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 coast of Senegalia and the Canary Islands, known today as Gomeria. The fauna and flora of the Canaries are world renowned for not only retaining endemic pine and palm species, but also relic laurel forests like in Madeira and the Azores. In the south, the Sahara transitions from sand dunes and dry plains to a strip of land known as the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic all the way to the Red Sea, and which is where vegetative life finally is possible due to the slight increase in humidity and short seasonal rains. Thickets of dry scrub and the iconic image of lone acacia trees dominate the landscape here, and moreover, form the backdrop to this frontier between Mazicia and Nigeria.

Rivers in narrow gorges on the leeward side of the Atlases are well guarded sites.

Flowing from the leeward side of the High Atlases is the Saoura, which, in its upper reaches, schemes just as any river does as if it were another winding Nile, but further south, the river becomes subject to the extreme heat of the Sahara and turns into a oued or wadi at Lake Melah, flowing only during the peak season for precipitation and snowmelt in the High Atlases. When it does flow in its continuation, the Saoura flows south into the Ahnet Depression, and as if one of nature's great miracles, simply disappears beneath the sands. Flow rates, however, have gradually declined so much so that the lake is slowly turning into a sabkha, the Arabic word for a seasonally flooded saline mudflat. The strip of urban settlements at the southern receiving end of the Saoura, known as the Tuat, now rely more heavily upon their underground canals or foggaras to draw from the vast aquifers that exist under this part of the Sahara. The drying and salinization of the small but rare freshwater Lake Melah and the decline of the Saoura is one of the last major transitions from the epoch known as the African Humid Period, which may have come to an end in the not too distant past—perhaps as little as six millenia ago. Even two thousand years ago, in the times of Herodotus and Strabo, accounts of a once greener Sahara were still being circulated.

Further south and east are the Ahaggar Mountains, which, along with the Tibetsi and Marrah, offer some of the most unique and contrasting landscapes on earth. Isolated by dry plains in the vast interior of the Sahara, these mountains are refuge points for not only flora and fauna normally found in the savanna to the south and the coastal plains of North Africa, but also relict species from the African Humid Period, as well as unique montane microclimates. The great oasis city of Ablessa, home to the legendary Taregian queen Tin Hinan, is the main urban centre that services the pastoralists of these mountains. It is here in the Ahaggars that species such as the cheetah, takula—sometimes known from Afrikaans as wildehonds—as well as even a subspecies of the Guinean crocodile, are common sights. Relict wild olive trees and endemic cypress and myrtles species suggest a link to Libya just as much as the acacias point to Guinea, suggesting that the "green Sahara" of prehistory and times before was continuous from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Guinea. With the drying up of the wide open savannas from this period, game and humans alike became concentrated in the oases in the west and more and more so along the great Nile Valley, and it could very well have been this major climate shift that spurred hunter-gathers to turn to farmers and semi-noamdic pastoralists in northern Africa. In the rest of the Mazicia, large animals are largely absent, and birds and insects form the largest share of biomass.

II. Folk


The main and official languages spoken in the countries in Mazicia.

Apart from the Getulians, who came from the neighbouring area Sicatia in the east and settled along the coast of Syrtis Minor during the Muslim Period, Mazician peoples share a common cultural background with their neighbours to the north in Atlasia. The Esmirians, as well as the Gomerians, speak Northern Tamazic languages, which are mostly found on the other side of the Atlases. The divergent Tuareg and Western Tamazic language branches, however, are found only in Mazicia. The language of the Getulians marks the western end of the Eastern Tamazic zone, which stretches from Syrtis Minor all the way to oasis towns just before the Nile, though the Saharic Phasanian culture now dominates in its historic centre.

