African rock art
- Elizabeth Galvin, curator
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Africa’s rock art tradition is believed to date back over 50,000 years and is found throughout the continent.
Over the next five years, the Museum team will catalogue 25,000 rock art images from across Africa, originally from the world-renowned Trust for African Rock Art (TARA). TARA’s work over the last two decades has created one of the best and most extensive photographic surveys of African rock art and its environmental context. The images and data will be made accessible through the British Museum’s online collection catalogue, drawing on documentation from TARA staff and archaeological and anthropological research.
The Museum will also digitise the African pictorial collection of 19th and 20th century photographs alongside the TARA images to support the integration of this archive into a digital database. By combining a wide range of research from the Museum, TARA and colleagues in Africa, this project will capture and preserve knowledge about rock art and the visual anthropology of Africa for future generations.
The cultural significance of hair in African societies is reflected in a fascinating set of images we have recently documented from the Acacus Mountains in south-western Libya.
As the project progresses, more images of African rock art will be available to look at on the Museum's database, Collection Online. Several thousand photographs are already available to search.