Libyan Desert

Libyan Desert

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Encyclopedia
The Libyan Desert covers an area of approximately 1,100,000 km2, it extends approximately 1100 km from east to west, and 1,000 km from north to south, in about the shape of a rectangle. Like most of the Sahara, this desert is primarily sand and hamada
Hamada
A hamada is a type of desert landscape consisting of largely barren, hard, rocky plateaus, with very little sand. A hamada may sometimes also be called a reg , though this more properly refers to a stony plain rather than a highland.Hamadas exist in contrast to ergs, which are large areas of...

 or stony plain.

Sand plains, dune
Dune
In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes, formed by interaction with the wind. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter "slip face" in the lee of the wind...

s, ridges and some depression
Depression (geology)
A depression in geology is a landform sunken or depressed below the surrounding area. Depressions may be formed by various mechanisms.Structural or tectonic related:...

s (basins) typify the endorheic
Endorheic
An endorheic basin is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans...

 region, with no rivers draining into or out of the desert. The Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir is a plateau in the New Valley Governorate of the remote southwest corner of Egypt, and southeast Libya. Its name translates as "the Great Barrier"...

 plateau reaches an altitude of just over , and along with the nearby massif of Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat is a mountain range in the area of the Egyptian-Libyan-Sudanese border. The mountain lies about 40 km S-SE of Jabal Arkanu...

 is an exception to the uninterrupted territory of basement rock
Basement Rock
Basement or Basement Rock music was a sub-genre coined in 2006 in an article by music magazine TGR. This was first in relation to the existence of underground record label Criminal Records but more for the independent bands they represent. The roots of the sub-genre are noted to be as far back as...

s covered by layers of horizontally bedded sediments, forming a massive sand plain, low plateaus and dunes.

The desert features a striking diversity of landscapes including mountains such as Jebel Uweinat , the Gilf Kebir plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

, and sand seas (see below). The Libyan Desert is barely populated apart from the modern settlements at oases
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 of the lower Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 region in southeastern Libya. The indigenous population is Berber
Berber
Berber may refer to:*a member of the Berber people**the Berber languages, a family of Afro-Asiatic languages**Berberism, a political-cultural term supporting a distinct Berber identity**Berber calendar**Berber cuisine...

. In most of Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, the desert is close to the Nile River, with a seasonal flood plain only a few kilometers wide between river and desert.

North of the Gilf Kebir plateau, among the shallow peripheral dunes of the southern Great Sand Sea, is a field of Libyan desert glass
Libyan desert glass
Libyan desert glass , or great sand sea glass is a substance found in areas in the Libyan Desert. Fragments of desert glass can be found over large areas, up to tens of kilometers.- Geologic origin :...

. A specimen of the desert glass was used in a piece of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun , Egyptian , ; approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty , during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom...

's ancient jewelry.

Gilf Kebir


The Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir is a plateau in the New Valley Governorate of the remote southwest corner of Egypt, and southeast Libya. Its name translates as "the Great Barrier"...

 plateau rises to around 1100 metres in the south and lies in the southwest corner of Egypt. It is similar in structure to the other sandstone plateaus of the central Sahara, with its southern rim rising in sheer cliffs separated by wadis. The northern part is more broken and supports three large wadis of which Wadi Hamra and Adb el Malik are the most distinctive. There is sparse xeric vegetation
Xerophyte
A xerophyte or xerophytic organism is a plant which has adapted to survive in an environment that lacks water, such as a desert. Xerophytic plants may have adapted shapes and forms or internal functions that reduce their water loss or store water during long periods of dryness...

.

There is a profusion of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 artifacts and rock art
Rock art
Rock art is a term used in archaeology for any human-made markings made on natural stone. They can be divided into:*Petroglyphs - carvings into stone surfaces*Pictographs - rock and cave paintings...

. The southern Gilf Kebir and Uweinat are among the richest troves of rock art in the Sahara. The 'Cave of the Swimmers' petroglyphs featured in The English Patient
The English Patient (film)
The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama film based on the novel of the same name by Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje. The film, written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella, won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture...

 film are in Wadi Sora, discovered by the non-fictional László Almásy
László Almásy
László Ede Almásy de Zsadány et Törökszentmiklós was a Hungarian aristocrat, motorist, desert researcher, aviator, Scout-leader and soldier who also served as the basis for the protagonist in Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel The English Patient and the movie based on it.-Biography:Almásy was born in...

 in the 1930s. The 'swimming figures' are in poor condition now. In 2002 a new cave was discovered nearby, with hitherto unseen prehistoric petroglyph images.

