The Sahara

Herodotus (III 16-19) relates that King Cambyses of Persia, after conquering Egypt (in 525 B.C.), planned to conquer Carthage. He would have planned to send a naval force against Carthage and at the same time a land force against the Ammonians, that is, against the Oasis of Siwa. This suggests that the Persians had planned to conduct an expedition similar in type to that which they sent against Greece in 480 B.C., in which the land army moved along the coast in conjunction with the fleet. This expedition could not be sent because the Phoenicians, on whom the Persians had to rely for their naval forces, declared that they were bound by oaths not to wage war against Carthage which had been established by Phoenician settlers.

While he was preparing this expedition, Cambyses sent “as a first step” explorers to see whether there really existed a Table of the Sun and “to observe all other things in its neighborhood.” The Table of the Sun probably was the island of Atlantis. This indicates that the plan of Cambyses was to extend Persian power all across Africa to the longitude that was the meridian 0 of ancient geography𧟪8扙.

In the system of geography followed by Herodotus, the Oikoumene is a square whose northern and southern limits are parallel 63癗 and the Equator, the western limit being the meridian of the Atlas-Pillar of the Sky𧟪8扙. Its eastern limit is marked by the mouth of the river Indus. In Europe, however, it was found more in agreement with the geographical features to set the western limit at meridian 824扙, the meridian that stretches from Thule in Norway to the island of Atlantis. By so setting the limits of the Oikoumene it can be considered a solid mass of land; western Africa and western Europe were considered peninsulas protruding from the land mass of the Oikoumene. Herodotus speaks of Africa west of meridian 648扙 and of Europe west of 824扙 as uncharted territory.

The successor of King Cambyses, Darius, also planned to extend Persian power to the limit of the Oikoumene. In his description of Europe Herodotus professes not to know the geography to the west of the source of the Danube, which indicates that Persian maps stopped at that meridian. Herodotus relates that Darius was swayed to make concessions to Histiaeus because the latter promised to make him master not only of Greece, but also of the island of Sardinia; this again indicates that Persian ambitions stretched up to that meridian. King Darius planned to bring about the campaign for the conquest of Libya, abandoned by Cambyses.

The Persian expedition to the west of Egypt was conducted by the Persian satrap of Egypt at the same time in which the King himself was conducting the campaign for the conquest of Scythia. Both the land and naval forces for the Libyan campaign were provided by the Egyptians (III. 167); possibly this was the result of the political objections raised by the Phoenicians. In relation to this campaign Herodotus lists all the nations that live on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, beginning from Egypt, but when he comes to the Little Syrtis his account shifts inland to Lake Tritonis and no mention is made of Carthage. It could be that the Persians had decided that without Phoenician support they could not subdue Carthage. Apparently in relation to Carthage the Persians had to be satisfied merely with a formal act of vassalage. In the inscription of Nash-i-Rustan there are listed among the subjects of the Persian king the Makai and the Karka, that is, the Carthaginians; the Makai are the inhabitants of eastern Tripolitania.

In listing the pastoral tribes along the coast of Libya Herodotus first describes the area from the border of Egypt to the Little Syrtis; in doing so he follows parallel 30癗. In the region beyond, which we call the Maghreb, composed of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, the coastal line is to the north along parallel 36癗, whereas along and above parallel 30癗, inland from the coastal area, there is a second belt called “midland of the wild beasts.” It is the belt composed by the chain of the Atlas and its extensions through Algeria and Tunisia.1 Below the “midland of the wild beasts” there is a third belt that Herodotus calls “the ridge of sand” (IV.181). This distinction of the territory by three bands running parallel to the coast is correct for the Maghreb where Herodotus stopped his description of the coastal area.

After having described the part of Libya closer to the Mediterranean coast, Herodotus resumes his description, again starting from Egypt but following the latitude of the deserts. “Beyond this wild beasts land there runs a ridge of sand that stretches from Thebes of Egypt to the Pillars of Herakles” (IV 181). In his description of the “ridge of sand” Herodotus states that there is a series of inhabited stations, oases with water wells, spaced “about 10 days of march” or 5. In saying that they go from Thebes in Egypt to the Pillars of Heracles, Herodotus refers to the longitudes of these two locations.

