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Ancient Libyan civilisation arouses interest

Muammar Gaddafi was fond of insisting on the links between his republic and sub-Saharan Africa. He was less interested, however, in celebrating the black African civilisation that flourished for more than 1,500 years within what are now Libya’s borders, and that was barely acknowledged in the Gaddafi-era curriculum.

world Updated: Nov 08, 2011 01:06 IST

Muammar Gaddafi was fond of insisting on the links between his republic and sub-Saharan Africa. He was less interested, however, in celebrating the black African civilisation that flourished for more than 1,500 years within what are now Libya’s borders, and that was barely acknowledged in the Gaddafi-era curriculum.

Now, however, researchers into the Garamantes - a “lost” Saharan civilisation - are hoping that Libya’s new government can restore the warrior culture, mentioned by Herodotus in his Histories, to its rightful place in Libya’s history.

It has been prompted by new research - including through the use of satellite imaging - which suggests that the Garamantes built more extensively and spread their culture more widely than previously thought.

The research has confirmed the view of Herodotus that the Garmantes were a “very great nation”.

Describing the recent finds as “extraordinary” in a paper, Professor David Mattingly of the University of Leicester argues that the discoveries demonstrate that substantial trade across the Sahara long pre-dated the Islamic era.