Together with Cologne University an expedition was organized and carried out for GEO Magazine during Winter/Spring 2000. Its purpose was to trace, document and collect Desert Glass in the Great Sand Sea between Gilf Khebir and Siwa oasis, an area 1000 km by 1000 km adjoining Libya in the West and Sudan in the South.
This glass is almost as hard as diamond and was assumed to be the scarab material on Tut-Anch-Amuns pectoral shown in Cairo National Museum. Glass production needs more than 1000 K heat, impossible in those days but ancient literature reported about something alike found in the Great Sand Sea.
For decades Cologne University was in charge of climate research all over Africa. During the Acacia SFB 389 project in the 1999-2000 field season Rudolph Kuper and Stephan Kröpelin, Heinrich-Barth-Institut, were tracing and documenting Lord Almáshys research in and around Gilf Khebir. He is one of the most important Sahara researchers and originators of climate change theory assuming that Sahara was not just arid but fertile every 10.000 years. His proofs were findings of wall paintings and engravings showing giraffes, rhinos, lions and even swimming people, meaning: fertility and water.
His publications led to dismission from the German Archaeological Society due to silliness. He became Director of Cairo National Museum. Also, during WWII, Almáshy had been spying for or the German and British Miltary in that area. Today, he is an aknowleged scientist and his life was the basis of the great movie „The English Patient„.
Kröpelin made contracts with Uwe George, a founder of GEO journal, as a journalist, Carlo Bergmann, a scout of ancient tracks and traces with his camels and Raoul Schrott, a travel and history book writer.
We were in charge of organisation and technology and brought 2 Mercedes G270, gift of the company, from Stuttgart to Cairo via Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Haifa to Egypt. About 20 people forming the campaign met in Cairo’s German Archaeology Institute at Zamalek and arranged for permits and papers together with merchandizing lots of food for 2 months.
This caravan drove to the University’s excavation base in Dakhla, Western Desert organizing baking, watering and car maintenance before starting the campaign in 3 groups: The scout, 5 investigators exploring sites and directions and the excavators documenting, excavating and deploying antique goods.
Carlo searched for ancient caravan routes through the desert, originating from Paharao times, most of them starting in the Nile Valley leading South East into Sudan and Chad. In those days B.C. camels were not available in Egypt. Instead, donkeys needing lots of water and food on their way were means of transportation. Ancient caravans put directions and alamats and water supplies along thier routes, some of them still found and traced by Carlo today in this vast area. Donkeys were replaced by camels only after Cambyses II and his Persian troops had conquered Egypt about 500 B.C. making desert travelling much easier.
The expedition finally succeded: Desert Glass was found consiting of thousands of pieces including raw material, glass tools and arrowheads, most of them broken and left behind. That material was covering an area of 60 km by 20 km.
The origin of Desert Galss is controversial. Most scientists linked the glass to impact features, such as zircon-breakdown, vaporized quartz and meteoritic metals, and to an impact crater and ejecta saying that desert glass was outcome of a near collision between the earth and some meteorit about 26 million years ago due to the heat melting sand.After cooling glass was the result.