Arab geographers used a similar principle of description. Ibn Khaldun in his history of the Berbers says that the Saharan Berbers form a cordon between the Arabs of the Maghreb and of Africa (meaning the area of the two Syrtes) and the kingdoms of the Land of the Black. Leone Africano, a Moor who was taken as a prisoner to Italy in the sixteenth century and there published a description of Africa,2 presents the area along the tropic from the Atlantic coast to Egypt as an alignment of five deserts, each being identified by the name of the tribe that roams through it. Herodotus states (IV 185) that along the line that he describes he is acquainted with the names of the first five tribes; this means that his exact information extends to the meridian 0 (i.e., 648扙). But he knows that the line extends to the west of this longitude, continuing by segments of 10 days of march or 5 to a salt mine at the longitude of the Pillars of Herakles and even beyond, obviously to the Atlantic Coast.

Vivien de Saint-Martin in his treatise on the geography of North Africa according to the ancients, states that Herodotos’ account about areas beyond the coast “se borne a quelque rapports populaires denues de toute precision et de tout detail geographique.” Since I have objected to this received opinion in the question of the geographical details, I shall also deal with the so-called folklore allegedly devoid of any precision.

H. F. Tozer in his History of Ancient Geography ascribes Herodotus statement that the oases are spaced about 10 days of march from each other to Herodotus “love of symmetry” which leads to a “combination of truth with exaggeration.” But since Tozer was able to identify the first three of the oases mentioned by Herodotus, he should have been able to determine just by that what 10 days of march meant and then try to find out if there were oases so spaced.

Most scholars have agreed in identifying the first three oases: the land of the Ammonians is Siwa Oasis; Augila is in the present Oasis of Jalo, and the land of the Garamantes is in the Fezzan. Since Stephane Gsell recognized that in at least some cases Herodotus speaks of differences of longitude, it should have been easy to reckon what distance Herodotus indicates by speaking of 10 days of travel, even without knowing that he means 5 of longitude. And, in fact, André Berthélot who not only was a specialist of ancient geography but also, as an important political figure of France, had been the promoter of epoch-making campaigns for the exploration of the Western Sahara, calculated that by 10 days Herodotus means a distance of 500 km. This agrees with my reckoning, since at the latitude of the Tropic 5 equal 509 km. In his book on the ancient knowledge of the Sahara, published in 1927, Berthélot observed also that 10 days of march can be reckoned by modern experience as being 500 km, because a caravan of men of foot as well as a caravan of camels, horses, or mules covers about 50 km a day at the rate of about 4 km/hr. for 12 hours. This agrees with ancient computations; the Persian parasang, considered an hour of march, was 3995 meters. On the basis of excellent knowledge of the Sahara, Berthélot observed that “in Herodotus the presentation of the facts is often literary and colorful, but his pieces of information are usually well-founded.”

Since by 10 days of march Herodotus means 5 of longitude, the identification of the centers listed by him becomes extremely simple. As we have seen, those scholars who have been more charitable and have not discarded the entire description of Herodotus as worthless or incomprehensible, have identified the first three centers listed by him. They agree that the land of the Ammonians is the Oasis of Siwa, that Augila is in the Oasis of Jalo, and that land of the Garamantes is in the Fezzan. But beyond the Fezzan their eyes turn south on the assumption that Herodotus could not have had any information about the Sahara.3 But it is obvious that he was referring to a line running east-west parallel to the Mediterranean. He could not have been more clear in explaining that he was concerned with a belt of desert below the southern limit of the mountains of the Maghreb. If he had been speaking of the caravan route going from Siwa and the Fezzan towards central Africa, he would not have mentioned the Pillars of Herakles.

The route described by Herodotus can best be followed by proceeding in the opposite direction of that followed by him.

It is evident that salt trade is the main concern in Herodotus account, since he describes a trade route that ends at a salt mine. Arab geographers and early European explorers are emphatic in stressing the importance of a specific salt mine in the geography of this area; it is the salt mine of Terhazza. Leone Africano, who is more readily accessible among Arab geographers since he wrote in Italian, states that at the border between the first and the second desert (counting from the Atlantic coast) there is the mine of Terhazza. It is located at 2338扤, 506 W and therefore it is at the longitude of the Pillars of Herakles (Ponta Almina 517 W), as Herodotus states.

