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DESERT Nature Library



by A. Straker Leopold and the Editors of TIME-LIFE BOOKS second edition


Time-Life Books Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of

TIME INCORPORATED FOUNDER: Henry R. Luce 1898-1967 Editor-in-Chief: Hedley Donovan Chairman of the Board: Andrew Heiskell President: J ames R. Shepley Vice Chairman: Roy E. Larsen Corporate Editors: Ralph Graves, Henry AnaLole Grunwald

TIME- LIFE BOOKS INC. MANAGING EDlTOR : Jerry Korn Executive Editor: David Maness Assistant Managing Editors: Dale M. Brown, Marlin Mann, John Paul Porter Art Director: Deborah Levison Chief of Research: David L. Harrison Director of Photography: Robert G. Mason Planning Director: Thomas Flaherty (acting) Senior Text Editor: Diana Hirsh Assistant Art Director: Arnold C. Holeywell Assistant Chief of Research: Carolyn L. Sackett CHAIRMAN: Joan D. Manley President: J ohn D. McSweeney Executive Vice Presidents: Cart G. Jaeger (U.S. and Canada), David J. Walsh (International) Vice President and Secretary: Paul R. Stewart Treasurer and General Manager: John Steven Maxwell Business Manager: Peter G. Barnes Sales Director: John L. Canova Public Relations Director: Nicholas Benton Personnel Director: Beatrice T. Dobie Production Director: Herbert Sorkin Consumer Affairs Director: Carol Flaumenhaft

LIFE NATURE LIBRARY STAFF FOR THE FIRST EDITION EDITOR: Maitland A. Edey Associate Editor: Richard L. Williams Assistant to the Editor: George McCue Designer: Paul J ensen Staff Writers: John MacDonald, Paul W. Schwartz, Gerald Simons Chief Researcher: Martha T. Goolrick Researchers: Judi th Bloom, Peggy Bushong, Joan Chasin, Nelson J. Darrow, Ann Eisenberg, Susan Freudenheim, Mary Ellen Murphy, Roxanna Sayre, Victor H. Waldrop STAFF FOR THE SECOND EDITION EDITOR : Rosalind Stubenberg Text Editor: Lee Greene Staff Writer: Teresa M. C. R. Pruden Researcher: Susan V. Kelly

EDITORIAL PRODUCTION Production Editor: Douglas B, Graham Operations Manager: Gennaro C. Esposito Assistant Production Editor: Feliciano Madrid Quality Control: Robert L. Young (director ), James C. Cox (assistant), Michael G. Wight (associate) Art Coordinator: Anne B. Landry Copy Staff: Susan B. Galloway (chief ), Florence Keith, Celia Beattie Picture Department: Dolores A. Littles, Marguerite Johnson The text for the chapters of this book was written by A. Starker Leopold, the text for the picture essays by the editorial staff. The following individuals of Time Inc. helped to produce the book: photographers Eliot Elisofon, Fritz Goro and Dmitri Kessel. CORRESPONDENTS: Elisabeth Kraemer (Bonn); Margot Hapgood, Dorothy Bacon (London); Susan Jonas, Lucy T. Voulgaris (New York); Maria Vincenza Aloisi, Josephine du Brusle (Paris); Ann Natanson (Rome). Valuable assistance was also provided by Carolyn T. Chubet, Miriam Hsia (New York ).

A STRAKER LEOPOLD is the son of the famous Wisconsin naturalist Aldo Leopold, and like his father he has devoted his life to natural history. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he continued his studies at the Yale Forestry School and the University of California, Berkeley. Despite his academic responsibilities, Dr. Leopold has managed to spend extended periods in the wild. He is a lifelong devotee of hunting and camping and has been on many zoological field trips in the United States and elsewhere, including one to Laysan Island to study the Laysan duck, an almost extinct species found only on this atoll. He has a fondness for deserts and a wide knowledge of the plant and animal relationships that make desert ecology such a fascinating study. In addition to various scientific papers, he is the author of Wildlife of Mexico, Wildlife in Alaska and California Quail.

Rationale When re-designing The Desert part of the Time/Life series of nature and science books, I updated my book both aesthetically and through content. Focusing mostly in the Saharan region in the image chapters, I was able to visually describe many areas such as “The Arab World” which is constantly in today’s headlines. This provided an interesting juxtaposition between the aesthetic that I was trying to achieve while knowing of the political and social distress of the area. Through my design, I wanted to reinforce the idea of scarcity and dryness. The color palette was mostly neutral, warm colors with hints of eroded textures. When working with the text, I chose to open up the pages via white space giving life to the idea of expansive space seen in deserts.


Scorched Belts on the Earth

Man Against Desert



The Creation of Deserts


Plants Under the Sun


The World of Desert Animals


Water: The Eternal Problem


Life Patterns in Arid Lands


The Desert Tamed

1 Scorched Belts on the Earth M

ost of the people on this earth dwell in its moister climates, which are the most hospitable to life. Most of them have never ventured into a desert, or wanted to. For in folklore the arid areas that cover a seventh of the globe’s land surface are a forbidding wasteland—sun-seared and wind-scoured, waterless and endless, empty of shelter and, except for venomous creatures lurking under the rocks, largely devoid of life. The legendary image of the desert is an utterly hostile one. In actuality, man learned long ago how to surmount most of the perils and discomforts of desert existence. Some primitive peoples live out their lives without ever knowing about any other environment. The prospector leading his burro and the Bedouin on his camel have prowled the most remote of the dry regions. Modern transport has made desert travel more casual. Airways and highways parallel the ancient caravan trails, and industries, vacationers and home builders have infiltrated the desert’s fringes.

