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Ancient Civilization in the Sahara
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:55 pm    Post subject: Ancient Civilization in the Sahara Reply with quote

I was looking around for the story of an Isis related artifact when I came across this story
Quote:
RABAT (Reuters) - The remains of a prehistoric town believed to date back 15,000 years and belong to an ancient Berber civilization have been discovered in Western Sahara, Moroccan state media said on Thursday.



A team of Moroccan scientists stumbled across the sand-covered ruins of the town Arghilas deep in the desert of the Morocco-administered territory.

The remains of a place of worship, houses and a necropolis, as well as columns and rock engravings depicting animals, were found at the site near the town of Aousserd in northeastern Western Sahara.

The isolated area is known to be rich in prehistoric rock engravings but experts said the discovery could be significant if proven that the ruins were of Berber origin as this civilization is believed to date back only some 9,000 years.

"It appears that scientists have come up with the 15,000-years estimate judging by the style of the engravings and the theme of the drawings," Mustapha Ouachi, a Rabat-based Berber historian, told Reuters.


I never knew there was such a civilization in northern africa.
The article talks about a place of worship and a necropolis.
There is a gap of a couple of thousand years between these people and the Egyptians.
Egyptologists keep finding earlier and earlier evidence of egyptian history. I wonder if they could or would find a link to these people.

Anyone know more about this civilization? What kind of engravings were found?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hèhè... Came across the same thing. Smile
I don't think anything's been published yet.
Always the same with this sort of thing. Sad

I once heard though that the Berber culture shows some interesting likeness with the ancient Egyptian one. I wouldn't be sure what this is based upon though.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be interesting to see the drawings.
I wonder how the place of worship was designed. If it showed any resemblance to early egyptian temples. If it was inscribed etc.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do they have Berbers in Egypt?
I keep thinking of this experience when my mum's friend went to Morocco and was told she had 'Berber eyes' by one of the merchants...obviously a way to make her buy his jewellery!! Laughing She doesn't look like a Berber at all though...
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have berber eyes as well. Cool
I guess they mean they "change colors".
One moment I have completely blue eyes.
The other moment they're grey or green.
I could be wrong though.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She has grey-brown-hazel eyes, really hard to describe.
I don't actually know what Berber eyes look like...probably what she's got.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hazel... except for sounding like lunch, I love the colour. Smile
Getting us way off topic I'm afraid. Rolling Eyes

I'm curious about the berber-Egyptian alikes though.
I know one word only in the Rift-Berber language:
"laafikh" or fire. Wouldn't know if Egyptian actually sounds like it though.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing I've been able to find is this page about the Tuareg.
http://www.myrine.at/Berber/tuareg.html


This is a picture from Tadjedem. The scene depicts two women, the left figure carries a spear in her hand.

They go off on comparing the women to amazons.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Queen Tin Hinan (mother of the Tuaregs) has been mentioned, but I think she dates to a much later period.
One site mentioned 4th century.

This is said about her:
Quote:
In Abalessa, the ancient capital of the Hoggar region, there is the tomb of the famous Tuareg queen Tin Hinan.
About this famous ancestress of the Tuaregs following story is told: Tin Hinan came in the company of her maid-servant Takamat from Tafilalet in South Morocco to the Hoggar. There she became the first Tamenokalt (= Queen) of the Tuaregs and her fame was so great, that even today the Tuaregs call her »Mother of Us All«.


The name of the maid-servant, Takamat, sounds egyptian to me.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It reminded me more of the Kushite kings actually.

King Armantelqo (568-555 BC)
King Malonaqen (555-542 BC)
King Analmaaye (542-538 BC)
King Amani-nataki-lebte (538-519 BC)
King Irike-amanote (431-405 BC BC)
King Arnekhamani (235–218 BC)
Kandake (Queen) Shanakdakhete (170–150 BC)
King Tanyidamani (110-90 BC)
Kandake (Queen) Amanishakheto (50-40 BC)
Kandake (Queen) Amanirenas (12 BC (perhaps))
King Natekamani & Queen Amanitore (15 AD-40 AD)
King Teqeredeamani (246c - 277 AD)

Tamenokait, Takamat...
It's probably a long shot. Smile
Deserts between them.

I'm not sure about this, but I know the Tuareg have another name they appreciate more: the Imuhar. I don't know if they consider "tuareg" to be condescending, a bit like the Eskimo's are really Inuit and the Laps of Scandinavia are really Samen. I do remember seeing this film (actually called "Imuhar") at Cinema Novo, this alternative film festival in Bruges. Beautiful people, admirable, strong. Really people to be respected. But I doubt they are the same as Berbers though. They are both semi-nomads, that's for sure (the Berbers of the Atlas are more sedentary I think) but the Tuareg live more south I think, around Mali, Tsjaad even (is it Chad?).
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a fascinating piece of news! I've long known that a "culture" existed in the Sahara while it was still green (it might be going a bit far to call it a "civilisation"), but I'm surprised to hear that ruins have been discovered from so long ago. The use of the word "town" is interesting, as this word seems out of place 15,000 years ago. Do they have any idea what the population was, and were these people already cultivating grain? Also, I'd like to know if the buildings were free-standing stone structures.

