The Sahara: A Cultural History

  • 208 Knox Hall, Columbia University

A Talk by Author, Eamonn Gearon, Moderated by Richard Bulliet.

The Sahara is the quintessence of isolation, epitomising both remoteness and severity of environment unlike any other place on the face of the earth. From whales in the desert to the arrival of camels; chariots of the gods and the motor-cars of the colonialists; Egyptian Land of the Dead to Timbuktu; mines of salt and gold, fields of oil and gas, and a Man-Made River. From the 50,000-strong army of Cambyses, swallowed in a sandstorm in the Sixth century BC, to the US Marines first foreign engagement, in 1805, countless invaders have fought and died from the heart of the desert “to the shores of Tripoli." Larger than the continental United States, this vast area is home to just three million people: Africans and Arabs, Berber and Bedu, Tuareg and Tebu. Eamonn Gearon explores the histories and landscapes of the Sahara – literal and imagined – a place whose name is familiar to all, but known to few.