29 June 2010

A grave in the Libyan desert

"Carefully chosen light and dark stones mark the isolated grave of a herder who died between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago."
A very evocative photograph by George Steinmetz, published by National Geographic, via Titam et le Sirop d'Erable.


  1. I find it incredible that the desert would leave these stones uncovered for any length of time, let alone that the headstone would be left vertical.

  2. Mike:

    Who ever said that it has been sitting there untouched for all of those years? It's possible that other people passing there from time to time have refurbished it over the years, doing such simple things as sweeping off the excess sand and resetting the stones. Such things would take all of five or ten minutes, and would serve to help remember (if only in spirit) the person who is buried there. People hoping that their grave was remembered and well tended, if nobody else, would do such simple things.

  3. That is a really nice thought, but over thousands of years? Whole graveyards disappear after only a relatively short time.

    For an example from current events, we need look no further than the tremendous find of the Roman gladiator graves in England. Those graves were much younger than even 2000 years. The location contained many graves, of (presumably) fairly well-known men. The population density of the area is much greater than the desert. And yet, the graves were lost for hundreds and hundreds of years.

    I'll say it again.. it's simply amazing this grave lasted in a desert where shifting sands will bury whole settlements almost overnight.

  4. Ha en trevlig sommar/Have a nice summer!

  5. "...it's simply amazing this grave lasted in a desert where shifting sands will bury whole settlements almost overnight."

    Mike, think of it this way: the grave lasted for thousands of years in a desert until shifting sands finally uncovered it...

  6. This grave in the Libyan desert is not necessarily as old as you say.Nor "the lonely goatherd".If the photo was taken near Al Khufra, it is most certainly the grave of one of the Senussi freedom fighters who fought off the Italian colonialists in WW2. Also, the geological formation of red sand and black volcanic rock in the photo points to a specific area of Libya, SE, as not all its deserts are the same colour and density.There are many graves like that in the desert. I have many photos of the Khufra area and this is a common sight. Remember the film- Lion of the Desert? It recounts the story of legendary Omar Mukhtar at this battle site.Campbell, resident for 16 years


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