The Garamantes are a mysterious African tribe. For a long time, they were considered simply undeveloped nomads. However, over the years, new and new facts have been discovered, proving that the Garamantes created a highly civilized state and possessed advanced technology for its time.
Three thousand years ago, for example, they could perform first-class operations on turtles. These strange ancient people lived in the Sahara desert and had Caucasian features.
Scientists recently analyzed satellite images as part of the TRANS-SAHARA project, funded by the European Union. The program aims to study the processes of state formation, as well as migration and trade in the central Sahara in the I millennium BC – mid-II millennium AD.
More than a hundred fortified farms and villages with castle-like structures, as well as several cities, have been found in the Libyan part of the desert. Most of the settlements date from the first half of the 1st millennium AD. Most of them were built by the Garamantes. New evidence suggests that their civilization was more advanced than reported by ancient sources.
Castle-like complexes had four-meter high walls made of mud-brick. Remains of individual houses, cemeteries with stone pyramids, fields, wells, and an elaborate irrigation system were also found. Archaeologist David Mattingly and his team were able to see for themselves before the Libyan civil war that all this really existed and belonged to the pre-Islamic era.
Study co-author Martin Sterry notes that it seems that the climate in the region has not changed in two thousand years: at the beginning of the new era, it was just as arid and inhospitable. Yet despite this, Libya was densely populated, and agriculture flourished.
Until now, historians considered the Garamantes a nomadic tribe with a low level of development, capable only of disturbing the frontiersmen of the Roman Empire from time to time. It turned out that they created a state and possessed a written language and advanced technology of their era.
In addition, Mr Mattingly calls them pioneers of oasis farming in Libya and trans-Saharan trade.
Researchers hope that the new authorities in Libya will see an important historical symbol in this discovery and the study of the Garamantes will receive an unprecedented boost.