There was indeed once a widespread culture in the Sahara, though it's usually considered more recent than 15,000 years. There was a fascinating documentary on Channel 5 some time ago about this culture and the mummy of a black child that was found somewhere on the borders of Libya and Chad, I think. There were also carvings that resembled the Egyptian gods. This culture was spread right across the Sahara from the Nile valley to Morocco.

One of the things that fascinated me in this documentary was that the area over which this culture was found corresponds almost exactly to the distribution of the gigantic Afroasiatic language family of which Egyptian is one branch. It's long been suspected by linguists that Afroasiatic had its origins in the Sahara when it was still green and archaeology seems to be confirming this now. Afroasiatic has 5, possibly 6 branches.

1. Egyptian, an autonomous branch in its own right.

2. Berber-Tuareg, a related group of languages/dialects spoken in the Sahara

3. Semitic, which needs no further explanation.

4. Chadic, spoken around lake Chad in Africa. Hausa is the best known language of this branch.

5. Cushitic, spoken down the coast of East Africa (as far as Tanzania), including Somali.

6?. Omotic, a group of languages spoken in southern Ethiopia (it's uncertain if these really belong to the Afroasiatic family).

As can easily be seen the most likely origin for the Afroasiatic group is North Africa. The modern languages are spoken by people of both Negro and Caucasian race and most likely the parent language was too. The proto-language, from which the groups above descend, existed around 10-12,000 years ago.

And this is were I start having difficulties with the above. 15,000 years is an incredibly long time ago. I also don't understand what is meant by "Berbers". Does this mean people of a particular race (I don't doubt that people who live in Morocco now are descended from the people who lived there then) or who spoke a particular language (impossible, since Berber-Tuareg didn't exist 15,000 years ago.)?

So I find this a fascinating piece of information, but because of the time-scale involved, I'd reserve judgement on it until more information is forthcoming.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meresankh wrote:
And this is were I start having difficulties with the above. 15,000 years is an incredibly long time ago. I also don't understand what is meant by "Berbers". Does this mean people of a particular race (I don't doubt that people who live in Morocco now are descended from the people who lived there then) or who spoke a particular language (impossible, since Berber-Tuareg didn't exist 15,000 years ago.)?

Very good point and I never stood still with what they meant with "Berbers".
I assumed they were talking about a people, ancestors to the modern day Berbers of the Atlas.

Meresankh wrote:
So I find this a fascinating piece of information, but because of the time-scale involved, I'd reserve judgement on it until more information is forthcoming.

Reserving judgement is something of a rather rare occurence on this board. Smile
It surely results in nice side-tracks and theories, but you're probably right.
Unless more of it gets known or published, all we have are theories.
I'm not enough of an expert on this, but I seem to recall you're a linguist by profession?
How close would you think these languages really are to each other?
It's obvious Semitic languages and Egyptian don't really seem comparable in vocabulary.
Maybe they are in grammar and such?

By the way: sucks being without Channel 5. Evil or Very Mad
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the similarities between Egyptian and the Semitic languages are more in the area of grammar and syntax than vocabulary. Over a long period of time, vocabulary can change quite drastically. It's believed that the parent Afroasiatic language existed 10-12,000 years ago. When you consider that the parent Indo-European language, which most languages of Europe and India are descended from, is supposed to have existed only 6,000 years ago, you can see the length of time there was for these languages to diverge from each other. Thousands of years went by before the first Afroasiatic languages came to be written down.

But similarities and differences in vocabulary can be deceptive unless you know the exact route by which sound changes occurred in a language family. Often words which seem very different can have the same origin. For instance, the English word "wheel" and the Hindi word "chakka" are both derived from the same proto-Indo-European root, although you wouldn't think it, looking at them now! You have to understand the actual process by which sound changes took place in a language in order to establish whether two words are derived from the same source or not.

Channel 5!!!!??? Well, it's vastly improved since it began! They have some very interesting programmes on there now, in fact there was an interesting one the other night about one of the British Museum's mummies. It was being X-rayed and given the full treatment. All very interesting ! Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meresankh wrote:
Yes, the similarities between Egyptian and the Semitic languages are more in the area of grammar and syntax than vocabulary. Over a long period of time, vocabulary can change quite drastically.

