It is said that in the days of Atlantis, before the great flood, the desert expanses of North Africa and Arabia were covered by lush green forests and lakes. Ancient lore says that this area will some day “be green again”. The following map (taken from the book “Lost Cities of Ancient Africa and Arabia” by D.H. Childress) shows Africa and the Middle East as it was according to Mythology:
Greek and Berber folk tales say that in the center of the green Sahara rested a great lake called Tritonis. It is said to have spread across what are today Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, at an expanse of 2300 km. It was destroyed in a cataclysmic event that turned it first into a shallow marsh and then finally into its present day desert.
Parts of the Mediterranean Sea are said to have been above water and covered with forests (this would explain, among other things, the ancient cart ruts of Malta that trail off into the sea). The Islands we know today were at one time the top of hills and mountains. The Arabian Peninsula was also included in this fertile region of lakes, forests and rolling hills.
The point I keep making is that “myths and legends” are not entirely fictional. Possibly not even “mostly” fictional! We have been discovering scientific evidence to backup ancient “legends”. One of dozens of examples I have on file is a 2009 National Geographic article titled “Lost Tribes of the Green Sahara” (see link for article). It tells of how researchers have discovered the bones of animals that do not live in the desert, such as crocodiles, hippos, turtles, fish and clam as well as elephants, ostriches and giraffes. They have also found artifacts, inscriptions and bones of humans alongside those of the animals. The article says that some 12 000 years ago a wobble in the Earths axis causing lush watersheds that turned the area into desert.
The following glyphs of giraffes were found in caves of the Egyptian desert:
This depictions of swimmers were found nearby:
Another example of the “Green Sahara” idea becoming mainstream in this Live Science article. I quote:
Using satellite imagery and digital maps of the landscape, the researchers found the Sahara was once covered by a dense network of rivers, lakes and inland deltas. This large waterway channeled water and animals into and across the Sahara during wet, “green” times.
The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are packed with marine fossils. This could indicate that they were built at a pre-desert time or they were water flooded at one point in History. That could be evidence that they are older than generally thought. Not to mention that the Egyptians themselves appear not to have had any records on how they were built.
Every now and then, ancient cities are dug up in the desert, leaving archaeologists puzzled “why anyone would establish a civilization in such arid places in the middle of nowhere”. But what if is not all of these places were desert at the time they were built. One of dozens of examples of this are the ruins of Jawa in Jordan. Considered the oldest urban place in Jordan, they ar located precisely in it’s dryest areas, with no detectable water sources far and wide. And yet, Jawa was a walled town that consisted of extensive earthworks to divert floods. Large herds of sheep, goat (approximately 10 000) and cattle were found. There are mysterious stone structures in the area, for example the so called “Desert Kites”. Some estimate that the place was active more than 6000 to 9000 years ago. Irrigation-systems, all kinds of grazing animals, petroglyphs of elephants…all which rule out ancient desert climate.
The following images are of the strange “Desert Kites” that have remained unexplained for thousands of years. The local Bedouin merely call them “the Works of Old men” because they were built before a time that they are aware of. They are found scattered across the deserts of Syria, Israel and Saudi Arabia and were first re-discovered by pilots flying over them in the 1920s.
The Encyclopedia-article does not give much information because nothing is known about the kites. The idea that they were used to hunt animals is pure speculation rather than having been proven.
This BBC article on “Saudis green past” (see link) indicates much of the same regarding a green Middle East. An Oxford university team discovered a giant tusk belonging to an extcinct species of elephant deep in the Saudi desert, proving that these were at one time fertile plains. Using satellite technology to map the terrain, the researchers say there are thousands of further archaeological sites yet undiscovered there, including over 7000 dried up lake beds. Signs of human life in those times have also been discovered. In the article they date these green times to 325 000 years ago. I believe that those days were more recent – up to 12 000 years ago to be exact. That’s when the great global flood wiped out civilization. Once the waters receded, the area turned into desert within a fairly short time.
Another civilization or place that was first considered “mythological” and then later historical is called Dilmun. This civilization is further evidence that the distinction between myth and reality is not as clear-cut as some would have us believe. Dilmun encompassed what is today known as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the costal regions of Saudi Arabia. It was considered a “holy land” as well as a trade partner and source of metal copper by the Sumerians. It is mentioned in the stories of Gilgamesh, as a paradise garden prior to the great flood. Other Sumerian accounts refer to it as he place at which the creation of humans occurred. “Bahrain” means “the two seas” in arabic. This is rather interesting, because it has a parallel in Sumerian Mythology where it says that Dilmun was a place where salt water and fresh water met.