The salt mine was located at the very heart of the Sahara and used to influence the entire economy of the surrounding regions as far as the sea.4 Every study of western Africa in Arab times deals with this mine; the masterly work on The Golden Trade of the Moors by E. W. Bovill.(London, 1955) dedicates a chapter to it. Salt was extremely valuable to those who lived in the desert and in the area south of it from Cape Verde to the Sudan. Up to recently in western Sudan salt was a luxury that only the rich could enjoy. Arab writers explain that tremendous fortunes were accumulated by exporting salt from Terhazza, even though the miners had to be supplied with food either from Timbuctu or from Morocco and even though the caravans had to cross desert areas which were so barren that the help of experts in navigation by the stars was necessary. It is explained that this salt was loaded on camels in big blocks and exchanged against gold at fixed rates between the weight of gold and the weight of salt; the rate was established area for area. In dealing with the tradition that in specific areas the salt could even be exchanged against gold at par (a fact listed also in Jewish maps of the early sixteenth century A.D.) Bovill observes that it seems to be an exaggeration, but that it is recorded that a man can become desperate enough for salt as to be willing to strike such a bargain. The main point is, as Bovill summarizes it, that the people of West Africa showed “reluctance to part with their gold for anything but salt.” This is why the question of salt is central to Bovill抯 study of the gold trade.

Herodotus declares that the route he describes extends beyond the salt mine. The salt mine is 10 or two units of 10 days due west of the Pillar of the Sky, and beyond it the route went to Kerne on the coast. The distance between Terhazza and Kerne is a further 10, or two stretches of ten days.

The geographical line north-south that Herodotus had in mind corresponds to an actual trade route. Arab geographers mention a caravan route that went from Fez (3455扤, 459 W) to Sigilmese, Terhazza, Arawan (1940扤, 225 W) and Timbuktu (165扤, 300 W) and hence followed an approximately straight north-south line from the Pillars of Herakles to the Niger River. Leone Africano followed it in his geographical travels because it was the most important caravan route in the economy of West Africa.

The salt trade takes as a reference point the Pillar of the Sky which is at the Tropic and from there it proceeds to the west to Terhazza and to Kerne following the geographical line of the Tropic. The reason for this was that of making easier the orientation in one of the most desolate areas of the world. Up to the recent development of aviation, French colonial officers warned that “the smallest error in orientation in these immensities without reference points could be fatal.” Arab geographers report that the caravans that went through this area followed guides who oriented themselves by the stars. Herodotus states that to the west and to the south of the Pillar of the Sky the land is “desert and waterless and devoid of living creatures or trees, and there is no moisture at all.” All modern geographers would agree with this description: the area is désert integrale, as French writers say, without water and without a trace of vegetation. Leone Africano stresses the lack of water in the deserts to the two sides of Terhazza and the danger of dying of thirst. The Berbers give the name tazen ruft, “land of fear,” to the desert to the west of the Ahoggar.

The Carthaginian colony of Kerne was located at the point on the Atlantic coast closest to Terhazza; it could be that the Carthaginians purpose in establishing Kerne at this spot was in order to receive there the salt that they could exchange for gold further south.

Herodotus describes the procedure of silent trade used by the Carthaginians to buy gold from a race of men beyond the Pillars of Herakles, but does not say what was bartered for the gold. But the Venetian navigator Alvise Cadamosto, travelling in western Africa in 1454 A.D., saw the silent trade being practiced exactly as described by Herodotus. He specifies that the natives took gold in exchange for an equal amount of salt, brought from Terhazza.5 It is significant that Cadamosto mentions this fact in relation to his stop at Arguin which was the port that at that time had replaced Kerne.

Herodotus reference (IV 196) to the silent trade must refer to dealings with natives living below Kerne. Perhaps the references of Hanno to the fact that the natives in several places took to flight or were hostile, caused the Carthaginians to conceive of the silent trade. Possibly the Africans had already been exposed to raids by slavehunters (such as the raids on the Troglodytes, mentioned by Herodotus), whereas the Carthaginians were interested in trading.

Since Carthage was considered to be exactly 15 east of the Pillars of Herakles and one of the stations in Herodotus route is exactly on the meridian of Carthage, it may be inferred that it was the Carthaginians who, reckoning by units of 5, proceeded to the geodetic survey on which this route is built. It could be that it was because of this reckoning that Zuila became the religious center of the Fezzan. The center of Ghat was established exactly on the meridian of Carthage. To the west the next center is the key geodetic point of the Pillar of the Sky. It would seem that it was for a factor of mathematical geography that Terhazza became an important salt mining center, because there were other mines that could have been preferred on other practical principles. After al-Mansur caused the closing of the mines of Terhazza in 1585 A.D., their place was taken over in a permanent way by the mines of Taodeni which are half way closer to the salt market of Timbuktu.

