Archaeology and Ancient History

Trans-SAHARA: State Formation, Migration and Trade in the Central Sahara (1000 BC - AD 1500)

A major project that seeks to investigate the nature and consequences of the inter-connectivity of the Trans-Saharan zone in the Pre-Islamic period.

An aerial view across the circa 2500 tombs of Wadi UatUat, a large desert area between two high cliffsThe project

The Garamantes of Fazzan, Libya were an indigenous Saharan society with towns, oasis agriculture and trading contacts with both the Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan Africa. Generously funded by the ERC, this five-year project builds on previous archaeological research (The Fazzan Project, Desert Migrations Project and Peopling the Desert Project) to understand the place of the Garamantes in the pre-Islamic Sahara.

Trans-SAHARA is built around a series of research themes designed to explore the degree of interconnectedness or comparative isolation of the Central Sahara from neighbouring regions to north, east, south and south-west:


Our four research themes formed the basis for two double-themed conferences focusing in April 2014 on (1) the extent and commodities of trade and (2) evidence of human migration and identity formation as revealed by funerary archaeology; and then in April 2015 on (3) the nature of state formation and urbanisation and (4) technological change and identifiable markers of technology transfer. See reports on the conferences.

Research team

Recent publications

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