Three sand seas


The three sand seas, which contain dunes up to 512 meters in height, cover approximately one quarter of the region. They include:
  • Great Sand Sea
  • Calanshio Sand Sea
  • Rebiana Sand Sea
    Rebiana Sand Sea
    The Rebiana Sand Sea is in the western part of the Saharan Libyan Desert in the Kufra District of the Cyrenaica region in eastern Libya.This and the Egyptian and Calanshio Sand Seas contains dunes up to 110m in height and cover about 25% of the Libyan Desert. The dunes were created by wind.-See...

  • peepee

History


Modern exploration


The Sahara was traversed by mostly Muslim traders, natives and pilgrims, of which the best known is Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

.
The first European explorer to the Sahara was the German Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs
Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs
Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs was a German geographer, explorer, author and adventurer.He was born at Vegesack, now part of Bremen. There was much pressure on Rohlfs to be in the medicine field, and he eventually joined the French Foreign Legion in a medical capacity...

. In his expeditions in 1865 he received much resistance from the natives of the Saharan oases and kingdoms he visited. Because of the resistance offered to all European explorers at the time, especially by Senussis Ikhwan, Rohlfs only managed to come back with a few important findings which included an inaccurate first map of the Libyan Desert.

It was not until 1924, when Ahmed Hassanein
Ahmed Hassanein
Ahmed Hassanein Pasha, KCVO, MBE or Aḥmad Moḥammad Makhlūf Ḥasanēn al-Būlākī was an Oxford-educated Egyptian courtier, diplomat, Olympic athlete in fencing, photographer, writer, politician, explorer and tutor to King Farouk.Ahmed Hassanein was one of the most influential figures in Egyptian...

 undertook a 3500 km (2,174.8 mi) expedition with a camel caravan that the first accurate maps were drawn and the mountain of Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat is a mountain range in the area of the Egyptian-Libyan-Sudanese border. The mountain lies about 40 km S-SE of Jabal Arkanu...

 with springs at its base was discovered. He wrote important accounts on the Senussi
Senussi
The Senussi or Sanussi refers to a Muslim political-religious order in Libya and the Sudan region founded in Mecca in 1837 by the Grand Senussi, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. Senussi was concerned with both the decline of Islamic thought and spirituality and the weakening of Muslim political...

 sect, explaining their lifestyle and ethics in his book The Lost Oases. Ralph Bagnold
Ralph Alger Bagnold
Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold, FRS OBE, was the founder and first commander of the British Army's Long Range Desert Group during World War II. He is also generally considered to have been a pioneer of desert exploration, an acclaim earned for his activities during the 1930s...

, who went on to help found the LRDG
Long Range Desert Group
The Long Range Desert Group was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during the Second World War. The commander of the German Afrika Corps, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, admitted that the LRDG "caused us more damage than any other British unit of equal strength".Originally called...

, greatly extended the knowledge of the area (as well as developing techniques still used today for driving cars in sand) with many journeys in the 1920s and '30s using Ford Model T
Ford Model T
The Ford Model T is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to May 1927...

s.

World War II



In 1935, the famous French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , officially Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry , was a French writer, poet and pioneering aviator. He became a laureate of France's highest literary awards, and in 1939 was the winner of the U.S. National Book Award...

 crashed in the northern Libyan Desert. After miraculously surviving, he and his plane's mechanic nearly died of thirst before being rescued by a nomad. This event is described in Exupéry's book Wind, Sand and Stars
Wind, Sand and Stars
Wind, Sand and Stars is a memoir by Antoine de Saint Exupéry published in 1939. It was translated from the French by Lewis Galantière, and published in the US in November 1945....

.

The wreck of the B-24 bomber Lady Be Good
Lady be Good (aircraft)
Lady Be Good was an American B-24D Liberator, AAF serial number 41-24301, which flew for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Based at Soluch Field in Soluch as part of the 514th Bomb Squadron, 376th Bomb Group, it failed to return from an April 4, 1943 bombing raid on Naples,...