It was because of the method followed in the geographical survey that the Carthaginians established their trading station on the coast at Kerne on the line of the Tropic. At the time of the European explorations Kerne had been replaced by the more desirable port of Arguin further south at 204扤.

The route of Herodotus moves east from Terhazza along the Tropic; Herodotus begins to count exactly from the next station which is at the longitude 0 of his system梩he Pillar of the Sky in the land of the Atlantes.

Herodotus indicates that his precise geographical information ends with the Swamp Triton at the north and at Mount Atlas, called the Pillar of the Sky, in the land of the Atlantes. The mathematical information of Herodotus ended at this geodetic point because this was the end of the mapped area for him. Whereas to the east of the Pillar of the Sky he had named the locations, to the west of it he does not give any name, but states that the counting goes on by units of 10 days to the salt mine and beyond. The Swamp Triton is Chott el-Jerid in southern Tunisia and Algeria. Today this area consists of huge flats of salty water, but Greek legends describe them as communicating with the Mediterranean at the Land of the Lotophagoi or Little Syrtis. These legends present the Swamp Triton as the western end of the world.

Herodotus (IV 184) states that in the land of the Atlantes there is a mountain of great height which is called Atlas and which the natives say to be the Pillar of the Sky: “The Atlas is narrow, rounded all around, and so high that it is impossible to see its summits because it is never free of clouds, summer or winter.” The Atlas can be readily identified with peak Ilaman in the chain Takor in the mountains of the Ahaggar. This peak is the highest one in the Ahaggar and in the Sahara desert (almost exactly 3000 meters) and has a shape which is unique in the world and which is exactly described by Herodotus. It is so steep and narrow that the Matterhorn would look like a stump in comparison with it; it is of an unusually regular round contour. Observers have reported that its summit is surrounded by clouds for long unbroken periods.

The geographical features indicate that there was a time in which the great volcanic massif of the Ahaggar in the middle of the Sahara was the center of a great hydrophagic system. It divided the watershed of the Mediterranean from that of the gulf of Guinea. The course of the two great wadi, now completely dry, indicates that a river (Wadi Igharghar) went from the Ahaggar to Chott el-Jerid or Lake Triton of the Greeks and another river (Wadi Tafanasset) went to the river Niger. “Touching each other at their sources, they established a line of communication by water between the tropical countries and the Mediterranean.” I will show that the Greek myth of the Argonauts concerns navigation along these rivers.

The Atlas or Pillar of the Sky was taken as a basic geodetic point by ancient geography not only because it is the highest peak of the Sahara and because it is located at the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Oceans, but also because it is on the line of the Tropic. It was also on the meridian that indicates the course of the two rivers that in protohistoric times joined Swamp Triton with the River Niger. The Atlas-Pillar of the Sky is on the meridian 648扙 which was considered the western limit of the Oikoumene. To the south this meridian cuts across the mouth of the river Niger and at the Equator reaches the island of São Tomé, which the ancients called Island of Atlantis, the basic point of ancient geography.

Herodotus calls the Pillar of the Sky by the name of Atlas and places it in the land of the Atlantes, which is the Ahaggar.

Since the Pillar of the Sky is on the Tropic, the line traced by Herodotus continued exactly along the Tropic. To the east of the Atlantes he places the Atarantes. Evidently he is referring to Ghat at 2457扤, 1017扙, at the present political border of Libya and Algeria. Up to about 1880 it was an important center for the trade of slaves. Its longitude is listed as 1017 45” which corresponds to the walls of Carthage. The center of Ghat was established exactly on the meridian of Carthage.6

The terms Atlantes and Atarantes are two forms of the same name. A large number of scholars agree that these terms are derived from the Berber adrar (plural idaren) which means “mountain.” When Herodotus states that the Atarantes have a collective name, but no personal name, he probably misundertood the information that their country is simply called adrar, “mountain.” The Sahara area is full of areas and places simply called Adrar. Because of the similarity of names, Herodotus applied improperly a piece of information. He states that the Atarantes curse the sun and address to it all sort of insults when it is just above them. To be exact, I must observe that the manuscripts of Herodotus state that the people of the fourth station are called Atalantes as those of the fifth. All modern editors change the reading from Atlantes to Atarantes, but if there is an error in the manuscript tradition it must be very old, since Pliny and Mela report that it is the Atlantes who curse the sun. I am more inclined to believe that Herodotus said Atlantes and introduced the form Atarantes in explaining the name. The detail of the cursing of the Sun refers to the fact that the land of the Atlantes is at the Tropic, so that at the summer solstice the Sun is at Zenith.

