Δευτέρα, 1 Απριλίου 2013

the Garamantes ---Kingdom of the Sands


The name Garamantes is a greek name, it was first mentioned by Herodotus, but although the Greek coined the term for people Living in Southern Libya and what is now the country of  Niger we cannot be certain of what the Garamantes  actually called themselves. Scholars have been searching to uncover  the actual etymology of the term, but it was relatively an umbrella term for the array of tribes  situated in or around  Fezzan , but undoubtedly  it was mainly  pertaining to the  people of Southern Libya modern day ‘’Niger’ and  areas of Algeria and Chad’ . A Garamantian king  that accompanied Julius Martinus also claimed that his domain was also the country  Agisymba, which would be the part of the Sahara that entails the  Lake Chad region  The ‘’Garamantum Defile’’ as Ptolemy records it was  a vast amount of territory, as the Melanogaetulians inhabited the Western part of the Great Desert so did the Garamantes. The boundary for the territory would be drawn at Bagradas and Usargala mountain. . The Garamantes  guesstimated extended area of control, was from South to East to near Lake Nuba(Lake Nasser in the Sudan ) both banks of the river Gir(Niger) as far as the mountains called Garamantica PHARANX ,East of Mount Thala and North of mount  Arangas . The Garamantes .

              Pliny The Elder proposes in the ''Natural History'' Book V chapter 5 to say that Amantes were a tribe surrounded by sands in every direction, drew  water under  the desert sand ,and  built house with blocks of salt. What is certain that the Garamantes reserved water in their underground water system called foggaras, that was supplied  from aquifer resources laying beneath the deserts of the Sahara.  New archeological evidence indicates that the Garamantes fished in Lakes for shrimp and other delicacies. What Pliny the Elder describes as the ‘’Amantes’’ might be a particular tribe in the Garamantian kingdom , as they were many tribes listed such as the , Niteris and Bubelium. One would ponder the etymology of the term Garamantes. It may be a conjecture of Amantes and Garama, or another variant of etymological  origination   being a  combination of the names for  the river  Gir and Amante, Ptolemy seems to extend into the Kingdoms territory. Archaeologist have uncovered over 50,000 tombs of the Garamantes. some being made of pyramid styles.
 (Pliny The Elder ''Natural History'' Book V Chapter 8:1)

Kingdom of the Sands

Volume 57 Number 2, March/April 2004
by David Keys
How a Saharan slave-trading people made the desert bloom

During the past six years, an archaeological survey in the Fazzan area of southern Libya, led by David Mattingly of the University of Leicester, has revealed that a remarkable, yet obscure desert civilization known to the Romans as the Garamantes constructed almost a thousand miles of underground tunnels and shafts in a successful bid to mine long-buried fossil water.

Descended from Berbers and Saharan pastoralists, the Garamantes were likely present as a tribal people in the Fazzan by at least 1000 B.C. They first appeared in the historical record in the fifth century B.C., when Herodotus noted the Garamantes were an exceedingly numerous people who herded cattle (that grazed backward!) and who hunted "troglodyte Ethiopians" from four-horse chariots.

Archaeologists had excavated parts of the Garamantian capital, Garama, in the 1960s. But prior to recent investigations, most scholars still thought of the Garamantes as little more than desert barbarians living in one small town, a couple of villages, and scattered encampments. The research, however, now suggests that the Garamantes had about eight major towns (three of which have now been examined) and scores of other important settlements, and that they controlled a substantial state. "The new archaeological evidence is showing that the Garamantes were brilliant farmers, resourceful engineers, and enterprising merchants who produced a remarkable civilization," says Mattingly.

The success of the Garamantes was based on their subterranean water-extraction system, a network of tunnels known as foggaras in Berber. It not only allowed their part of the Sahara to bloom again--it also triggered a political and social process that led to population expansion, urbanism, and conquest. But in order to retain and extend their newfound prosperity, they needed above all to maintain and expand the water-extraction tunnel systems--and that necessitated the acquisition of many slaves.

Luckily for the Garamantes--but less so for their neighbors--Garamantian population growth gave the new Saharan power a demographic and military advantage over other peoples in Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa, enabling them to expand their territory, conquer other peoples, and acquire vast numbers of slaves.

