- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); detail of engraved rock art on a rock surface (sandstone), showing the polished outline of an unidentified figure (therianthrope? human with mask?) upright facing front, with arms bent over chest and animal? head. Two circular engravings within the head (eyes?). Vertical grooves at waist and chest (garment? and belt?). A 10 cm photo scale has been fitted at the bottom of the surface. Wadi Mathendous area. Libya.
- Production date
- 22 September 2003 (date digitized)
File size: 121 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
- Detail of panel 2013,2034.2624, showing an interesting engraving of a two-legged figure placed rightmost at the bottom, which could be a therianthrope with its head looking up or a human figure with an animal mask. The engravings are located around Wadi Mathendous, one of the main dry riverbeds on the southern edge of the Messak Plateau in southwest Libya, near the borders between Algeria and Niger. That plateau, which runs southwest-northeast through the Libyan province of Fezzan is divided in two by the Tilemsin pass, which defines two smaller plateaus (Settafet to the north and Mellet to the south). Throughout these plateaus, numerous dry riverbeds run to the east into Murzuq erg. Rather than a single dry riverbed, Wadi Mathendous can define a wide area which includes the In Habeter (the middle course of Wadi Mathendous) and tributaries as the Wadi Tilizaghen. The valley and its tributaries are full with tens of thousands of rock art engravings –only a few paintings have been located insofar-, mostly depicted in vertical rocks. As a whole, Wadi Mathendous and its surrounding area constitutes the core of the Messak rock art.
The Messak rock art has been known since Heinrich Barth’s expedition in 1850, although it wasn’t until 1932 when the engravings were systematically studied by Leo Frobenius. In more recent times the area has been extensively studied by Pesce (1969), Graziosi (1970) and Jelinek (1984, 1985). Figures appear both isolated and within complex scenes which include engraved life-size elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, buffaloes and figures which mix human and animal features (therianthropes) along with numerous figures of more modern periods as horses and camels. Most of the engravings belong to the so called Bubalus style, but Tazina, Pastoral, Horse and Camel styles are also well represented. The area is home to some of the oldest engravings in the Sahara desert (around 10,000 years old) and some of the most popular depictions in Saharan rock art, as the “Sparring Cats” or the so-called “Apollo of the Garamantes”.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: LIBMES0030004 (TARA number)