Exploring Environments through Water: An Ethno-Hydrography of the Tibesti Mountains (Central Sahara)

  • Tilman Musch Department of Cultural Studies and Ethnology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.
Keywords: Teda, Central Sahara, Tibesti, Water, Natural resources, Mapping


An ethno-hydrography, studying the organization of space through water, can provide a key to understanding how people conceive their environments in a holistic way. Based on mapping as a dynamic process, different representations of river systems among the Tubu Teda, who live in the Tibesti mountains (Central Sahara), are described in this paper. I first discuss a large-scale subdivision of the mountains into drainage basins, and then representations of a sub-regional and local river system, including an engraving on a sandstone rock. Finally, I discuss these case studies in the context of holistic experiences of environments and the dynamic processes of mapping.

Author Biography

Tilman Musch, Department of Cultural Studies and Ethnology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.

Tilman Musch has specialized in the ethnology of the Central Sahara. He also works on pastoral nomadism, the anthropology of space and time, environmental change and the Anthropocene, customary law and ethnobotany. He received his doctorate at the INALCO / Paris in 2008 with a thesis on Buryat nomadism. Currently he is funded by the German Gerda Henkel Stiftung. He is based at Bayreuth University, Germany.


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Figure 4 Engravings on the sandstone rock of Aozu (photo by the author). Inset: Satellite imagery of the greater Aozu area. Source: Google maps, modified by the author.
How to Cite
Musch, T. (2021). Exploring Environments through Water: An Ethno-Hydrography of the Tibesti Mountains (Central Sahara). Ethnobiology Letters, 12(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.14237/ebl.12.1.2021.1709
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