Zerzoura: the mystery of an ancient city in the Sahara Desert

In the heart of the vast Sahara Desert, beneath the layers of sand lies a treasure waiting to be discovered – the remains of ancient civilizations that once thrived in this barren land. It’s hard to imagine that once this desert space was teeming with life, lush vegetation and diverse animal life. However, according to fascinating legends passed down from generation to generation, the Sahara Desert was once home to prosperous and highly developed cities shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

Among these legends, the legend of Zerzour holds a special place. Mentions of this extraordinary city are not just folklore, but a 15th century Arabic manuscript known as the Kitab al Qanuz, or Book of Hidden Pearls. Described as a magnificent city built of gleaming white stone and overflowing with untold treasures, Zerzura is breathtaking.

According to the manuscript, Zerzura was guarded by colossal black giants standing vigil at the front entrance, lending mystery and awe to the fairy tale story of the city. The main entrance itself was decorated with a remarkable carving in the form of a bird clutching a key in its beak, symbolizing the secrets kept inside.

The manuscript also hints at the presence of the king and queen, who are described in the text as “sleeping,” suggesting that they may have found eternal rest in their tombs. The exact origins of the manuscript and its author remain unknown, but it is believed to be a collection of stories about evil spirits guarding Egyptian treasures, with descriptions of spells to ward off the spirits and seize the riches themselves.

But legends alone cannot satisfy our curiosity. In search of more solid evidence of the existence of Zerzura, we turned to historical documents. The records of scribes from Benghazi (Libya) reveal an amazing story. In 1481, a camel caravan traveled to the oasis of Dakhla, but got into a strong sandstorm. By tragic accident, all but one driver named Hamid Keila perished.

When the storm finally subsided, Keila found himself disoriented and surrounded by unfamiliar terrain. Familiar landmarks had vanished without a trace. Just then, a group of mysterious men with blond hair and blue eyes appeared out of the desert. Strangely, they had straight swords, not the curved Arabian scimitars common in this region.

They took Keila to their town of Zerzuru, where luxurious white houses stood, palm trees grew and serene ponds where light-skinned women and children bathed. Keila, not understanding their language, called them Zerzurians or el-suri. He noticed that there were no mosques in the town and that the women did not wear veils, which led him to think that they were not Muslims.

A few months later, when Keila returned to Benghazi, he told the emir his incredible story. When asked how he had managed to leave the city, Keyla hesitated and admitted that he had fled. Intrigued by this revelation, the emir ordered a search of Keyla’s belongings, which resulted in the discovery of a gold ring adorned with a large ruby.

The presence of this ring aroused suspicion and prompted further investigation of Keila. However, unable to wait for conclusive evidence, Kayla fell silent and refused to give any further details. The mystery surrounding Zerzura grew deeper, and there were more questions than answers.

And while skeptics may dismiss these stories as fairy tales invented by the imagination, the appeal of Zerzura continues to fascinate researchers and explorers. Could it be that there is some truth hidden in these legends? Could there still be remnants of this lost city beneath the shifting sands of the Sahara?

As we delve into the depths of the Sahara Desert, armed with modern technology and a thirst for discovery, we may one day uncover the truth behind the legend of Zerzour. Until then, this enigmatic city will remain a tantalizing mystery, beckoning us to explore its secrets and uncover hidden treasures.

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