There are few bodies of water more important to the advancement of humankind than the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient Minoans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Greeks, and Romans relied on the sea, the superhighway of its day, to conduct trade, wage war, and advance their cultures. While the great Mediterranean civilizations peaked and waned, the Indigenous people of Northern Africa, the Amazigh (am uh ZEEK), remained a constant. Based on Egyptian and Greek writings and archeological evidence, the Amazigh (also known as Berbers) in the region can be traced back to around 3500 BCE and remained the dominant ethnic group and culture in the area for more than four thousand years. Culturally Strong One reason their culture remained relatively stable was because of the Sahara, the largest hot desert in the world. Its almost unimaginable size, 3.5 million square miles (5.6 million square kilometers), covers about a third of the continent. By comparison, the area of the entire continental United States is 3.1 million square miles (five million square kilometers). That often inhospitable desert was extremely effective in isolating the northern region


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