In the last post, I tracked the alignment from Sousse, a port on Tunisia’s Mediterranean Sea coast; through Kairouan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the oldest, currently functional University in the world; through Jebel Chambi, which has the highest elevation in Tunisia, above the city of Kasserine, the site of a World War II battle; through El Oued, known as the “City of a Thousand Domes”; Touggourt, a former sultanate until 1854; through Ghardaia, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of seven cities in the Mzab River Valley; to the Eye of the Sahara in Central Mauretania, also known as the Blue Eye of the Sahara and the Richat Structure.
I am picking up the alignment in Nouakchott, the capital and largest city of Mauretania.
It is one of the largest cities of the Sahel, the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the North, and the Sudanian Savannah to the South.
We are told that Nouakchott was a large fortified fishing village in pre-colonial times and under French rule. Why would a fishing village be fortified?
I am unable to find any historic photos of Nouakchott on the internet to see what it might have looked like even around the early 1900s.
I did find this illustration of the skyline of Nouakchott…
…and this Mauritanian bank note depicting some of the country’s infrastructure.
Then I look at the absolutely devastated-looking desert landscape of the whole country from Google Earth, and it makes me wonder about what we are really looking at here.
So I delved into the history of Mauretania to see what I could find out about what we are told in the historical record we have been given.
We are told that Mauretania was the Latin name for a region in the ancient Maghreb.
It stretched from central present-day Algeria, westward to the Atlantic, covering northern Morocco, and southward to the Atlas Mountains, and included the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, which are autonomous cities of Spain in North Africa.
Ceuta lies on Strait of Gibraltar, the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean…
…and is the location of Jebel Musa, or Mount Moses, considered to be the southern Pillar of Hercules…
…and the location of the largely intact Royal Walls of Ceuta…
…described as a line of fortifications…
…said to have been built by the Portuguese in the 1540s…
…and Melilla, said to mean the “White One”…
…and which has the fortress walls of Old Melilla, said to have been built in the 16th- and 17th-centuries, after the Spanish conquest of the region in 1496.
Both Ceuta and Melilla are officially claimed by Morocco.
Nevertheless, we are told that the native inhabitants of Mauretania were seminomadic pastoralists of Berber ancestry, and known to the Romans as Mauri…or…Moors.
Berbers are called an ethnic group of several nations, mostly indigenous to Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, northern Mali, northern Niger, and a small part of western Egypt.
The term Barbary Coast, and Barbaria was said to have been used by Europeans from the 16th-century to the early 19th-century to refer to the regions of North Africa inhabited by the Berber people.
We are taught that the kings of Mauretania became Roman vassals in 27 BC, and that in 44 AD, Mauretania was annexed to Rome as two different provinces – Mauretania Tingitana, or present-day northern Morocco, and Mauretania Caesariensis, or present-day northern Algeria.
Then, during the Crisis of the Third Century, a period of time when the Roman Empire almost collapsed between 235 and 284 AD, we are told, because of invasions and overall instability within the empire…
…parts of Mauretania were reconquered by Berber tribes, and Romano-Moorish Kingdoms were established during the 6th- and 7th-centuries.
Fast forward through time to the Barbary Wars, a series of conflicts culminating in two main wars fought between the United States, Sweden, and the Barbary States of the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th- and early 19th-century.
We are told that Barbary pirates demanded tribute from American vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, and in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay, and sent a U. S. Naval fleet to the Mediterranean in May of that year, and which lasted until 1805.
The naval fleet commenced bombarding various fortified “pirate” cities in present-day Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, over the next three years until concessions of fair passage were extracted from their rulers, which were most likely the Deys of Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers, in the First Barbary War.
The second Barbary War took place in 1815 between the United States and the Barbary States, and we are told, brought to an end the American practice of paying tribute to the “pirate” states and marked the beginning of the end of piracy in that region.
I am including what information is available about the Barbary Wars because it is noteworthy. I would love to know what was really going on here with regards to the Barbary Moors, but that information is nowhere to be found.
Mauretania was administered as a French colony during the first-half of the twentieth-century, achieving independence in 1960, and Nouakchott becoming its capital in 1958, at which time it was described as being a mid-size village of little importance.
By the way, an interesting side-note is the RMS Mauretania, a passenger ocean liner launched on September 20th of 1906, and said to have been named for the ancient Roman Province of Mauretania, and not the modern country…
…and the sister ship to the RMS Lusitania, named for the Roman province directly to the north of Mauretania, across the Strait of Gibraltar, which is famous in history for having been sunk by a German u-boat in 1915 off the coast of Ireland.
This is a comparison of the Berber ethnic flag on the left, with ceremonial headdresses of the Dogon people, who live on the Bandiagara Escarpment in Mali, and the laboratory electric discharge form of plasma next to a form called the stickman that is found in rock art worldwide.
Think the ancient Peoples of the Earth might know something that we don’t?
The iron ore trains of Mauretania are some of the longest, if not the longest, in world, at 1.6-miles, or 2.5-kilometers, long…
…hauling iron ore, people and goods, 405-miles, or 652-kilometers between the mining town of Zouerat on the west side of Kediet ej Jill, the highest peak in Mauretania, through the Sahara Desert, to the port city of Nouadhibou on Mauretania’s coast.
