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Re: SV: [ANE-2] Re: Re: Living in the desert

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  • Ariel L. Szczupak
    ... That s probably a gross figure. The net figure would be what was left after the water was boiled to make tea ... :) ... What tour? The part of crossing the
    Message 1 of 53 , Jun 3, 2007
      At 02:39 PM 6/3/2007, Niels Peter Lemche wrote:

      >To put things in relief, an English soldier during the desert war (WW
      >II) needed 25 litres of water a day, or so I have heard.

      That's probably a gross figure. The net figure would be what was left
      after the water was boiled to make tea ... :)

      >Believe it
      >after my fourteen litres in a day in Petra some years ago. Soldiers can
      >also travel longer because they may carry their provision, including
      >water, with them.
      >But didn't this start as a discussion about whether or not Palmyra was
      >on a main caravan route already in the MB age? I thing I never got an
      >answer. And if we take nomadism before the introduction of the camel,
      >water supplies should be enough to feed perhaps comprehensive flocks of
      >animals, who also needed time to find food.
      >It has been as if this discussion was aiming of refuting what most
      >people working with nomadism have formerly agreed on.
      >If I am not absolutely wrong, it is also interesting that Hebrew midbar
      >"desert" may etymologically have to do with gazing land, steppe, and not
      >desert in the Lawrence of Arabia fashion.
      >By the way, Lawrence's tour via the Nefud (wadi Sirhan) to Aqaba is also
      >indicating something.

      What tour? The part of crossing the Nafud in the movie is indeed
      impressive and I never tire of watching it again. But the story in
      the book ("The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom") is different. I don't recall
      if the Nafud part is very different in the book or is simply not
      there at all. But I when I first read the book (which was after being
      "imprinted" by the movie) I checked on the Nafud, feeling cheated by
      the book :( Checking now quickly ... here:

      From http://countrystudies.us/saudi-arabia/15.htm

      "Three great deserts isolate Najd from north, east, and south as the
      Red Sea escarpment does from the west. In the north, the An
      Nafud--sometimes called the Great Nafud because An Nafud is the term
      for desert--covers about 55,000 square kilometers at an elevation of
      about 1,000 meters. Longitudinal dunes--scores of kilometers in
      length and as much as ninety meters high, and separated by valleys as
      much as sixteen kilometers wide--characterize the An Nafud. Iron
      oxide gives the sand a red tint, particularly when the sun is low.
      Within the area are several watering places, and winter rains bring
      up short-lived but succulent grasses that permit nomadic herding
      during the winter and spring."

      I have no idea if the site above is reliable or not, but what it says
      about the Nafud is consistent with what I found out back then - that
      the Nafud is not as dry and deadly as the movie makes it to be.

      And the term "nomadic" is a little too vague because you have
      Bedouins, Mongols, Gypsies, etc - all of them "nomads". The one
      culture that we know that has been living in these NE deserts for
      centuries are better termed semi-nomads, and are
      hunters/gatherers/herders/raiders - all at the same time.

      I'm not trying to refute some agreed upon notions about ANE desert
      nomadism, because I haven't come across such agreed upon notions.
      I've seen everything from ideas even more romantic than in "Lawrence
      of Arabia" (the movie) to ideas that use as much hard science as
      possible. But it all comes back to the basic problem - there being
      very little direct evidence of what, if at all, people were doing in
      those deserts during ANE periods before, roughly, the middle of the 1st mbc.

      And strange things do happen in deserts. I caught today another part
      of that BBC documentary on the crocodiles. Apparently these
      crocodiles in Mauritania have developed a unique survival strategy in
      which they aestivate for nearly half a year in very deep burrows
      (15-20 meters). Young crocodile hatchlings, instead of making their
      first journey to the nearby river, cross parched land to the nearest
      burrow. The crocs come out of those burrows only when the rains have
      started and temporary shallow lakes are formed.

      If anything, I think there shouldn't be "agreed upon" notions, or
      "magical" numbers. Each case should be examined for its own merits -
      what kind of group, what were they trying to accomplish, what do we
      know about the conditions in that specific area at that specific period, etc.

      And the importance of camels is exaggerated. I didn't check exact
      percentages of surface area, but significant parts of the NE deserts
      are rugged, hilly terrain where camels suck as transport animals.


      [100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]

      Ariel L. Szczupak
      AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
      POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91401
      Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203
    • finckean
      Listers may be interested in the folowing article from today s www.nytimes.com: Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
      Message 53 of 53 , Jun 19, 2007
        Listers may be interested in the folowing article from today's
        Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile
        Published: June 19, 2007
        On the periphery of history in antiquity, there was a land known as
        Kush. Overshadowed by Egypt, to the north, it was a place of
        uncharted breadth and depth far up the Nile, a mystery verging on
        myth. One thing the Egyptians did know and recorded — Kush had gold.
        Skip to next paragraph
        Slide Show
        A Lost Kingdom on the Nile

        Gist of the article is that scholars from U. Chicago are - and have
        been all year - working frantically to recover evidence about the
        lost kingdom of Kush (2000-1500 BC) that - despite having neither a
        writing system nor bureaucracy - flourished as a gold-producing
        megalith between the first and fourth catartacts and farther south.
        A new dam around the fourth cataract threatens to turn the area into
        a lake.
        Andrew Fincke
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