A 6000-Year Old Unplanned Community Photographed From Above

Since time immemorial, and more recently, humans have wondered what the world looks like from above. This fascination has historically manifested in the plan drawing and aerial photography. In this vein, and using a motorized paraglider, National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz has captured a stunning bird’s-eye view of the ancient city of Ghadames, in Libya.

View over the rooftops of Ghadames. Image © Robert Bamler

The old town, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, sits upon an oasis in the Sahara. At over 6000 years old, the agglomeration of mud brick houses predates the Roman Empire. Each house is vertically stratified by function, with storage underneath family living spaces. The rooftop walkways captured in this photo serves as both private outdoor space and a means of circulation that allowed women to remain unseen from men on the streets below.

This image of ancient houses, connecting to form a mosaic of varying shades and organic curves, could almost be mistaken for a microscopic image of the cells in a leaf–it represents a stark contrast from the typical modern idea of the city. However, while ancient homes in the dusts of the Sahara may seem like a far cry from anything being built today, in plan, Ghadames is strikingly similar to unplanned communities still being built across the globe. That the connections between cities built thousands of years apart can be so clearly represented speaks volumes to the power of aerial urban photography.

References: National Geographic, Edmond Bernet, UNESCO

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Cite: Luke Fiederer. "A 6000-Year Old Unplanned Community Photographed From Above" 14 Feb 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/781790/a-6000-year-old-unplanned-community-photographed-from-above> ISSN 0719-8884

View over the rooftops of Ghadames. Image © Robert Bamler


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