• Keywords: Algeria Cultural Lanscapes, oasis, Western Sand Sea, A' haggar Massif, In Ziza, Abalessa, Les Gueltates d'Issakarassene.

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.1 National and International Classification Lists

The A’ Haggar Massif is a protected area in Algeria, with the following designation: “Park National of l’Ahaggar”, that covers 4,500,000 ha. “The gueltas of the A’Haggar Massif” are recopiled in “A Directory of African Wetlands” (1992), edited by UICN, the same happen with “Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene” classified as a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR) . Also, In Ziza Oasis, situated near the southwestern extremity of the plateau, Adrar Nahalet, which extends westwards from the massif of the A’Haggar is recopiled in “A Directory of African Wetlands” (1992), edited by UICN with the name “The gueltas of Ziza”.

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

In general, oases are considered by UNESCO and Med-O-Med as sample of the human genius in action. Skills, and particularly traditional know-how in coping with a hostile environment that is scarce in resources, appeared in the development of techniques enabling water (and land) to be used more judiciously, whether available permanently or cyclically. In this sense, In Ziza oasis show an unique sample of interaction between human being and nature. Basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), and considering this region as a result of “the combined works of nature and of man”, Med-O-Med resolve to value this site as a Cultural Landscape because of: -Its Natural heritage components: The A’Haggar Massif comprises ancient volcanoes, jagged peaks and sedimentary rock plateaus with sculpted rock formations. There are deep gorges and smaller oueds on the higher slopes and numerous gueltas between 1,000 and 2,000 m, which freeze in winter. Often these are composed of strings of pools among rocks and boulders in open riverbeds, with flowing water and even waterfalls for much of the year, depending on the rainfall. The permanent guelta of In Ziza oasis, in the plateau Adrar Nahalet, is 13 m wide when full and 6 m deep, and is inside a volcanic crater which partly encloses a valley. -Its Cultural heritage components: the oases located in the massif, as Abalessa, an oasis near Tamanghasset (the former capital of the Ahaggar, where is the tomb of Tin Hinan, the woman believed to be the ancestor of the Tuareg), and In Ziza Oasis with its gueltas (situated near the southwestern extremity of the plateau, Adrar Nahalet, which extends westwards from the massif of the A’Haggar), their traditional houses, traditional handcrafts, historical caravans routes of tuaregs, and the palm fields cultivated around the gueltas.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Hoggar Mountains or A' Haggar Massif, Les Gueltates d'Issakarassene, In Ziza and Abalessa Oases.
  • Current denomination Hoggar Mountains or A' Haggar Massif, Les Gueltates d'Issakarassene, In Ziza and Abalessa Oases.
  • Original denomination Hoggar Mountains or A' Haggar Massif, Les Gueltates d'Issakarassene, In Ziza and Abalessa Oases.
  • Popular denomination Hoggar Mountains or A' Haggar Massif, Les Gueltates d'Issakarassene, In Ziza and Abalessa Oases.
  • Address: The Hoggar Mountains, also known as the Ahaggar, are a highland region in central Sahara, or southern Algeria, along the Tropic of Cancer. They are located about 1,500 km (900 mi) south of the capital, Algiers and just west of Tamanghasset. The region is largely rocky desert with an average altitude of more than 900 metres (2,953 feet) above sea level. The highest peak is at 3,003 metres (Mount Tahat). Assekrem is a famous and often visited point where le Père de Foucauld lived in the summer of 1905. The main city nearby the Ahaggar is Tamanghasset, built in a desert valley or wadi.
  • Geographical coordinates: Park National de l'Ahaggar: 22°N/5°E, 1500- 2981m.
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: The site lies in the far south of the country, in the Sahara desert, east of the town of Tamanrasset and c.500 km south-west of Parc National du Tassili N’Ajjer. Abalessa is an oasis near Tamanghasset. In Ziza oasis is situated near the southwestern extremity of the plateau, Adrar Nahalet, which extends westwards from the massif of the A'Haggar.
  • Access and transport facilities: Today it is on Algerian territory, between the Tamanrasset road and the track of Tanezrouft.

3. LEGAL ISSUES

  • Owner: Algerian Government.
  • Body responsible for the maintenance: Algerian Government.
  • Legal protection: The whole area is classified as a Parc National and a smaller area (Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene) was designated as a RAMSAR Site in 2001. No significant threats to the RAMSAR Site are foreseen, except possible increases in tourism. The gueltas of Ziza are unprotected.

