Pre-Islamic Dry-Stone Monuments of the Central and Western Sahara

Reference work entry

Abstract

Saharan dry-stone monuments are important cultural markers: not only do they highlight the boundaries of the areas occupied by different prehistoric populations, but they also reveal information about the rites and beliefs of Holocene Saharan populations. As climate deteriorated in the Middle Holocene, ways of life changed, with indirect impacts on the architecture of the monuments and on the way they were oriented. Tens of thousands of recorded monuments, of various types, allow us to understand what the orientation rules were and how they changed with location. Data compiled for the eleven types of monuments reveal that many monuments of the central Sahara and Tibesti were probably aligned toward the rising sun or moon, that three types of the Atlantic Sahara show instead a random distribution, and that monuments with a pan-Saharan distribution have a complex orientation pattern. A correlation or orientation with key landscape features is likely for three monument types, coexisting with criteria based on lunisolar alignment.

Keywords

Migration Holocene Azimuth Burial Libya 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RéaumontFrance

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