An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Traditions
Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
EGYPT & THE SAHARA
(From the "Libyana" site: see below)
Since Robert Graves and others argue that Medusa and her Gorgon sisters originated in Libya (Neith, one of the earliest Egyptian goddesses, also seems to have come from Libya -- in ancient times, Libyans and the Delta peoples of Egypt seem to have mingled freely), it isn't surprising that Greece's Amazon mythology might draw from northern Africa as well as Turkey. This engrossing site is on African Amazons, the probable ancestors of contemporary Berber (Amazigh, or Free People, is their name for themselves) and Tuareg peoples.
The site is a little difficult to navigate so just click on all hypertext available (including "cap" on the opening page). There's a page full of Amazons as they were portrayed in ancient Greek art; there's another on Tin Hinan, an ancient Tuareg queen so revered that the gold in her tomb was never looted; there's a page on the Berbers, another on the Tuareg, another on ancient language and art from the Sahara. A trial membership to this group is offered -- with it you get free downloads of ancient art as well as translated texts concerning the Amazons.http://www.arab.net/libya/culture/la_berbers.html
The next eight very brief sites on North Africa's indigenous Berbers are taken from the huge Arab Net. Since they are mixed in with a great many other pages and often hard to find, I have collected the URL's to save you the trouble of trying to locate them. This first page gives basic information on the Berbers of Libya, their old hostility to Arabs, and their underground "troglodyte" style of architecture. [Note: these sites all have a search engine.]http://www.arab.net/algeria/history/aa_early.html
This Arab Net page looks at the role of Berbers in Algerian history, beginning c.8000 BCE. Especially tantalizing is a brief mention of Kahina, a Berber high priestess who claimed conversion to Judaism and opposed the Arab conquest in the 7th century AD.http://www.arab.net/mauritania/history/ma_bafours.html
This Arab Net half-page is on the Berbers and Bafours (another ancient people) of Mauritania. The site gives a very brief summary of highlights from the Neolithic (when the Sahara region was more fertile) to medieval times.http://www.arab.net/mauritania/culture/ma_people.html
Another Arab Net site on Mauritania, where Moors account for 75% of the population. The ancestry of Moors is mixed Berber, African, and Arab.http://www.arab.net/mauritania/culture/ma_traditions.html
Another Arab Net site on Mauritania -- it only has three brief, terse, sad sentences.http://www.arab.net/morocco/culture/mo_people.html
This interesting Arab Net page on the Berbers of Morocco has more substance than most of the other pages.http://www.arab.net/morocco/history/mo_invaders.html
This is another interesting Arab Net page on Morocco's indigenous Berbers. It traces those who invaded their territory, starting with the Phoenicians in the 12th century BCE, then others, including Romans, Vandals, and Arabs.http://www.arab.net/morocco/culture/mo_pottery.html
Finally, this Arab Net site is on Moroccan pottery, including its lovely glazes from cobalt-rich rocks, and the dying art of finding such rocks. Berbers aren't specifically mentioned but are among those artists who have passed down these traditions for centuries. This ceramic art isn't designated as "sacred," but most traditional arts come out of a worldview in which the materials being used are intimately connected to "spirits," "forces," "powers." For this reason, and also because I personally found the site fascinating, I'm including it here.
"Images of Daily Life in Morocco": this is a site with dozens of great color slides taken in Morocco by Professor James Miller, a geographer at Clemson University. His accompanying descriptions are excellent (e.g., read the one for a slide near the beginning called "A very hip Berber guy").http://www.worldlynx.net/tamazgha/index_eng.html
This is a collection of resources on North Africa with a specific focus on the Amazigh (Berbers). There's a great deal here if you have time to browse but I found the categories somewhat jumbled. Thus, I'm providing a direct link below to the Tuareg, whose linguistic roots are related to the Berber's.....http://www.worldlynx.net/tamazgha/imucagh.html#anchor319607
....From the above, this site (in English and French) looks at the tragedy of the contemporary Tuareg, trapped between hostile governments in the five countries in which they currently live. If you back up from the point at which this address is "anchored," you'll find further data on human rights violations against these people. If you continue to scroll down from this anchor-point, you'll find two essays detailing more facts on the Tuareg's plight. At the end is an extensive bibliography (45 resources), but it's all in French.
