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Tall

(262 words)

Author(s): Callot, Y.
(a.), usually written Tell in European geographical terminology, means in Arabic “hill, mound, tumulus”, but has in the Mag̲h̲rib a specific meaning unconnected with archaeology. According to Maurer, in Troin (ed.), Le Maghreb , the primary meaning in Arabic dialect is said to be “marly, grey or darkish soil” (cf. W. Marçais and A. Guiga, Textes arabes de Takroûna . II Glossaire , i, Paris 1958, 495: “sol gras et argileux”). By extension, it designates the whole region where this type of soil is found, and is contrasted on one hand to…

Wādī

(1,121 words)

Author(s): Brice, W.C. | Callot, Y. | Pinilla-Melguizo, R.
(a.), pls. awdiya , awdāʾ , etc., in Syrian colloquial widyān (see A. Barthélemy, Dictionnaire arabe-français . Dialectes de Syrie , Paris 1935-54, 889), in the Arab lands in general, a river valley. The conventional English spelling is wadi. 1. In the Arabian peninsula. In desert terrain, a wadi is usually dry, but may carry seasonal water, or occasional floods ( sayl ), which are often a mixture of water, mud and stones. These ¶ desert valleys are very different in both topography and gradient from those in lands of higher and more regular rainfall; for while it is …

Wāḥa

(940 words)

Author(s): Brice, W.C. | Callot, Y.
(a., pl. wāhāt ), oasis. 1. In the Middle East. An oasis is a locality with access to water and cultivable soil in an area which is generally barren and parched. Perennial streams such as the Nile or Tigris-Euphrates, which flow from well-watered mountains through desert valleys, support continuous chains of oases. Other watercourses, which are seasonal, irregular or subterranean, can sometimes be tapped by wells to provide enough water for more isolated settlements, as at Tarīm and S̲h̲ibām [ q.vv.] in the Wādī ¶ Ḥaḍramawt, and in the district of al-Ḳaṣīm [ q.v.] on the Wādī Rumma in c…

Reg

(531 words)

Author(s): Callot, Y.
, a form generally retained in European languages for the Arabic riḳḳ “dessicated terrain”, in its Bedouin realisation (Sahara of the Mag̲h̲rib) rẹ̆ gg ; cf. LʿA. s.vv. riḳḳ , raḳḳ , raḳāḳ , ruḳāḳ , with a common denominator meaning “terrain where water has disappeared, at least on the surface”, and with varying connotations. See G. Boris, Lexique du parler arabe des Marazig , Paris 1958, 220: r e gāg , pl. r e gāgāt , “a wide expanse of desert terrain”. In French, the word has become a scientific term which may be used in reference to any part of the globe. As a stony flat or…

S̲h̲aṭṭ

(375 words)

Author(s): Callot, Y.
(a.), lit. “bank, margin of a piece of water”, Fr. Form Chott, also in English conventionally Shott, a geographical term used in the high plains of the Mag̲h̲rib and the northern Sahara for the saline pasturages surrounding a sabk̲h̲a [ q.v.]. It has often been confused with this latter term, especially in toponomy of the colonial period, hence one must be very careful when one meets the term. Thus there are found on the high plains the S̲h̲aṭṭ Tigrīn in Morocco; in Algeria, from west to east, the S̲h̲aṭṭ al-G̲h̲arbī, the vast Chott e…

al-Ṣaḥrāʾ

(5,269 words)

Author(s): Callot, Y. | Vernet, R. | Bisson, J.
(a.), in English the Sahara, the name given to the desert in the northern part of Africa. Ṣaḥrāʾ is the feminine of the adjective aṣḥar “fawn, tawny coloured”. It is applied by certain authors to an ensemble of stony terrain, steppelands and sands (cf. al-Idrīsī, éd. de Goeje, 37 n.), whilst the term mud̲j̲diba designates more particularly terrain covered with moving sands and totally waterless (see Abu ’l-Fidāʾ, 137, tr. Reinaud, ii/2, 190). Leo Africanus uses it as a synonym for “desert” in general, see Schefer’s ed., i/1, 5. ¶ 1. History of the term. The Arabic authors provide only fra…

Sāḥil

(1,677 words)

Author(s): Callot, Y.
(a.), European form Sahel, a geographical term meaning “edge, border zone”. It is, grammatically, an active participle with a passive meaning ( fāʿil bi-maʿnā mafʿūl , see e.g. LʿA , ed. Beirut ¶ 1375/1956, xi, 328a, “eaten away by the sea” whence “shore”. The term has various regional applications, in accordance with the meaning “fringe area, zone”. 1. In the Mag̲h̲rib . The Sāḥil of Tunisia (Sāḥil of Sousse, Sāḥil of Sfax). This is the coastal region of the low steppes of the north, around the towns of Sousse, Monastir and Mahdia, having a maritime clima…