Mazicia

PLATE NO. 5

Gomeria, Esmiria, Senegalia, Taregia, and Getulia with surrounding countries.

Spanning beyond the Atlas Mountains into the great waste of the Sahara, the lands of Mazicia have long been regarded as the limits of the known earth. Contrary to popular belief, it is the Sahara, and not the continent-dividing Mediterranean Sea, that formed in antiquity the greatest barrier between peoples in this part of the world. Like black holes are for astronomers today, few from the outside knew how far its towering dunes extended, what lurked beneath the sands, and what lay in waiting on the other side. And yet, the peoples of Mazicia are widely documented in history. The great renaissance man of Punice, Ibn Khaldun, wrote of them extensively, as did the Romans and Carthaginians, but almost all accounts were written from hearsay—travelers' tales, merchants' bluffs, soldiers' accounts, stories given by expedition survivors. One thing, however, is for certain: like the remote atolls and islands of Polynesea, every oasis in the Sahara has been found to have been continuously inhabited or frequented as a watering station since time immemorial, making this part of the world one of the first places to see permanent human settlement at a dense scale. With the introduction of the camel from Arabia via Atlasia, the dunes and plains of the Sahara became just another sea for merchants to regularly ply, and contact with Nigeria, on the other side, became regularized, so much so that the mystical and exotic geographies of Timbuktu and the Niger River—once regarded by Europeans in the same way as Marco Polo's Xanadu and the Ho River—seemed as familiar as the sun-drenched lands of Aramia and the Holy Land.

I. Land


Much of Mazicia is desert and arid, but along the fringes, the land receives enough precipitation to support dry scrub, such as patches of savanna and sahel-type thickets and scrub. In general, Mazicia lies in the Horse latitudes, which can be characterized by high air pressure, stable temperatures and calm winds, all of which mean clouds cannot form and precipitation is rare. At these latitudes, and on this side of the continent, moving towards the coast does not entail more moisture or oceanic influence. Like the west coasts of the Septentrea, Crucea, and Tamirea, a cold ocean current, the Iberian Current, is drawn down towards the equator from Arctic Waters around the Weswegian Sea, causing the cool air along these coasts to have the potential for nothing more than forming dew drops and fog.

Known to Arabic sources as Azawad or Azawagh, "the land of transhumance," by the native Taregians themselves, the great interior of Mazicia is, like most parts of the world, a land of pastoralists and nomads, who brave formidable dunes and move with their flocks seasonally to where water springs can be reliably found and to best align with the regenerative capacities of the few sheltered valleys and wadis that support thickets and acacias for their goats and camels. And yet, like remote ports in the most desolate parts of the ocean, lush oases are scattered across the waste like constellations of stars. By going beyond a climate map, one can locate these refuge sites by simply referring to biome variations across the territories, and moreover, the general rule is that any a town or a city in this part of the world is a marker of water and life in the otherwise inhospitable vastness of the desert. Indeed, it is in the oases that permanent habitation is not only possible, but makes the most sense. Lush date palms, fibre-yielding reeds, and fertile soil support sedentary life.

The desert interior of Mazicia continues into Sicatia in the east, but is well demarcated from Atlasia to the north by the Atlas Mountains and the inland sea known as Syrtis Minor, which in early modern times, became much more important for the rest of the Mediterranean world after the establishment of trade routes down to Nigeria for its gold, cola, and spices. The eastern Mazician route between Ablessa and Ghadamis then Ghibla was one of the most profitable routes, shortening the journey from the Sahel to the coast by weeks compared to the more western routes, which require traversing over the High Atlases and navigating over rugged terrain until the coast. In the west, the always misting Atlantic Ocean offers abundant fisheries that would later draw the Spanish to further their Reconquista drive and conquest fervor unto the co