Scorched Belts on the Earth

No N orth rth rt Amer Am eric ican an Desseert De rt


Tropic of Cancer

Equator Attac A a ca acam am ma

Tropic of Capricorn



hose who know the desert respect it as knowing sailors respect the sea. Without for a moment minimizing its dangers, they find it a place of great fascination and also of great beauty. The stark landscape is the abode of an astonishing variety of plants and animals, which by elaborate adaptation of structure or behavior are able to thrive in conditions of extreme heat and dryness. The topography itself, unobscured by any heavy mantle of vegetation, discloses some of the planet’s boldest architecture. And when a rare fall of rain does soak the crackled soil, the brief bloom of wild flowers on tinted earth is a flamboyant spectacle. The deserts where all this goes on are not scattered at random but are mostly distributed around the globe in two discontinuous belts, one in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern,


roughly centered along the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. For the most part, neither bends closer to the equator than 15 degrees or farther from it than 40 degrees. One useful standard for sorting out what is really desert and what is not, within these belts and elsewhere, is the climatic classification system for all the world’s ecologic formations—deserts, steppes, grasslands, forests and so on—arbitrarily set in 1918 by Dr. Wladimir Koppen of the University of Graz in Austria. Temperature and precipitation figures are combined mathematically in the Koppen system to establish the boundaries of “ vegetative distributions” for various geographical purposes. “Koppen deserts,” characterized by less than 10 inches of annual rainfall and generally high temperatures, amount to 14 per

Tu T urrkkes kesta esta es tan THE DESERTS: THEIR LOCATIONS AND CAUSES

Ta T akl akl kla M Ma aka aka kan I nia Irani ian

Ind In Indi diian ia an n

Go G obi bi


Ka K a ala lla a aha ha h a ari Na N ami mib ib


cent of the earth’s 56 million square miles of land area. “Koppen steppes,” with about 10 to 20 inches of annual rainfall, and high daily and annual temperature ranges, comprise an additional 14 per cent. Thus the combined desert and steppe areas, all of the arid and semiarid regions, add up in about equal parts to 16 million square miles. In order of size, these are the dozen major desert regions that occupy one square mile out of ever seven on earth: The Sahara, by Koppen or any other standards, is the biggest: it stretches across the whole 3,20o-mile width of North Africa, and its 3.5 million square miles are almost as large as all 50 of the United States. But most of the desert interior’s lower altitudes average less than an inch of rainfall a year. The Australian Desert’s most striking feature is the large part

The World’s deserts and the climatic forces that cause them are shown on the map to the right. In general, the earth’s arid regions lie in narrow belts that straddle the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Carpicorn. In these areas, the prevailing winds warm and absorb water readily. Along the western rims of the continents, the onshore winds, which create heavy rainfall in other latitudes, lose water as they are cooled by ocean currents—or give up in the form of snow or rain over high coastal mountains. Deserts also lie in the lee of inland mountains or deep in the interiors of continents. Winds have usually dropped most of their moisture before reaching these parched areas.

of the parent continent that it occupies—44 per cent compared to 5 per cent for the deserts of North America. With an average of five inches of rain a year in its driest places, the 1.3 million-square-mile Australian Desert is not nearly as intensely arid as the Sahara. The Arabian covers nearly a million square miles of the Arabian peninsula, and about a third of this is covered with sand, a greater fraction than in any other desert. It has another distinction, a complete absence of permanent rivers originating in it or flowing across it. There are no wellwatered mountains to serve as river sources. The Turkestan, a desert of three quarters of a million square miles in southwest Russia, is dwarfed by the vast and more productive steppes adjoining it. Agriculture remains precariously


Scorched Belts on the Earth

Tropical Rainforest

Humid Subtropical

balanced here, where man has struggled against aridity through centuries of turbulent history. The desert’s western border is the Caspian Sea, which almost went dry 6,000 years ago and was refilled when the Near East began to get more rainfall in the millennium or two before the Christian era. Today, looking down through 10 feet of water, one can see the foundations of a community built on the Caspian’s shores in drier prehistoric times.

T Dry Subtropical



ANNUAL RAINFALL in five typical climates of the world is illustrated above. Each drop equals one inch of rain. The figures are based on averages taken over a period of a year.


he North American includes nearly 500,000 square miles of strangely varied landscape in the western United States and northwestern Mexico. The desert has four major divisions: the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. Most of the Great Basin Desert, named for the basin between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada-Cascade ranges, is steppe or semidesert. In southern Nevada and western Utah it becomes a true desert, merging gradua lly with the Mojave of southeastern California. The Mojave is actuall y a small transition area between the Great Basin and the Sonoran Desert to the south. The Sonoran is the desert most familiar to Americans, stretching from southeast California across southern Arizona into the southwest corner of New Mexico, and onward into Sonora and Baja California in Mexico. The Chihuahuan lies to the east of the great Sierra Madre Occidental, spreading north into southwest Texas, southern New Mexico and the southeast corner of Arizona. The Patagonian (260,000 square miles) of Argentina has a place name too well-established for it to be changed, but the fact is that most of the true Argentine desert, as opposed to grassland, occurs to the north in what is called the Monte. This desert east of the Andes looks strikingly like the Sonoran, 4 ,000 miles away, because they share many identical plant species. The Thar (230,000 square miles) in western India and Pakistan, also known as the Great Indian Desert, lies to the east of the Indus River. The wet air flow of the summer monsoon passes nearby, to the east, without dropping rain on the Thar. The Indus Valley was the home of thriving civilizations 4 ,000 to 5,000 years ago.

Cities like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa had oversize street drains and baths in most houses, and it is quite possible that the Indus Valley shared the monsoon downpours at that time and declined into a desert after a shift in the wind direction. The Kalahari in southern Africa covers 220,000 arid square miles with a much greater area of grassland blending into it. The Kalahari extends west to the often foggy coastal desert known as the Namib, a close analogue of the more famous Atacama-Peruvian Desert.    The Takla Makan (200,000 square miles) in Sinkiang Province of western China is landlocked, far from any moisture source. It merges with great semiarid regions to the northwest and in Mongolia, wherein lies the famed Gobi, a high and barren grassland steppe. The Iranian (150,000 square miles) of old Persia is small as true deserts go, yet it boasts some of the world’s highest sand dunes, over 700 feet in height. In and near this desert are many traces of Neolithic men, the world’s first agriculturalists, and of later, powerful empires. The evidence for any recent climatic change here is not conclusive, but there are abundant signs in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East that man’s misuse of land has desolated fertile areas and let the deserts encroach. The Atacama-Peruvian in Chile and Peru is , with I40,000 square miles, the smallest of all, and has the least precipitation of all—less than half an inch a year on the average. The coastal edge of the desert is extremely foggy. Even though the moisture does not condense as rain, plants and animals manage to utilize some of it and would be scarcer without it. The most obvious common characteristic of all these regions is aridity, which is generally defined as an annual rainfall of inches or less. In addition to dry winds, complex physiographic barriers (such as coastal mountain ranges) keep the rain away, but they are not totally effective; some rain falls on all desert lands, though it may not fall every year. There are spots in Baja California that go rainless four or five years in a row, and the hamlet of Dakhla in the Sahara went I I years without a trace of rain, though its average is five inches annually. Such an average is

often the product of rare, unpredictable downpours; thus Baghdad may get two years’ quota of rain in one overnight drenching, and vagrant clouds may spill rain onto parts of central Australia only once or twice in a decade. In the low and middle latitudes where most deserts lie, there are nevertheless well-defined winter and summer seasons attended by relative wetness and dryness, coolness and heat. In areas with the Mediterranean

type of climate- dry summers and moist, mild winters such as Southern California and North Africa, the rains come in winter. Here, as in milder regions, springtime is the lush season for plants to bloom and for animals to rear their young. In the typical continental climate of central Mexico (strong seasonal contrasts, highly variable weather), the precipitation comes in the form of summer thundershowers, and the flowering of desert life occurs in late summer and early fall.

