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.

The 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 our 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:

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Our four research themes form 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

Research Team

Recent Publications

  • Mattingly, D.J. et al. 2013. The Archaeology of Fazzān. Volume 4, Survey and Excavations at Old Jarma (Ancient Garama) carried out by C.M. Daniels (1962-69) and the Fazzān Project (1997-2001). Society for Libyan Studies Monograph 9. London.
  • Mattingly, D.J., Sterry, M. and Leitch, V. 2013. Fortified farms and defended villages of Late Roman and Late Antique Africa. Antiquité Tardive 21: 99-119.

See our full list of publications

ERC homepage

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Further Information

Follow the different Workgroups:

1. Urbanisation and State Formation

2. Trade

3. Mobile Technologies

4. Human Mobility and Identity