Kolmanskop used to be a thriving hub for German diamond miners during the 20th century, but each day another small part of the settlement is engulfed by the encroaching Namib desert. French photographer Romain Veillon decided to capture what remains of the town before it completely disappears. Even though the desert's advance is slow by human standards, the series is a testament to the unstoppable force of mother nature.
The mining town first came into existence when diamonds were discovered in 1908, and at its peak, had a population of just over 1,000 people. While its lifespan was less than 50 years, the town was widely known for its opulence. Clean water came all the way from Cape Town, a journey that takes 13-hours by car today, and their champagne was shipped all the way from Reims, an area nestled right in the North of France.
Plummeting diamond prices after the First World War coupled with the discovery of a bigger deposit further south caused the town’s accelerated downfall. In the time since then, the desert has been unforgiving in its advance, slowly burying what remains of the town’s extravagant buildings. Each of the pictures illuminates the true power of nature, but also captures the rich culture that managed to spring up in the most unlikely of places. The series is called Les Sables du Temps, which translates as The Sands of Time – an undeniably fitting title.
Images by Romain Veillon