Do u know of any Egyptian words for instance to be related like this with Semitic languages? I've heard about a comparison between "Levy" and "Roy-Raia-Rey" for instance, but I'm not sure if that was merely based on a similar translation or really a transformation of the "L" into "R" and "vy" into "ii" or something alike (or the other way around for that matter). Smile

Meresankh wrote:
It's believed that the parent Afroasiatic language existed 10-12,000 years ago. When you consider that the parent Indo-European language, which most languages of Europe and India are descended from, is supposed to have existed only 6,000 years ago, you can see the length of time there was for these languages to diverge from each other. Thousands of years went by before the first Afroasiatic languages came to be written down.

Wow... I never realized it was that old already... I know you're talking about the "root"-language but still... That does make the "basic" Egyptian language probably a lot older than I suspected. If you look at the differences between Old, Middle, New and Late Egyptian there are already huge differences and that "only" goes for 3000 years. Hard to imagine what the effect must've been to the language during the previous 7000 years...

Meresankh wrote:
For instance, the English word "wheel" and the Hindi word "chakka" are both derived from the same proto-Indo-European root, although you wouldn't think it, looking at them now!

I don't want to be picky, but isn't English not such a good example? I mean, it's a language that originated (in its old form) less than 900 years ago, derived from French, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and even Dutch influences (hurray for the Dutch again!). Really a mingle-mangle of different languages... Hmm... I just disproved my own point I guess. That's precisely what u mean, languages evolve. Rolling Eyes

Meresankh wrote:
Channel 5!!!!??? Well, it's vastly improved since it began! They have some very interesting programmes on there now, in fact there was an interesting one the other night about one of the British Museum's mummies. It was being X-rayed and given the full treatment. All very interesting ! Smile

Hèhè, now I'm imagining you sit next to Isisinacrisis to watch the tele. Razz

Another question: Egyptian and Coptic seem to be the only languages of the Egyptian branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Is that just laziness of linguists to put them there cause they don't show enough resemblance to for instance Semitic languages and "Hey, it was spoken in Africa, let's put it in that family"? I'm hideously simplifying that, I know, but I'm just keen on knowing what precisely makes the language so familiar to the other ones of the family. I'm probably still staring myself blind on the vocabulary though.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a couple of examples from Egyptian and Semitic. You tend to find that words that begin with j- in Egyptian will begin with l- in Semitic, and both these sounds are derived from a proto-Afroasiatic l-. For instance,

heart - Egyptian, jib, Semitic, libb

colour - Egyptian,jawin, Semitic lawn

Of course it's all a bit more complex than that - for instance you also have to look at where a sound occurs in a word, what other sounds it occurs next to, and so on. But the general idea is that a relationship between languages is established on the basis of consistent sound correspondences, rather than words just sounding superficially like each other. (To give another example, you find that words which begin with wh- in English virtually always begin with qu- in Latin, and ch- in Sanskrit. All these sounds have been derived, over 6000 years from a proto-Indo-European sound kw-.)

Also, as far as vocabulary is concerned, it should be remembered that Afroasiatic would have been spoken back in the stone age, when a lot of vocabulary items for things in the later, Bronze age languages, just wouldn't have existed. These terms would have had to be made up as they were needed, out of simpler terms.


The vocabulary of English is of course something of a mixed bag nowadays (it contains some Celtic vocabulary items, and of course, a lot of French loan words from the time of the Norman invasion), but in terms of its core vocabulary and grammar, it is a Germanic language, related to German Dutch, Swedish, etc. This would be even more obviuos if you could see Old English and compare it to Old High German. These languages are all derived from a proto-Germanic language, which in itself is a descendent of Indo-European. The word "wheel" which I used as an example, can be directly traced back to Indo-European via Germanic, just as the Hindi word "chakka" can be traced back to the same root via Sanskrit.

Sorry to disappoint you but, no, linguists aren't being lazy when they assign Egyptian-Coptic to Afroasiatic Exclamation Linguists just don't work like that. Things like this are done for very precise reasons, such as consistent patterns of sound correspondences, consistent grammatical similarities and so on. The fact that Egyptian-Coptic is a branch by itself just means that they can't find enough correspondences with the other branches to establish that Egyptian-Coptic and (for example, say) Berber-Tuareg derived from a common ancestor, which itself would have been intermediary between Afroasiatic and the later languages. There's nothing very unusual in this. Greek and Albanian for instance, are both independent branches of Indo-European.

To give you an idea of some of the correspondences between the Afroasiatic languages, here are a few: a feminine formed by -at-, the use of -i to form adjectives from nouns, and roots of words consisting of two or three consonants, which can be given different meanings by altering the vowels which occur between them.


Sorry, this must be a rather long and boring post, but I thought the issues you raised needed in depth explanation. But it probably still doesn't make much sense. Tell you what, if you're interested in such things, why not see if you can get a book on historical linguistics, and take it from there? Smile
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