National Geographic : 2008 Sep
For nomads in the Tenere, one of the Sahara's driest parts, finding water amid the bleak folds of the desert is a life-or-death skill. This spring-fed oasis near the Air mountains is a relic of a lush watershed that once stretched some 400 miles to Lake Chad and fed Gobero's lake. herding culture that lived during the latter part of the Green Sahara era, 6,500 to 4,500 years ago. Then she picked up another piece. She stud ied it for a moment, looking perplexed. Instead of little dots, this sherd was decorated with wavy lines. She picked up another like it, then another. "These are Kiffian" she said, her voice rising with excitement. Garcea explained that the Kiffian were a fishing based culture and lived during the earliest wet period, between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago. She held a Kiffian sherd next to a Tenerian one. "What is so amazing is that the people who made these two pots lived more than a thou sand years apart." 132 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * SEPTEMBER 2008 Over the next three weeks, Sereno and Garcea along with five American excavators, five Tuareg guides, and five soldiers from Niger's army, sent to protect the camp from bandits-made a detailed map of the site, which they dubbed Gobero, after the Tuareg name for the area. They exhumed eight burials and collected scores of artifacts from both cultures. In a dry lake bed adjacent to the dunes, they found dozens of fish hooks and harpoons carved from animal bone. Apparently the Kiffian fishermen weren't just going after small fry: Scattered near the dunes were the remains of Nile perch, a beast of a fish that can weigh nearly 300 pounds, as well as crocodile and hippo bones.