donderdag 20 november 2014


5.Flora & Fauna :
The fauna of North Africa is also discussed by S.Gsell :
‘It may be of interest to remark in passing that, whereas elephants were common in early times, they disappeared during the first centuries of the Christian era and that, although camels are now very common, the first mention of them in North Africa is from the time of Julius Caesar and that they apparently were not used extensively until much later.’
And about the flora and agriculture:
‘The following products were cultivated: wheat, barley, the vine, various fruits, especially olives, figs, pomegranates, almonds, walnuts, dates and various vegetables.’
[Hippo Regius, from the earliest times to the Arab conquest, Holmes van Mater Dennis, Amsterdam, 1970; p.10]
El Békri says: “The environments {of Hippo Regius} are very rich in fruits and cereals. – To the west of the city {Bona} is a stream which waters the gardens and makes of that locality a pleasure-ground. – Meat, milk, fish and honey are found there in great abundance. Beef is consumed in large quantities.”
Ibn Haucal says: “The gardens of the environs of {Bona} produce a great amount of fruit and still more is brought from the surrounding country. At all times wheat and barley are, one might say, a drug on the market.” He goes on in saying that the neighbouring regions produce iron, sheep, flax, camels, cattle, horses etc.
[Ibn Haucal, Description de l’Afrique, Journal Asiatique, 1842 and Géographie d’Aboulféda, 1848]
Leo Africanus says in the 16th century AD : “It is called --- Beld Alhuneb, that is the city of the Jujubes, on account of the great abundance of that fruit which is thereabouts --- its territory has very good pasturage and is inhabited --- it is tilled and there are there many cows, beeves and sheep.” Further on he speaks of butter and coral as being among the products of the region.
[Leo Africanus in: Delta Descrittione Dell’Africa]
Of course the later writers lived centuries later than the focus of this survey, but the potential possibilities were already there in antiquity. Already Livius (XXIX 3,7) speaks of ‘populandum agrum’ when Laelius plundered the land around Hippo Regius.

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