—discovered 200 km (124.3 mi) north of Kufra
Kufra
Kufra is a basin and oasis group in Al Kufrah District, southeastern Cyrenaica in Libya. Kufra is historically important above all because at the end of nineteenth century it became the center and holy place of the Senussi order...

 15 years after it was reported missing during WWII—had a less happy ending. The crew bailed out believing they were over the sea, when their plane ran out of fuel, and they became lost. When they landed in the Libyan Desert they could feel a northwesterly breeze. Thinking they were near the Mediterranean, they headed into the wind hoping it would lead them to safety. However, they were more than inland from the Mediterranean, and slowly died from dehydration after covering with minimal water in a place so dry even the desert Bedouins refuse to enter.

Further reading

  • Almásy, L. and Lozach, J. 1936. Récentes explorations dans le Désert Libyque (1932–1936) (Recent explorations in the Libyan Desert, 1932–1936). Société royale de géographie d'Égypte, 97 p.
  • Almásy, L. 1942. Unbekannte Sahara: Mit Flugzeug und Auto in der Libyschen Wüste (The unknown Sahara: By airplane and auto in the Libyan Desert). Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 215 p.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1931. Journeys in the Libyan Desert, 1929 and 1930. The Geographical Journal 78(1):13–39; (6):524–533.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1933. A further journey through the Libyan Desert. The Geographical Journal 82(2):103–129; (3):211–213, 226–235.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1935. Libyan Sands: travel in a dead world. London: Travel Book Club, 351 p.
  • Forbes, R. 1921. Secret of the Sahara: Kufara. New York: George H. Doran, 356 p.
  • Hassanein Bey, A.M. 1924. Crossing the untraversed Libyan Desert. The National Geographic Magazine 46(3):233–277.
  • Hassanein Bey, A.M. 1925. The Lost Oases: Being a narrative account of the author's explorations into the more remote parts of the Libyan Desert and his rediscovery of two lost oases. 363 p.
  • Hoskins, G.A. 1837. Visit to the Great Oasis of the Libyan Desert. London, 341 p.
  • Rohlfs G. 1875. Drei Monate in der Libyschen wüste (Three months in the Libyan Desert). Cassel: Verlag von Theodor Fischer, 340 p.
  • Scholz, J.M.A. 1822. Travels in the countries between Alexandria and Parætonium, the Libyan Desert, Siwa, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, in 1821. London, 120 p.
  • Scott, C. 2000. Sahara Overland: A route and planning guide‎. Trailblazer Publications, 544 p.
  • St. John, B. 1849. Adventures in the Libyan Desert and the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon. London: John Murray, 244 p.
  • Zittel, K.A. von. 1875. Briefe aus der libyschen Wüste (Letters from the Libyan Desert). München.

External links



The Libyan Desert covers an area of approximately 1,100,000 km2, it extends approximately 1100 km from east to west, and 1,000 km from north to south, in about the shape of a rectangle. Like most of the Sahara, this desert is primarily sand and hamada
Hamada
A hamada is a type of desert landscape consisting of largely barren, hard, rocky plateaus, with very little sand. A hamada may sometimes also be called a reg , though this more properly refers to a stony plain rather than a highland.Hamadas exist in contrast to ergs, which are large areas of...

 or stony plain.

Sand plains, dune
Dune
In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes, formed by interaction with the wind. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter "slip face" in the lee of the wind...

s, ridges and some depression
Depression (geology)
A depression in geology is a landform sunken or depressed below the surrounding area. Depressions may be formed by various mechanisms.Structural or tectonic related:...

s (basins) typify the endorheic
Endorheic
An endorheic basin is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans...

 region, with no rivers draining into or out of the desert. The Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir is a plateau in the New Valley Governorate of the remote southwest corner of Egypt, and southeast Libya. Its name translates as "the Great Barrier"...

 plateau reaches an altitude of just over {{Nowrap|1000 m}}, and along with the nearby massif of Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat is a mountain range in the area of the Egyptian-Libyan-Sudanese border. The mountain lies about 40 km S-SE of Jabal Arkanu...

 is an exception to the uninterrupted territory of basement rock
Basement Rock
Basement or Basement Rock music was a sub-genre coined in 2006 in an article by music magazine TGR. This was first in relation to the existence of underground record label Criminal Records but more for the independent bands they represent. The roots of the sub-genre are noted to be as far back as...

s covered by layers of horizontally bedded sediments, forming a massive sand plain, low plateaus and dunes.

