Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Professor Tekawa and the Lost Civilization of Seqoi

What I relate here is nothing of my own opinion, or is it embellished in any way.  As a historian in the purest sense, we must always look for fact.  Unadulterated fact - not swayed by the opinions of the person, or worst, by the fashions of the contemporary - which are filled with dangers.  Historic half-truths, which are what fashions unabashedly reveal, luckily do not stand the test of time.  As long as there are historians who prove the purpose of their calling and only duly purport a mirror of an age.

Professor of Sociology, Dr. Gale Tekawa, Ph.D. UW Madison, of California State University at Fullerton, outlined a series of lectures as part of her curriculum, "The Curious Pre-Romanticism of the Ancient Seqoi"*, which included several artifacts she acquired in her discoveries of the site in the very early 1980s in the region of south-east (present day) Algeria, about two hundred miles SEE of the city of Tamanrasset.  Dr. Tekawa worked along side Drs. Blake and Willowby, Professors of Archaeology, at the site in its infancy.

The site, first thought to be a derivative culture of the Berber, was discovered by Tamanrasset militia in 1976.  Funding proved a chore for UW at the time, but it was finally meted out by interest by Pan African groups seeking more solidity to studies of Africa as the 'birthplace' of civilization.  [I use quotes very sparingly.  In this case, I seek to use the language of the grant, but flatly point out the disingenuous proposition of the term.]

The site found the three doctors working four weeks out of the year, for several years, as scouting expeditions.  Opportunity was with them each trip, successive discoveries abounded.  [As this is the story of Tekawa's journey, and my interest in her hypothesis, I will merely outline those that are the focus of this paper.]  As monies consolidated for the team, the University felt enough was collected that a full expedition and study could be made for at least the first year.  The doctor's were so excited they left for Africa before formal arrangements were made.

The first year was slow work.  The indigenous peoples of the area proved unreliable so men from Cairo and Baghdad were brought in at three times the amount - but five times the amount of work was had.  The first year was primarily for the archaeologists - they discovered an ancient kingdom that flourished only for a brief period of time thousands of miles west from Mesopotamia.  There were underground lakes and rain-collecting cisterns.  There was some cultivation of barley.  There is evidence of crude metallurgy, but nothing approaching the bronze masterworks that would frame much of the time.


It was the discovery of a temple, built intentionally underground, as part of a center of worship where the site took a turn of its own.  Tekawa found there a series of works written in the stone of the chamber that appeared to be an extant story, untouched by time and most elements.  It was crude and it was fragile.  If it was what it could be, it would predate the work of Beowulf by some 1200 years.

As Tekawa turned the next two decades to this work, she sought to turn them into a meaningful whole.  From it she found, not a fictional tale or a religious sect's search for meaning: it was a story of the Queen of the Seqoi, and the Minister that loved her until the temples were toppled by a wandering army sometime in 2435 BC.

It was a tale that possibly alluded to by Dionysius Periegetes in his De situ habitabilis orbis:

in hac regione est oppidum ab antiquis invenimus mortuum

sed melius est, et ex lapide sepulchra, quae superne rotundata sunt Caeli
multis nota picturae et fecit
sed qui apud nos est, non possint?

it was in this region from the ancients that we found a dead city
they preferred the rounded tones of stone and tombs
many a picture and symbol made
but who among us could decipher it?

That began Tekawa's proposition that this kingdom, so infant to other civilizations, masterful of little but the crudest instruments, found purpose in extolling the stories of a man we know little about.  We know that he was in love with the Queen and outlived her.  The man (dubbed Seqoi Alpha, or the Vizier, or Maliq) who saw his own civilization crumble, and a fragment of time that no one could recall but through his story.

Upon once of her travels to and from the States, Tekawa had stopped in Spain, to the University of Barcelona, studying the manuscripts and of the symbol the Seqoi Alpha had made.  It was a symbol of a woman, in the crude valuation of a dress, characteristic bosoms, and a disk behind her head.  The waiter of the Spanish tapas bar remarked, Reina?  Queen?  So began the tale of the man who loved Reina, the Queen of the Seqoi, the Single Civilization, the Invenimus Mortuum of Dionysius.
* The Seqoi Culture: A Study of Pre-Bronze Time in Their Words, Dr. Gale Tekawa, Azalee Press, 1992

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