For more than a century some geographers have claimed that in a not too distant time the Sahara was covered with vegetation and that the process of desiccation took place in historical times. This contention is based on geographical and geological features and on the statements of ancient geographers. But this contention has been resisted up to recently because it would undermine the dogma of the isolation of Black Africa from the stream of civilization.

In 1934 A.D. the geographer Konrad Kilian concluded that the period in which the ox, the giraffe, the ostrich, the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the crocodile were common in the Ahaggar cannot have preceded by much the age in which the camel became the chief means of transportation in the Sahara, which is the period just around the beginning of the Christian era. According to Kilian the process of dessication of the Sahara has been a progressive one and is still continuing today. He reports that trees of the cypress type have disappeared from the Ahaggar quite recently.

Our knowledge of the ancient Sahara was revolutionized by the publication, in 1957, or the results of Henri Lhote抯 investigations of the rock paintings of the central Sahara. These paintings indicate that there was a time when chariots drawn by horses crossed the Sahara from the Mediterranean coast to the river Niger. This indicates that the process of dissication of the Sahara had reached a point in which transportation by river was no longer possible from the Great Chots to the Ahaggar and from there to the Niger, but the land could still support horses. One principle used by Lhote in dating this chariot route is the fact that the horses are portrayed on the rock painting according to style conventions that occur in Mycenaean art. Lhote assumes that the Mycenaeans, like the Greeks who followed them, had colonized Cyrenaica and that from there had advanced into the Sahara area. There can be no doubt that the chariot route reached the Ahaggar from the Mediterranean; Lhote assumes that from there it went south to the Niger at Gao. To the north of the Ahaggar the route went through the present oasis of Ghat. In order to be conservative Lhote marks the route as going directly from Ghat to the Mediterranean at Tripoli; but in so doing he does not prove consistent, since he had indicated that the route must have come into contact with Mycenaean civilization at Cyrenaica. In fact rock paintings of horses are found also in the present oasis of Fezzan, which indicates that the chariot route must have gone from Ghat to the Fezzan and from there to Cyrenaica through the present oasis of Jalo. In substance the chariot route must coincide with the trade route described by Herodotus, a route that Lhote recognizes as going from Cyrenaica to the Ahaggar through the oases of Jalo, the Fezzan, and Ghat. It can be assumed that this chariot route must have existed up to roughly 1000 B.C.

By the time of Herodotus the Sahara had acquired an appearance similar to the present one, since he describes it as a series of desert areas separated by oases. However, in his time the fertile areas that separate the deserts must have been more rich in vegetation than they are today.

Herodotus has been derided most of all for his description of the Fezzan, which he calls land of the Garamantes. The Romans called Garama the present Terma in western Fezzan. He describes (IV 183) the Garamantes as raising oxen that have horns turned forward. However rock paintings studied by Henri Lhote indicate that the raising of oxen was the basis of the economy of the populations of the Sahara in pre-historic times; bones and rock engravings prove that there were in the Sahara oxen with horns turned forward. Herodotus adds that the Garamantes chased the Troglodyte Ethiopians on chariots drawn by four horses. This indicates that the civilization of the chariot people persisted in the area of the Fezzan. Even after archaeological evidence supported strikingly the accuracy of Herodotus, there were some who persisted in finding fault with him; they objected that the rock engravings present chariots drawn by two or three horses and not four, but he has been vindicated even on this minor detail by the discovery in 1947 of a drawing of a chariot drawn by four horses at Wadi Zigsa, in the heart of the Fezzan. The primitive Troglodyte Ethiopians of Herodotus are probably Tibu of the Tibesti mountains, south of the Fezzan. Travellers of the last century describe how the inhabitants of the surrounding oases used to organize each year a military expedition in order to capture slaves in the valleys of the Tibesti.

Concerning the Fezzan, land of the Garamantes, commentators have been willing to give credit to Herodotus for stating that there are 30 days of actual march from it to the land of the Lotophagoi, that is, the coast of the present Tripolitania. A serious scholar such as Bovill admires Herodotus for being so right; Herodotus is really more intelligent than usual when he reports correctly what must have been told him by every camel driver as he visited Tripolitania.

