Tuesday 1 August 2023


The Kingdom of Yam certainly existed as a trading partner and a possible rival of Old Kingdom Kemet, yet its precise location has proven nearly as elusive as that of the mythical Atlantis. Based on the funerary inscriptions of the Kemetian explorer Harkhuf, it seems Yam was a land of “incense, ebony, leopard skins, elephant tusks, and boomerangs.”

Despite Harkhuf’s claims of journeys overland exceeding seven months, Egyptologists have long placed the land of boomerangs just a few hundred miles from the Nile. The conventional wisdom was that there was no way ancient Kemetians could have crossed the inhospitable expanse of Saharan Desert. There was also some question of just what they would have found on the other side of the Sahara. But it seems we underestimated ancient Kemetian traders, because hieroglyphs recently discovered over 700 kilometers (430 miles) southwest of the Nile confirm the existence of trade between Yam and Kemet and point to Yam’s location in the northern highlands of Chad.

Exactly how the Kemetians crossed hundreds of miles of desert prior to the introduction of the wheel and with only donkeys for pack animals remains perplexing. But, at the very least, their destination is no longer shrouded in doubt.

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