NOTE: I'm including this site because I find it unethical to explore indigenous peoples' lore and traditional arts without at the same time providing data (where available) on how close to extinction many of these peoples are. Hopefully, this will help to nurture little cells of activism on the web.http://www.ee.umd.edu/~sellami/AVoice.html
This is the home page of the "Amazigh Voice," a quarterly Newsletter of the Amazigh Cultural Association in America (in Philadelphia). Although the site hasn't been updated since 1996, this is due to lack of time, not interest, and the site remains active. This page offers access to the first two issues of the Newsletter so you might wish to browse at will. The followings link will take you to three specific papers, one from June 1995, and two from the December 1995-March 1996 issue.....http://www.ee.umd.edu/~sellami/JUNE95/morocco1.html
....First: this essay, "Reflections on the Amazigh Consciousness in Morocco" by Ahmen El Asser, includes a story in which an Amazigh leader consults an elderly Jew in the 7th century as the invading Arabs sweep ever closer to water-rich Amazigh lands. The essay moves from the people's plight 13 centuries ago to their current situation.http://www.ee.umd.edu/~sellami/DEC95/culture.html
....Second: "A Window on the Amazigh Culture in Algeria" by Amar Bensaid is a good summary of a 1995 lecture given at New Orleans' Tulane University by Algerian sociologist, Professor Tassadit Yacine (a bibliography includes her works, but they're all in French). Yacine spoke on historical, ethnic, cultural, and political issues in Algeria and North Africa.http://www.ee.umd.edu/~sellami/DEC95/review2.html
....Third: "Cultural Apartheid in North Africa" by Zighen Aym discusses the 1980 riots known as "Berber Spring." In an eerie, tragic mismatch between past and present, they began when the government abruptly cancelled a March 1980 conference on ancient Berber poetry by Berber writer and anthropologist, Mouloud Mammeri.http://www.maghreb.net/writers/index.htm
This is a site created by graduate students at SUNY-Binghampton and devoted to the literature, old and new, of the "Maghreb" (i.e., North Africa). Many of the books mentioned are only in French, but the site also provides data on books that have been translated into English, including Mother of Spring, about pre-Islamic Berber life. Links to various countries in the region are also provided (unfortunately, even minimal annotation is missing for these links but I did check most of them and took the relevant ones for my own site). The site also offers access to Maghreb university programs and academic conferences. I found the need for side-to-side scrolling somewhat awkward, but the site is worth the trouble.http://quic.queensu.ca/~hassan/libya/libya.html
This is Libya's Home Page. It gives useful tourist information and, here and there, a bit of ancient history. A number of "slide shows" on various aspects of the country (e.g., 12 slides on "Ancient History," and 10 on "The Sahara") show what a beautiful land this is but the absence of labels on most of the fine photos is frustrating. If you keep following hypertexts, more history emerges, but you really have to piece much of it together. Especially disappointing is a "slide show" on "Libyan Folklore and People" -- here the lack of any meaningful text is a serious flaw.
This is "Libyana," a cultural site run by lovers of Libyan culture. This is a classy, impressive, huge, yet easy-to-navigate site....
In the "History" area, you'll find an amazingly detailed list of historical contents (the ones I checked were all written in 1987).
If you click on the "People" area, you'll find a great section on Berbers, including wonderful old B&W and color photographs from National Geographic issues published in 1924, 1925 and 1930.
In the "Art" area, you'll find intriguing works by contemporary artists; in "Crafts," are lovely images of traditional Libyan jewelry; in "Music," are clips from contemporary Libyan music, some influenced by Berber music (unfortunately, I couldn't get the music downloads to work for me). You could spend a good deal of time exploring this lovely site. Below is a direct connection to a page from Libyana's "History" area....http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ly0013)
....This is called "Early History" and fills in some of the gaps left by previous sites on the ancient peoples of North Africa. If you go back to Libyana's site (see just above this one) and click on the "History" area, you'll find a good essay just prior to this and another just after it. At times, the data seems a bit dated, but it's generally solid.
Links to the Links/Multiple Category Sites/Mythology/Religious Beliefs&Practices/
Start of EGYPT & THE SAHARA
(from here you can get to the opening AFRICA page)
This page created with Netscape Gold
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright 1998-2997 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
5 December 2007: format tweeking -- no time to check links.