Most of the north end of the African continent is desert. There is, however, a stretch of land running from the Atlantic Ocean to the gulf Syrtis Minor, two or three hundred miles deep from the Mediterranean, that people can settle in thanks to a regular supply of water. This water supply is brought on by the winter winds of the Atlantic falling on the mountains surrounding this Mediterranean basin, causing regular rainfall in the winter, light showers during spring and autumn, and drought in the summer.
Recent archaeological surveys have shown that around one hundred miles of the Saharan border, which is now uncultivated pre-desert, was an extremely prosperous and substantial region during the Roman period. It supported a greater population during the Roman era than either before or since. Water management of the heavy, intermittent rainfall enabled farmers to grow barley and olives and to raise sheep and goats.
The mountains were covered in forests of conifers and evergreens. In the plains grew olives and figs, in the most fertile regions, grain. Animals of the region included snakes, scorpions, ostriches, gnus, antelope, gazelles, elephants, panthers, leopards, lions, and bears.
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