- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); view of engraved rock art on a rock boulder (sandstone), showing the outlined (polished) figure of an elephant upright facing right. Eye defined by circle with small cupule inside, trunk curled towards the mouth filled with grooves representing creases. Behind elephant and under tail, three circular and one oval shapes divided in two by vertical line (faeces). Vertical crack through left side of elephant. Bubalus period. Wadi Beddis, Libya.
- Production date
02 March 2008 (date digitized)
November 2000 (original photograph)
File size: 69.90 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
- The photograph shows a large, almost life-sized engraving of an elephant defecating. Elephants are relatively common in Messak depictions, usually represented in a large size. Their depiction while defecating is uncommon but not exceptional (around 20 cases have been documented insofar), and seems almost exclusive of this specie (with the only probable exception of a rhino). The engraving can be ascribed to the so called Bubalus period, characterized by its naturalistic style. The use of the natural shape of the rock to define and emphasize the elephant’s back evidences a careful planning for this figure.
Wadi Beddis (or Geddis) Isar, located at the northern Messak Plateau (Messak Settafet), is one of the many dry riverbeds that run east into the Murzuq erg in southwest Libya, near the borders between Algeria and Niger. The Messak, 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). Although located to the north of the main area of engravings around the wadis Tilizaghen and Mathendous, its rock art engravings share similar features, including the distribution of depictions on vertical rocks along the wadi and the styles documented within it, mostly Bubalus, Pastoral, Tazina, Horse and Camel periods. Depictions include buffaloes, elephants, ostriches, rhinos and giraffes, along with domestic animals as camel and cows and human figures.
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. Research at Wadi Beddis and its tributaries began later with respect to the core area around the Tilizaghen and the Mathendous wadis, with the first works taking place in the 80’s by Jelinek, Castiglioni and Negro.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: LIBMES0120005 (TARA number)