December 30, 2020 by D.Fathia
Oases: an asylum for serenity amid chaos and an unlimited wealth of flora.
The rhythmic intonation of the word oasis is so pleasant to the ear that you cannot help but replay it over and over in the background of your head. What is so entangling about this word? Is the label a visual onomatopoeia for the extraordinary real reference?
Nature lovers visualize a peaceful sanctuary aloof from surrounding and external unpleasantness and ugliness. As opposed to modern human amalgamations and industrial crowdedness, oases are the Garden of Eden!
How did these oases come to be on earth? What can be the use of them? And how are they perceived?
What are oases?
Dictionaries define oases as fertile lands on the fringe of deserts and amid dry wastelands. These green areas owe their existence to rare sources of water. They are generally found in places where the underground water tables are relatively close to the surface.
Certain oases were formed naturally with the growth of wild species of trees and plants. Others are humanly cultivated orchards. The latter is a continuation of Bedouin traditions that used to live off such oases.
Oases have gained great importance throughout history. Their convenience stems from their geographical distribution. The fact that they are spread in the middle of nowhere, in lifeless deserts and uninhabited lands, rendered them a life savior for travelers. That is why, oftentimes, military intervention in certain regions was driven by the desire to control such vital locations.
Trans-Sahara trade routes utilized these oases for water supplies and some wild fruits. Palm trees are one species that grew widely in these areas. Numerous types of dates were the right fruit to be found and exploited. Major oases found in modern-day Libya were the meeting points of several trade routes crossing the grand desert. Another famous trade route is the Silk Road linking the east to the west. This road traversed several shelter points.
The crucial importance of these oases governed political, social, and economic relations between different districts.
Mythic references to oases:
Folk tales and mythology books narrate stories about ancient lost cities, cemeteries, and hidden treasures. A few tales speak about a certain oasis in the Nile area between Egypt and Libya. The story goes that there exists a lost oasis in the Sahara. Though it is hard to trace the origins of this myth, two sources mention relatively close versions of this enigma.
An Arabic treasure-seeking guide describes a place called “The Oasis of Little Birds.” This is the resting place of a king and queen, guarded by giants. It is forbidden to enter the city, yet whoever succeeds in entering will find plenty of riches.
Herodotus spoke about The Lost City of Dionysus. They might be the same myth only with cultural and ethnic appropriation. They both describe a picturesque landscape. Later explorers and archeologists tried to unearth this place called “Zarzoura” but unsuccessfully. Although several oases were discovered in Egyptian territories, the lost city was not found. Whether it was real or a mere fancy, this city with its riches and oases will forever remain in the imaginations of explores as the ultimate sublime lost paradise.
One striking story resonating through time is that of the Garden of Eden. Archeologist Jeffery Rose suggests that several shreds of evidence, including remnants, oral stories, and religious hints, exist supporting the theory of this Garden. The Gulf Oasis, situated somewhere at the tip of the Fertile Crescent, resembles this heavenly lost oasis. Moreover, the flood that occurred in the Gulf Oasis and leading to the creation of the Persian Gulf is suspected to be Noah’s flood.
Such intricate matters might be dangerous grounds to tread, but one cannot help contemplate the surreal image of these divine workings. These stories actually might be the reason why oases have been always linked in peoples’ minds as paradisiacal sanctums.
Oases: not legends but agricultural facts.
Legends and myths draw pictures of beauty and peace around the theme of oases. However, they are much more than that. In arid lands, these oases represent vital ecosystems. They are the center of surrounding cultural and societal occurrences.
A combination of climatic difficulties and human necessities resulted in the development of codified strata. These green lands are usually divided into three divisions. In the first stratum date palms reign supreme. These high trees can stand hot temperatures, also, maintain freshness and shade for the other divisions. In the second stratum, various fruit trees are planted, such as orange, and apples, etc. The choice for this division depends on the climatic area and quality of the soil. The last stratum is reserved for vegetables and herbs. This simple ecosystem resists aggressive climatic conditions and provides a relatively similar environment to that of greenhouses.
Tunisian oases: splendid scenery and fruitful orchards.
Tunisia, the North African country, has some of the world’s most gorgeous oases. Tozeur, at the heart of the Tunisian desert, blooms between rocks and hundreds of palm trees. A natural painting that cannot go unnoticed. The city is a tourist destination thanks to its geographical and geological specificities. The Corbeille is a palm grove at the core of the city’s fascinating landscape. Seen from above, this relatively small oasis is so inviting that you wish you could skydive right towards the shadows formed by hundreds of date palms.
Chebika, just a few miles away, is another oasis lurking between rocks and mountains; with waterfalls and underground sources of water, the scene cannot be more appealing. The standing remnants of ancient cities surrounding these oases are living proof of a once-thriving habitat.
The hospitality of people from these lands and their welcoming smiles tell much about their cultural values and long-standing traditions. Under the heated sun of the desert, exploring these territories is a rewarding experience. At the feet of giant palm trees, golden sand hills, waterfalls, springs, and wells, you can rest assured that you will experience the adventure of your life. The peace and serenity radiant through green oases is infectious, so wait to be charmed.