Apart from the Gomerians and northern Esmirians, Mazicians are darker-skinned than their Atlasian neighbours, but retain other phenotypical features commonly found in northern Libya. Getulians are also similar to Atlasians, but bear features from both southern Asea and southern Libya. The ighrems or castles of Esmiria and Getulia are famed in this part of the world. The intricate defenses built into the settlements of these two countries are a reflection to the historic tension between trade and warfare, for every time a caravan materialized on in distant horizon of a dry plain, locals must have held their breaths until the intentions of the outlanders could be verified. In Getulia, the oasis cities of Ghadamis and the historic ports of Ghibla and Suf are famed for intricate covered paths, tunnels, and shaded alleyways. And in the mountainous valleys and gorges of Esmiria, locals have been just as ingenious as the people of Arizona in building homes into rockfaces and fortifying water access points in the narrowing of gorges. The people of Senegalia and Taregia share their kin with many northern Nigerian peoples, either through intermarriage from constant trade contact over the last millennium, or due to a system of slavery incorporated into their stratified caste-based societies. Ironically, the higher caste Taregians, for instance, live nomadic lifestyles, either engaging in seasonal trade across the Sahara, or leading livestock to other feeding grounds. Those in the stratified bottom of society are settled peoples brought over from Nigeria to serve as ikelan, slaves, in Mazicia's oasis towns.

Though both raiders and traders, the state-defying Tuareg peoples of modern-day Taregia were the key link between Atlasia and Nigeria. Their adoption of camels and Islam from incoming Bedouin tribes from the east allowed them to remain in control of the Sahara. Like the accidental introduction of Japanese and Spanish horses in Hesperea and Hanunea, the introduction of the use of the camel in the Sahara revolutionized Mazician culture. Written accounts on the trade routes and settlement patterns of the Sahara are sparse for the period before the introduction of the camel, but since the time of the famed Roman expeditions into the Sahara, the ancestors of modern Taregians had both supplied exotic goods from the African interior and raided the coast, demonstrating extreme prowess for navigating in the desert's extreme environment.

Landscapes like Fataga in the offshore islands of Gomeria contrast with continental Mazicia.

Derived from the photo by Canary Don, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

For much of history, contact between the Gomerians and the rest of Libya was infrequent. Today, the Gomerians remain a cultural outlier in this part of the world, being Christians since the beginning of the Spanish period in the 16th century. Some modern historians mark the conquest of the Canaries and the subsequent conversion of the Gomerians as both the end to the Spanish Reconquista and the beginning of the Age of Discovery, instead of the more conventional position that pegs this pivotal moment to the Fall of the Emirate of Granada. Unlike the not too distant Madeira, however, the Gomerians were never isolated from the Mediterranean World, and thus, share similar cultural customs as their Tamazic neighbours in both Atlasia and Mazicia. The success of the Spanish in converting the locals could be that the Gomerians were never fully integrated in continental Islamic politics, and that even when local rulers on the various islands converted to Islam, power was extremely decentralized. The rugged landscapes of the Canaries are such barriers that locals can often still be spotted roaming the countryside with garrotes in hand, long wooden poles used for vaulting, clearing, and climbing over ravines and up embankments. Moreover, many still use a form of whistle language adapted to Gomerian, which is particularly good for communcating across steep valleys, and which scholars believe was similar to the one used by native guerilla fighters during the Portuguese conquest of Madeira, which is not so far away from the Canaries, and which was even more isolated from the rest of Africa.

Today, most Mazicians still live rural and semi-nomadic lifestyles. In Senegalia, wealth derived from guano and phosphate and iron deposits has allowed for deep aquifer-penetrating wells to be built across that part of the Sahara, meaning locals and tourists alike can travel through one the most inhospitable parts of the world without ever being half a day away from a freshwater source. In Taregia, oasis towns continue to densify, with skyscraping adobe apartments starting to become common as they have been in Yemen—in the countries of Sabia, Feletia, and Hydrimia—also known as southern Algeria. The most densely populated part of Mazicia continues to be the belt of towns and cities traversing the east-west valley of the Anti-Atlases, and over along the slopes of the Saharan Atlases towards the southern coast of Syrtis Minor. Ever since the building of Sifaxobulus and the Ottoman domination in Getulia, however, the port cities of Syrtis Minor have lost their importance, and there has been a gradual pull back towards the Sahara's interior. The mystique of sprawling Ablessa, of course, remains a major draw for tourists and locals alike, and until a train line is built to penetrate the desert, tourist-laden camel caravans and zeppelins alike will continue to be drawn towards that iconic city, graced by the majesty of the Ahaggars.

