Saharan rock art

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Neolithic cave paintings found in Tassili n'Ajjer (Plateau of the Chasms) region of the Sahara
Rock carving, this of an Elephant, in Tadrart Acacus region of Libya date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD, and reflect the dramatic climatic changes in the area.
Rock carving depicting a lying antelope or gazelle, located at Tin Taghirt on the Tassili n’Ajjer

Saharan rock art is a significant area of archaeological study focusing on the precious treasures carved or painted on the natural rocks found in the central Sahara desert. There are over three thousand sites discovered that have information about Saharan rock art. From the Tibesti massif to the Ahaggar Mountains, the Sahara is an open-air museum containing numerous archaeological sites.

Archaeological site regions[edit]

Important regions include:

The cave paintings found at Tassili n'Ajjer, north of Tamanrasset, Algeria, and at other locations depict vibrant and vivid scenes of everyday life in the central North Africa between about 8000 BCE and 4000 BCE, in the Mesolithic (Middle Stone) age. They were executed by a hunting people in the Capsian period of the Neolithic age (3000 -1900 BC) who lived in a savanna region teeming with giant buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus, animals that no longer exist in the now-desert area. The pictures provide the most complete record of a prehistoric African culture.

One of the wadis containing 10,000 year old paintings at Tadrart Acacus was spray-painted over this year by a disgruntled Libyan tour guide.

Prehistoric Sahara[edit]

Saharan Archaeological Research Association[edit]

Saharan Rock Art research can be added to the project gallery at Saharan Archaeological Research Association (SARA). SARA views the Sahara with a deep-time perspective. The Sahara, with its volatile climate history, is now known to have been host to multiple complex and large-scale human settlements dating from the Neolithic onwards. The massive degree of climate unpredictability and variation makes the observation of successful and long-term social complexity an extremely significant one. Understanding this observation is of primary interest to SARA. However, there is much that needs to be done before we can begin addressing larger concepts of human response to climate change in arid regions within the framework of a deep-time perspective. While many nations have sent expedition parties full of explorers and scientists across the vast expanses of desert, in all actuality we are only now just beginning to draw out information about the early complex societies that once inhabited the Sahara. Unfortunately, we may know even less about the climate history of this now arid region. Both SARA and TEP are directed by Douglas P. Park and Peter Coutros of Yale University.

Stone Ages[edit]

  • Mesolithic (Middle Stone) Age - (8000 - 3000 BC)
  • Neolithic (Late Stone) Age - (3000 -1900 BC)

See also[edit]