Tadrart Acacus

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Rockart showing giraffes and other animals in what is now desert
Type Cultural
Criteria iii
Reference 287
UNESCO region Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1985 (9th Session)
Acacus mountains in western Libya, part of the Sahara
Rock arch in Tadrart Acacus

The Acacus Mountains or Tadrart Acacus (Arabic: تدرارت أكاكوس‎ / ALA-LC: Tadrārt Akākūs) form a mountain range in the desert of the Ghat District in western Libya, part of the Sahara. They are situated east of the Libyan city of Ghat and stretch north from the Algerian border about 100 km. Tadrart is the feminine form of 'mountain' in the Berber languages (masculine: Adrar). The area has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art.

The Acacus Mountains have a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sanddunes to arches, gorges, isolated rocks and deep ravines (wadis). Major landmarks include the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega. Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the medicinal Calotropis procera, and there are a number of springs and wells in the mountains.[1]

The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 B.C.E. to 100 C.E. and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area.[2] There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.[3][4]

Recently, the search for petroleum hidden underground has placed the rock art itself in danger. Seismic hammers are used to send shock waves underneath to locate oil deposits, and have noticeable effects on nearby rocks, including the ones that house the Tadrart Acacus rock art.[5]


  1. ^ Kjeilen, Tore (2009) "Acacus Mountains: Total wilderness" LookLex Ltd.
  2. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "UNESCO Fact Sheet". Whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  3. ^ EWP (2006). Jebel Acacus Map and Guide (Map). 1:100,000, inset 1:400,000. Tourist and cave art information.. Cartography by EWP (1st ed.). ISBN 0-906227-93-3. http://ewpnet.com/libya/akakus.htm.
  4. ^ "Acacus Rock Art Photo Gallery". Ewpnet.com. Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  5. ^ Bohannon, John (February 10, 2005). "In the Valley of Life, Oil is Death to the Art of a Lost Civilization". The Guardian. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Di Lernia, Savino e Zampetti, Daniela (eds.) (2008) La Memoria dell'Arte. Le pitture rupestri dell'Acacus tra passato e futuro, Florence, All'Insegna del Giglio;
  • Minozzi S., Manzi G., Ricci F., di Lernia S., and Borgognini Tarli S.M. (2003) "Nonalimentary tooth use in prehistory: an Example from Early Holocene in Central Sahara (Uan Muhuggiag, Tadrart Acacus, Libya)" American Journal of Physical Anthropology 120: pp. 225–232;
  • Mattingly, D. (2000) "Twelve thousand years of human adaptation in Fezzan (Libyan Sahara)" in G. Barker, Graeme and Gilbertson, D.D. (eds) The Archaeology of Drylands: Living at the Margin London, Routledge, pp. 160–79;
  • Cremaschi, Mauro and Di Lernia, Savino (1999) "Holocene Climatic Changes and Cultural Dynamics in the Libyan Sahara" African Archaeological Review 16(4): pp. 211–238;
  • Cremaschi, Mauro; Di Lernia, Savino; and Garcea, Elena A. A. (1998) "Some Insights on the Aterian in the Libyan Sahara: Chronology, Environment, and Archaeology" African Archaeological Review 15(4): pp. 261–286;
  • Cremaschi, Mauro and Di Lernia, Savino (eds., 1998) Wadi Teshuinat: Palaeoenvironment and Prehistory in South-western Fezzan (Libyan Sahara) Florence, All'Insegna del Giglio;
  • Wasylikowa, K. (1992) "Holocene flora of the Tadrart Acacus area, SW Libya, based on plant macrofossils from Uan Muhuggiag and Ti-n-Torha Two Caves archaeological sites" Origini 16: pp. 125–159;
  • Mori, F., (1960) Arte Preistorica del Sahara Libico Rome, De Luca;
  • Mori, F., (1965) Tadrart Acacus, Turin, Einaudi;
  • Mercuri AM (2008) Plant exploitation and ethnopalynological evidence from the Wadi Teshuinat area (Tadrart Acacus, Libyan Sahara). Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 1619-1642;
  • Mercuri AM (2008) Human influence, plant landscape evolution and climate inferences from the archaeobotanical records of the Wadi Teshuinat area (Libyan Sahara). Journal of Arid Environments 72: 1950-1967.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 24°50′N 10°20′E / 24.833°N 10.333°E / 24.833; 10.333