The so-called ‘fighting cats’ engraving

The so-called ‘fighting cats’ engraving, which also depicts four ostriches, from the Messak Plateau in Libya. 2013,2034.2761 © TARA/David Coulson

Three figures and a giraffe

San rock painting of white giraffe and human fgiures, Brandberg, Namibia. (Not yet catalogued) © TARA/David Coulson

Hand Wadi el Obeiyd

Hand painted on a limestone cave wall at Wadi el Obeiyd, Egypt. 2013,2034.122 © TARA/David Coulson

Tadrart tableau

Painted rock art from Tin Anneouin, Wadi Teshuinat, Acacus Mountains, Fezzan District, Libya. 2013,2034.376 © TARA/David Coulson

Cow Karkur tahl

Detail of engraved rock art of a cow from Karkur tahl, Jebel Uweinat, Sudan. 2013,2034.259 © TARA/David Coulson

Karkur tahl tableau

Painted rock art from Karkur tahl, Jebel Uweinat, Sudan. 2013,2034.6 © TARA/David Coulson

Follow our digital journey across Africa
Discover 30,000 years of rock art

Africa’s rock art is as diverse as the continent itself. In 2013, the African rock art image project team began cataloguing around 25,000 digital photographs of rock art from across Africa – originally from the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) – through generous support from the Arcadia Fund.

Combining a wide range of research from the British Museum, TARA and colleagues in Africa, the project is cataloguing and digitally preserving African rock art, ensuring global open access well into the future.

On these pages, you can explore the images catalogued so far by country
and find out more through a series of themes. You can also find answers to some key questions about African rock art:

Explore by country

Northern / Saharan Africa

Eastern and central Africa

  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Somalia
  • Uganda
  • Tanzania

Southern Africa

  • Angola
  • Malawi
  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • Zimbabwe
  • South Africa

Explore themes

Camels in Saharan rock art

Camels in Saharan rock art

Camels have not always been part of Saharan life: their appearance in rock art reflects their introduction from the Middle East and the central role they came to play in desert societies.

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Gone fishing

Gone Fishing...

Depictions of fish are found in the rock art of Libya, Algeria and Morocco, reflecting a period when the Sahara was much wetter and fishing was a major part of Saharan culture.

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Chariots in the Sahara

Chariots in the Sahara

Several sites recently catalogued in the Fezzan region of the Libyan Desert have included paintings of chariots in a variety of forms, from up to 3,000 years ago.

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Acacus hairwashing scene

Hairdressing in the Acacus

The significance of hair in African societies is reflected in a fascinating set of images from the Acacus Mountains in south-western Libya.

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horse and rider

Domesticated horses in northern African rock art

There is a wealth of rock art depicting horses throughout northern Africa, providing valuable evidence for their use at various times in history, as well as a testament to their importance.

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Explore featured sites

Jebel Uweinat

Jebel Uweinat, Sudan

Jebel Uweinat – one of Sudan’s most important areas for rock art – is dominated by images of cattle, but also includes depictions of humans and other animals.

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Crying Cows

Crying Cows, Algeria

These engravings are highly skilled depictions of cattle that seem to be bending their heads to drink, and also to have tears rolling down their faces.

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Oukaïmeden, Morocco

Oukaïmeden, Morocco

Oukaïmeden is home to one of the most impressive collections of rock art engravings in Morocco, with about 1,000 depictions throughout this alpine-like valley.

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Fighting cats

Fighting cats, Libya

Deep in the Messak Settafet is a site that has intrigued researchers for decades: the so-called ‘Fighting Cats’ scene.

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Wadi Sura: the Cave of Swimmers

Cave of Swimmers, Egypt

This is one of the most famous rock art sites of the Sahara, named due to the human figures painted on its walls, with their limbs contorted as if swimming.

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Dabous, featured site in Niger

Dabous, Niger

Two remarkable life-size engravings of giraffe, carved on a sandstone outcrop at the edge of the Ténéré desert, have generated much interest due to their size, realism and technique.

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Niola Doa, featured site in Chad

Niola Doa, Chad

These engravings of life-sized human figures from the Ennedi Plateau are renowned for for their very regular stylistic conventions, including abnormally wide buttocks and thighs.

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Guilemsi, featured site in Mauritania

Guilemsi, Mauritania

Guilemsi is the site of several unusual rock paintings, including those of horses and riders in different styles, distorted figures and wild animals.

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