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费赞--鲜为人知的撒哈拉(中英全文) 《国家地理》2009年第10期

(2009-09-26 01:10:44)
标签:

费赞

撒哈拉

利比亚

远古人类

米加费赞湖

分类: 《国家地理》摘译

费赞--鲜为人知的撒哈拉(中英全文)

海豆芽译自《国家地理》2009年第10期《Fezzan》

原文网址:http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/10/fezzan/bowden-text

费赞

费赞--鲜为人知的撒哈拉(中英全文) <wbr>《国家地理》2009年第10期
鲜为人知的撒哈拉

利比亚偏远的费赞地区看到的罕见空中景观,在那里远古的社会因降雨而繁荣旺盛,当不再有雨水时却崩溃消亡。

撰文:查尔斯·邦德

摄影:乔治·斯坦梅茨

 

一阵远古的风从一个称为史前的地方吹来。撒哈拉沙漠作为一个由沙丘和蓝天构成的恒古地狱时刻威胁着我们。我们惊叹它的美景,却很少注意它是地球上最大的记录保存地之一。过去的一切保存在这里,在沙海、石漠、热浪和干风里诉说,向我们低语着气候变化的反复冲击以及人类退却和挺进的历史。

大卫·马丁利领导着一个沙漠迁移项目的学者小组,他们的工作把我们带到了史前。他们利用四轮驱动车行驶在撒哈拉,是寻觅我们祖先踪迹的时间旅行者。借助这种特殊的轮胎所提供的特别动力,他们征服了高达100英尺(约30米)的沙丘,开创了观察这个沙漠的一条暂新的路线。

利比亚的西南部的一个叫作费赞的地区是撒哈拉沙漠跳动的心脏,是一个充满沙海、干涸河道、高山、台地、绿洲和各种神秘事物的人迹罕至的地方。在公元前500年到公元500年之间,估计有10万人在这里耕种和繁衍,那里一年中的雨量不到1英寸,而且有许多年则完全没有下过雨。

马丁利解释说:“在撒哈拉中央极度干旱的地方,有那么多人实在是可怕的。”

有位莱斯特大学成了撒哈拉迷的考古学家说:“我在利比亚工作了30年,从一开始我就惊叹这里的景色。”许多人都知道这种结局,他们沉溺于灿烂的阳光和整洁的地平线。那里大多数人看到的是荒凉,也有些人发现了这里的透明度。

休·克拉普顿是一位苏格兰探险家,于1822年到1825年间进入利比亚西南部的沙漠。他是大英帝国的排头兵,是蒸汽机、纺织机、和大不列颠舰队的头面人物。1824年11月7日,他正穿越这块干燥的大地时,他遇见了一个遗弃的女性奴隶,“今天才死于路上,她的头可怕的膨胀,也不能走了,也无知无觉了。”克拉普顿发现了一个由妇女前呼后拥的主人的仆人,“由她服侍,除非她死了,不会去埋葬她,但会拿走她穿的那几块布。”

她不能骑骆驼,她也太虚弱难以拿举物品。他想,如果他拖延,他也会死。

他记道,风是冷的。

他骑上骆驼继续走。

这就是恐怖的撒哈拉。一个没有水的沙与石头的海,那里蝎子滋生、毒蛇游走,而太阳恶毒。利比亚很大,版图是意大利、法国、西班牙和德国的总和,而它的6百万人口几乎全部挤住在地中海沿岸。对这难以置信的地方,我们必须转身背靠大海看南方。利比亚95%面积是荒漠,20%是沙丘,没有一条四季不断的河流过。利比亚的撒哈拉保持着世界最高气温记录(136°F,约57.8°C),而在冬季的夜晚则可以冷藏尸体。

利比亚著名作家Ibrahim al-Koni是一个费赞的柏柏尔人。在他的《石头在流血》一书中引用了苏菲派诗歌:

沙漠是真正的宝藏

为人提供避难所

躲避人间和人的罪恶。

在那里得到满足,

在那里得以死亡以及你所寻求的一切。

费赞揭示了千万年来人类为适应不利环境与气候变化斗争的生活。这是一架时间机器,在那里往事会与我们不期而遇,而只要我们逗留,我们必须考虑安全。

我们现代人不愿承认过去的历史是一种变迁的记录,无论是气候、大迁徙、还是民族的兴衰,然而,我们的所作所为却好像现在是最后的篇章一样。但是,在撒哈拉,一个很久很久的传说是每个造访者所必须面对的,提示这最近的时期是危险而脆弱的。

马丁利的调查研究把他带进了奥巴里沙海。那里有许多难以置信的微小的宝石色湖,因为矿物和藻类的原故一些是紫色的,一些是桔黄色的,这是以前某个时期干涸的暗示,当时地下水位比现在靠近地表。尽管难以想象,但是一个和英国一样大小的湖——米加费赞湖(Megafezzan)大约20万年前还在这里波光闪闪,当时雨量丰沛,而远古的河道证明在沙漠中央江河奔流,河流众多。

气候变化好像撒哈拉的一个开关。在干旱时期,湖面缩小,而且植物也衰败成小的生态环境。然而,当潮湿时期重新到来时,湖水充盈,撒哈拉大部分变成了大草原。人类社会象罕见的雨后的植物爆发一样也在这里时兴时衰。每当潮湿时期来临,他们兴旺发达,而每当变成干旱时期,他们本能地退却或瓦解崩溃。

很久以前的水路怎么分布呢?沿路向上。利用从太空拍摄的雷达图象,迁徙项目小组成员凯文·怀特和尼克·德雷克已经能画出来自远古湖泊和泉水的矿物残留物的位置,然后驾驶他们的陆地漫游者找到这些点,在那里,古人类学家罗伯特·福利和马塔·米娜张·拉哈发现了石器、箭头、火塘、坟墓和其它人类活动的线索。

这个地区最早的现代人是大约13万年前生活在草原地带的狩猎和果实采集人。这些人在大约7万年前降雨逐渐停止时离开了,但是后来雨量增加,人类再次迁徙进来。这种反复迁徙被称为撒哈拉旋回,是指当气候轮换变化时人类在北非进进出出的一种行为。沙漠里岩石上的抓痕是湿润期撒哈拉的记录,当时象狮子、大象、和犀牛这类依水而生的动物也生活在这里。

在最近的潮湿阶段结束时,有趣的事情发生了。大约5000年前,降雨再次停止,湖水消失,而且变成了沙漠。更是在这个时期,人类坚持了下来。岩画艺术告诉我们,他们已经作出了从狩猎到饲养家畜的转变。接下来是建造市镇的社会的出现和向农业的转变:格拉马提安(Garamantian)文明。

格拉马提安人在与当今撒哈拉气候很类似的时期处于鼎盛阶段。许多学者认为他们是沙漠游牧民,但是,他们的首府城里(格拉马,靠近今天的Jarmah)出土的文物,以及由马丁利小组的土地调查,都展示出他们是依赖绿洲农业生活的定居人。他们建造了非常复杂精密的灌溉系统,这让他们得以种植小麦、大麦、高梁、椰枣和橄榄。地下渠道被称为“福格拉斯”(foggaras挖掘到地下水并把水引进农田而不致损失蒸发。600英里长的这种渠道至今仍然能探测到。这套灌溉系统良好运转了数百年。但后来,潮湿时期贮存下来的“化石”水开始用尽,文明也随之消失。

撒哈拉初看起来似乎是一个屏障,把非洲切成了二块。但是对于数千年来生活在利比亚的人来说,它是一个走廊。黄金和象牙以及奴隶从下撒哈拉运来北方。来自地中海的橄榄油、葡萄酒、玻璃和其它货物沿走廊又运回南方。这种贸易在我们的脑海中形成了一幅永恒的图象:沙漠商队在巨大的沙丘之间穿越、行走。

撒哈拉走廊也可能曾经是人类祖先离开大陆东部,移居世界其它地区所经过的路径之一。学者们一直认为,早期人类从下撒哈拉的非洲进入欧亚大陆,迁徙路线要么是沿尼罗河并穿越西奈半岛,要么是越过红海。现在另一种正在探索的意见是:费赞地区可能是导致一些近代人长期以来迁徙走廊之一,他们由此到达地中海沿岸并从那里穿过西奈。也许,我们的祖先从大裂谷出发,通过艰难跋涉,穿越这茫茫沙海才来到了世界各地。