4. HISTORY

Prehistoric settlement is evident from extant rock paintings dating to 6000 BC. Tuaregs are in this region since (at least) IV y V dC. The former capital of the Ahaggar, Abalessa is famous for the Tomb of Tin Hinan, the queen and mythical ancestor of the Tuareg people. Tin Hinan supposedly arrived in the Ahaggar Mountains area and lived there in the fourth or fifth century AD.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Rural
  • Geography: High Mountain
  • Site topography: Natural
  • Climate and environmental conditions: The site lies in the far south of the country, in the Sahara desert, east of the town of Tamanrasset and c.500 km south-west of Parc National du Tassili N’Ajjer. The climate of the massif is more temperate than that of the surrounding lowlands. Rainfall increases with altitude, from less than 20 mm/yr on the Plain of Tanzerouft, to 50 mm/yr at Tamanrasset (22°50'N/5°28'E) situated 1400 m asl on the SW slopes, and to 125 mm/yr at Assekrem Peak (2728 m). Annual variations are marked, as is general in deserts, and while annual falls of less than 10 mm have been recorded at Tamanrasset, 160 mm fell in 1933. Similarly, Mt. Assekrem, which has had total annual receipts less than 35 mm, recorded 260 mm in 1957. The mean annual temperature of the warmest month (July) at Tamanrasset is 29°C, and that of the coolest month (January) 12°C. The mean annual temperature is 21°C, significantly lower than on the Tanzerouft Plain, and frost occurs at Tamanrasset on an average of 29 days each year, with an absolute minimum reading of -6°C. Snow is common on the high peaks, where temperatures of -12°C have been recorded.
  • Geological and Geographical characteristics: The A’Haggar Massif compose the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion. It comprises ancient volcanoes, jagged peaks and sedimentary rock plateaus with sculpted rock formations. There are areas of Pre-Cambrian granites, overlain in some areas above 1,900 m by Tertiary and Quaternary lavas. The massif extends south to within 230 km of the border with Niger and contains the highest mountains in Algeria, with a peak of 2,981 m at Mount Tahat, a second peak, Mount Assekrem at 2,728 m and several others exceeding 2,300 m. There are deep gorges and smaller oueds on the higher slopes and numerous gueltas between 1,000 and 2,000 m, which freeze in winter. Often these are composed of strings of pools among rocks and boulders in open riverbeds, with flowing water and even waterfalls for much of the year, depending on the rainfall. In Ziza oasis is one of the most isolated occurrences of free surface water in the Sahara. It is situated near the southwestern extremity of the plateau, Adrar Nahalet, which extends westwards from the massif of the A'Haggar. The permanent guelta (pool), 13 m wide when full and 6 m deep, is inside a volcanic crater which partly encloses a valley. It collects water from two oueds which drain Ziza Mountain, to the south, and is reputed to have no underground input. Several small temporary pools also occur in the bed of the main oued draining Mt. Ziza. The water of the guelta is fresh.
Water resources:
The gueltas and cascades of Imaoulaouene, in A' Haggar massif, are permanent and there may be several floods on the system in a single year, but virtually all of the upper oueds in the massif flow for several days each year. Heavy floods, leading to surface water in the lower oueds, are uncommon, but the Oued Tamanrasset has carried water to the Tanzerouft Plain half a dozen times this century, and to its centre in 1950 and 1951. The upper pools vary in depth from 2-5 m. Salinity of the water in the gueltas varies, as might be expected, with the degree and frequency of flushing which they receive. Salts crystallise around some gueltas, and remarkably, on the stems of Typha capensis. Conductivities generally range from 150-1500 μSiemens/cm. In Ziza Oasis is one of the most isolated occurrences of free surface water in the Sahara. It is situated near the southwestern extremity of the plateau, Adrar Nahalet, which extends westwards from the massif of the A'Haggar. The permanent guelta (pool), 13 m wide when full and 6 m deep, is inside a volcanic crater which partly encloses a valley. It collects water from two oueds which drain Ziza Mountain, to the south, and is reputed to have no underground input. Several small temporary pools also occur in the bed of the main oued draining Mt. Ziza. The water of the guelta is fresh.
Vegetation:

A variety of emergent and submerged macrophytes occur in the gueltas and watercourses. Nerium oleander and Tamarix gallica is common in the beds of oueds where the water table is close to the surface. Acacia nilotica and Hyphaene thebaica also occur near gueltas, but have largely been replaced by Phoenix dactylifera. There are occasional trees of Ficus sycomorus and Olea laperinii in inaccessible side gullies. Stands of Typha capensis are commonplace, sometimes in association with Phragmites australis. This latter species occurs in some sites which become temporarily dry. Other emergent macrophytes include Juncus buffonius, Scirpus holoschoenus and the grass, Polypogon monspelliensis. Submerged macrophytes include Ceratophyllum demersum, Myriophyllum spicatum and Potamogeton spp. Algae include species of Chara, Cladosphora, Closterium, Cosmarium, Dictyosphaerium, Microcystis, Oedogonium, Scenedesmus, Ulothrix, Volvox and Zygnema.