Scorched Belts on the Earth

THE CACTUS has only shallow roots, but they suck in quantities of surface moisture and store it in the plant’s thick body, to be doled out to the living cells during droughts.


long with sparse rainfall, the deserts are characterized by high heat. The sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere and warm the ground to an extent impossible in moister places, where clouds, grass and water deflect a great deal of solar heat. The highest temperature ever recorded on earth, 136.4 degrees in the shade, was measured at Azizia, in the Libyan sector of the Sahara. Summer temperatures of 120 degrees are a desert commonplace—and the surface of the ground often gets 30 to 50 degrees hotter than the air. Moisture in the air forms an effective insulating blanket over most of the earth’s surface. But the dearth of moisture in deserts allows their daytime heat to dissipate quickly at night. After a blazing summer day the temperature may drop 50 degrees or more. The desert’s nighttime coolness is an important factor in the survival of plants and animals. Altitude and latitude dictate differences in desert climate. The greater the elevation above sea level, or the greater the distance from the equator, the colder a desert will be. (Roughly, 1,000 feet of altitude is equivalent to 300 miles in the direction of the nearer Pole.) Thus the low-lying southern Sahara, near the equator, is the hottest, and the high Gobi of Mongolia, well north of the Tropic of Cancer, is the coldest. Interestingly, there are much colder areas near both Poles that are arid enough to qualify as deserts. There is


plenty of moisture on hand, but because of the cold, more complex plants cannot grow. Desert soils tend to be heavily impregnated with the salts of sodium, potassium and other soluble minerals that are periodically brought to the desert plains by water flowing down from mountains. In humid climates, rain percolating through the soil leaches or dissolves such surface minerals, and works them deep into the ground or carries them off to rivers and streams. But in the desert, where potential evaporation greatly exceeds the actual rainfall, minerals may even move upward with the moisture that is sucked up to the surface by capillary action. Consequently, a certain class of minerals exists in the desert specifically because of the aridity. Depending on the minerals present, the desert may be abundantly fertile, as in California’s Imperial Valley, or nearly barren, as in the Great Salt Desert of Utah. In some desert basins, supersaturated with salts remaining from old dried-out lake beds, the trapped minerals are a rich resource for mining. Potash to fertilize other lands comes from the salt flats of Utah and the Dead Sea, borax and gypsum from the Mojave, nitrates from the Atacama. And on the desert islands off the coast of Peru, mineral wealth of another kind has accumulated for centuries. Cormorants, gannets and other oceanic birds nest there in prodigious numbers, feeding on the rich sea life of the chilly Peru Current. Thanks to the

absence of rain, their droppings have built up deposits of guano, rich in soluble nitrates and phosphates, which have provided Peru with a principal source of income for many years. An even greater bounty lies deeper beneath the desert surface. Scattered around the deserts of the world are some fabulously rich mines- silver in northern Mexico, copper in Nevada and Chile, uranium in Utah and New Mexico, diamonds in South Africa. Many of the world’s greatest oil fields are found in the arid regions of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States. The greatest trove of all may be the Sahara, whose rocky fastnesses hold at least 39 billion barrels of oil plus hundreds of millions of tons of iron ore.


n the unique desert environment, highly specialized forms of plant life have evolved, adapting themselves in one way or another to the drought that forever threatens their extinction. Many annual grasses, herbs and weeds cope with the problem by avoiding it; they survive in the form of seeds that lie dormant in the soil awaiting rain. Tough seed coats protect the living cells until the rain brings germination. Then the plant quickly matures, blooms and casts a new crop of seeds to the ground. The perennial plants, which must stay alive through seasons or years of drought, make the most remarkable adaptations. Perennials populate the desert thinly, with much bare ground between

them. Their spacing and size are the result of fierce competition by roots for the meager water in the soil. Each desert perennial, however spaced, must gather and save the available soil water. The creosote bushes and the other shrubs have widespread shallow roots, to gather surface moisture from rain, and deep taproots to seek moist layers far underground. Their sparse foliage is usually leathery or waxy, to reduce evaporation from leaf surfaces. The cactus, on the other hand, has only shallow roots, but they suck in quantities of surface moisture and store it in the plant’s thick body, to be doled out to the living cells during droughts. After the fashion of cacti, some desert trees, like the elephant tree of Baja California, have thick, pulpy trunks to use as water reservoirs. Many plants store their water underground in roots or bulbs; their tops may die after the growing season but life is preserved in the underground organs. Other species shed their leaves in drought, cutting evaporation to a minimum. A desert landscape often displays all these plant types together bulbous cacti, withered-looking shrubs, leafless stems of ocotillo, dead tops of perennial bunch grasses and bulb plants—all dealing with the threat of aridity successfully but in very different ways. Animals have adapted to desert conditions too. To combat aridity, ants, termites and rodents burrow beneath the ground at depths where the humidity is high. Some animals, like the camel,


Scorched Belts on the Earth

produce water from body fat when drinking water is unavailable, while others reduce the amount of water lost through sweating or excretion. Many desert creatures do not need to drink, and some can live without food for months, even years. In order to survive the desert’s burning heat, most animals limit their activities to the cool hours of the night, early morning or evening. Nearly all the desert’s birds and mammals do this; they can be nocturnal in habit as well as crepuscular-active at dawri and dusk. A desert that appears to be devoid of animals during the scorching heat of midday comes to life with the coolness of late afternoon and evening. As the shadows lengthen, the reptiles make their appearance first. Lizards begin scuttling over the ground, gathering a supper of the insects that are moving out of their shelters. Then the birds start to stir, calling softly at first from their sheltered perches but soon actively foraging. A thrasher darts from one clump of brush to another. A saucy cactus wren pours forth its song from the crown of a cholla, proclaiming this thorny home to be its own. Gambel quail appear along the sandy washes, scratching in the ground for buried seeds. Then flycatchers, desert sparrows, tiny verdins and mourning doves all become active. The mammals are generally last to emerge. Ground squirrels often forage along with the birds, and a lanky jack rabbit may be seen sitting quietly in the shade of a rock; but the burrowing rodents await the late dusk to come out of their underground shelters. Now, too, the bats wing from dark desert caves, gathering high-flying


insects from the blue-black sky. The owls and carnivores, which feed on the rodents, are among the last to become active. Through the starry night the desert is astir with the activities of the mammals, the few night birds and the snakes that feed largely on the mammals. In the morning the sequence is reversed. Mammals retreat to their hiding places. Most lizards await the warmth of the rising sun to heat their bodies so they can move quickly while feeding. By the time they have fed, the birds have quieted and moved to sheltered perches. Everyone rests through the hottest part of the desert day: no animal is adapted to remain active then.


