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staircase view

The Berber Museum 

This Berber Museum does not exist in the real world. It is built here in this gallery to collect various archaeological, cultural and historical items relating to Tamazight heritage, and allow e-visitors the opportunity to know more about the Berbers' way of life in North Africa.  Some of the following exhibits are prehistoric (like those from the caves of the Sahara); other items date from before the Greek Period (like the Slontha Grotto); while some are Pre-Roman (like those from Ghirza). Many of the photos come from our online museums of objects displayed in the actual museums of Jado (Nafousa), Sabratha, Germa, Ghadames, Leptis Magna and Janzur, as well as from our collection of photos from the various Berber settlements and archaeological sites in Libya including Acacus, Awjla, Cyrene, Ghadames, Ghat, Ghirza, Jalo, Jado, Kabaw, Nalut, Slontha, Wadi Messak, Yefren and Zuwarah.

 
 

 

Germa

stone implements from the acheulean age in Germa museum

Germa Museum

The Museum of Germa is a unique museum, housing some of the most interesting archaeological finds of the Garamantian Kingdom and earlier civilisations of Fezzan, including funerary items, costumes, Acheulean stone implements, and Berber inscriptions. Some of the stone implements found in numerous sites from the Fezzan area are on display in Germa Museum. The stones were dated to the late Acheulean and the Aterian cultures (between 100,000 to 30,000 BC). Acheulean culture belongs to the Lower Paleolithic era across Africa, particularly the central parts of Africa which now we know as the Sahara. It is characterised by the distinctive pear-shaped hand-axes. The following image at the museum of Germa shows an illustration of a grave chamber below the ground. Bodies were covered with leather in a vertical hole, then filled with sand, and covered with flat stones to form a truly prehistoric burial grave.

graves from the late stone age

Fazzanian graves from the Late Stone Age

 

 

 

 

 traditional interior designs made of red paint on white walls: triangles in the shape of a boat

Messak Settafet & Mellet

engraving fromMessak

Messak Settafet & Mellet, Fezzan, Southern Libya, Sahara.

This prehistoric work of art comes from the Messak Settafet & Mellet, near Wadi Metkhandoush, Southern Libya. The valleys are rich in unique rock engraves, estimated to be at least 12,000 years old. The exposed stones are covered with dark varnish colouring known as patina. This layer is apparently a few microns thick of oxides of iron and manganese.

 

 

 

berber cross on a wall

Unique Berber 8-pointed star, built on wall, Ghadames.

 

 

 

Slontha Grotto



slontah grotto

Slontha Grotto, Cyrenaica, Libya.

Slontha Temple is a small, ancient, Libyan temple dating to the period before the Greek occupation, to the Berber period. The temple is also known by the names Slonta, Aslonta, Slontha, Suluntah, or Salantah. It was partially damaged during flooding due to heavy rain, but was restored in 1993. Located in the village of Aslanta Lasamisis, about 24 km south of al-Bayda, the temple is hidden high in the Green Mountain's groves, just where ancient temples were expected to be. In an area rich in caves, most of which are facing south, the Slontha structure incorporates a local architecture unique to the area, consisting of a low semicircular entrance, with cylindrical columns in the middle of the cave, 96 cm high and 120 cm in diameter. Circular tombs and stone circles are found all over North Africa and the Sahara, some of which date from prehistoric times. The temple is rich in carvings of human faces, unusual human figures and animals, disembodied heads, and slender bodies engraved directly onto the rocks, in a style totally unique to the temple. Some of these figures, unlike any of the ancient representations of the surrounding cultures, are in a seated position, in what appears to be a deeply religious gathering, probably in association with the worship of the dead.

 

 

 

slonta statues carved directly on the cave's walls

Berber Slontha Grotto

 

 

 

Ghirza

Ghirza Libya an archaeological site

Ghirza was an ancient Berber farming community, located in Wadi Ghirza, about 156 miles south-south-east of Tripoli, before it was later occupied by the Romans during their invasions of Libya. Its archaeological remains include at least eighteen fortified farmhouses, with wells and cisterns to catch rain water, the remains of a standard Berber olive-press, cemeteries and temples. Although presently there are no palm trees in the area, they were frequently pictured  in the sculptures in the mausoleums. The name Ghirza appears in several place-names of classical times, such as the Roman civitas Gurzensis and the Gurza of Ptolemy. Its chief Sun-God Ghurza was a prophesy god, whose faceless mass was said to represent the image of the deceased in a seated position, and thus he is represented as the offspring of the Libyan prophetic god Amon. There were about twenty small votive altars in the debris of the temple, on three of which were inscriptions in the ancient Berber script known as Tifinagh (the Libyan Alphabet); most of which are still awaiting deciphering. The destroyed temple was later rebuilt as a Berber house, with more inscriptions scratched on the plaster of its walls.

funerary door from Ghirza

Tomb Door, Ghirza, Libya.