III. Yore


Historically, Mazicia was regarded as all the lands beyond the High Atlases, meaning the Anti-Atlas ridges and the Canary Islands offshore, as well as the lower hills of the Saharan Atlases, were regarded as an otherworldly realm by the inhabitants of the Mediterranean coast and the windward side of the mountains. Here, Islam took root slowly, spread by travellers and merchants rather than conquering armies. And for much of history, lawlessness was the norm—that is, customary laws and statelessness were the norm. Since antiquity, the desert peoples known as the mazyes or maxyes, the namesake of Mazicia, were often to blame for any harrying or marauding of caravans and cities on the Atlasian frontier. Ironically, the terms can be traced to the modern word Amazigh, "one who is strong, brave," the common endonym for many Tamazic peoples in Atlasia, and cognate to Taregian Amajegh, which means "noble one." There is a possibility that the terms could be cognate to mmuzegh, meaning "generous, of capacity" and tmuzegh, meaning "free, to rebel, to revolt" in Mauretanian and Alanian, respectively, which would better explain the connection to marauding. This dual connection between liberty to live and act as one pleases restraint and being seen as border-raiding barbarians even mires the etymology of the Arabian exonym for the Esmirians, which is in fact taken from the Esmirian language, thought to be tied to the verb ishlh, "to settle, to reside and live"—which might even be read into as denoting some sense of civility or in-group distinction from "those nomadic barbarians"—but the meaning of which is also ascribed to the word used by modern Punicians and Mauretanian Arabians for "bandit," shilh. Such irony, however, is not uncommon, for it seems it is a common theme in human history to blur the distinction between living unrestrained and living at the expense of others. In any case, the highly mobile desert peoples of Mazicia were also known as just as eager to trade as to fight, as was the case of many pastoral peoples living on the fringe of sedentary states—areas like the northern marches of Asea and Serica or the frontier between the United States and the Great Plains, which saw all sorts of forms of contact between sedentary state-based societies and highly mobile nomadic peoples.

Being long considered lands unknowable to states, the modern territories that spread over this part of the Sahara are modern fictions derived from a complicated history of colonialism and imperial intrigue. And yet, apart from Getulia and Gomeria, the administrative capacities of foreign powers were never fully brought to bear upon the inhabitants of the interior. Prior to Spanish dominance on the Atlantic coast and Ottoman dominance of Syrtis Minor and the rest of the Mediterranean coast, much of the oasis towns of Senegalia and Taregia were banded in tribal confederations. Once in a while, these confederations would gather enough clout to challenge Roman and later Umayyad power to the north.