Fauna:

Two biome-restricted species, Pterocles lichtensteinii and Alaemon alaudipes, are recorded only from this site (A’Haggar Massif) and one other in Algeria (Parc National du Tassili N’Ajjer). The permanent gueltas are said to be very important for migrants crossing the Sahara, but there are no details of species or numbers. The RAMSAR Site (Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene) supports concentrations of wetland-dependent species that have survived through adaptation to the gradual drying out of the Sahara. A number of fish (Tilapia and Barbus spp.), including some desert endemics, are recorded from the site, with Tilapia zillii widespread in the upper permanent gueltas except those where winter temperatures are too low. Various amphibia (Bufo spp. and Rana sp.) are recorded, and mammals known to occur include Felis chaus, Acinonyx jubatus (VU) and Gazella dorcas (VU). In Ziza Oasis life forms are restricted to blue-green algae, some zooplankton, and a few insects. The water of the guelta supports a dozen people and their domestic animals.

Land uses and economical activities:
Nature conservation and research, tourism/recreation. There are no permanent human habitations at the upper gueltas. The lower gueltas of the Oued Tamanrasset system no longer supply water for human habitation directly, but camels, cattle and goats drink from them and are grazed nearby. Some agriculture and horticulture is carried out along the lower oueds and there are Phoenix dactylifera plantations.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:
Some agriculture and horticulture is carried out along the lower oueds and there are Phoenix dactylifera plantations in In Ziza and Abalessa Oases.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

The A’ Haggar Massif, in the Algerian region of the Sahara Desert, is a beautiful landscape characterized by the numerous gueltas and gorges. The most important of the western drainage systems is the Oued Tamanrasset, which once bore its waters to the Atlantic before being captured by the Niger. Today it carries occasional floods onto the Tanzerouft Plain, but gueltas, which freeze in winter, occur in its upper reaches, in a system of deep gorges. The most gueltas are those of Imaoulaouene, which occur in a tributary gorge near the city of Tamanrasset. A fault across the river bed, at an altitude of 1540 m asl, causes a current of subterranean water to surface and cascade in several steps through a series of ponds, before once again disappearing underground at 1500 m. Many gueltas occur around the edge of the Atakor, i.e. around the rim of volcanic lavas that top the massif between 1800-2100 m. Many are situated in fairly open river beds, as strings of pools among rocks and boulders, and these are connected by flowing surface water for a good part of the year, since rainfall, though scant, is more or less aseasonal. Other gueltas are plunge pools beneath ledges over which waterfalls descend periodically, yet others are in kettleholes (marmites de gèant) worn into the granite. Innumerable gueltas, of similar nature to those described above, occur in the deep ravines leading south out of the central massif, in particular those of the Oueds Azrou, Afrahouhine, Sersouf, Tin Tarabine, Afara and Takalous, between longitudes 6° and 7°30’E. Ultimately these watercourses all join the Oued Tin Tarabine which passes to the east of a long N-S oriented inselberg at a point 22°08’N/6°39’E. Near here there is a permanent pool, and from here the Oued Tin Tarabine trends SE. Floods in very wet years have extended far past the inselberg. Another long and deeply entrenched valley, that of the Oued Tagrira, begins 40 km south of the inselberg and runs towards the SW. This latter system has a bed of humid sand, floods occasionally, and carries arborescent vegetation at points. Also are very interesting Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene. Some agriculture and horticulture is carried out along the lower oueds and there are Phoenix dactylifera plantations. It can also be observed in Abalessa or in In Ziza Oases. In Ziza Oasis is one of the most isolated occurrences of free surface water in the Sahara. The water of the guelta supports a dozen people and their domestic animals, and it is very interesting their way of life, very connected with the nomadic lifestyle and the tuaregs customs.

5.2. Cultural Heritage

A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general

Art pieces, artesany, furniture and other elements:

Tuaregs are known as masters blacksmiths and craftsmen, their swords, jewelley, leather work and metal craft.

