The Sahara as Palimpsest: a cultural history of the world's greatest desert

Eamonn Gearon

Wednesday 21st September 2022

The Sahara as Palimpsest: a cultural history of the world’s greatest desert, from rock art and myth, to the Desert Fathers, Sons of the Desert, Klee and Matisse, Schultz and Lucas.

The Sahara has inspired the artistic and cultural life of the West for millennia, and this eye-opening presentation allows us to journey there with no risk of getting lost in a sandstorm.  Whether resident, foreign adventurer, or armchair traveller and artist, the deserts of North Africa are a palimpsest upon which poets, painters, filmmakers and other dreamers have been inspired by and drawn to for millennia.

 The Sahara proved as vital for the oracles of Ancient Greece as it has for the high priests of Hollywood, and North African landscapes have witnessed the creation of both stunning prehistoric rock art and Impressionist canvasses; inspired mythology and faith; and been a muse for every form of creative endeavour.  This is a fascinating talk through time and space, war and peace, love and loss, that will never again let you see the Sahara as a blank canvas.

Eamonn Gearon is an author, historian, and recovering journalist, who lived and worked across the greater Middle East – from Kabul to Casablanca – for more than 20 years. As well as living in the Sahara with the Bedu, Eamonn conducted a number of solo, camel-powered expeditions … and has never lost money when re-selling a camel! 

The author of three, multi-million selling lecture series on Middle Eastern history and culture for The Great Courses, in addition to entertaining general audiences, Eamonn also designed, and is responsible for delivering Middle East and North Africa (MENA) area studies training for both the British and American governments, at the US Department of State and FCDO (ex-FCO) respectively.

Eamonn’s a highly experienced speaker who has spent years delivering entertaining and educational presentations to audiences of all shapes and sizes, including the universities of Oxford and Harvard, scientific and geographical societies, aboard Queen Mary 2, and in scores of other venues on both sides of the Atlantic and across the Middle East and North Africa.