By around A.D. 150 the slave-based Garamantian kingdom covered 70,000 square miles in present-day southern Libya. It was the first time in history that a nonriverine area of the Sahara (or indeed any other major desert) had produced an urban society. The largest town, Garama (in what is now called the Jarma Oasis), had a population of some four thousand. A further six thousand people probably lived in suburban satellite villages located within a three-mile radius of the urban center.


Thanks to their aggressive mentality and the slaves and water it produced, the Garamantes lived in planned towns and feasted on locally grown grapes, figs, sorghum, pulses, barley, and wheat, as well as on imported luxuries such as wine and olive oil. "The combination of their slave-acquisition activities and their mastery of foggara irrigation technology enabled the Garamantes to enjoy a standard of living far superior to that of any other ancient Saharan society," says archaeologist Andrew Wilson of the University of Oxford, who has been surveying the foggara system. Without slaves, they would not have had a kingdom, let alone even a whiff of the good life. They would have survived--just--in conditions of relative poverty, as most desert dwellers have done before and since.

In the end, depletion of easily mined fossil water sounded the death knell of the Garamantian kingdom. After extracting at least 30 billion gallons of water over some 600 years, the fourth-century A.D. Garamantes discovered that the water was literally running out. To deal with the problem, they would have needed to add more man-made underground tributaries to existing tunnels and dig additional deeper, much longer water-extraction tunnels. For that, they would have needed vastly more slaves than they had. The water difficulties must have led to food shortages, population reductions, and political instability (local defensive structures from this era may be evidence for political fragmentation). Conquering more territories and pulling in more slaves was therefore simply not militarily feasible. The magic equation between population and military and economic power on the one hand and slave-acquisition capability and water extraction on the other no longer balanced.

The desert kingdom declined and fractured into small chiefdoms and was absorbed into the emerging Islamic world. Like its more famous Roman neighbor, the once-great Saharan kingdom became, little by little, simply a thing of myth and memory. Along with the rest of the world, Berbers living in the Fazzan today have all but forgotten their ancestors. The kingdom's legacy has faded so dramatically that local residents believe the vast water-extraction system--the pride of the Garamantes--is the handiwork of Romans.

David Keys is the archaeology correspondent for the London newspaper The Independent. More information on the Garamantes can be found in The Archaeology of Fazzan (2003), published by the Society for Libyan Studies, London and the Department of Antiquities, Tripoli. The Fazzan project's website is museums.ncl.ac.uk/garamantes/feztop.htm.

© 2004 by the Archaeological Institute of America

see also

Ethnography of The Garamantes.

According to Herodotus and many other Greco-Roman writers The Garamantes used scythe bearing chariots just as the Aethiopian Pharusii and Aethiopian Nigritae other charioteers of the western Sahara.
Ghraham Connah who wrote a book for the Cambridge press also states that these chariots can be found all along the Niger River bend to Libya and Morrocco.It is known that chariots have been used in the Sahara since 3700BP. According to many  anthropologist and archeaologist the Equidians and Bovidians used chariots and were the progenitors of the chariot traveling across the Sahara.

The Garamantian kingdom also had extensive trade relations with the kingdom of  Meroe , the Goddess Tanit has been shown on temple walls of Meroe  and may have been transmitted from relations with Garamantes.The Garamantes were a ten days journey from the Nubian Aethiopians and a 15 days journey from Ammon. The Garamantes regularly procured sheep from the Nubian Aethiopians
(Strabo Geographica Book XVII verse 19)

According to  Leo Africanus, the  legacy of Garamntes was transferred  during the Islamic Era of the Fifth division of  Berber tribes. The Gumeri(Garamantes) and Bardaei or Bardoa , which translates as  the Teda of the Bardai oasis otherwise known as Teda of the 
Tebu or Toubou tribes) were the Garamantes direct descendants.

Even today the people of Fezzan are mainly inhabited by 80,000 inhabitants , mainly comprising of Tuareg and Teda (Tebu) tribes. The people of the area are believed to be the Berauna who are of Western Sudanese or Negro origin.
 Duveyrier assigns the Garamantes to the be of an Sudanic origin also.The Teda of the Tebu tribe also inhabit the Tibesti mountains a once uncontested territory of the Garamantes.