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AU´GILA (τὰ Αὔγιλα: Eth. Αὐγιλίται, Steph. B. sub voce Αὔγιλαι, Ptol.; Augilae or Augylae, Mela and Plin.: Aujelah), an oasis in the desert of Barca, in the region of Cyrenaica, in N. Africa, about 3 1/2° S. of Cyrene. Herodotus mentions it as one of the oases formed by salt hills (̣̣ολωνοὶ ἅλος), which he places at intervals of 10 days' journey along the ridge of sand which he supposes to form the N. [p. 1.338]margin of the Great Desert. His distance of 10 days' W. of the oasis of Ammon is confirmed by Hornemann, who made the journey with great speed in 9 days; but the time usually taken by the caravans is 13 days. In the time of Herodotus the oasis belonged to the NASAMONES who then dwelt along the shore from Egypt to the Great Syrtis; and who, in the summer time, left their flocks on the coast, and migrated to Augila to gather the dates with which it abounded. (Hdt. 4.172. 182: in the latter passage some MSS. have. Αἴγιλα.) It was not, however, uninhabited at other seasons, for Herodotus expressly says, καὶ ἄνθρωποι περὶ αὐτὸν οἰκέουσι. Mela and Pliny, in abridging the statement of Herodotus, have transferred to the Augilae (by a carelessness which is evident on comparison) what he says of the Nasamones. (Mela, 1.4, 8; Plin. Nat. 5.4, 8.) They place them next to the Garamantes, at a distance of 12 days' journey. (Plin.) Ptolemy (4.5.30) mentions the Augilae and the Nasamones together, in such a manner as to lead to the inference that the Nasamones, when driven back from the coast by the Greek colonists, had made the oasis of Augila their chief abode. Stephanus Byzantinus calls Augila a city.

The oasis, which still retains its ancient name, forms one of the chief stations on the caravan route from Cairo to Fezzan. It is placed by Rennell in 30° 3′ N. lat. and 22° 46′ E. long., 180 miles SE. of Barca, 180 W. by N. of Siwah (the Ammonium), and 426 E. by N. of Mourzouk. Later authorities place Aujilah (the village) in 29° 15′ N. lat. and 21° 55′ E. long. It consists of three oases, that of Aujilah, properly so called, and those of Jalloo (Pacho: Mojabra, Hornemann) and Leshkerrehi, a little E. and NE. of the former, containing several villages, the chief of which is called Aujilah, and supporting a population of 9000 or 10,000. Each of these oases is a small hill (the κολωνός of Herodotus), covered with a forest of palm-trees, and rising out of an unbroken plain of red sand, at the S. foot of the mountain range on the S. of Cyrenaica. The sands around the oasis are impregnated with salts of soda. They are connected with the N. coast by a series of smaller oases. Augila is still famous for the palm-trees mentioned by Herodotus and by the Arabian geographer Abulfeda. An interesting parallel to Herodotus's story of the gathering of the date harvest by the Nasamones occurs in the case of a similar oasis further to the E., the dates of which are gathered by the people of Derna on the coast.

According to Procopius (Aedif. 6.1), there were temples in the oasis, which Justinian converted into Christian churches. There are still some traces of ruins to be seen.

(Rennell, Geography of Herodotus, vol. ii. pp. 209, 212, 213, 271; Hornemann, Journal of Travels from Cairo to Mourzouk; Heeren, Researches, &c., African Nations, vol. i. p. 213; Pacho, Voyage dans la Marmarique, p. 272.)


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.8
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 4.5
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