ike plant life, animal life is naturally more abundant and varied in deserts of higher rainfall. The animals’ welfare, however, depends primarily on the vegetation and is only indirectly related to precipitation. The chain of life on the desert, then, is regulated by available water, which governs the growth of plants, which in turn governs the welfare of animals. This relationship easily explains the profusion of life around a desert oasis, where water is always available. There is plenty of mineral fertility in the soil, plenty . of sunshine, plenty of warmth, and the wet situations burgeon with organic life. The contrast is the more dramatic because of the apparent poverty of life in the surrounding desert. The Edenlike effect is equally striking in a palm oasis of the Sahara, a fan-palm canyon in the Sonoran, or a “park” in the forlorn outback of Australia.

The arid soils not only can produce in great quantity, but perhaps more important, their crops are more nutritive and richer in quality than similar ones grown on moister soils from which chemicals may have been leached out by rain. Some of the best alfalfa hay in North America comes from central Nevada fields irrigated with water from the Humboldt River. The hay is sold at premium prices to feed race horses and fine thoroughbred cattle.


he high nutritive value of desert grass and browse has always attracted herdsmen and stockmen. They, along with hunters and farmers, have eked out an existence in the arid and semiarid zones for centuries. But today survival in and around the desert has become more difficult : the deserts are growing more barren, while the semiarid grasslands are turning into sand. Deserts existed tens of millions of years before man, and their boundaries have often been shifted by climate changes. Periodic droughts always have been a harsh fact of life in semiarid lands. But since the forces of heat, wind and water created the original deserts millions of years ago, human activities have caused 87 per cent of new desert formation. Ironically, innovations designed to help communities in dry lands are part of the problem. The introduction of veterinary medicine and improvements in public health have led to overpopulation and overstocking of herds. The digging of modern wells has drastically lowered the groundwater table in some places and encouraged overgrazing

in the surrounding area. Mechanized plows have cut too deeply into the thin layer of topsoil, loosening the soil so much that it blows away easily. Egypt’s Aswan Dam, created for irrigation, prevents the floods that once protected the Nile valley from encroaching sand dunes. Overirrigation has produced waterlogged and salinized soil. At the same time land is being degraded by overcultivation and deforestation. Thus, principally through man’s own folly, the deserts of the world are spreading at a terrifying rate. The Sahara is expanding into the Sahel—the six-nation region at Africa’s waist—so fast that every year an area the size of Lebanon becomes worthless. All told, the world’s deserts are engulfing an area twice the size of Belgium each year. The creeping sands have sent a tide of ecoloical refugees into borderlands, placing new strains on the already fragile economies of developing nations. In less than 50 years the advancing deserts could inundate three or four African countries. Alarmed by this prospect, 90 countries sent representatives to a United Nations conference on the desert in late 1977. In conference documents the representatives identified modern technology as one of the hazards as well as one of the hopes for the arid and semiarid lands. While the search for new solutions continues, the race to keep the desert from spreading gets tougher every day: With the population of the arid and semiarid zones swelling rapidly and arable land steadily turning to sand, conservationists must run very hard just to stand still.

CAMELS are the “signature desert animal”. They produce water from body fat when drinking water is not available. This enables them to survive the harsh desert climate.


Faces of the Sahara Straddling three and a half million square miles of northern Africa, nearly a third of the whole continent, is the world’s greatest desert, the Sahara. But while bare rock and dry dune fill out most of its monotonous miles, the Sahara is not without variety. It is home to over three mill ion people, has mountains 10,000 feet high and a lake as big as New Jersey.

Craterlike Pits

Deserts are characterized by extreme heat and dryness, very hot in the daytime and chilly or even cold at night. The average temperature is 100 degrees during the day and


below 50 degrees at night. The wettest desert does not get more than 10 inches of rain a year. Due to the hash climate, certain areas on teh desert create cracks that can sometimes be larget

than houses. When looking at there parts of the desert from space, it almost looks like the moon craters. In these extreme ares, human and animal life is sparse. Deserts often get their

names like “Death Valley” or “The place from where there is no return” because of their extreme conditions.


Abu Simbel The Great Temple at Abu Simbel, which took about twenty years to build, was completed around year 24 of the reign of Rameses the Great (which corresponds to 1265 BCE). It was dedicated to the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah, as well as to the deified Rameses himself. It is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Rameses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors. However, the complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.


Kings of the Past According to Egyptian legend, the first kings of Egypt were later some of Egypt’s most famous gods. We really do not know whether some of these individuals actually existed in human form or what regions of Egypt they may have ruled over. Only at the end of the Predynastic period, prior to the unification of Egypt, can we recognize specific kings who most likely ruled over either northern or southern Egypt. According to many sources, the first real king of Egypt, therefore ruling over the unified land, was Menes, who would have ruled Egypt around 3100 BC, but we have little if any archaeological basis for this name. Most scholars today believe that he may have been a king named Narmer, or more likely still, Aha, two figures that are better attested in the archaeological record.


Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramid of Mycerinus is the smallest of the three pyramids of Giza. The attention to detail is not as it is on the earlier pyramids. Mycerinus was the successor to Chephren. The pyramid was not complete when Mycerinus died. Shepseskaf, who was Mycerinus’s son, finished the pyramid. The granite encasement was never finished. The pyramid stands 66.5m high, which is much smaller than the other two pyramids at Giza. Another difference between Mycerinus’s and Chephren’s and Khufu’s pyramid is that Mycerinus’s burial chamber was the lower chamber. The walls were lined with granite and below the pyramid’s foundation. The sarcophagus was found, but was lost at sea while it was being shipped to England. A wooden coffin was found, supposedly that of Mycernus’s. It was actually put in the pyramid about 1800 years later.

CHEPHREN The Pyramid of Chephren, often called the “Second Pyramid”, is built next to the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops). Chephren is the son and successor of Khufu and Hensuten. Khufu’s other son and also successor, Ra’djedef, started constructing his own pyramid at Abu Rawash, which is north of Giza. Chephren’s pyramid is designed more modestly than Khufu’s. The Chephren pyramid originally was 10 feet (3m) shorter and 48 feet (14.6m) more narrow at the base. The estimated weight of all the stones in the pyramid is 4,880,000 tons. Because it is built higher on the plateau, it looks taller from most angles than Khufu’s pyramid.