The desert features a striking diversity of landscapes including mountains such as Jebel Uweinat ({{Nowrap|1980 m}}), the Gilf Kebir plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

, and sand seas (see below). The Libyan Desert is barely populated apart from the modern settlements at oases
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 of the lower Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 region in southeastern Libya. The indigenous population is Berber
Berber
Berber may refer to:*a member of the Berber people**the Berber languages, a family of Afro-Asiatic languages**Berberism, a political-cultural term supporting a distinct Berber identity**Berber calendar**Berber cuisine...

. In most of Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, the desert is close to the Nile River, with a seasonal flood plain only a few kilometers wide between river and desert.

North of the Gilf Kebir plateau, among the shallow peripheral dunes of the southern Great Sand Sea, is a field of Libyan desert glass
Libyan desert glass
Libyan desert glass , or great sand sea glass is a substance found in areas in the Libyan Desert. Fragments of desert glass can be found over large areas, up to tens of kilometers.- Geologic origin :...

. A specimen of the desert glass was used in a piece of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun , Egyptian , ; approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty , during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom...

's ancient jewelry.

Gilf Kebir


The Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir is a plateau in the New Valley Governorate of the remote southwest corner of Egypt, and southeast Libya. Its name translates as "the Great Barrier"...

 plateau rises to around 1100 metres in the south and lies in the southwest corner of Egypt. It is similar in structure to the other sandstone plateaus of the central Sahara, with its southern rim rising in sheer cliffs separated by wadis. The northern part is more broken and supports three large wadis of which Wadi Hamra and Adb el Malik are the most distinctive. There is sparse xeric vegetation
Xerophyte
A xerophyte or xerophytic organism is a plant which has adapted to survive in an environment that lacks water, such as a desert. Xerophytic plants may have adapted shapes and forms or internal functions that reduce their water loss or store water during long periods of dryness...

.

There is a profusion of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 artifacts and rock art
Rock art
Rock art is a term used in archaeology for any human-made markings made on natural stone. They can be divided into:*Petroglyphs - carvings into stone surfaces*Pictographs - rock and cave paintings...

. The southern Gilf Kebir and Uweinat are among the richest troves of rock art in the Sahara. The 'Cave of the Swimmers' petroglyphs featured in The English Patient
The English Patient (film)
The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama film based on the novel of the same name by Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje. The film, written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella, won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture...

 film are in Wadi Sora, discovered by the non-fictional László Almásy
László Almásy
László Ede Almásy de Zsadány et Törökszentmiklós was a Hungarian aristocrat, motorist, desert researcher, aviator, Scout-leader and soldier who also served as the basis for the protagonist in Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel The English Patient and the movie based on it.-Biography:Almásy was born in...

 in the 1930s. The 'swimming figures' are in poor condition now. In 2002 a new cave was discovered nearby, with hitherto unseen prehistoric petroglyph images.

Three sand seas


The three sand seas, which contain dunes up to 512 meters in height, cover approximately one quarter of the region. They include:
  • Great Sand Sea
  • Calanshio Sand Sea
  • Rebiana Sand Sea
    Rebiana Sand Sea
    The Rebiana Sand Sea is in the western part of the Saharan Libyan Desert in the Kufra District of the Cyrenaica region in eastern Libya.This and the Egyptian and Calanshio Sand Seas contains dunes up to 110m in height and cover about 25% of the Libyan Desert. The dunes were created by wind.-See...

  • peepee

History


{{see|Berdoa|Marmarica|Leo Africanus|Toubou people}}

Modern exploration


The Sahara was traversed by mostly Muslim traders, natives and pilgrims, of which the best known is Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

.
The first European explorer to the Sahara was the German Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs
Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs
Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs was a German geographer, explorer, author and adventurer.He was born at Vegesack, now part of Bremen. There was much pressure on Rohlfs to be in the medicine field, and he eventually joined the French Foreign Legion in a medical capacity...

. In his expeditions in 1865 he received much resistance from the natives of the Saharan oases and kingdoms he visited. Because of the resistance offered to all European explorers at the time, especially by Senussis Ikhwan, Rohlfs only managed to come back with a few important findings which included an inaccurate first map of the Libyan Desert.