The Shilha people, who form the majority in modern-day Esmiria, once populated both sides of th High Atlases and dominated the plains of western Mauretania just as much as the semi-arid valleys of the Anti-Atlases. At first antagonistic to the oncoming Muslim armies, the Shilha moved out from the plains to their defensive ighrems and tighremts in the Atlases, eventually holding out only in Sus or Asus—the territory on the leeward side of the Anti-Atlases—after a series of defeats against the Arabs and their recently converted Tamazic allies. Over years of steady contact with the north, the Shilha slowly converted to Islam. The form of the religion that they adopted, however, was highly divergent and partly native-influenced by what later came to be known as Baquati belief system, which would later lose its political stronghold in western Mauretania after the Barghawata Confederacy were finally defeated by the Almohads. In their three centuries of rule, the Barghawatas united much of western Atlasia with northern Mazicia in dotcrine, sending missions to as far as Ablessa in modern-day Taregia and also bringing this Baquati-influenced form of Islam to the Canary Islands before it was later conquered by the Spanish a few centuries later. While in western Atlasia and northern Atlasia, Baquati beliefs and practices survived under Sunni Islam, southern Mazicia became fertile grown for other unorthodoxy or pagan belief systems to take root, such as the seemingly heretical Mluki belief system in Taregia and Senegalia, which ultimately came by way of Nigeria. It can be said that these layers of native folk religions in Mazicia are due to the Mazicians having long been drawn into Atlasian politics while at the same time, were often outside of it in the marches. Interestingly, in between the transition from one northern dynasty to the next, the Shilha emirs or local rulers even managed to dominate southern Altavia and western Getulia at some point, and thus, became the only people of Mazicia to form a state in the area. Most importantly, Esmiria came to control all incoming caravans from the goldfields of Nigeria, leading to the construction of some of the most iconic architecture in Mazician history, from the imperial tighremt that guard Warzazat to the sprawling fortified ighrems of the remote oases of Tinduf and Timimun. Even the foundations for the capital city of modern Senegalia, Aiyun, were laid by the Esmirians before the Spanish dared to venture off from the coast to seize it.

On the outskirts of Warzazat, the Tawrirt Tighremt by an oued in the dry season.

The greatest change to occur in Mazicia was the arrival of the Spanish navy and the Ottoman bureaucracy. By that point, Islam had cemented in all but the isolated mountainsides and coves of the Canary Islands. Though the Spanish Inquisition led to the conversion of the inhabitants of the Canary Islands, the modern Gomerian language shows little influence from Castilian. In fact, the Gomerian diet is still largely a reminder of the islands' Baquati past, as locals abhor poultry and the consumption of eggs. The incomplete cultural shift under Castilian hegemony is perhaps a reflection of the difficult terrain on the Canary Islands. In the ensuing years after the conquest, Spanish authorities concentrated their efforts in developing Tenerife as a naval base and watering station for voyages that would stick close to the coast of Africa before turning to cross the Atlantic to get to the more profitable lands to conquer in Septentrea and Crucea. It was in this pattern of voyages that the coast of Senegalia began to become embroiled in Spanish colonial policies, and with the discovery of guano as a fertilizer fit for modern industrial agricultural practices in the 19th century, Spanish control of Senegalia tightened. But by that point, the fervor to convert had long passed, and Islam was not only tolerated, but leveraged by the Spanish in order to execute extractive mining and fishing practices to feed their ailing empire, with all their colonies across the Atlantic threatening to secede and territories elsewhere threatened by competing European powers.

Ottoman rule of Esmiria and Getulia came as a result of the Ottomans expanding their empire to engulf the rest of the more populated parts of the Maghreb further to the west. At that point, Syrtis Minor had cosmopolitan connections. Ligurian merchants from Genoa and the Aragonese were already frequent visitors to the ports of Suf and Ghibla, and their influence was such that the yearly work of dredging the shifting sandbanks of Syrtis Major and, more importantly, dredging the Jerid Strait was almost entirely funded through their mercantile activities. To cut off the flow of gold and Guinean spices—airama, uziza, melegueta, etso, alternatives to nutmeg, cubeb, and pepper—to their rivals in Italy and the rest of Europea, the Ottomans captured the coastal settlements of Syrtis Minor and constructed Sifaxobolus in modern-day Punice to control the entrance to narrow passage of the Jerid Strait. It was partly due to this turn of events, along with the Ottoman capture of the Red Sea, that led to western European states to take the risk in investing in costly voyages across the Atlantic in search of other routes to Serica and Indea, leading to the Age of Exploration. During the decline of the Ottomans in the 19th century, the mismanagement of local funds led to uncontrolled sediment buildup so that Syrtis Minor became inaccessible from the coast. It would not be until the British capture of Girba and the French assumption of control in Sifaxobolus at the end of the First World War that the narrows were finally dredged and access to Syrtis Minor restored. Interestingly, during the Ottoman and later French administrative periods, Ibadi Islam flourished in Getulia while being stamped out by the Sunni rulers of neighbouring states. As the Ottomans and French colonial authorties were outsiders, they leveraged the Ibadi community who had become the majority in the cultural capital of Ghadamis, as well as the communities that had settled along Syrtis Minor's coast, and who could trace their migration from the Nafusa Mountains in neighbouring Treblesia, where centuries beforehand, their even older eastern Tamazic predecessors came from the distant Awjila Oasis and settled in the area.

