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 learn more about them through a series of articles. You can also read an introduction to rock art in northern Africa.
There are also answers to some key questions about African rock art:
28 November 2014
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.
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.
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.
The significance of hair in African societies is reflected in a fascinating set of images from the Acacus Mountains in south-western Libya.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deep in the Messak Settafet is a site that has intrigued researchers for decades: the so-called ‘Fighting Cats’ scene.
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.
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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