CHEOPS How the Great Pyramid was built is a question that may never be answered. Herodotus said that it would have taken 30 years and 100,000 slaves to have built it. Another theory is that it was built by peasants who were unable to work the land while the Nile flooded between July and November. The flooded waters would have also aided in the moving of the casing stones. These stones were brought from Aswan and Tura and the water would have brought the stones right to the pyramid. This pyramid is thought to have been built between 25892566 BC. It is the largest and the oldest of the Pyramids of Giza. Not much is known about Cheops (Khufu). The tomb had been robbed long before archeologists came upon it. Any information about him was taken with the objects inside the tomb. He is thought to have been the ruler of a highly structured society and he must have been very wealthy.

The Golden Surge

of a mountanious dune rears high above the desert floor in the wastes of the southeastern Sahara. Dunes like this one may be many miles long and pile up over 500 feet


high. The formation of a dune depends primarily upon three factors: a prevailing, moderate winds, plenty of sand and an obstacle like a rock or plant that acts as a nucleus around which

sand may slowly collect. Typically, as the wind blows steadily against a rock, a longsloped crescent of sand begins to back up on its windward side. On the leeward side, the dune drops off

in a sharp curving cliff. Though symbolic of deserts, dunes are actually excpetional and cover less than 10 percent of the Sahara.


Desert Caves More than 60 million years ago, a vast sea rolled where today Saudi Arabia’s central deserts lie. In that sea, with each cycle of birth and death, the shells and bones of countless


creatures slowly sank to the ocean floor. Over eons they solidified into limestone and dolomite, beds of rock which today make up the Arabian Peninsula’s Umm er Radhuma formation, which stretches

from Iraq and eastern Syria south to Oman. In those truly ancient times, the Peninsula was separating from Africa, moving eastward, pivoting counter-clockwise around a point somewhere between

Amman and Beirut. The vast body of rock, one of the seven major geological formations that make up the eastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula.


2 M

Man Against Desert

an was never cut out for an arid existence. Strand a healthy human adult in the middle of a desert, without water, on the morning of a hot summer day, and he will experience no instant discomfort. After an hour he will have lost up to a quart of salty water by perspiring, and will be very thirsty. By mid-afternoon, with his body’s water-cooling mechanism working hard to throw off heat, his weight will be down 12 to 18 pounds and he will be weak. By nightfall, if it has been a 120-degree day, he may well be dead, but if the temperature has gone only to 110 in the shade he has a life expectancy of one more such day. Even if he is given a daily ration of a gallon of water instead of none at all, the sun will kill him within a week.

Nonetheless, as far back as human prehistory can be traced, men have found ways to live in desert lands. No race of men has ever adapted in any significant physiological way to the environment, yet every division of humanity is well represented among the world’s persistent desert dwellers. The Negroid, or black, people have survived many centuries in all the deserts of Africa, the Caucasoid, or European, type in Mrica and the Middle East, the Mongoloid type in Asia and the Americas, and Australoid men in deserts the length and breadth of Australia. The most striking difference in their heat adjustment techniques is not physical but cultural—the presence or absence of clothing. Those Bushmen of Africa and Aborigines of Australia who dress in the traditional way go lightly clad in the sun, wearing cloth or leather for modesty and decoration. Most tribes of the Sahara, Arabian and Asian deserts prefer voluminous clothing to shield the body from heat and cold and to reduce evaporation through the skin. Both


ways of dressing, scant clothing and bundling up, serve their practitioners well in their modes of life. Heavily pigmented skin gives some protection against solar ultraviolet radiation, and in this respect blacks are better off than lightly pigmented Caucasians, though even among the latter, dark skin is common in desert tribes. Fair-skinned people subject to sunburn are at a disadvantage because burning destroys the functioning of the sweat glands. If they tan gradually and guard against overexposure, lightly pigmented people can live in reasonable comfort in the sun-baked lands. Regardless of racial background, the human body does make a few slight physiological adjustments as it becomes acclimated to the desert. The sweat glands gradually increase their output and come to respond more quickly to heat stimulation. Functional modifications both in the sweat glands and in the kidneys slow the rate at which salt is lost from the body. Blood circulation is increased in the surface capillaries, which helps dissipate heat from the skin by simple convection.

DESERT PEOPLE tend to dress in heavy looking fabrics that cover their entire body so it protects them from the extreme sun exposure.


ll these adjustments are brought about by hormones produced in the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland and in the cortex layer of the adrenal gland. But there is one adjustment of which the body is completely incapable-reducing water loss. There is no such thing as getting acclimated to a curtailed water intake. During World War II a group of physiologists from the University of Rochester conducted elaborate studies of the water needs of American servicemen who were training with General Patton in the Mojave Desert. They found that troops could be conditioned to withstand long marches and hard labor in the desert heat-so long as the had adequate drinking water. Cutting down the water intake quickly led to a breakdown of the physiological controls over body temperature, and heat prostration soon followed, even among hardened men. Road-gang and oilfield workers in the North African desert got a daily allotment of two gallons of water per man for drinking and cooking alone; tests have shown that in a regime of

strenuous work, the body slowly weakens on anything less. Continued Army research since the War has indicated that desert troops are most efficient when neither overdressed nor stripped down, but well clad in lightweight fabrics that are porous but dense enough to keep out the sun. In short, our bodily adjustment to extreme heat is really quite limited. Once pressed beyond its capacity to adjust, the human water-cooling machine may break down in any of several ways: Extreme dehydration, resulting from inadequate water intake in relation to heat load, is by far the most serious danger; the body rapidly weakens and collapses. Circulatory failure can also occur in many heat diso rder often as a result of dehydration or salt imbalance. Lack of salt may produce fatigue or severe cramps in the abdomen and arm and leg muscles. Even with the body’s physiological safeguards operating to reduce salt loss, it is advisable for anyone living in the desert to add extra salt to the diet. Finally, fatigue of the sweat