This door was found in a tomb, and thought to help the soul enter the tomb to visit the body of the deceased; probably to keep unwanted stray souls away from the body of the deceased king or queen.

 

 

 

 

bronze statue of the Berber Roman emperor Septimius Severus

Berber Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, Leptis Magna.

 

 

 

 

 

assrou n swoul or tuareg key  assrou n swoul or tuareg key

Tuareg Assrou n Swoul

Private collection of temehu.com

 

 

 

 

 

Qasr Alhaj

Qaser Al-Haj Castle

The Berber Fortified Granary, Qasr Alhaj, Nafousa Mountain, Libya.

 

 

 

 

Stone Mills (Querns)

stone age querns

Stone age stone mortars on display at the Museum of Lybia, Tripoli.

The Sahara is rich in stone artifacts, fossils and flint tools. The stone mortars shown above appear to represent some of the earliest forms of stone mortars. Of course, the original one must have been just a stone (without a base), since our ancestors used stones to break and cut with, just as chimpanzees and other primates still use stone to crack nuts.

 

 

stone grinding tool
Stone mortar from Jado Museum.

 

 

a stone quern

Querns from Qasr Alhaj.

With time, the need to grind large quantities of grain led our ancestors to use circular motion, instead of vertical pounding, to achieve better results. The above quern is widely used today by the Berbers. The top stone has a hole (barely visible at the far end), in which a stick is secured to turn the stone.

 

 

stone mill ontop of a sheep skin

Berber Tasirt ('Quern'), Jado Museum, Nafousa.

Leather skins are also still in use, and provide comfortable and warm seats; especially the fluffy sheep skins. But also they can be used as mats upside down for grinding and other Berber kitchen activity.

 

 

large stone quern from Leptis Magna museum

Large stone mill, Leptis Magna Museum.

Large stone quern, with two wooden handles: heavy-duty mill for grinding large quantities of grain, and probably to produce finer flour. Animals may have been used to turn the stone round.

 

 

pestle and mortar made of brass

Brass pestle & mortar.

 

 

 

 

Jado

compressing tool
From Jado Museum, Nafousa Mountain, Western Libya.

Ineer: a large oil lamp.

 

oil lamp
Usual clay oil lamp.

Albarouni Museum was created and built by the young people of Jado to preserve and represent their Berber heritage. The visitor will be rewarded with genuine items and models of traditional crafts and industries as well as ancient archaeological stone artifacts.

wooden kitchen tools, mortar, ppts and jars

Jado museum. Most items in the museum are labeled in both Berber and Arabic scripts.

 

 

 

 

 

berber tomb altar

Ancient Berber tomb, showing an altar with candles,
from Termisen or Termisa, Jado, Nafousa.

 

 

 

 

gharyan

 

 

 

 

 

wall fresco byzantine

Wall painting currently in display in Sabratha Museum.


 

Ghadames

interior Ghadames wall decorations

Ghadames Berber Interior Design: red, yellow and green paint on white walls.

 

 

 

 

ghadames house corridor with red paint designs

Berber Art

Ghadames house corridor, with red paint designs on white walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

interior ghadames room

Traditional Berber house, Ghadames. The house is open for visitors to visit.

 

 

 

 

traditional straw crafts

Ghadames Museum

Traditional industries based on palm leaves and coloured fabrics. Palm leaves are an important material in the desert. They are used for various objects and tools, from ropes and strings to baskets and mats.

 

 

 

traditional straw baskets fans and food covers

Ghadames Museum

 

 

 

Tuareg Boots

Ghadames Museum

 

 

 

old doors

The Evolution of Ghadamsian Doors

 

 

 

weaving stand

Weaving Stand (Loom)

 

 

 

berber wooden and leather tools

Traditional wooden and leather tools used in everyday Berber life.

 

 

 

 

berber bowl covers and pots

Food covers (inda), made of woven palm leaves (opposite),
and clay pots and jars (on either side).

 

 

 

berber dinning room

Dinning room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

tuareg vintage mat

Tuareg rare vintage mat

 

 

 

 

 

Janzur

burial jars in the tomb

Burial jars from the tombs of Janzur Catacomb Museum.

wall paintings

Janzur Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jalo & Awjla

Awjila Mosque

Ancient mud mosque from the Berber oasis of Awjla, in Eastern Libyan.

The location of the Berber oases Jalo & Awjla in Eastern Libya lies at a strategic caravan route linking Egypt, coastal Libya and the interior of the Sahara. The oases produced high quality palm dates which they used to trade for other commodities. Located about 400 km to the south of Benghazi, the oases are surrounded by oil fields; but it does not seem they had benefited from these local natural resources. This location without a doubt had attracted a number of foreign comers, as can be deduced from the archaeological remains still found in the area: the oasis of Awjla, for example, was said to be the home of a number of old grave yards, each of which was known by a special name.