Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 eBook

James Richardson (explorer of the Sahara)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1.
but deeply graved and well shaped.  There are several other tableaux, representing animals, but chiefly bullocks.  This would seem to intimate, that in the days when these forms of animals were chiselled bullocks were the animals employed for the transport of men and merchandise over the desert.  No camels occur, as in other tablets.  These sculptures are very properly said by our escort to be neither Arab nor Tuarick, but belong to the people that existed before these races.  The principal tableau has a very Egyptian look about it; the oxen are well formed, and would do credit to a modern artist.  There is one bas-relief figure of an ox with its neck in a circle, as if representing some of the games of the Circus.  The other animals most distinctly seen are ostriches; the rocks around are, besides, covered with Tuarick characters, but nothing interesting.

We started late on the 6th, for the Tuaricks had allowed their camels to stray, and we waited some time for them:  however, we were obliged, after all, to start without them, and having made five hours and a half halted.  Our course had lain over the plateau, which about half way became broken up into valleys.  One of these, called Anan Haghaneen, led us into the pleasant and picturesque wady of Mana Samatanee, where only in this part of the route can be found herbage for camels.  There are also a few tholukh-trees.  What a desolate region is all this, despite the little spots of vegetation!  There are no signs of animal life, except traces of the wadan.  For two days, they tell us, we are to have little or no water.  Now and then we pass desert mosques,—­square, or circular, or cross-shaped walls of stone, some with two entrances, built for the devotion of chance passengers.  The mountains on the east are called El Magheelaghen.  To-day we carried my trunk with the money.  Yusuf had previously given it in charge to a camel-driver, and the Tuaricks were always uneasy, asking to see if all were right.  Europeans would probably have done the same under similar circumstances.

On the 7th we made a good day of about eleven hours, continuing during the first three in shallow wadys, down one of which we had a distant view of the plain of Serdalous, on the north-west.  Then came the breaking up of the great plateau of Fezzan, and we entered a pass which leads down into the subjacent Sahara, and runs west with an inclination to the south.  This is, perhaps, one of the most extraordinary natural features I have ever beheld.  It seems to have been purposely cut out of the solid rock for the use of man, and reminds one at first of a railway excavation.  As we advance it assumes the form of a cave, slightly open at top,—­narrow, winding, and furnished with seats on either hand.  A dim light comes from above.  Only one part was difficult for the boat.  Now and then the pass became quite a tunnel, but the concave roof is high enough for any camel to pass.  On the sides, here and there, were Tuarick

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Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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