- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); view of engraved rock art on a rock face (sandstone), showing a human figure, an elephant, giraffe, a bull, an unidentified quadruped and several unidentified shapes. Centre: outlined (polished) elephant upright facing right, trunk curled forward, grooved lined pattern markings at ears. Behind elephant and under tail, four circular shapes (faeces). Under elephant’s head: outlined (polished) unidentified shape. Left: outlined (polished) giraffe upright facing right, head over elephant’s back. Bubalus period. Right: outlined (polished) human figure upright facing left, legs bent, arms outstretched to the left holding bow, diagonal grooves at chest (garment). Superimposed to human figure: outlined (pecked) bull upright facing. Superimposed by bull: infilled (polished) giraffe with elongated legs facing left. Wadi Beddis, Libya.
- Production date
01 March 2008 (date digitized)
March 1998 (original photograph)
File size: 69.90 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
- Close-up of 2013,2034.3011.
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). Both the elephant and the giraffe can be ascribed to the Bubalus period and style, along with the human figure stalking them. They are very affected for the erosion, with parts of the animals difficult to see. The cow and the strange animal with elongated legs that could be interpreted as a giraffe are a later addition to the scene, the bull probably in the Protohistory.
The engravings are located near Wadi Beddis (or Geddis) Isar, at the northern Messak Plateau (Messak Settafet). Wadi Beddis 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, as 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: LIBMES0140007 (TARA number)