Ghadames or Ghadamis /ɡəˈdæmɨs/ (Arabic: غدامس, Libyan vernacular: ġdāməs) is an oasis town in the Nalut District of the Tripolitania region in northwestern Libya.
The first records about Ghadames date from the Roman period, when the settlement was known as Cydamus. In the 1st century BC the Roman proconsul Lucius Cornelius Balbus invaded Cydamus during the reign of emperor Augustus. A permanent Roman garrison was established during the reign of Septimius Severus, and the emperor may have visited the settlement around AD 202. However, the Romans withdrew from the area a few decades later during the Crisis of the Third Century.
During the 6th century, a Bishop lived in the oasis, after the population had been converted to Christianity by Byzantine
During the 7th century, Ghadames was ruled by the Muslim Arabs. The population quickly converted to Islam and Ghadames played an important role as base for the Trans-Saharan trade until the 19th century.
The etymology of the name Ghadames is very closely linked with its history. It is believed that the name Ghadames is originally connected
to the name of the ancient Berber tribe of Tidamensi, a tribe from Fezzan. It is also believed that the name Tidamensi was corrupted by the invading Romans to form the name Cydamus, which in turn
gave way to the name Ghadames.
The alternative theory for the name, as espoused by the local populace (i.e. a popular etymology), is that the oasis of Ghadames derives from the Arabic words for lunch ("Ghada") and yesterday ("ams"). The words are contracted to form an approximation of "lunch yesterday." By lore, a group that had camped near the oasis left materials from the previous day's campfire cookout. When the steward tasked to retrieve the materials returned to the site, the hoof of his horse broke through to the water of the oasis that now lies at the center of the town. Whether or not this legend is true, the oasis was the reason the town appeared and has remained in this most remote region of the desert.