Saharan rock art

Saharan rock art is located in Africa
Tassili n'Ajjer
Tassili n'Ajjer
Tibesti
Tibesti
Ennedi
Ennedi
Messak
Messak
Tadrart
Tadrart
Significant Saharan rock art locations
Manda Guéli Cave in the Ennedi Mountains, northeastern Chad

Saharan rock art is a significant area of archaeological study focusing on artwork carved or painted on the natural rocks of the central Sahara desert. The rock art dates from numerous periods starting c. 12,000 years ago, and is significant because it shows the culture of ancient African societies.

The paintings and carvings of the Sahara are endangered, and vulnerable rock art on uncovered rock has already disappeared. Organizations such as the Trust for African Rock Art [1] are researching and recording as much information about Saharan rock art as possible, while raising awareness of threats to the art itself.

Archaeological sites

Important regions and sites include:

  • Cave of Swimmers and Cave of Beasts caves area, Gilf Kebir area, Egypt
  • Tibesti, Chad: Also known as Tibesti Massif or Tibesti Mountains located in central Sahara, extending from Niger and Libya. The mountains are volcanic and are approximately 300 miles long and 175 miles wide. [2] The rock art that exists in these mountains was created before dramatic climate change in the Saharan Desert caused the inhabitants to move towards the Nile Valley. Large animal engravings and other rock art dates to between 12,000 and 4,000 years ago. [3]
  • Ennedi, Chad: Next to the Tibesti Mountain chain is another mountain chain named Ennedi. Much of the rock art in this area is from the Horse Period, and was made in the last 2,000 years. Pastoral Period art was also shown here. [3]
  • Messak Settafet, Libya: Abundant rock art is found in this location, near a mountain chain in Libya. Art is made from engraving techniques such as grinding, pecking, and scratching. Outlines of animals are found in blackened sandstone. [4]
Neolithic cave paintings found in Tassili n'Ajjer (Plateau of the Chasms) region of the Sahara
  • Tadrart Acacus, Libya: Near the sand dune of Murzuk, bordering Tassili n'Ajjer, exists 12,000 year old prehistoric rock art. It appears to reflect much of the same culture as the Tassili n'Ajjer rock art. [5]
Rock carving depicting a lying antelope or gazelle, located at Tin Taghirt on the Tassili n’Ajjer