruthless cruelty ruled the Roman provinces, and now performs the personal order of the Emperor Augustus conquer Garamantidu. Garamanthians provided fierce resistance to the enemy, but the disparity was too great. The Romans took the fortress by storm, and a blooming oasis on fire and sword.

The following year, Balbus moved from Kidamusa on Garam. It is a tribute to the courage of foreign players. How difficult was the transition, we have seen, traveling the same route in a comfortable "Land Cruiser" pouring out of the speakers while listening to music and enjoying the cool air of stainless. The endless expanse of grim Hamada, cross-beds of dried-up here and there ten thousand years ago, rivers, replaced towering dunes at each other, then begins again rocky desert. Throughout the 800-kilometer road to Jeremy meets only two to three wells with brackish water, and in the guide as a special attraction is marked acacia, standing alone in the desert, 400 kilometers from Ghadames. Legionnaires come all this way in the heavy weapons, loaded the supplies of food and water on pack animals.

Garamantes for their appearance in the capital of battle-hardened warriors was a disaster. Erecting of felled trees siege machines, the Romans took the garam storm and destroyed it. The power has been eroded Garamantidy forever. Its inhabitants declared themselves vassals of Rome. In Kidamuse and some other oases were housed units African Legion. For Rome, this victory was of such importance that the first time the commander, who was not a Roman citizen (Balbus — a native of the Iberian Peninsula), the Roman people honored triumph.

Garamanthians not immediately accepted defeat. Within a few decades, they rose in rebellion, which invariably brutally suppressed, and the Roman army again and again approached the garam. Only at the end of the I century BC. e. Garamanthians realized that the greatness of the kingdom came to an end. In '89 Garmantidy king visited Rome and Gaul, met with the Emperor Domitian, and signed an agreement with him by which is located in the garam Roman garrison, and Garamanthians committed to helping the Romans to protect the caravan routes.

In the late 90s the Romans with Garamanthians organized two trade expeditions to the south. The first of them reached the "country of the Ethiopians," and members of the Second, which lasted four months, went to the river Congo. Since that time Garamantida was a bridge across the Sahara to the Roman merchants on their way to tropical Africa for slaves and ivory.

As time went on. Rome began to tend to decline. There comes a time of unrest, riots, civil strife. In the year 355, garam captured Donatists — members of a religious movement against official Christianity, and in the 395-m rebels destroyed the Berbers. In the V century BC. e. Vandals conquered North Africa. However, to penetrate into the Sahara is a Germanic tribe and failed, and Garmantida regained its independence, albeit for a short time. In the VII century on its borders appeared Arabs, a people accustomed to the wilderness and inspire just emerged a new religion — Islam. Having conquered Egypt in 642, they moved to Cyrenaica, and from there to Garam. There were very few — four thousand men, who nevertheless just a year to overcome two thousand kilometers, having fought against MARMARIK to Jebel Nafusa. Garam has been ravaged, its king was captured. The ease with which the Arabs achieved their goal over the place, due to the fact that the local people, seeing them as liberators from the yoke of oppression and foreigners own rulers, offered them any assistance.

Garamantida ceased to exist, its inhabitants Arabized, adopted Islam. Garamanthians mingled with other nations, becoming the ancestors of the Tuareg Kel-Ager. Consider themselves descendants of the Garamantes and living in the Niger tribe harm.

Centuries passed. Garamantida sinking deeper and deeper into the past, her memory erased. But preserved the legend of're in the middle of the desert state, a mysterious civilization that existed there. Maybe the echoes of these legends and inspired by French writer P. Benoit write a novel, "Atlantis", which tells the story of the descendants of the Atlanteans living in inaccessible areas of the Sahara.

Today on Garamantide and Garamanthians known not so much. Information about them is drawn mainly from the Greek and Roman, and Egyptian sources. In Acacus, however, inscriptions on garamantskom language made drevneliviyskim alphabet — tifinarom. As we said, still enjoying them Tuaregs, they can read the labels, but do not understand their meaning. Our guides have argued that trying to decipher the language garamantsky, including with the help of computers, there have been more than once, but they all ended in vain. We can only wait and hope that the day will come when the inscription in the Acacus "conspiracy" and tell us about the life of the Garamantes — the disappeared people, the former ruler of the central Sahara for a thousand years.

From garam, located next to the modern Jermaine, little remains. No matter how rarely go in the Sahara rains over many hundreds of years, they have blurred the adobe city. Preserved only the walls of houses, the citadel of the royal palace. And when we walked the streets of Garam, on-line memory came O. Khayyam:

"Where stood the palace in the distant year
And spent her days succession of sultans,
There now sits among the ruins of the turtledove
And crying plaintively: "Where, where, where?" ..

Source: magazine "Science and Life» № 6, 2001

Watch Sahara. Paintings of ancient times.


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