Madrid, May 19 : A team of archaeologists is making the first catalogue of the prehistoric heritage of the Western Sahara.
The team, which comprises of Basque and Sahrawi archaeologists is exploring the region of Tiris, a vast desert area south of Western Sahara, to find more about the past of this inhospitable region.
Led by Andoni Saenz de Buruaga, a professor at the Basque public university UPV, the team is visiting the Western Sahara for a fifth time.
"We presented our research project to the Sahrawi Government in 2004. It was very well received and we have been given every chance. The results are very good, we have really made progress and that encourages us to travel for the fifth time to the region of Tiris", said Saenz de Buruaga.
The research of the Basque archaeologists covers an area of 30,000 km2, three times the surface of Navarre, a region in northern Spain.
In five years' work, the Basque archeologists have catalogued more than 300 archaeological sites, including former human settlements, carvings and cave paintings. Most of them are between 3,000 and 10,000 years old.
The research work helps to make the prehistoric heritage of the southern region of the Western Sahara better known.
"We will keep on trying to research the past of the Sahrawis. It is vet important for them to know their cultural heritage, which is very rich opposite to what it was generally thought," said Saenz de Buruaga. "It is a way to show and claim that their ancestors lived here", he added.
One of the most remarkable conclusions is the verification that today's arid desert was a subtropical savanna with plenty of flora and fauna six thousand years ago.
Rains decreased as a consequence of a process of climate change and animals moved to other places to face the lack of water.