Since Fezzan is a large oasis, the geographical point may be set at what is today the religious center, Zuila (Cilala for the Romans) at 26癗, 1506扙.

The next station is Augila which corresponds to the present Aujila (2908扤, 2114扙) in the oasis Jalo. It is reported that its main product are the excellent dates and that some areas of it are inhabited only at harvest time. Most likely Augila marked the end of the Carthaginian influence and the beginning of the Egyptian one; Herodotus reports that the Persians as rulers of Egypt were not able to extend their power beyond Cyrenaica. The salt trade route probably ended at Augila, which for Herodotus is the next station west of the land of the Garamantes or Fezzan, since beyond it people could use the salt from the flats of the Mediterranean Sea.

To the east of Augila the reference points of Herodotus are only approximately at a distance of 5. Herodotus mentions the Oasis of Ammon, or Siwa. There are parts of the Oasis of Siwa that are 5 east of Augila. the Temple of Ammon at Siwa was at 2538扙., exactly 700 west of the Temple of Ammon at Thebes, from which Herodotus begins his reckoning. This reflects the Egyptian preference for counting by units of 7. The Source of the Sun has been identified with one of the best known sources of the Oasis of Siwa which is slightly to the south of the ruins of the Temple and is lukewarm, according to the opinion of those who have bathed in it, so that it is warmer than the air at night and cooler during the day.

Herodotus has good reasons for specifying that in each station along the route there is a source of cold sweet water, because even in this age of automobiles the traveler through the desert is at times forced to drink water from shallows or from wells that are strongly loaded with magnesium or other salts. It is perfectly possible that in each station there were piles of blocks of mineral salt stacked up. The adjective chondros, “coarse, unground,” which is applied to grains that have not been milled, is used by Herodotus to describe mineral salt. But when Herodotus states that from each heap of salt there springs a gush of water, he is probably collapsing the preceding information with the information that in the desert the water of many sources is so loaded with minerals that a circle of salts forms all around the spring. Tozer pours scorn on the historian by observing that the oases are not salt-hills, which is something that Herodotus did not say.

Herodotus concludes (IV 198) his description of Africa with these words: “I have now mentioned all the Libyans whose names I am acquainted with. Most of them, at the time of which I write, cared nothing for the king of Persia, any more than they do today.” Herodotus had before him a map drawn in the age of king Darius: From his description of Africa it can be inferred that the map stopped at longitude 938扙, just west of Carthage and just west of the land of the Atlantes. The map included a set of three sheets, that is, a unit of 2136 minutes west of the Main Axis of Egypt, equal to, the distance between this axis and the Axis of the world at Persepolis. The Persian mapping of the world is linked with the sense of having the mission to embrace the Oikoumene in an empire; this desire prompts Herodotus remark that the map extends beyond the limits of Persian power. It may have been the Persians desire to complete the map of the world that stimulated their Carthaginian friends to send the expedition of Hanno and Himilko. Certainly the map was completed before the fall of the Persian Empire, because Ptolemy抯 geography of northern Europe contains sets of extremely accurate data, which the Greeks and Romans seems to have been able to compute.

References

  1. The translation of Hanno uses the same wording, gê theriodês, “land of the wild beasts,” in referring to the zone of the Atlas. I have suggested that the Semitic name of this area was Arambi.
  2. His account is included in the famous collection of Navigazioni e Viaggi of Giambattista Ramusio.
  3. For instance, J. T. Wheeler in his The Geography of Herodotus (London, 1854), p. 569 asserted that Herodotus was describing a trade route going from Fezzan south toward the Sudan, and charged the historian with being confused for referring to the chain of the Atlas.
  4. Some commentators have tried to use their ingenuity to explain how Herodotus could have come to conceive the whimsical notion that around the salt mine there were houses built of salt blocks; one suggests that it was a marble quarry. But the geographer Ibn Battuta who visited Terhazza in 1352 A.D. depicts it as “an unattractive village with the curious feature that the houses and the mosques are built of blocks of salt.”
  5. The Voyages of Cadamosto, (The Hakluyt Society: London, 1937), pp. 21-23.
  6. Guide of the Touring Club Italiano. The Guide remarks as a peculiarity that Ghat is on the latitude of Tunis (1011扙.), but more exactly it should have said on the latitude of Carthage.