In his important monograph Earth and Ore, Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler (1997: 274) notes: "The culture of the Sao on Lake Chad is regarded as one of the oldest in West Africa, and although extensive archaeological and ethnohistorical material is available that goes back to the early Arabic writers, it is still not possible - as is also shown by more recent research (Forkl, 1983) - to form a precise picture of this people so significant for its art and towns. [...] According to legends, which are still related, the Sao were a people of powerful giants who thought they could even trace their origin back to Jerusalem: 'A woman from Jerusalem bore twins, who married each other and produced a race of giants, the Sao...' In about the 7th century, the Sao occupied the oases Bilma, Tadjéré and Fatchi north of Lake Chad and then settled west of the lake around the 10th century, where they founded the actual Sao Empire.
"In the second half of the 14th century internal discord fomented from outside split the empire, which then, at the beginning of the 16th century, constantly had to fight off attacks. Subsequently the Massa from the east and, finally, the Bornu troops destroyed what still remained of the towns. The Sao themselves broke up or mixed mainly with the Massa, who today are included among the Kotoko, and new ethnic groups grew up, especially in Northern Cameroon."
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