Man Against Desert

glands may occur in a period of continuous maximum Of all the desert tribes, those with the most primisweat output. Sunburn makes this breakdown more likely. tive technology are the Bushmen of the Kalahari-Namib When it happens, fever leading to delirium is brought on. Desert region in Africa and the Bindibu (also known as the Pintupi) of central Australia. These are groups that, ome good survival advice for lost travelers in until modern times, had not moved materially beyond the desert has emerged from the researches of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. The two peoples’ ways the Rochester team and others. Since dehydra- of life—which are now practiced by an everdecreasing tion is the greatest danger, minimizing water loss is minority of Bushmen and by no Bindibu—are remarkably the greatest goal. Walking only by night and sitting alike though independently learned. Nomadic hunters quietly in the shade by day, one can reduce both water and food gatherers, they planted no crops, domesticated loss and misery. Wearing full clothing may be uncom- no animal but the dog and had no permanent abode. fortable during the daytime rest hours, but it slows Their dark skin pigmentation shielded them from some evaporation by creating a zone of more humid air of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In both cultures, children around the body. Resting places should be out of the were not weaned until they were four or five. A child wind, in still air if possible. A cave is an ideal rest site, was carried on its mother’s back or rode astride its but a substitute can be made of clothing, piled rock or father’s shoulders. vegetation to give shade and wind protection. The Bushmen travel in small bands of several People who stay with a broken-down automobile families that share food and water. By mutual consent or crashed airplane have a better chance of being spot- each band “owns” a clearly defined territory, but may ted in an air search than those who strike out cross- hunt outside it. When a band encamps, each family country. Every year, deserts claim the lives of people clears a small patch of grass under a thorn tree, digs who, through panic or overconfidence, disregard this a shallow pit big enough for sleeping and for the fire, rule. A tragic example was provided by the crew of the and settles down in this sherm until the next move. American bomber Lady Be Good, which went far off Several families may share the shade of one tree, their course and crashed deep in the Sahara in 1943. The belongings hanging from the branches. During the day, survivors mistook a line of hills to the north for the individuals sprawl out apart, sometimes in separate African coast, and headed that way. As it happened, holes which are lined with vegetation like nests. they would have died even if they had remained with Foraging for food goes on in the cool of early their airplane, for it was not found until 1959, but the morning or at dusk. The women dig with sticks for odds against them would edible roots and tubers, and gather the tsama melons, have been a little less impossible. The Sahara abounds which have some food value but are prized mainly as a with tales of larger disasters overtaking even the most source of water during drought, which lasts 10 months seasoned and desert-wise wayfarers. In 1805, for ex- of the year. Another source is blown-out ostrich eggs, ample, an entire caravan of 2,000 men and 1,000 camels filled with water at a spring and carried by the women. perished of thirst in the desert’s south-central wastes, The men hunt antelope and smaller game with bows because water holes along their route had gone dry. and arrows, but when the hunting is poor they help Not having access to scientific survival studies, the women gather plant foods. most desert peoples have had to come to terms with The wiry Bushman has great endurance. Elizabeth heat and aridity by long processes of trial and error. Marshall Thomas, who lived among these people for All of them have started out with the same severely two years, tells in The Harmless People how a hunter limited capacity to adjust physically, but they have may have to trot for four days after an antelope he developed a fascinating variety of living habits by way has wounded; it may wander up to 100 miles before it of adjusting culturally. drops. He is also marvelously observant. The hunters



“can follow the spoor of their wounded antelope over the hardest ground or recognize it among the spoor of a herd of other antelope of its kind, and if they miss the spoor and find it again, they know that it is their antelope and no other. Even a Bushman child walking along in the veld can tell his mother’s footprints, can see at once the tiniest dry stalk among the grass that marks an edible root, or see a scorpion hidden in the dust and jump over it.”

Mozabites Chamba Moors



DESERT DWELLERS in Africa vary widely in the north and south. This map shows the areas populated by various Arab and Berber tribesmen in the Sahara. To the south, about 4,000 Bushmen are believed to roam in bands about the Kalahari, but have never been counted. Others have drifted away from their bands and live in towns.

Man Against Desert


hanks to the horse and the camel, the donkey and the burro, the llama and the yak, the nomads of other deserts could pursue a livestock economy. Moving with the seasons and the rains, the nomads thrived in a state of ecological balance with their desert environment. They led their herds away from an area before its vegetation was completely destroyed and allowed the vegetation to recover before they visited the area again. They conducted trade with other peoples and, through this contact, picked up new ideas and skills. Their food supply was assured; they rode instead of walking while herding their stock and even took a few trappings of comfortable living along when they traveled. The Mongols of the Gobi rode horses to herd their yaks and lived in portable, roomy yurts made of felt stretched ovcr collapsible willow frames. The Bedouin had a tent of woven goat hair stretched over lightweight poles, which was first of all a sunshade, secondly a shelter from wind and sand. A camel carried it with ease. The nomadic herdsmen never dreamed of roaming the desert as scantily clad as the Bushmen. They were heavily covered for good reason: riding and livestock herding require protection from sun and wind throughout the day. Today the nomadic way of life is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Droughts have claimed the lives of thousands of nomads, forced others into refugee camps and killed hundreds of thousands of goats, sheep and cattle. Without any herds, most nomads have no reason to roam. Many have become farmers, fishermen, laborers or beggars. Even among nomads who still own livestock, time-honored patterns are breaking down. Instead of moving from one meager water hole to another, many nomads have settled around government wells that produce water regularly. This has destroyed the former balance between the nomad’s needs and the needs of the land. The constant trampling of hooves denudes the land surrounding the wells, and eventually the distance between water and pastureland becomes too great for the herds to cover. The search for new grazing lands has driven some herdsmen farther south than ever before, out of the desert into the tropical rain belts, where they and their animals often contract local diseases. If such events continue, within the next few decades the last of the earth’s wanderers may have to give up their wandering.


With the security of food crops as well as animals, the soil-tilling desert tribes can forsake nomadism for a sedentary existence in permanent homes. The Pueblo Indians made an art of the construction of thick-walled adobe houses roofed over with clay-covered poles, and some of their structures, like Casa Grande in Arizona, have stood since prehistoric times. In the lands of the eastern Mediterranean and in parts of Africa, comparable houses are buiit of reeds and mud or of rocks plastered with mud. They give good insulation, but in a heavy rainstorm they may collapse. Of all the deserts, the Sahara supports the most complex assortment of cultures. It is also the most thickly strewn, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, with the bones of earlier cultures that either failed or died of natural causes. The Arabic meaning of the desert’s name is “brown and empty,” but the place was not always so. The Saharan climate has probably changed not once but a number of times in recent geologic periods. From 60,000 to 6000 B.C. it was wet; many of the river beds, now so dust-dry, ran full, and some of the vast plains, now so barren, were covered with forests that surged with life. Some time after the mile-deep glaciers of the last ice age receded in Europe, the rains tapered off and the Sahara began to dry out. As the forests died the animals retreated and so did cave-dwelling, prehistoric man, who had roamed the region for many millenniums. Behind him he left mounds of rubbish and tons of his chipped-flint weapons. But almost until the beginning of the Christian era some Neolithic tribes, the early herdsmen and farmers, fought a losing battle against the growing desert. Then they too fled, to the north coast and to the banks of the Nile, the Niger and the Chari. A favored Sahara crossroads and dwelling place, before this exodus, was the sandstone plateau called Tassili-nAjjer in southern Algeria, about midway between Egypt and the west coast . The rock here is heavily dissected by gorges and steep-sided washes, exposing cliffs with many caves and deep shelters at their feet. On the rock walls in one locality, Wadi Jerat, are hundreds of paintings and engravings, giving vivid glimpses into the lives of a succession of tribes that occupied the plateau from about 8000 B.C. nearly to the time of Christ. It is the richest of many Saharan galleries of ancient art.