The western edge of Syrtis Minor transitions into saltmarshes like the Rann of Kutch in Indea.

Derived from the photo by Vinzenz Mulstein, licensed under CC0.

Taregia's modern borders with Getulia and Sengalia came during the brief period of French imperial intrigue after taking control of Sifaxobulus, which the French believed could be used as a launching point for expeditions into the interior, and eventually, relied upon as a centre for control of the mineral wealth lying in wait under the sands of the Sahara. French authorities, however, suffered one set back after another in setting up garrison across the desert, and even the French Foreign Legion resigned to defending their positions in the ighrems and tighremts left by the Esmirians and various seceding Bedouin tribes. Like Spain, the France's ambitions to go beyond their coastal strongholds drained the colonial regime of much needed funds for developing key infrastructures—which were never intended for the local populace, but for extracting resources in the interior—so that by the time the Society of Nations mandated for decolonization processes to begin in Mazicia, both the Spanish and French had not yet completed their plans of desert-spanning railways. Today, there are railway tracks that lead from the coast and end in the middle of nowhere, swallowed up by sand dunes just as much as the wondrous Saoura after flowing through the string of oasis towns in the Tuat. Such was the drain on French and Spanish coffers that the colonial ambitions to conquer the better organized states in Atlasia never came to fruition, and France's grand ambitions to rule North Africa, beginning with the seed of Sifaxobolus, never came to fruition.

IV. Scape


In the Islamic world, Mazicia is commonly grouped together with Atlasia and Sicatia as forming the Maghreb, meaning "the west." Apart from Gomerians, who have much more European influence, most Mazician peoples are culturally similar to their Atlasian neighbours, only with even more focused adaptations to life in the extreme and arid conditions of the Sahara. This is especially the case of local foodways of Esmirians when considering how western Atlasian peoples still abstain from eating poultry and eggs, as is required in the Baquati influenced form of Islam dietary law. In the south, Senegalians and Taregians are also somewhat culturally similar to their Nigerian neighbours, due to intensive trade links starting as early as the 10th century. For example, their shared Mluki beliefs mean that like Nigerians, Taregians and Senegalians drink goat blood as part of certain ritual ceremonies, which is forbidden in even the most liberal interpretations of Sunni Islam, of which they claim to be adherents. Guinean-sourced cola is commonly chewed by Taregians and Esmirians, and even the Getulians, who have access to commodities brought over from across the Mediterranean. This habit was picked up since contact with Nigeria began, and ironically, the Nigerians themselves had to trade for the commodity from the peoples inhabiting the lusher lands of Guinea. As palms are the dominant trees cultivated in oasis towns, almost every aspect of different species and varieties of palms have cultural significance, from being used for thatching to making fibre to yielding nutritious dates and spewing sap to be fermented into toddy.