It was not until 1924, when Ahmed Hassanein
Ahmed Hassanein
Ahmed Hassanein Pasha, KCVO, MBE or Aḥmad Moḥammad Makhlūf Ḥasanēn al-Būlākī was an Oxford-educated Egyptian courtier, diplomat, Olympic athlete in fencing, photographer, writer, politician, explorer and tutor to King Farouk.Ahmed Hassanein was one of the most influential figures in Egyptian...

 undertook a 3500 km (2,174.8 mi) expedition with a camel caravan that the first accurate maps were drawn and the mountain of Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat is a mountain range in the area of the Egyptian-Libyan-Sudanese border. The mountain lies about 40 km S-SE of Jabal Arkanu...

 with springs at its base was discovered. He wrote important accounts on the Senussi
Senussi
The Senussi or Sanussi refers to a Muslim political-religious order in Libya and the Sudan region founded in Mecca in 1837 by the Grand Senussi, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. Senussi was concerned with both the decline of Islamic thought and spirituality and the weakening of Muslim political...

 sect, explaining their lifestyle and ethics in his book The Lost Oases. Ralph Bagnold
Ralph Alger Bagnold
Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold, FRS OBE, was the founder and first commander of the British Army's Long Range Desert Group during World War II. He is also generally considered to have been a pioneer of desert exploration, an acclaim earned for his activities during the 1930s...

, who went on to help found the LRDG
Long Range Desert Group
The Long Range Desert Group was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during the Second World War. The commander of the German Afrika Corps, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, admitted that the LRDG "caused us more damage than any other British unit of equal strength".Originally called...

, greatly extended the knowledge of the area (as well as developing techniques still used today for driving cars in sand) with many journeys in the 1920s and '30s using Ford Model T
Ford Model T
The Ford Model T is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to May 1927...

s.

World War II


{{See|Western Desert Campaign}}
In 1935, the famous French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , officially Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry , was a French writer, poet and pioneering aviator. He became a laureate of France's highest literary awards, and in 1939 was the winner of the U.S. National Book Award...

 crashed in the northern Libyan Desert. After miraculously surviving, he and his plane's mechanic nearly died of thirst before being rescued by a nomad. This event is described in Exupéry's book Wind, Sand and Stars
Wind, Sand and Stars
Wind, Sand and Stars is a memoir by Antoine de Saint Exupéry published in 1939. It was translated from the French by Lewis Galantière, and published in the US in November 1945....

.

The wreck of the B-24 bomber Lady Be Good
Lady be Good (aircraft)
Lady Be Good was an American B-24D Liberator, AAF serial number 41-24301, which flew for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Based at Soluch Field in Soluch as part of the 514th Bomb Squadron, 376th Bomb Group, it failed to return from an April 4, 1943 bombing raid on Naples,...

—discovered 200 km (124.3 mi) north of Kufra
Kufra
Kufra is a basin and oasis group in Al Kufrah District, southeastern Cyrenaica in Libya. Kufra is historically important above all because at the end of nineteenth century it became the center and holy place of the Senussi order...

 15 years after it was reported missing during WWII—had a less happy ending. The crew bailed out believing they were over the sea, when their plane ran out of fuel, and they became lost. When they landed in the Libyan Desert they could feel a northwesterly breeze. Thinking they were near the Mediterranean, they headed into the wind hoping it would lead them to safety. However, they were more than {{Nowrap|640 km}} inland from the Mediterranean, and slowly died from dehydration after covering {{Nowrap|130 km}} with minimal water in a place so dry even the desert Bedouins refuse to enter.