马丁利说,他喜欢考古学的原因在于“它为今天提供经验课程。”在格拉马提安人消失1500年之后,利比亚政府正投资建造大人工河(Great Man-Made River),那是一系列开采撒哈拉远古地下水资源的巨型沟渠,并用这些人工河使沙漠重现生机。抽上来的水是数十万年前在很湿润时期积聚下来的。地下水位已经由于抽水而在下降。这项工程估计寿命仅仅50到100年之间,对于这个地区来说只是眨眼之间。

其实,费赞的最后篇章仍然在写。

                                                                                

Charles Bowden is the author of Killing the Hidden Waters. George Steinmetz made the aerial pictures for this story from his motorized paraglider, which he assembled after his arrival in Libya.

 

 

Fezzan

Unseen Sahara

A rare aerial look at Libya's remote Fezzan region, where ancient societies thrived and collapsed as the rains came and wentBy Charles Bowden

Photograph by George Steinmetz

An ancient wind is coming up from a place called deep time. The Sahara strikes us as an eternal inferno of dunes and blue sky. We are dazzled by its vistas but fail to notice it as one of the great record-keeping places on Earth. The past survives here and speaks from the sand, rock, heat, and dry winds. It whispers to us about a history of repeated jolts of climate change and of the advance and retreat of humanity.

David Mattingly heads a team of scholars on the Desert Migrations Project, whose work takes us to prehistory. They are time travelers who use four-wheel-drive vehicles to navigate the Sahara looking for traces of our forebears. With special tires deflated to provide extra traction, they conquer dunes up to a hundred feet high. They have opened up a whole new way to see this desert.In the southwest part of Libya, a region called Fezzan is the beating heart of the Sahara, an inaccessible place full of sand seas, wadis, mountains, plateaus, oases, and mystery. Between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500 an estimated 100,000 people farmed and thrived here, in an area that typically receives less than an inch of rain a year and many years none at all.

"That," Mattingly notes, "is an awful lot of people in the hyperarid landscape of the central Sahara."

An archaeologist at the University of Leicester, he's become a slave to the desert: "I've been working in Libya for 30 years, and from the start I was wowed by the landscapes." Many others have known this fate. They become addicted to brilliant light and uncluttered horizons. Where most see a wasteland, others find clarity.

Hugh Clapperton, a Scottish explorer, plunges into the desert of southwestern Libya between 1822 and 1825. He is the point man of an empire, the face of steam power, spinning jennies, and the British fleet. On November 7, 1824, he is crossing the dry ground when he comes upon a female slave left "to perish on the road today, her head was terribly swelled & unable to walk & insensible." Clapperton finds one of the master's servants huddled by the woman, "waiting by her until she died, not to bury her but to bring away the few rags she had on."

She cannot ride a camel; she is too weak to hold on. He thinks if he lingers, he will die too.

The wind is cold, he notes.

He rides on.

This is the Sahara of dread. A waterless sea of sand and stone, where scorpions infest, vipers slither, and the sun has no mercy. Libya is big—a slab of sun the size of Italy, France, Spain, and Germany—and almost all of its six million people live huddled on the Mediterranean coast. To truly understand the region, we must turn our backs on the sea and look south. Ninety-five percent of Libya is desert, 20 percent is dunes, and not a single perennial river runs through it. The Libyan Sahara holds the world's heat record (136°F) and can chill the bones on a winter night.

Ibrahim al-Koni, Libya's leading novelist, was raised as a Tuareg in the Fezzan. In his book The Bleeding of the Stone, he quotes a Sufi song:

The desert is a true treasure

for him who seeks refuge

from men and the evil of men.

In it is contentment,

in it is death and all you seek.

The Fezzan reveals thousands of years of life struggling against change, of humans adapting to a hostile environment. It is a time machine where the past slaps us in the face, and if we linger, things happen to our safe ideas.