In the case of gardens: original and current style:
It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
See point 5.1.5.
B) Related to ancient remains

  • Archaeological components:

    Prehistoric settlement is evident from extant rock paintings dating to 6000 BC. The tomb of Tin Hinan, the woman believed to be the ancestor of the Tuareg (and queen) is located at Abalessa, an oasis near Tamanghasset. According to legend, the woman arrived in the region of Ahaggar from Tafilalt region in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains and lived around the fourth or fifth century AD. On 18 October 1927 Byron Khun de Prorok, discovered near Abalessa a vault. It contained a skeleton belonging to a woman, and her furniture. In his book ‘Mysterious Sahara The Land of Gold, of Sand, and of Ruin’ he attributed the skeleton to Tin Hinan. Today, the Tin Hinan skeleton is on display at the Bardo Museum in Algiers, while the monument where it was discovered continues to be a very popular tourist attraction for tourists visiting Tamanrasset.

  • Historical routes:

    Lost in the desert, In Ziza is a small oasis used for centuries as a stopover of caravans going from Sijilmassa to Gao. Today it is on Algerian territory, between the Tamanrasset road and the track of Tanezrouft. Abalessa is also located along the ancient Trans-Saharan trade route.

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: The oasis and the man-made landscape (as the palm fields) associated to the gueltas.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

  • Population, ethnic groups: The Hoggar massif is the land of the Tuaregs or Kel Hoggar.
  • Languages and dialects: Berber
  • Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: Abalessa is famous for the Tomb of Tin Hinan, the queen and mythical ancestor of the Tuareg people. Tin Hinan supposedly arrived in the Ahaggar Mountains area and lived there in the fourth or fifth century AD. Among some Berbers, the Tuaregs in particular, the marabouts are considered to be different from ordinary men. They are believed to possess, even after death, the powers of protection and healing. In view of the general acceptance of Islam, it is particularly interesting that almost all Berbers prefer monogamous marriages (marriage to only one partner). Even the oasis dwellers and the Tuareg hold this preference. In the few tribes where polygamy does exist, it is practiced only by the few wealthy men. Tuareg people, generally of berber descendents still live a nomadic lifestyle and can be found travelling between various locations according to the season. Today many of these nomads can be found in the province of Tamaghesset, around the gueltas. When the rains arrive to the A'Haggar and Tademait plateau, the tuareg tribesmen will lead ther families out of the towns to graze camels and goats on the temporary fields of grass. They will later return to the kasbah (town centre) of the oasis to sell meat, milk and cheese to the locals.

5.3. Quality

Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:
The whole area is classified as a Parc National and a smaller area (Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene) was designated as a RAMSAR Site in 2001. No significant threats to the RAMSAR Site are foreseen, except possible increases in tourism. The upper gueltas of the Atakor are little disturbed and little visited, except by tourists who can visit a number using 4 wheel drive vehicles. Picknicking beside and swimming in the gueltas then occurs but has no significant influence upon the ecosystem at present. There are no permanent human habitations at the upper gueltas. The lower gueltas of the Oued Tamanrasset system no longer supply water for human habitation directly, but camels, cattle and goats drink from them and are grazed nearby. Some agriculture and horticulture is carried out along the lower oueds and there are Phoenix dactylifera plantations. In Ziza and Abalessa Oases (including the gueltas, fields and ancient remains) are well preserved.
Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:
Oases are privileged sites to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution. In Ziza is one of the most isolated oasis of Algeria.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

-Great Western Sand Sea (Grand Erg Occidental), its beatiful and magical landscape. -A’ Haggar Massif and all its gueltas, gorges and waterfalls mentioned in this inventory. -Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene. -In Ziza Oasis andits gueltas. -Abalessa Oasis and the tomb of Tin Hinan.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Archaeological
  • Ecological
  • Ethnological
  • Geological/Geographical
  • Living heritage
The main tangible values of this site are: -Archaeological: Rock paintings dating to 6000 BC. The tomb of Tin Hinan, the woman believed to be the ancestor of the Tuareg is located at Abalessa, an oasis near Tamanghasset, since IV y V dC. -Ecological/Botanical: The special microclima of the gueltas provides a particular flora and fauna, domesticated and wild, typical from these sites. -Geographical/Aesthetic: A'Haggar Massif, the gueltas, the Western Sand Sea, In Ziza oasis. -Living heritage, ethnological and others: The beauty and quality of the oasis as a picture of human interaction with the desert, their botanical, agricultural (palm fields) and ethnological particularities of the tuareg lifestyle. There are objects of tangible culture, for examplejewllery, leather work, and metalcraft.