This is a view on the top left in the Amogjar Pass between Atar and Chinguetti in Mauretania, compared with similar-looking ones at Thule, Greenland on the top right; Cutimbo in Peru on the bottom left; and in the Village of Oak Creek, in Sedona, Arizona on the bottom right.
Just a few examples of many that are available to find that I see as ancient infrastructure, and not as natural formations.
Rock paintings are found in the Amogjar Pass depicting giraffes…
…and people, in a landscape that was once a lush savannah, a woodland-grassland ecosystem.
Atar is situated next to the corner of the Eye of the Sahara discussed at the end of the last post…
…and Chinguetti is located on the lower lid of the Eye.
Chinguetti is called the Holy City of the Sahara, and venerated as one of the most holy cities of Islam…
…and has some of the world’s oldest surviving copies of Korans and other documents.
Then there was Ouadane, situated pretty darn close to the eyeball of the Eye of the Sahara.
What was once one of Africa’s key trading posts, and a UNESCO World Heritage site today.
It is largely in ruins, even though there is a settlement of people still living there outside the gates.
I noticed the Banc d’Arguin National Park on the coast, another UNESCO World Heritage Site located north of Nouakchott, and went there to take a look, as I consistently find that for as much of the ancient civilization as is destroyed, neglected, or incorporated in unprotected places, much is preserved intact in parks.
I must say that to this day, I am never disappointed. I can’t emphasize enough that this Ancient Civilization is everywhere – there is not place in the world that it is not.
The island of Arguin in the Bay of Arguin was first thing I noticed when I looked at Google Earth.
The interesting thing about Arguin, part of the National Park, is that while there is not much going on there now…
…at one time there was a lot going on there, including a star fort, said to have been built by the Dutch, which doesn’t appear to exist any more.
We are told that starting in 1443, it became a part of the Portuguese Empire; and, at different times over the centuries, it was part of the Dutch Empire; part of the territories and provinces of Prussia; and part of the French overseas empire.
The shallows of the Banc d’Arguin National Park are said to be remnants of a vast river delta from a time when waters flowed from what is now the Sahara Desert…
…and the Banc d’Arguin is a major breeding site for migratory birds, and its surrounding waters are some of the richest fishing waters in western Africa, serving as nesting grounds for the region.
From Nouakchott, the next place we come to on the alignment are the Cape Verde Islands.
The island Republic of Cape Verde is 350-miles, or 570-kilometers, off the coast of western Africa, and consists of 10 islands, divided into two groups.
One group is called the Barlavento, or Windward, islands of Sando Antao; Sao Vicente; Santa Luzia; Sao Nicolau; Sal; and Boavista.
The other group is called the Sotavento, or Leeward, islands of Santiago; Maio; Fogo; and Brava.
They are part of what is called “Macaronesia,” a collection of four archipelagos in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Africa and Europe, also including the Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Azores.
Santiago is the country’s largest island, and where its capital, Praia, is located.
We are told the islands were uninhabited before the arrival of Portuguese and Genoese navigators in 1456, with Portuguese settlers arriving in 1462 and founding a settlement called Ribeira Grande, now called Cidade Velha, the historic center of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These are what appear to be the very old stone ruins of what is called Se Catedral in Cidade Velha…
…and a monument called the Pelourinho, said to have been erected in the early 1500s. Is that an antenna at the top of it?
There is also an intact star fort in Cidade Velha, called the Fort Real de Sao Filipe, said to have been built by the Portuguese between 1587 and 1593, and part of a system of defense for the city, which included six smaller forts on the coast and a wall along the port that apparently no longer exists because I can’t find any information about them.
Moving over to look at Praia, the capital city, I see the familiar shape of the harbor there, compared for example, to the harbor back in Sousse, Tunisia, on the other side of Africa.
The red dots mark where lighthouses are located, and I typically find pairs of lighthouses at harbor entrances around the world…
…like at Sousse.
The Farol de Dona Maria Pia is the lighthouse at the southern most point of the island of Santiago at the entrance of Praia Harbor.
Based on what I have found at other locations with a similar harbor configuration, I would expect to find a lighthouse at the head of the opposite jetty.
But there isn’t one.
It looks like something is standing there, but not a lighthouse, and I could find no record of one being there.
Lastly, it is interesting to note that the Cape Verde Islands are specifically mentioned in the Inter Cetera Bull, issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4th of 1493.
This papal bull essentially authorized the land grab of the lands of the Moorish civilization in the Americas, and became a major document in the development of subsequent legal doctrines regarding claims of empire in the “New World.”
The bull assigned to Castile “the exclusive right to acquire territory, to trade in, or even approach the lands laying west of the meridian situated one hundred leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, except for any lands actually possessed by any other Christian prince beyond this meridian prior to Christmas, 1492.”
In the historical narrative we have been given, this papal bull was issued a year after the Fall of Grenada, on January 2nd, 1492, effectively ending Moorish rule in Spain when Muhammad XII surrendered the Emirate of Grenada to King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile.
I am going to end this post here, and pick up the alignment at Fernando de Noronha, a group of islands off the coast of Brazil near Natal in the next post.