A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, November 14, 2011

National Geographic Joins in on the Suddenly Trendy Garamantes

This will mark two ancient archaeology posts in a row. (And neither involved Zahi Hawass.)

Despite some alarming signs in Libya lately, such as four days of clashes between militias, now in a ceasefire, the Garamantes, the ancient Libyan culture I posted about a week ago, are in the news yet again, this time with the National Geographic chiming in. They are suddenly downright trendy, or as they might say on Twitter, "trending," and they haven't done that since the Roman Empire. (What's "trendy" in Latin, anyway?*)

Anyway, I'm glad to see the Garamantes having their day. They're apparently "mysterious" despite mentions by Herodotus, Tacitus, Pliny and others, I guess, because  whole lot of reporters just found out about them. If, as Herodotus assures us, their cattle really grazed backwards, perhaps they really were mysterious.

[*Neither my old yellowing Cassell's Latin Dictionary, nor the online version of the old standard Lewis and Short, even offer up a translation of "trend," let alone "trendy."  (Our word is apparently Germanic in origin.) Years ago the Vatican had (and being the Vatican, probably still has somewhere) an agency tasked with coining new Latin words (on Latin roots, not loan words from modern languages), for modern ideas and terminology. Any readers know if they've tackled this burning question yet?]

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