Further reading

  • Almásy, L. and Lozach, J. 1936. Récentes explorations dans le Désert Libyque (1932–1936) (Recent explorations in the Libyan Desert, 1932–1936). Société royale de géographie d'Égypte, 97 p.
  • Almásy, L. 1942. Unbekannte Sahara: Mit Flugzeug und Auto in der Libyschen Wüste (The unknown Sahara: By airplane and auto in the Libyan Desert). Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 215 p.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1931. Journeys in the Libyan Desert, 1929 and 1930. The Geographical Journal 78(1):13–39; (6):524–533.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1933. A further journey through the Libyan Desert. The Geographical Journal 82(2):103–129; (3):211–213, 226–235.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1935. Libyan Sands: travel in a dead world. London: Travel Book Club, 351 p.
  • Forbes, R. 1921. Secret of the Sahara: Kufara. New York: George H. Doran, 356 p.
  • Hassanein Bey, A.M. 1924. Crossing the untraversed Libyan Desert. The National Geographic Magazine 46(3):233–277.
  • Hassanein Bey, A.M. 1925. The Lost Oases: Being a narrative account of the author's explorations into the more remote parts of the Libyan Desert and his rediscovery of two lost oases. 363 p.
  • Hoskins, G.A. 1837. Visit to the Great Oasis of the Libyan Desert. London, 341 p.
  • Rohlfs G. 1875. Drei Monate in der Libyschen wüste (Three months in the Libyan Desert). Cassel: Verlag von Theodor Fischer, 340 p.
  • Scholz, J.M.A. 1822. Travels in the countries between Alexandria and Parætonium, the Libyan Desert, Siwa, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, in 1821. London, 120 p.
  • Scott, C. 2000. Sahara Overland: A route and planning guide‎. Trailblazer Publications, 544 p.
  • St. John, B. 1849. Adventures in the Libyan Desert and the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon. London: John Murray, 244 p.
  • Zittel, K.A. von. 1875. Briefe aus der libyschen Wüste (Letters from the Libyan Desert). München.

External links


{{commonscat|Libyan Desert}}

{{-}}

The Libyan Desert covers an area of approximately 1,100,000 km2, it extends approximately 1100 km from east to west, and 1,000 km from north to south, in about the shape of a rectangle. Like most of the Sahara, this desert is primarily sand and hamada
Hamada
A hamada is a type of desert landscape consisting of largely barren, hard, rocky plateaus, with very little sand. A hamada may sometimes also be called a reg , though this more properly refers to a stony plain rather than a highland.Hamadas exist in contrast to ergs, which are large areas of...

 or stony plain.

Sand plains, dune
Dune
In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes, formed by interaction with the wind. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter "slip face" in the lee of the wind...

s, ridges and some depression
Depression (geology)
A depression in geology is a landform sunken or depressed below the surrounding area. Depressions may be formed by various mechanisms.Structural or tectonic related:...

s (basins) typify the endorheic
Endorheic
An endorheic basin is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans...

 region, with no rivers draining into or out of the desert. The Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir is a plateau in the New Valley Governorate of the remote southwest corner of Egypt, and southeast Libya. Its name translates as "the Great Barrier"...

 plateau reaches an altitude of just over {{Nowrap|1000 m}}, and along with the nearby massif of Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat is a mountain range in the area of the Egyptian-Libyan-Sudanese border. The mountain lies about 40 km S-SE of Jabal Arkanu...

 is an exception to the uninterrupted territory of basement rock
Basement Rock
Basement or Basement Rock music was a sub-genre coined in 2006 in an article by music magazine TGR. This was first in relation to the existence of underground record label Criminal Records but more for the independent bands they represent. The roots of the sub-genre are noted to be as far back as...

s covered by layers of horizontally bedded sediments, forming a massive sand plain, low plateaus and dunes.

The desert features a striking diversity of landscapes including mountains such as Jebel Uweinat ({{Nowrap|1980 m}}), the Gilf Kebir plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

, and sand seas (see below). The Libyan Desert is barely populated apart from the modern settlements at oases
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 of the lower Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 region in southeastern Libya. The indigenous population is Berber
Berber
Berber may refer to:*a member of the Berber people**the Berber languages, a family of Afro-Asiatic languages**Berberism, a political-cultural term supporting a distinct Berber identity**Berber calendar**Berber cuisine...

. In most of Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, the desert is close to the Nile River, with a seasonal flood plain only a few kilometers wide between river and desert.

North of the Gilf Kebir plateau, among the shallow peripheral dunes of the southern Great Sand Sea, is a field of Libyan desert glass
Libyan desert glass
Libyan desert glass , or great sand sea glass is a substance found in areas in the Libyan Desert. Fragments of desert glass can be found over large areas, up to tens of kilometers.- Geologic origin :...

. A specimen of the desert glass was used in a piece of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun , Egyptian , ; approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty , during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom...

's ancient jewelry.

