Currently exploring the Sahara/Merzouga region of Morocco. Woke up at 5am just to climb this monstrous dune (you can see our camp in the distance) just to watch the sun rise. And let me tell you, it was no easy hike, lol. The thing about landscapes like these are that they consume and stun you into silence. I have no words to describe what it’s like to be surrounded by such a remote and vast landscape.
In Abalessa, the ancient capital of the Hoggar region, there is the tomb of the famous Tuareg queen Tin Hinan. About this famous ancestress of the Tuaregs following story is told: Tin Hinan came in the company of her maid-servant Takamat from Tafilalet in South Morocco to the Hoggar. There she became the first Tamenokalt (= Queen) of the Tuaregs and her fame was so great, that even today the Tuaregs call her »Mother of Us All«.
Her sepulchre was also a place of pilgrimage and worship, so there were found hints that inside this tomb healing sleep was practiced
The corpse of the famous Tin Hinan was found when the grave was excavated by archaeologists. She was lying on a finely carved wooden bed and was covered all over by jewels. So she had seven silver bracelets on her right forearm and on her left forearm seven gold bracelets.
It is impressive that the tomb of Tin Hinan was never plundered, it shows how enormously this African Amazon queen was adored by the natives!
1//Hymn to Osiris - Ali Jihad Racy 2//Taureg Attack - Jerry Goldsmith 3//Whence No Traveler Returns - Karl Sanders 4//Funeral Procession - Ali Jihad Racy 5//The Elder God Shrine - Karl Sanders 6//Rebirth - Jerry Goldsmith 7//Dusk Falls Upon The Temple Of The Serpent Of The Mount Of Sunrise - Karl Sanders 8//In Their Darkened Shrines IV: Ruins
Roughly the size of France, Ahaggar is actually a granite plateau created by lava flows. In the mountain area there is no vegetation at all, and the sparse pools of water that do collect on the massif are extremely important to the Taureg. The Taureg, believed to be descended from charioteers who swept down from Libya around 1000 BC, are a striking people. The men remain veiled, while the women have powerful influence in family affairs. The group had a profound influence on the French after massacring an expedition that had been sent to scout a railway that would have affected the Taureg’s livelihood of being paid protection money by caravans. Because of this, the French attributed all kinds of legends to the Taureg that the people themselves had no involvement in. Most famously a novel called L'Atlantide that featured a murdering Atlantean seductress named Antinea had her living in a castle in the Ahaggar Mountains. When archeologists discovered a female skeleton in the region that was buried with royal honors, they promptly dubbed her “Antinea”.
In the city of Agadez, where guitars are king, one man has the drive to go to the top. Yes, the first feature film ever produced in the Taureg language is a remake of Purple Rain. Though since there’s no word for “purple” in the language, it’s actually Rain the color of blue with a little red in it. And it looks almost impossibly perfect.
Playing all month!
SATURDAY, AUGUST 8 – 7:30PM WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12 – 10PM THURSDAY, AUGUST 20 – 7:30PM SATURDAY, AUGUST 29 – 10PM
One of the great empires of history, Mali is seldom known by many outside of Africa. However from the 13th century up to the late 16th century Mali rules a very wealthy and powerful empire which dominated the Northwestern portion of Sub Saharan Africa. Mali’s wealth and power came from four important trade goods; salt, gold, copper, and ivory. Among it’s most popular cities was Timbuktu, a rich city that was home to the University of Timbuktu, one of the oldest universities in history and a hotspot of science and learning.
The Mali Empire came to power around the mid 13th century when the Mali kingdoms united, then conquered the other tribes and kingdoms around it. By its height in 1350, the Mali Empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean and followed along the Niger River all the way to modern day Niger. To conquer, rule, and police such an empire, Mali needed an especially strong and powerful army, and a strong and powerful army it did have. Throughout most of the empire’s history, the Mali Imperial Army numbered around 100,000 infantry and 10,000 heavy cavalry. For the Middle Ages, this was a truly massive military force. As a comparison, the French Army at the Battle of Crecy in 1346 numbered only 30,000 while the English Army numbered a mere 10,000. In addition, the Mali Empire was supported by numerous militia forces supported by the many tribes that made up the empire.
The backbone of the Mali Imperial Army were the infantry. Typically the average footsoldier was armed with an iron tipped spear, a bow with poisoned arrows, a leather helmet, and a leather covered shield made from reeds. Light infantry usually only carried a small light shield and a saber. Most infantry were conscripts with each tribe required to supply a quota of soldiers, although a number of soldiers were experienced professionals. Every tribe within the Mali Empire were required to produce of regiment of soldiers for the army, while the soldiers themselves were required to supply their own weapons and equipment.
The elite of the Mali Imperial Army were the 10,000 strong heavy cavalry, which were recruited from upper class nobility, much like the knights of Europe. Also like European knights, Mali cavalry were heavily armed and armored. Typically Mali cavalrymen wore steel helmets and chain mail armor imported from North Africa and Europe. Armaments included lances, sabers, and longswords also made of steel. Essentially the Mali cavalry were the elite shocktroops of the Empire. Typically, they were positioned at the head of the army, where they would charge the enemy, riding them down and breaking up their formations while the Mali infantry mopped up what was left.
With its massive army and control over trade routes, the Mali Empire thrived in the 14th and 15th centuries. However in the early 16th century international trade shifted away from the Middle East and Africa to the newly discovered America’s. This resulted in Mali’s economy stagnating a trade routes through Africa dried up due to competition from the Far East and the America’s. As the empire weakened, many of the kingdoms and tribes that made up the empire revolted and declared their independence. Then Mali faced a series of invasions from the Moroccans, Taureg, and Portuguese. Finally in 1599 the empire collapsed entirely, forming a dozen or more successor states and kingdoms. The last remnants of the Mali were conquered by a people called the Bambara in the 17th century.
Roughly the size of California and home to the world’s largest sand dunes, the Tenere Desert has been used for centuries as a route for the salt trade by the Taureg. Part of the Tenere is made up of seif dunes, sand dunes that run parallel to each other for as much as 100 miles, and the trough between the dunes is known as a gassis and used as the route for caravan traders. Nomadic Tuareg roam the environment, known as “Blue Men” because the men cover their faces and the blue dye from the cloth rubs off onto their skin. The salt trade starts at Bilma, where holes are dug into the ground and filled with water and crusts of salt crystals form on the surface to be skimmed off and packed into wooden cone molds weighing about 40 lbs. The caravan will set off on a 15 day journey across the desert where landmarks are scarce. Recently four-wheel-drive vehicles have become more popular for the Tuareg because of their speed, but some still use caravans.