NOMADIC LIFE is becoming a thing of the past in deserts. The harsh climate has claimed the lives of thousands of nomads who have been forced into refugee camps.

Man Against Desert


ustralia has no counterpart of the waterstoring tsama melon, and this restricted the Aborigine’s hunting territory, for he had to camp at water holes and follow the rare desert rains. Since the game of the Bindibu was smaller than that of the Bushman, he used, instead of bows and arrows, spears equipped with spear throwers and—in some tribes—throwing sticks or boomerangs. (He now uses a rifle.) Still aiding the Bindibu is his dingo, a half-domesticated dog used to run down kangaroos and rabbits. Before all of the Bindibu were moved into settlements by the government in the 1960s, home to a family might have been the lee of a rocky outcrop on the desert, or at times even a cave, but on most nights it was only a flimsy windbreak made of clumps of spinifex grass. The Bindibu knew how to make fire and used it to fire-harden their wooden spear tips; then they daubed the tips with a resin extracted from burned spinifex leaves to help fasten them to the shafts. These tribesmen had few drinking and cooking utensils (though most Aborigine women possessed at least one wooden dish), and they often drank by lapping up


water at a clay pan or water hole. The division of labor was the same as among the Bushmen: the men hunted and the women gathered, and the womenfolk of a band might trudge dozens of miles a day over the desert to gather scattered tree branches and bushes for firewood. Like the Bushmen, the Bindibu, when they led traditional lives, were lean but surprisingly healthy people, and along with other primitive hunters, incomparably skilled at tracking game—or men. When Allied fliers were lost in the Australian deserts in World War II, Aborigine hunters invariably found them after search planes, jeeps and dogs had failed. By examining a wandering man’s footprints, which nobody else could even see, a hunter could deduce the condition in which he would be found, whether weary, lame or—worst of all—delirious. Though lacking almost everything that modern societies consider necessary, the Bushmen and Bindibu had leisure, generally enough to eat, good health, and skills well adapted to their environment; and their rich traditions and mythologies gave shape and meaning to their lives.


THE BIDIBU inhabited parts of Australia’s central-western desert. Small groups, seeking food, wandered widely through virtually unexplored areas until the droughts of the 1960s prompted the government to gather the entire population of roughly 800 into settlements.



he earliest and most primitive works were executed by peoples who drew stringlike humans and the beasts that they hunted, including buffaloes, elephants, lions and antelopes. As new tribes moved into the area, the paintings became increasingly sophisticated, recording elaborate dances and rituals. Around 4000 B.C., tribes of cattle-tending pastoralists migrated to Tassili, probably from the upper Nile. Their herds of long-horned cattle and the attendant herdsmen were engraved on the rock and then painted in magnificent color, the scenes clearly implying that this part of the Sahara was a fertile grazing area at the time. Still later paintings depicted two-wheeled war chariots, Nile boats, camels and bearded warriors with shields and spears—evidence that tribesmen of the plateau had visited the Egyptians far to the east. About 2,000 years ago the last of the tribes departed the dried, long-overgrazed area. Wadi Jerat has been abandoned ever since then, with the exception of the occasional passage of nomads. It is desolate and waterless, and accessible only by means of an 8,000-foot pass through the mountains. Long before the last artist rubbed ocher into the paintings at Wadi Jerat, the Sahara as a whole had turned almost as hostile to man as it is today. The Egyptians, whose empire in its eastern desert hung for 3,000 years on the single thread of the nourishing Nile, were utterly incurious about the endless “ocean of fire” to the west. To Herodotus, writing by hearsay evidence in the Fifth Century B.C., this was a country “with no springs, no beasts, no rain, no wood and altogether devoid of moisture.” The Carthaginians penetrated it only a little south of the Atlas Mountains, to replenish their herds of small wild elephants. Except for one thing, the desert might have remained the thinly occupied province of black tribes from the south to this day, or rather until the advent of the automobile.

What made the difference was the camel, which was brought to Egypt during the Persian conquest in 525 B.C. and played a minor role in desert life for several centuries—until the enterprising Romans began exploiting it late in the life of their empire. The camel’s fantastic endurance made it the perfect mount and beast of burden, and Roman camel caravans pushed clear across the desert, some going all the way from Ghadames and Leptis Magna down to Timbuktu. They brought back slaves, gold, ivory and as many as 9,000 lions, leopards and other wild animals at a time, for shipment to the arenas of Rome. It was the camel that later opened the Sahara’s vastnesses to the conquering white nomads—the Berbers and in time the Arabs and the Moors. “Historically we may say there are two Saharas,” wrote the French scholar Emile Gautier in 1928, “the pre-cameline Sahara and the modern or cameline Sahara… During the past 1,500 years there has been a great thrust from the north in which the white Mediterranean races havenever ceased to drive back the Negroes . . . one, indeed, which is still continuing, as we might say, practically under our eyes.” For many centuries a flourishing trade—supported on the patient backs of camels—bridged the Sahara between the Barbary coast and the Sudan. Caravans of as many as 12,000 camels carried salt to the south and gold to the north—but more valuable than the gold was the slave trade. Chained by the neck, thousands of blacks were dragged north across the desert year after year. But the slave merchants had to share their profits with the nomads, who either extracted a high price for safe-conduct or raided the caravans. All this time, and until a century ago, the Sahara was a mystery, unexplained and unexplored, to the Western world.

SAHARAN DRAWINGS show a much greener past. Wildlife is shown in these 6,000-year-old paintings from Tassilli-n-Ajjer. They were drawn by a Bovidian artist whose tribe whose tribe once herded domestic animals in the area.