Though alcohol is less tolerated in the more insular societies of Mazicia, such is the influence from neighbouring Nigerian peoples, that the consumption of toddy is tolerated among common folk of less noble standing in Taregia and Senegalia. It is worth noting then, that despite slavery being outlawed under Spanish and French rule in Senegalia and Taregia, as well as by the modern states of Esmiria and Getulia, there is still a general division between the majority sedentary populations of many of the oasis towns in the Sahara and the more mobile peoples who still hold on to caste distinctions. In contrast to the taping of palm trees in the south, it is more common for locals in Esmiria and Getulia to use the palm's fruits to make the fermented beverage known in the West as nabiss, which has a similar alcohol content to various kinds of quass, also known as "small beer" in the past. In the Islamic world, this drink is known as subya, having been popularly consumed in medieval times by much of Egyptian society, from the most noble elites of Cairo to the most lowly farmers on the desert outskirts of the Nile. The custom of turning water steeped with dried dates, figs, and carob to make the lightly fermented drink is ultimately derived from the pre-Islamic Arabian drink known as nabidh, and was introduced to Atlasia and Moorish Spain by the Bedouins during their migration over form the east. Though it is no longer commonly consumed in the east due to later literal interpretations made by Egyptian and Arabian rulers on nabidh being similar to khamr or wine, it is still a widely consumed beverage in Islamic areas west of the Nile, being especially popular in areas where the climate does not favour pomegranate cultivation. In Gomeria, wine is, of course, the preferred drink due to the centuries of Spanish rule and the conversion of the local populace to Christianity.

Interestingly, Gomerians are similar to their counterparts on the mainland in that they prefer the same kind of liquor. In fact, it was the Spanish in Gomeria who developed large scale plantations to revolutionize the production of

the local liquor known in Gomeria as quihal—cognate to the English word alcohol, ultimately from the Arabians, al kuhul, "mascara, powdered eyeliner from distilled manganese," referring to the similar process used to distill liquor. Much like sugary canes, this rum-like liquor is made from the juice of burgou or honey reed (Echinochloa stagina), which is well adapted to the long droughts but also seasonal flooding of the Niger Inland Delta, and thus a staple crop not only there but also in the oases of the Sahara and beyond in Arabia. Mazicians have been making fermented alcoholic beverages from the syrup of this reed for millenia, but it was the craze for cane sugar that followed the conquest of the Asmaidas in the Caribbean that led to the Spanish to experiment with scaling the cultivation of this reed, what they called caña de miel, to plantation levels in Gomeria, and later, Senegalia. This sparked a cash-crop craze for burgou in much of Mazicia, and with it, the spread of modern distillery techniques. Quihal is now a widely consumed liquor in much of Mazicia, with the exception of Getulia. Owing to its former glory days of handling the overland spice trade from beyond the Sahara, Getulia is unique in that the liquor of choice for locals is irrack, which is more similar to the herbally-infused grain-based liquor of Turcian raki than the fruit-derived rakiya and rakija of Atlasia and northern Rumelia.

Like in Atlasia, the keeping of snails and rabbits is a major way of contributing to the protein intake in the local diet. Due to the dry climate, Mazician frugality meant the early adoption of cuy as livestock, for they are very easy to raise and require little inputs. Taregians also eat marey such as jirds, which are rodents that are easy to raise in the desert and comparable to European dormice, which is no longer commonly consumed. In addition, tinned fish from Senegalia's cannery towns, set up by the Spanish, are now commonly traded across the desert by the usual mode of transport—on the back of camels. Interestingly, legumes first domesticated elsewhere, such as the Tamirean oringa (Swainsona formosa) and Arizonan tepar (Phaseolus acutifolius), have made their way into the local diets. Introduced tubers like kumara's less famous Tamirean relative, wirana (Ipomoea polpha), kurlama or tiwi yam (Dioscorea bulbifera), and sandyam (Brachystelma schultzei) from Namiba, have revolutionized the ease of raising caloric intake in this part of the world. In any case, however, drought-tolerant grains like kambu (Pennisetum glaucum), merkba (Panicum turgidum), dunewheat (Panicum laetum), fonio (Digitaria exilis), iburu (Digitaria iburua), and drinn (Aristida pungens), continue to be the preferred sources of starch consumed in Mazicia, and much of the foodways of this area revolve around preparing baked or gruel-like dishes with these grass grains.

The iconic white city of Ghadamis is situated in a remote oasis in the middle of the Sahara.

