Garama: an ancient civilisation in the Central Sahara

Aug 2014
United States
If anyone is interested in economic connections of inner Africa and the classical world here is a very informative article. The information also suggests that trade with nations to the south helped Carthage to prosper

Garama: an ancient civilisation in the Central Sahara | World Archaeology

Much of the wealth came from control of the caravan trade. Garamantian camel-trains brought the products of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa to the Roman cities of the Mediterranean – salt, gold, semi-precious stones, ivory, wild animals for the arena, and natron (a naturally occurring alkali used in embalming and glassmaking). Some things were undoubtedly of Garamantian manufacture – archaeologists have found metalworking hearths (for processing iron, bronze and possibly gold and silver), and evidence for the working of semi-precious stones like the translucent red carnelian and an opaque turquoise known as amazonite. Probably, also, the Garamantes traded slaves.
Ancient Peoples - The Garamantes, an ancient tribe that were located...

The “stones” which the Garamantes traded are said by Roman writers to have been so precious that even a small one was worth 40 gold staters. The Garamantes traded them to Carthage who, in turn, traded them and this trade helped Carthage become very wealthy. Pliny describes the stone as the “Garmantian carbuncle” which was also called the “Carthaginian carbuncle” because of the stones link to the wealth of Carthage. We don’t actually know what these precious stones actually were.
And the empire of Bornu was able to take the Fezzan oasis up until the 16th century

Trans-Saharan trade

Similarly, the rulers of Bornu, lying around Lake Chad, were able to expand their political dominance deep into Fezzan, occupying the oases until the 16th century.
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Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
Why use the name Empire for most. Of the. Regional kingdoms of Africa? I mean they were not empires spanning on huge lands , and diverse civilizations .
Aug 2014
United States
Why use the name Empire for most. Of the. Regional kingdoms of Africa? I mean they were not empires spanning on huge lands , and diverse civilizations .
The only time empire is mentioned in this thread was about Bornu in relation to its political domination into Fezzan, which is also where the Garamantes were located

The Kanem-Bornu Empire was an empire that existed in modern Chad and Nigeria. It was known to the Arabian geographers as the Kanem Empire from the 9th century AD onward and lasted as the independent kingdom of Bornu until 1900. At its height it encompassed an area covering not only much of Chad, but also parts of modern southern Libya, eastern Niger, northeastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon.
Aug 2014
United States
This is a new book I am going to read but I looked up the Kanem empire and this is for the 13th century mentions Fezzan

This is from "Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History" P. 188-189

Kanem empire according to Ibn Sa'id in years 1286-1287

This sultan has authority there over kingdoms such as those of Tajuwa, Kawar, and Fazzan. God has assisted him and he has many descendants and armies. His clothes are brought to him from the capital of Tunis. He has scholars around him...

To the east of the Mountains of Maqawris seperating the Kanim Mountains from Kawkaw is the territory of the Kanim with their Berber followers who were converted to Islam by Ibn Habal the sultan of Kanim. They are his slaves. He uses them on his raids and takes advantage of their camels, which have filled these regions
Sep 2008
Halicarnassus, 353BC
Hi gravyten,

Thanks for sharing - I too have a great fascination with the civilisations of the Sahara. It's amazing how the Garamantes built a mighty civilisation in the desert, drawing on underground water to fertilise the land and grow crops.

Also fascinating is the remains of human settlement from the Sahara, and cave paintings dating back to around 6,000BC. At that time the Sahara was a lush, green savannah with trees, plants and watering holes. Cave paintings show animals such as hippo and giraffe, which can only exist in an environment with lots of water. These paintings are found deep in the Sahara.

One of the most interesting ideas of all - as the Sahara changed and dried out, the people who lived there were forced to flee the encroaching desert. They fled towards the Nile valley, congregating along the river. They took many of their animal-deity beliefs with them, and this is the origin of ancient Egyptian religion. They also kickstarted the rise of ancient Egyptian civilisation, since the higher population density contributed to the first villages and towns, which began the rise of organisation, technology and industry.