Life in Oasis
Oasis is a fertile spot in a desert, which is formed because of the presence of water that makes cultivation possible. The word ‘oasis’ is derived from an Egyptian word ‘wahe’ or ‘ouahe’, meaning ‘fertile places in the desert’. Sometimes, the oasis may be very large. The location of an oasis is of critical importance for trade and transportation routes in desert areas. Caravans must travel via oases, so that the supplies of water and food can be replenished. Oasis also provides habitat for animals and even humans if the area is big enough. People can lead a settled life in the oasis where spring and underground water is available. There is limited water and arable land. Therefore, people use water very carefully and the land is utilised to grow as much food as possible. Major occupations of the people in oasis are cultivation and animal rearing. Cultivation is carried out at three levels: At the ground level, grains and vegetables are cultivated. At the higher level, fruit trees like orange, lemon, fig, etc. are cultivated. The top-most level is made up of date palm. The main summer crops are rice, millets and maize, while the winter crops are wheat, barley and oilseeds. Water for irrigation is drawn from wells. Animals are used to draw water. Canals are made to provide water to the fields. There are only a few animals reared in oasis as most of the available land is under cultivation. These animals are used as beasts of burden. The houses in oasis are simple and built to protect against the heat, cold and sand dust. The people in oasis wear loose flowing clothes that protect them against the heat and keep them cool. Head dress of the people provides them with protection from dust and sand. Oasis is the trading place for the nomads. They pitch their tent outside the oasis. They exchange their cattle, hides and carpets for grain and dates. Many of the market places are converted into towns. Big towns are developed near major caravan routes. Date palm is the most important tree in oasis. It is an essential part of desert life and culture.
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