Man Against Desert


oday the Sahara supports, mostly in desperate squalor, a conglomerate population of around three and a half million people, not counting the 30 million inhabitants of the Nile valley and delta. Much of this population is highly mobile, drifting in and out of the desert in search of food and water. Among the congeries of peoples of the desert who have managed to survive thus far, are these: The Tuareg and the Teda (also known as Tibu and Toubou), tribes of Berber origin, are the Sahara’s oldest continuous inhabitants. The nomadic Tuareg are camel riders who have their own language and alphabet, and live in the Ahaggar and Ajjir Mountains. Some Teda are nomads and some are sedentary; they have blended more than the Tuareg with black tribes, speak a Sudanese dialect, and many inhabit the Tibesti Mountains and the areas east and north of Lake Chad.

The Moors or Reguibat (for “camel people�) are also of Berber stock. Arabic-speaking aristocrats, they own most of the western oases. The Chamba are Arabs of the northwestern-central Sahara, where some are nomads and others are farmers in the oases. The Hamtin are black oasis farmers, descended from slaves. Many are still serfs, in the employ of nomads who own the water and the date palms. The Mozabites (or Mzabites) are sedentary Berbers of the extreme fundamentalist Ibadite sect of Moslems. From their five home towns of the northern oasis of Ghardaia, young Mozabite men go to work in Algerian cities as shopkeepers, then sell out and retire to their native oasis. Many nomads always wrap the turban, or litham, around the face when traveling, to keep sand and sun out and keep moisture in. But only the Tuareg, among

whom the men and not the women are veiled, make a fetish of covering their handsome faces all the time. The practice goes far beyond protection; no well-bred, upper-class Tuareg ever exposes his nose or mouth to a stranger, or to the risk of an evil spirit’s thereby entering his person. When he eats, the veil is held out with his left hand, and if other Tuareg are sharing the meal, all pass food to their mouths with their right hands in unison. Both his litham and his cape, worn over a nightshirtlike white undergarment, are of indigo blue, which rubs off on his nearly white skin, giving him the name of “blue man.” A slaveowner by tradition—he is seldom observed to saddle his own camel—he is a slave to all manner of superstitions and taboos. He will not eat lizard; it is his “maternal uncle.” He has been unjustly accused of having a horror of bathing, which the Koran prescribes daily. While he may have to go

a long time between baths, he loves them. He goes nowhere without his leather pouch full of charms and quotations from the Koran. He is monogamous, though he may take an occasional black concubine, and when he marries he lives for a year in the house of his wife, who is emancipated in a way unique in the Moslem world. She can marry a man of her own choice, and if she wants a divorce, she simply takes back her dowry. She is allowed to inherit property, has servants who do all the housework, and wears no veil even though her husband must.

TUAREG AND TEDA tribes tribes of Berber origin, are the Sahara’s oldest continuous inhabitants. They still live as a “hunter and gatherer” society.

Peoples of the Desert The desert has always been peopled. Down through history a vast host of men and civilizations has struggled against its rigors with various successes. Some, like the Egyptians, favored by the long Nile oasis, achieved a magnificence that persisted for thousands of years; others like the Berber Tuareg and Stone Age Bushmen, are barely surviving the sands.

Khaju Bridge The Khaju Bridge is located in Isfahan (Iran) and was built in 1667. This bridge is a great example of a Roman Arch bridge. The bridge is a semicircular structure with abutments on each end (part of a structure that bears the weight or pressure of an arch). The arches shift the weight from the bridge deck to the support structure. Not only is it a bridge, but also acts as a dam and sluice gate. On the eastern side of the bridge there is a high sill, which collects the water. This provides a basin from which irrigation water for the surrounding area is drawn off in a series of channels. On the western side there are steps over and between which the water pours and on which people collect to do their laundry or meet as a social event. The lower storey arches are fitted with locks which act as sluice gates. These sluice gates help regulate the flow of the river.

Tanneries of Fez

may be associated with a grindery, originally a whetstone facility for sharpening knives and other sharp tools, but later could carry shoemakers’ tools and materials for


sale. Tanning leather involves a process which permanently alters the protein structure of skin so that it cannot ever return to rawhide. Making rawhide does not require the use of tanning

and is made simply by removing the flesh and fat and then the hair by way of soaking in an aqueous solution often called liming when using lime and water or bucking when using wood ash

then scraping over a beam with a somewhat dull knife, and then leaving to dry, usually stretched on a frame so that it dries flat.


A Growing Epidemic AIDS/HIV has been a growing problem throughout the years in Africa but it has grown exponentially and geographically in the past 5 years. Only a few years ago, AIDS was mostly concentrated in the sub-Saharan regions. Today, the epidemic has spread throughout the whole continent. In just the last year, 2.5 million Africans have died from AIDS; almost all of them between the ages of 18 and 45. This has severely affected both industrial and agricultural productivity. For those living in the Sahara, who already suffer from malnutrition, AIDS has almost dimished many tribe populations. In the last year, almost 5 thousand children were born HIV positive in the African desert; a number that will unfortunately keep growing if people do not help and get educated.

5 4 2 2 1






2010 (statistics from


Ongoing Genocide About the size of Texas, the Darfur region of Sudan is home to racially mixed tribes of settled peasants, who identify as African, and nomadic herders, who identify as Arab. The majority of people in both groups are Muslim. In the ongoing genocide, African farmers and others in Darfur are being systematically displaced and murdered at the hands of the Janjaweed, a government-supported militia recruited from local Arab tribes. The war in Darfur has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced over 2,500,000 people. More than one hundred people continue to die each day; five thousand die every month. At this time, human security is the highest priority for the people of Darfur.

The Parched Arab World Reaching from Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf, the Arab World has a population that numbers more than 90 million, a melange of all shades and ranks: wealthy, impoverished, kingly and enslaved. Few peoples have had so enlightened a past, and few have had to deal with more profound changes. In the 1970’s, the petroleum boom suddenly concentrated enourmous financial power in the hands of a few. Middle East sheikdoms, and the traditionally agricultural and religion-oriented life of the Arabs felt the increasingly sharp impact of modern, mechanized ways.

Egyptian Revolution

that began in January of 2011, featured a series of demonstrations, marches, acts of civil disobedience, and labour strikes. Millions of protesters from a variety


of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Despite being predominantly peaceful in nature, the revolution

was not without violent clashes between security forces and protesters. The uprising took place in Cairo, Alexandria, and in other cities in Egypt, following the Tunisian Revolution that saw

the overthrow of the long-time Tunisian president. In February, following weeks of determined popular protest and pressure, Mubarak resigned from office.


Deborah Levison GC 363_01 Designing with Type III Spring 2011 Professor Joani Spadaro Fonts Used: Caslon Book BE NeutraText PS Neutraface Condensed Neutraface Display All images taken from and National Geographic Printed at


timelife re-design