A desert is a sandy or pebbly territory that lacks or has little vegetation because of an almost total absence of rain. It is also an unpopulated and undeveloped area. The word 'desert' is very present in the semantic range. It alludes to the most arid ecosystems on the planet but it also evokes historical, literary, philosophical and religious concepts.
The concept of a desert is intimately tied to mankind's destiny. It was the desertification process that converted dense tropical rain forests into African savannas, which in turn favored the first hominids to walk the land and the eventual appearance of the 'Homo' genus in primeval Africa.
It can be said that human beings are to a certain degree a consequence of both a primary desertification process and of the climate change that took place many hundreds of millions of years ago. Since the beginning man has learned to live in the desert and this is no coincidence. After the oceans deserts constitute the largest ecosystem on the planet - more than 50 million square kilometers of land constituting almost a third of the above water landmass, distributed among all continents alike.
The first civilizations arose along river oases in deserts. The Fertile Crescent that extended throughout Mesopotamia and Egypt saw the birth of the first stable communities based on agriculture and on animal domestication, destined to form pastoral societies. Thanks to the accumulation of man-made wealth, writing, government structures and organized religions flourished there... in other words, the pillars of contemporary society.
The three great monotheistic religions are linked to the desert and they refer to it when they speak of purification and retreat. Hermitism was born there as a way to encounter ones own interior and give oneself to God. Revealed truth and theophanies became manifest in those places. There is where Yahveh revealed the Mosaic Law, where Christ revealed the New Law, and it was there where Muhammad had his own revelation.