"Libya's lost kingdom" Jibal Akakus Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel
Jibal Akakus Things to Do: 10 reviews and 44 photos
The road from Sebah to Ghat (the main access route to the Jebel Akakus) passes through a string of small towns, the largest of which is Germa. Apart from being the biggest of the towns in the Wadi al-Hayat, the town, as it appears from the road, doesn't seem to be any more than yet another sleepy outpost with perhaps a few more amenities than the others along the way. But the appearance of today's Germa belies a fascinating past for here was the centre of an empire that, whilst no real threat to Rome, was certainly an irritant that warranted expeditions being sent out, first in unsuccessful attempts to crush and finally to seek an alliance with these lords of the desert.
They were the Garamantians, and Garama (the ancient name for Germa) was their capital. Little remains of their empire today beyond thousands of burial sites in the hills around Germa. The excavated areas in the desolate ruins (photo 1) of the mediaeval Islamic city that was built over Garama and cemeteries of pyramid tombs (photo 2) along the roadside are the most easily accessed remains of a successful desert culture that lasted here for hundreds of years. Known for their skill as horse breeders, cattle herders and warriors - the Garamantians controlled the caravan routes through this region and grew wealthy on the flow of trade out of Africa. Italian archaeologists have uncovered some substantial remains in the old city (and left the detritus of their work behind them - photo 3) - notably the sandstone foundations of large house and the area of the market square but mostly the old city is a crumbling maze of mudbrick walls and narrow alleyways, the relics of an Islamic city that prospered here and was only abandoned finally in 1937. The palm trees in the oasis immediately around the city are dying and in the fields beyond (photo 4) that huge modern sprinklers have replaced the "foggara" - the stone-lined underground irrigation channels that enabled the Garamantians to grow the crops needed to sustain a large population.
Directions: The old city lies to the norrth of the main road.
Back in town, the museum (photo 5) has some interesting exhibits and artifacts from different periods (and a reasonable loo).