PHENICIANS, ROMANS AND VANDALS
Far to the south of the Anti-Atlas, in the yellow deserts that lead to Timbuctoo, live the wild Touaregs, the Veiled Men of the south, who ride to war with their faces covered by linen masks.
These Veiled Men are Berbers, but their alphabet is composed of Lybian characters, and these are closely related to the signs engraved on certain vases of the Nile valley that are probably six thousand years old. Moreover, among the rock-cut images of the African desert is the likeness of Theban Ammon crowned with the solar disk between serpents, and the old Berber religion, with its sun and animal worship, has many points of resemblance with Egyptian beliefs. All this implies trade contacts far below the horizon of history, and obscure comings and goings of restless throngs across incredible distances long before the Phenicians planted their first trading posts on the north African coast about 1200 B.C.
Five hundred years before Christ, Carthage sent one of her admirals on a voyage of colonization beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Hannon set out with sixty fifty-oared galleys carrying thirty thousand people. Some of them settled at Mehedyia, at the mouth of the Sebou, where Phenician remains have been found, and apparently the exploration was pushed as far south as the coast of Guinea, for the inscription recording it relates that Hannon beheld elephants, hairy men and “savages called gorillas.” At any rate, Carthage founded stable colonies at Melilla, Larache, Sale and Casablanca.
Then came the Romans, who carried on the business, set up one of their easy tolerant protectorates over “Tingitanian Mauretania,"[A] and built one important military outpost, Volubilis in the Zerhoun, which a series of minor defenses probably connected with Sale on the west coast, thus guarding the Roman province against the unconquered Berbers to the south.
[Footnote A: East of the Moulouya, the African protectorate (now west Algeria and the Sud Oranais) was called the Mauretania of Caesar.]