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Imohag & Tuareg The Original Libyans!

The Tuareg inhabit the Saharan regions of North Africa - Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Burkina Faso. Tuareg is an Arabic term meaning abandoned by God. They call themselves Imohag, translated as free men. Now Genetic Science has discovered the true origin of the Tuareg, where they came from or when they arrived in the Sahara.

The Tuareg call themselves the Imazghan, meaning “free people.” Today they are known for a distinctive dark blue turban worn by the men, and for their long history as gatekeepers of the Sahara Desert. They are a semi-nomadic people who inhabit the West-Central Sahara, which encompasses parts of western Libya, Algeria, Mali, Niger, and some neighboring countries.

The Tuaregs were first mentioned by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who spoke of a group known as the Garamantes living in the Fezzan region of southwest Libya that operated trans-Saharan trade routes, connecting the heart of Africa to the North African coast. It is now believed that he was speaking of the Tuareg.

The Tuareg are semi-nomadic herders and traders living in Northern Mali and across its borders in Niger see entry on Tuareg in Niger), Burkina Faso, Algeria and Libya. They are a people indigenous to North Africa even before the Berbers of North Africa although they speak a Berber language: Tamasheq, calling themselves Kel Tamasheq. When you read the Tales of The Arabian Knights these are the faces of those peoples who inhabited that land before the Asian Invasions.

Overall, available mtDNA data supports a North African origin of the Tuareg not Asian, they had ancestors who likely spread in distinct migratory events to southern locations across the Sahara during the Holocene. Later, founder effects and drift may have affected the genetic composition of these nomadic people over the centuries.

The Tuareg presently live in the Sahara and the Sahel. Their ancestors were commonly believed to be the Garamantes of the Libyan Fezzan, ever since it was mistakenly suggested by authors of antiquity. Biological evidence, based on classical genetic markers, however, indicates kinship with the Beja of Eastern Sudan. A study of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences and Y chromosome SNPs of three different southern Tuareg groups from Mali, Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger reveals a North African origin and later additive West Asian composition of their gene pool. The data show that Asian genetic lineages could not have been introduced into this population earlier than ∼9000 but only occurred at around 3000 years ago.So In short these people were in the desert 6000 years before the Arab invasions!

After extracting the DNA of the Tuaregs and assigning each individual to a specific maternal ancestry branch, or haplogroup, genetecists found that the majority of Tuaregs fell into the same haplogroup: H1. In fact, over 61% of the individuals bore haplogroup H1. This piqued the researchers’ interest, mainly because H1 is often thought to have spread with people from the Iberian peninsula across Europe after the end of the Last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. The results of this study indicate that H1 must have originated from North Africa. Overall, these findings support the scenario of an arrival of haplogroup H1 in Iberia (Spain) from Africa at the beginning of the Holocene, as a consequence of the improvement in climate conditions after the Younger Dryas cold snap. Among the 15 defined subhaplogroups of H, Two appeared by far the most frequently in the sample; these were H1 and H3, encompassing 12 and 10 mtDNAs, respectively.

Again supporting the supposition that H1 is the defining originating dominant Haplogroup.

Not only did the researchers find that so many Tuaregs bear the same maternal haplogroup, but there was low genetic diversity among the population overall. This low genetic diversity can be tied to the fact that the Tuaregs are a very isolated people, and it is uncommon for them to venture too far outside their community when looking for a spouse. Libyan Tuaregs are genetically different from their West African counterparts, who showed far less European ancestry and far more ancestry tracing back to sub-Saharan Africa, most likely because of the Libyan proximity to Western Asia despite the fact that both eastern and western Tuaregs share a common language and culture those int the Sahel retain more of their ancestral DNA before invasion.


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