Intangible

  • Historical
  • Mythical
The main intangible values of this site are: -Historical: Lost in the desert, In Ziza is a small oasis used for centuries as a stopover of caravans going from Sijilmassa to Gao. Today it is on Algerian territory, between the Tamanrasset road and the track of Tanezrouft. Abalessa is also located along the ancient Trans-Saharan trade route. -Mythical: An oasis could be considered (according to UNESCO) as an image of the garden of Eden. It is the practical expression of a mythical idea and it can be applied to In Ziza Oasis. Also, according to legend, the origins of Tim Lam, the woman believed to be the ancestor of the Tuareg, are from Tafilalt region in the Moroccan Atlas Mountain. -Social significance: In ziza oasis, as the rest of oases comprised in this inventory, enjoys a unique cultural heritage and a society rich in native custom and tradition with social significance typical from tuareg nomadic tribes.
Authenticity:
Prehistoric settlement is evident from extant rock paintings dating to 6000 BC. Tin Hinan, the woman believed to be the ancestor of the Tuareg is located at Abalessa since IV y V dC.
Universality:
According to UN Med-O-Med considerations, the Tidikelt Oases Group and its cultural landscape achieve the following criteria: (ii) To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world: In Ziza is a small oasis used for centuries as a stopover of caravans going from Sijilmassa to Gao. Abalessa is also located along the ancient Trans-Saharan trade route. (iii) To bear na unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living, as the berber culture and the tuarg nomadic lifestyle. In Abalessa Oasis are found ancient remains related to the tuareg history. (v) In Ziza and Abalessa Oases are an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement and land-use, which is representative of its culture and the human interaction with the environment (vi) The territory is strongly connected with the berber and tuareg traditions, their ideas, beliefs, and language. (vii) Western Sand Sea, A'Haggar Massif and its gueltas, Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene and In Ziza Oasis, are superlative natural phenomena and areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. (x) Also, those sites contain important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
-Historical: Lost in the desert, In Ziza is a small oasis used for centuries as a stopover of caravans going from Sijilmassa to Gao. Today it is on Algerian territory, between the Tamanrasset road and the track of Tanezrouft. Abalessa is also located along the ancient Trans-Saharan trade route. -Living heritage: the traditional way of farming practiced in the oasis and around the gueltas come from the Islamic culture. Also the grazing of camels and goats carried out by tuaregs. -Mythical and religious values: Abalessa is famous for the Tomb of Tin Hinan, the queen and mythical ancestor of the Tuareg people. Tin Hinan supposedly arrived in the Ahaggar Mountains area and lived there in the fourth or fifth century AD. -Social significance and ethnological: this territory preserve ancient customs and original tuareg traditions and characteristics that are related with the nomadic lifestyle of the region.

7. ENCLOSURES

Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):

A’ Haggar Massif, its gueltas and In Ziza Oasis is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Algeria which are included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med, in the Oases Section: Great Western Sand Sea Oases.

Bibliography:

http://www.RAMSAR.org/cda/en/RAMSAR-documents-info/main/RAMSAR/1-31-59_4000_0__ http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://RAMSAR.wetlands.org/Database/SearchforRAMSARsites/tabid/765/Default.aspx http://RAMSAR.wetlands.org/Portals/15/ALGERIA.pdf http://www.protectedplanet.net http://www.arqueotur.org/yacimientos/complejo-arqueologico-de-abalessa-y-tumba-de-tin-hinan.html http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sitefactsheet.php?id=6184 – BirdLife International. 2013. Important Bird Areas factsheet: Parc National de l’Ahaggar. -Hughes, R. H and Hughes, J.S. 1992. A Directory of African Wetlands. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambrigde, UK, UNEP, Nairobi, Kenia/ WCMC, Cambridge, UK, xxxiv+820 pp., 48 maps. -Keenan, J. 1977. The Tuareg: People of Ahaggar. 385 pp. London: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7139-0636-7. -Lauréano, P. (1991). Sahara jardin méconnu. PP 199. -Ozenda, P. (1983). Flore du Sahara. PP 662. -Sidi Boumedine, R. (2003). The Sahara of cultures and people: Towards a strategy for the sustainable development of tourism in the Sahara, in the context of combating poverty. UNESCO, Paris. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara – Italy

Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.