Derived from the photo by David Stanley, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The beliefs in djinns or supernatural spirits and creatures is prevalent throughout Mazicia, even among the islands of Gomeria, whose inhabitants have long converted to Catholicism. It is believed that the local Tamazic myths and narratives suffused with this Arabic-introduced idea, forming a major cultural motif, just as Mazician urf—local religious customs or religion-derived customary laws and practices—are also quite divergent for this part of the Islamic world. Apart from in Esmiria, where sedentary life is the only norm, the Muslims of Mazicia follow their faith largely without frequenting mosques, due to the importance of transhumance practices in their societies prior to the modern period. Even today, Islam is known to Senegalians, Taregians, and Getulians largely in an oral manner, making these otherwise conservative peoples somewhat similar to the more agnostic or liberal Muslims in other parts of the world. In contrast to the people of Atlasia and Nigeria, madrasas, or Islamic schools and colleges, never formed a major part of everyday life, not even for the youngest children, making this one of the areas least influenced by Arabic, even compared to Nigeria, which, ironically, was introduced to Islam through contact with Mazician traders. Like the Norwegians are for many western Europeans, there is a trend for modern-day Atlasians to investigate and appropriate Mazician culture in the belief that they are re-adopting Tamazic cultural practices less influenced from not only the Arabic period, but also Ottoman and Roman periods.

Like most of northern Africa, cotton textiles are the norm here, with the most sophisticated and softest clothes being produced and woven from the Nile to Esmiria ever since ancient times. The most famous peoples of Mazicia, the Tuareg of Taregia, first captured the imagination of Europeans with their indigo-dyed tagelmust, worn as a turban with a veil by men at all times. Unlike other Muslim societies, traditionally, Tuareg men veil their faces while women cover only their hair. The tagelmust is so culturally important that even in modern times, the "blue men" epithet still applies to Taregians, for the dye is known to colour the skin blue after years of wear with little opportunity to undress. Just as in Atlasia and Iberia, the architecture of Mazician towns is defined by narrow streets, rooftop terraces, and sheltering arcades, although here, tunnels and subterranean alleyways are just as common. The people of Mazicia use adobe to great effect, with the reflective whitewash buildings of remote cities like Ghadamis acting as shining beacons for the most sunbeaten travelers.

The strip of oasis towns of the Tuat have long been the central gathering point for caravans travelling between Timbuktu and the Mediterranean Coast, at least in the western Sahara. For centuries being the subject of travel writers, the ingeniously devised foggaras here support some of the lushest scenes of wetland habitats and palm tree groves in one of the driest places on earth. With the consequences of land mismanagement so viscerally available—the unsheltering sky and unforgiving desert always in plain view as the backdrop—these covered or subterranean canals, similar to the qanats of Asea, are the hidden device for the almost mirage-like miracle of lush groves and vegetations manifesting out of the desert's thin air. Combined with equally ingenious forms of waste management— the norm in even the smallest of oasis towns—the urban and rural life of Mazicia is one of the most sophisticated forms of sedentary living in the world, impressing French legionnaires and Nigerian tourists alike. The great irony, of course, is that, at least in Senegalia and Mazicia, to live permanently in an urban setting is considered like living in squalor.



Footnotes

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Resources

Tifinagh (tfng) or the Punic script:

Omniglot. Tifinagh (tfng) or the Punic script: https://omniglot.com/writing/tifinagh.htm.

Atlas of Endangered Alphabets. https://www.endangeredalphabets.net/alphabets/tifinagh/.

Shilha or the Esmirian language:

"Warru" - Meteor Airlines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFD62L6IdQc.

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFUPTM1rX28.

Tuareg dialects (tmh), one of which is the basis of the Taregian language:

"Nànnuflày" - Tinariwen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1YIgwPsX5Q.

Glottolog. https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/taha1241.

Ghadames or the Getulian language:

Glottolog. https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/ghad1239.

Zenaga or the Senegalian language:

Glottolog. https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/zena1248.

Ghomara or the Gomerian language:

Glottolog. https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/ghom1257.

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Additional content accompanies each map plate. Bonus materials include marginalia, etymologies, and additional graphics. Discussions on the reasoning that goes into the creation of the alternate histories can be viewed on YouTube.