We moderns have grudgingly accepted that the past is a record of shifts in climate, great migrations, the rise and fall of nations, yet we act as if our present is the final chapter. But in the Sahara a very long tale confronts any visitor, a reminder that this current chapter is thin and fragile.

Mattingly's investigations bring him to the Ubari Sand Sea, where there are, improbably, many tiny, gem-colored lakes—some purple, some orange from minerals and algae—that are the dried-up reminders of a previous time when groundwater lay closer to the surface than it does today. It's hard to imagine, but a lake the size of En­gland, Lake Megafezzan, gleamed here about 200,000 years ago, when rainfall was abundant, and ancient channels testify that rivers ran in the center of the desert. 

Climate change has been like an on-off switch in the Sahara. In dry times the lakes dwindled and the plants declined to niches. Then, when moister times returned, the lakes filled and parts of the Sahara were transformed to savanna. Human communities have pulsed here like the explosion of plants after a rare rain. When moist eras visited, they thrived. When the dry times returned, they shrank or collapsed.

How does one locate waterways of long ago? From way up high. Using radar images taken from space, Migrations Project team members Kevin White and Nick Drake have been able to map the location of mineral residues from ancient lakes and springs, then steer their Land Rovers to those spots, where paleoanthropologists Robert Foley and Marta Mirazón Lahr discovered stone tools, arrowheads, fireplaces, graves, and other clues to human occupation.

The earliest modern humans in the region were hunters and gatherers who lived in a savanna landscape about 130,000 years ago. Those people cleared out when the rains tapered off about 70,000 years ago, but then the rains returned and people moved in again. This back-and-forth migration is called the Saharan pump, a movement of people in and out of northern Africa as the climate shifted. Scratched on the desert's rocks are the memories of a wetter Sahara, when water-dependent creatures such as lions, elephants, and rhinoceroses lived here.

A funny thing happened when the most recent wet phase ended. About 5,000 years ago the rains stopped once more, the lakes disappeared, and the desert took hold. Yet this time the people stayed. Rock art suggests they had already made the transition from hunting to raising livestock. Next came the rise of a society that would begin building towns and make the transition to agriculture: the Garamantian civilization.

The Garamantes flourished here in a climate much like that of the Sahara today. Many scholars assumed they were desert nomads, but excavations at their capital city, Garama (near modern-day Jarmah), and land surveys by Mattingly's team have shown they were sedentary people living off oasis agriculture. They constructed a sophisticated irrigation system that allowed them to grow wheat, barley, sorghum, date palms, and olives. Underground canals—called foggaras—tapped into groundwater and directed it to fields without loss to evaporation. Six hundred miles of these canals can still be detected. The system worked well for hundreds of years. And then the "fossil" water, stored up in wet times, started to give out, and the civilization collapsed.

The Sahara seems like a barrier at first glance, severing Africa into two pieces. But for the humans who have lived in Libya for thousands of years, it has been a corridor. Gold and ivory and slaves came north from sub-Saharan Africa; olive oil, wine, glass, and other goods from the Mediterranean flowed south. This trade creates a lasting image in our minds: the caravan wending its way through huge dunes.

The Saharan corridor may even have been one of the pathways our ancestors followed when they left the eastern part of the continent to populate the rest of the world. Scholars have long assumed that early humans expanded beyond sub-Saharan Africa into Eurasia by migrating either along the Nile River and across the Sinai or across the Red Sea. Now another notion is being explored: that the Fezzan may have been part of a long migratory corridor leading some modern humans to the shores of the Mediterranean and from there across the Sinai. Perhaps, through this sea of sand, our ancestors trekked from the Great Rift Valley and into our lives.

Mattingly says he likes archaeology because "it has lessons for today." Fifteen hundred years after the fall of the Garamantes, the Libyan government is now building the Great Man-Made River, a series of huge aqueducts to mine ancient underground water reserves below the Sahara and use them to make the desert bloom. The water being pumped was deposited tens of thousands of years ago, in much wetter times. Already the water table is declining because of the pumping. The project has an estimated life span of only 50 to 100 years, a blink of the eye in this region.

Clearly the last chapter of the Fezzan is yet to be written.

 

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