Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon

Mountains of the Moon is a prehistoric term denoting to an imaginary mountain or mountain range in East Africa at the Source of River Nile. Out of the numerous identifications that have been made in the contemporary times, the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda has been outstandingly pointed at.

People of the primeval era were long inquisitive about the possible Source of the Nile, mainly the Ancient Greek geographers. Several expeditions up the Nile were unsuccessfully done to find its source.

In the end, a merchant called Diogenes described that he had travelled for twenty-five days inland from Rhapta in East Africa and had established the source of Nile. He stated that it streamed from a group of immense mountains into sequences of huge lakes. He reported that the natives baptized this range, the Mountains of the Moon due to their snow-capped lightness or whiteness.

Diogenes reports were believed as true by Claudius Ptolemy plus other Greek and Roman geographers. The maps he made showed the reported place of the mountains. Arab geographers that came later despite being far better knowledgeable Africa as well took the report at face value and chose to include the mountains in the same position given by Ptolemy.

Contemporary Identifications

In the modern times, Europeans started again their exploration for the source of the Nile. In this case, James Bruce an explorer from Scotland travelled to Gojjam in Ethiopia in 1770 with a goal of investigating the Blue Nile source there. He identified the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ with Mount Amedamit, which he labeled as being surrounded the source of the Lesser Abay “in two semi-circles like a that of new moon. He said they seemed by their figure to qualify for the name of the ‘Mountains of the Moon like that which was given in the ancient times to mountains in the neighborhood of which the Nile was made-up to rise.

In 1862 John Speke and James Grant searched for the White Nile source in the Great Lakes region. And Henry Morton Stanley lastly found snow-covered mountains conceivably appropriate for Diogenes’ description in 1889. At present, known as the Rwenzori Mountains, the peaks are the basis of some of the waters of the Nile but only a small portion and Diogenes would have gone across the Victoria Nile to reach them.

But many scholars of the modern times doubt that these were the Mountains of the Moon defined by Diogenes. Some insist that these reports were entirely fictional. G.W.B. Huntingford proposed in 1940 that the Mountain of the Moon ought to be recognized with Mount Kilimanjaro, but was afterward derided in the History of Ancient Geography’ by J. Oliver Thompson published in 1948. Huntingford later noted that said he wasn’t alone in this philosophy, mentioning Sir Harry Johnston in 1911 plus Dr. Gervase Mathew later on in 1963 having done the same identification. Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford identified this range with Mount Abuna Yosef region in Amhara Region of Ethiopia.