Gilf Kebir


The Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kebir is a plateau in the New Valley Governorate of the remote southwest corner of Egypt, and southeast Libya. Its name translates as "the Great Barrier"...

 plateau rises to around 1100 metres in the south and lies in the southwest corner of Egypt. It is similar in structure to the other sandstone plateaus of the central Sahara, with its southern rim rising in sheer cliffs separated by wadis. The northern part is more broken and supports three large wadis of which Wadi Hamra and Adb el Malik are the most distinctive. There is sparse xeric vegetation
Xerophyte
A xerophyte or xerophytic organism is a plant which has adapted to survive in an environment that lacks water, such as a desert. Xerophytic plants may have adapted shapes and forms or internal functions that reduce their water loss or store water during long periods of dryness...

.

There is a profusion of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 artifacts and rock art
Rock art
Rock art is a term used in archaeology for any human-made markings made on natural stone. They can be divided into:*Petroglyphs - carvings into stone surfaces*Pictographs - rock and cave paintings...

. The southern Gilf Kebir and Uweinat are among the richest troves of rock art in the Sahara. The 'Cave of the Swimmers' petroglyphs featured in The English Patient
The English Patient (film)
The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama film based on the novel of the same name by Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje. The film, written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella, won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture...

 film are in Wadi Sora, discovered by the non-fictional László Almásy
László Almásy
László Ede Almásy de Zsadány et Törökszentmiklós was a Hungarian aristocrat, motorist, desert researcher, aviator, Scout-leader and soldier who also served as the basis for the protagonist in Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel The English Patient and the movie based on it.-Biography:Almásy was born in...

 in the 1930s. The 'swimming figures' are in poor condition now. In 2002 a new cave was discovered nearby, with hitherto unseen prehistoric petroglyph images.

Three sand seas


The three sand seas, which contain dunes up to 512 meters in height, cover approximately one quarter of the region. They include:
  • Great Sand Sea
  • Calanshio Sand Sea
  • Rebiana Sand Sea
    Rebiana Sand Sea
    The Rebiana Sand Sea is in the western part of the Saharan Libyan Desert in the Kufra District of the Cyrenaica region in eastern Libya.This and the Egyptian and Calanshio Sand Seas contains dunes up to 110m in height and cover about 25% of the Libyan Desert. The dunes were created by wind.-See...

  • peepee

History


{{see|Berdoa|Marmarica|Leo Africanus|Toubou people}}

Modern exploration


The Sahara was traversed by mostly Muslim traders, natives and pilgrims, of which the best known is Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

.
The first European explorer to the Sahara was the German Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs
Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs
Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs was a German geographer, explorer, author and adventurer.He was born at Vegesack, now part of Bremen. There was much pressure on Rohlfs to be in the medicine field, and he eventually joined the French Foreign Legion in a medical capacity...

. In his expeditions in 1865 he received much resistance from the natives of the Saharan oases and kingdoms he visited. Because of the resistance offered to all European explorers at the time, especially by Senussis Ikhwan, Rohlfs only managed to come back with a few important findings which included an inaccurate first map of the Libyan Desert.

It was not until 1924, when Ahmed Hassanein
Ahmed Hassanein
Ahmed Hassanein Pasha, KCVO, MBE or Aḥmad Moḥammad Makhlūf Ḥasanēn al-Būlākī was an Oxford-educated Egyptian courtier, diplomat, Olympic athlete in fencing, photographer, writer, politician, explorer and tutor to King Farouk.Ahmed Hassanein was one of the most influential figures in Egyptian...

 undertook a 3500 km (2,174.8 mi) expedition with a camel caravan that the first accurate maps were drawn and the mountain of Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat
Jebel Uweinat is a mountain range in the area of the Egyptian-Libyan-Sudanese border. The mountain lies about 40 km S-SE of Jabal Arkanu...

 with springs at its base was discovered. He wrote important accounts on the Senussi
Senussi
The Senussi or Sanussi refers to a Muslim political-religious order in Libya and the Sudan region founded in Mecca in 1837 by the Grand Senussi, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. Senussi was concerned with both the decline of Islamic thought and spirituality and the weakening of Muslim political...

 sect, explaining their lifestyle and ethics in his book The Lost Oases. Ralph Bagnold
Ralph Alger Bagnold
Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold, FRS OBE, was the founder and first commander of the British Army's Long Range Desert Group during World War II. He is also generally considered to have been a pioneer of desert exploration, an acclaim earned for his activities during the 1930s...

