John Tyman's
Cultures in Context Series
 4.1  Introduction and Overview : 231-238
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.231. The Saharan camel or dromedary has only one hump, unlike the Bactrian camels of Central Asia, which have two. An ancient legend explains that when Allah created man from clay into which he breathed life, he had some left over. He cut this into two lumps, and made one half into a camel and the other into a date palm. The camel, therefore, is man's brother and the date palm is his sister -- and without them no man could survive in the desert. (Near Ain Khudra)
.232. There are, in fact, three main ways in which people, traditionally, have survived here, and each of them has links to both the date palm and the camel. (Date palm at oasis near El Oued)
.233. Some adopted a nomadic lifestyle, herding animals, and moving great distances in search of suitable pasture. (Tuareg herders near Tamanrasset)
.234. Others, secondly, settled in oases, growing crops where water could be found at or near the surface. (Djanet)
.235. The Sahara is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the entire world -- simply because the pastures are so poor that a large area is required to provide enough food for each animal, and because the water sources on which crop farmers depend are so widely spaced. Only the Arctic and Antarctic are less hospitable. (Tassili-n-Ajjer)
.236. Thirdly, there were those who lived in market towns and gained their income through trade -- buying and selling things produced by, or needed in, the surrounding area. (Date sellers at Biskra)
.237. In modern times we have also seen the expansion of market towns into cities, as a result of population growth, tourism and, most significantly, the enormous wealth generated by the discovery and development of extensive oil and gas fields. (Ghardaia in 1982)
.238. The author visited the desert first in 1982 and again in 2003. When they think of the Sahara many people in Australia still imagine fiercely independent but hospitable nomads living as their ancestors did in times past: but even in 1982 traditional lifestyles were changing, and the pace of change has quickened greatly since then. (The author at Ain Khudra)


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