I absolutely loved researching the many legends and tales associated with this mysterious queen who is said to have founded the Tuaregs.
Tin Hinan, the queen the Tuaregs still call ‘Our Mother’, is rumoured to have come from the country which would now be Morocco with her maid servant Takamat. They settled at Abalessa, an oasis in
In ‘The Lion’s Embrace’, I have used my 'artistic licence' in that Oscar Montague discovers the tomb in 1845 but it is then closed up and left untouched.
However, I kept all the details of the artefacts, of the gold, silver jewellery, precious and semi-precious stones which were found as accurate as possible and stuck very closely to the description of the remains of the Tuareg queen.
When her burial chamber was opened, archaeologists found the queen lying on a bed of hand-carved wood, facing toward the East. She was wrapped in a leather shroud, and wore fifteen solid silver and gold bracelets, a diadem made of emeralds, ostrich feathers and a long cornelian necklace.
In the days before carbon dating, it was the imprint of a coin with the effigy of Emperor Constantine on a sculptured bowl which enabled historians to date the tomb from the 4th century AD. The body of Queen Tin Hinan as well as all the artefacts found in her tomb are now in the
Bardo Museum in . Algiers
From the top of the tomb, one can see the beautiful, mysterious Hoggar mountain range, particularly the great Koudia – which the Tuareg have named the ‘Roof of the
and where according to local legends, the King of the Djins (the King of the
Evil Spirits) lives. One can see the iconic
too. Mount Illiman
Even before her tomb was discovered, the numerous legends surrounding Queen Tin Hinan inspired Pierre Benoit to write his classic novel ‘Atlantide’, published in 1919. His heroin, Antinea, and her followers are descendants of the people of ‘Atlantis’ who had taken refuge in the Hoggar after a great disaster destroyed their world. Antinea lives in a palace hidden in the mountains, where she seduced and entrapped lost explorers to the
Recently there has been some controversy about the identify of the woman who was buried at Abalessa, with some historians now disputing that the remains belonged to Tin Hinan at all!
Whoever was buried there however was a woman of immense prestige and immense wealth.