Thursday, October 7, 2010
Mauritania - Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata (1)
Animal caravans arrive in Tichitt. Tichitt is part of Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the four postcards sent by Francis, my fellow Malaysian who is working in Mauritania.
These four ancient cities constitute exceptional examples of settlements built to serve the important trade routes of the Sahara, which were witness to cultural, social and economic contacts for many centuries. They are the only surviving places in Mauritania to have been inhabited since the Middle Ages. They were built originally to serve the caravan routes that began in the 11th century AD to cross the Sahara from north to south and from east to west. Sited on the outskirts of a fertile valley or oasis, their original function was to provide religious instruction, and so they developed around mosques, accompanied by houses for teachers and students. Warehouses were built to safeguard their goods by traders, who needed accommodation for themselves, while inns were provided for those passing through on business. From these elements grew the characteristic form of settlement known as the ksar(plural ksour ), with stone architecture and an urban form suited to extreme climatic conditions.