In 1925, a French Army team opened a tomb in the Ahaggar Massif, in the land of the Tuaraeg people. What they found was the skeleton of a woman, with seven silver bracelets on her right arm and seven golden ones on her left arm.
A later examination of the body showed that the woman had probably be lame because of a deformation of her Lumbar and sacral areas.
Radio Carbon Dating show the tomb was constructed in the second half of the fifth century. After resting in the remote fastness of the Sahara for fifteen hundred years, French archeologists had broken into the tomb of Tin Hanin, and found it undisturbed. They had found the woman of legend.
This was the woman who united the Tuareg world and founded a kingdom in the Ahaggar Mountains. Even today in the oasis city of Tamanrasset, they celebrate her festival. The name Tin Hanin means literally “She of the Tents” literally. She was the mother of a nation. Yet she began with so little. She came from the Talfilalt oasis in the Atlas Mountains of what is today Morocco, with only one servant.
Last and most strangely, the physical examination of the skeleton within the grave revealed that the mother of a nation had never born a child.
The Tuareg are a Berber people, not Arabs. They are sometimes referred to as “People of the Veil” and “the Blue People”. The indigo color of their veils and other clothing sometimes stains the skin underneath. Among this race, the men, not the women, wear a veil. The difference doesn’t stop there, for the women can choose their husbands, and divorce them as well.
Today, about 1.2 million Tuaregs live within the countries of Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso. Their nomadic lifestyle doesn’t work well with modern nation states, and the decline of the caravan trade.
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