, who went on to help found the LRDG
Long Range Desert Group
The Long Range Desert Group was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during the Second World War. The commander of the German Afrika Corps, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, admitted that the LRDG "caused us more damage than any other British unit of equal strength".Originally called...

, greatly extended the knowledge of the area (as well as developing techniques still used today for driving cars in sand) with many journeys in the 1920s and '30s using Ford Model T
Ford Model T
The Ford Model T is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to May 1927...

s.

World War II


{{See|Western Desert Campaign}}
In 1935, the famous French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , officially Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry , was a French writer, poet and pioneering aviator. He became a laureate of France's highest literary awards, and in 1939 was the winner of the U.S. National Book Award...

 crashed in the northern Libyan Desert. After miraculously surviving, he and his plane's mechanic nearly died of thirst before being rescued by a nomad. This event is described in Exupéry's book Wind, Sand and Stars
Wind, Sand and Stars
Wind, Sand and Stars is a memoir by Antoine de Saint Exupéry published in 1939. It was translated from the French by Lewis Galantière, and published in the US in November 1945....

.

The wreck of the B-24 bomber Lady Be Good
Lady be Good (aircraft)
Lady Be Good was an American B-24D Liberator, AAF serial number 41-24301, which flew for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Based at Soluch Field in Soluch as part of the 514th Bomb Squadron, 376th Bomb Group, it failed to return from an April 4, 1943 bombing raid on Naples,...

—discovered 200 km (124.3 mi) north of Kufra
Kufra
Kufra is a basin and oasis group in Al Kufrah District, southeastern Cyrenaica in Libya. Kufra is historically important above all because at the end of nineteenth century it became the center and holy place of the Senussi order...

 15 years after it was reported missing during WWII—had a less happy ending. The crew bailed out believing they were over the sea, when their plane ran out of fuel, and they became lost. When they landed in the Libyan Desert they could feel a northwesterly breeze. Thinking they were near the Mediterranean, they headed into the wind hoping it would lead them to safety. However, they were more than {{Nowrap|640 km}} inland from the Mediterranean, and slowly died from dehydration after covering {{Nowrap|130 km}} with minimal water in a place so dry even the desert Bedouins refuse to enter.

Further reading

  • Almásy, L. and Lozach, J. 1936. Récentes explorations dans le Désert Libyque (1932–1936) (Recent explorations in the Libyan Desert, 1932–1936). Société royale de géographie d'Égypte, 97 p.
  • Almásy, L. 1942. Unbekannte Sahara: Mit Flugzeug und Auto in der Libyschen Wüste (The unknown Sahara: By airplane and auto in the Libyan Desert). Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 215 p.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1931. Journeys in the Libyan Desert, 1929 and 1930. The Geographical Journal 78(1):13–39; (6):524–533.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1933. A further journey through the Libyan Desert. The Geographical Journal 82(2):103–129; (3):211–213, 226–235.
  • Bagnold, R.A. 1935. Libyan Sands: travel in a dead world. London: Travel Book Club, 351 p.
  • Forbes, R. 1921. Secret of the Sahara: Kufara. New York: George H. Doran, 356 p.
  • Hassanein Bey, A.M. 1924. Crossing the untraversed Libyan Desert. The National Geographic Magazine 46(3):233–277.
  • Hassanein Bey, A.M. 1925. The Lost Oases: Being a narrative account of the author's explorations into the more remote parts of the Libyan Desert and his rediscovery of two lost oases. 363 p.
  • Hoskins, G.A. 1837. Visit to the Great Oasis of the Libyan Desert. London, 341 p.
  • Rohlfs G. 1875. Drei Monate in der Libyschen wüste (Three months in the Libyan Desert). Cassel: Verlag von Theodor Fischer, 340 p.
  • Scholz, J.M.A. 1822. Travels in the countries between Alexandria and Parætonium, the Libyan Desert, Siwa, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, in 1821. London, 120 p.
  • Scott, C. 2000. Sahara Overland: A route and planning guide‎. Trailblazer Publications, 544 p.
  • St. John, B. 1849. Adventures in the Libyan Desert and the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon. London: John Murray, 244 p.
  • Zittel, K.A. von. 1875. Briefe aus der libyschen Wüste (Letters from the Libyan Desert). München.

External links


{{commonscat|Libyan Desert}}

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{{peeepeee{{Deserts}}