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Tassili and Tadrart Acacu

28 October 2023

At https://phys.org/news/2023-10-ancient-society-sahara-rose-fell.html … the Garamantes lived in southern Libya at the same time as the Romans ruled most of the Mediterranean basin. Why this story has been dusted down and produced once again is presumably due to some recent probing in the Sahara desert. If so the archaeologists have come up with some interesting new facts, not least the idea the hydrology was borrowed from the Persians.

The Sahara was much wetter in the first half of the Holocene period. For a long period it was a land of rivers and lakes that have been mapped from space. After the 6200BC event it became less wet and less abundant with plant life – and streams began to shrink. After 3000BC, and again, after the late 3rd millennium BC events, the Sahara became drier and drier. Yet, the Garamantes are a fact of life. They thrived between 400BC and AD400. Why? Because they were able to tap into the aquifer left behind by all that water in the first half of the last 10,000 years. They used  foggara and gunates to harvest the ground water by digging a slightly inclined tunnel into a hillside, to just below the water table. Ground water then flowed through the tunnels into the irrigation system constructed at the surface. They dug a total of 750 km of underground tunnels and vertical access shafts to harvest water. It was especially in action between 100BC and AD100. Later, with no water to replenish the water table they inevitable reached a stage where it fell down below the tunnels. They were left high and dry and in league with other climatic change towards the end of the Roman empire, the Garamantes disappeared from history. There must be more to this story than the press release says as the Roman Warm Period was warm and moist with rainfall in the Mediterranean basin falling every month of the year. Unlike nowadays. After around 200BC, or a little later, the humidity disappeared and rainfall levels declined. After around AD500 the climate in Europe as whole went into decline for decades. It is this period that probably saw an end to the Garamantes as a society, leading up to the Islamic conquest of North Africa. In other words, there were also unsaid outside pressures on the Garamantes. Transhumance societies may have imposed themselves, for example, which might account for the inability to cut the tunnels to a lower level.

At https://phys.org/news/2023-10-archaeologists-florida-lessons-future-sea.html … must be coming up for another round of climate change talking shops with wine and good food to wash it down. It might be sheeps eyes this time, though. I think the Boris knees up missed the boat as it didn’t provide any tripe or offal, such as haggis, for the climate change dinners. Lots of articles have accentuated the global warming message, in tune with the Biden administration attempts to make the rich even richer. The story is really about the archaeological search for evidence of early Holocene human settlement on what is now the offshire continental shelf. Land along the Gulf coast is sinking, geologically, somewhat like the southern half of Britain is slowly going down while the seesaw at the other end, in Scotland, is geologically going up. All part of the slow process of glacial rebound we are assured by the great and the good. Catastrophists can see that something else was going on – in both Britain and North America, which includes Florida. As with the discoveries in Dogger Land or the Solent, or even offshore Scotland and Ireland, the same runs true over the pond. A huge continental shelf system existed that was above sea level at various points in time during the past. As in NW Europe so too in the Gulf of Mexico. Around 8000 years ago there was a rapid increase in sea levels as a result of the 6200BC event. As in Europe, American archaeologists have been looking below the waters of the Gulf – and in particular around Florida where the coast line is sometimes low and prone to flooding. They are coming up with various human artifacts such as stone tools and middens. Over the next couple of decades they will amass quite a bit of detail on the people that inhabited the continental shelf in the first half of the Holocene – and what similarities they may have with people living elsewhere, such as Mexico. They have already found the odd piece of preserved rivers, lakes and tree stumps from woodland. The assumption, there as well as here, is that the sea level curve was essentially gradual. In reality it moved in fits and starts – coinciding with environmental change, most of which appear to be downsides related to colder episodes of climate. The opposite of global warming, one might add.

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