Sahara

regions of the Sahara between cca 900 - 1400 C.E.

back to Africa

back to Regions of Medieval Europe

 

In the Sahara there were no historical regions as we understand them in Europe. Nomadic tribes were herding in the desert and there just existed oases, or regions where oases were concentrated (such as Touat or Fezzan) and on the other hand large parts of desert where is was near to impossible to live. The map above tries to describe the most important oases and where possible, it tries to show that some oases were understood as parts of something what could be called as regions.

The Nomads, predominantly the Berbers, didn't understood the sahara as one desert, but as several deserts and regions with oases or even with some rural dwellings.

On the north, the regions "south of the coastal area of the Maghreb al-Arab" were called Dra'a (nabed by river Dra'a) in todays southernmost parts of Morocco, southwest of Sijilmassa; Touat which consisted of several oases such as XXX, the Mzab east of Touat and west of the plains of Jerid (which I consider rather as part of the Maghreb as it lies just south of Ifriqiyya), more to the east lied oases of Ghadames and Ghat and the easternmost region of northern Sahara was Fezzan, which was very important due to its contacts through the desert and Kawar to sub-Saharan "black" territories around Lake Chad: Kanem and Bornu, from where slaves and other trade goods were being imported to the mediterranean basin.

sources:

- BRICE, William: An Historical Atlas of Islam, Leiden 1981

- KENNEDY, Hugh: An Historical Atlas of Islam, Leiden 2002

- CARPENTER, Rhys: A Trans-Saharan Route in Herodotus, in: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 60, No. 3 (Jul., 1956) pp. 231-242

- BRETT, Michael: Ifriqiya as a Market for Saharan Trade from the Tenth to the Twelfth Century, in: The Journal of African History, Vol. 10, No. 3. (1969), pp. 347-364

- MARTIN, B. G.: Kandem, Bornu, and the Fezzan: Notes on the Political History of a Trade Route, in: The Journal of African History, Vol. 10, No. 1. (1969), pp. 15-27

- H.R.H. Prince Sixte of Bourbon: Great Routes of the Sahara, Past and Future, in: The Geographical Journal, Vol. 81, No. 2. (1933), pp. 97-105.

- McDOUGALL, E. Ann: The View from Awdaghoust: War, Trade and Social Change in the Southwestern Sahara, from the Eight to the Fifteenth Century, in: The Journal of African History, Vol. 26, No. 1. (1985), pp. 1-31

- McDOUGALL, E. Ann: Salts of the Western Sahara: Myths, Mysteries, and Historical Significance, in: The International Journal of African Historical studies, Vol. 23, No. 2. (1990), pp. 231-257

- McINTOSH, Roderick J.; McINTOSH, Susan Keech: The Inland Niger Delta before the Empire of Mali: Evidence from Jenne-Jeno in: The Journal of African History, Vol. 22, No. 1. (1981), pp. 1-22

 

comments and dicsussion