- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); detail of engraved rock art on a rock face (sandstone), showing the polished outlines of a crocodile and its hatchling upright facing right. Centre: crocodile hatchling, regular lined coat pattern markings throughout the body, double grooved outline at head, tail cut off by stone breaking. Top: crocodile with regular lined coat pattern markings throughout the body. Bubalus period. In Habeter, Wadi Mathendous, Libya.
- Production date
03 March 2008 (date digitized)
March 1998 (original photograph)
File size: 69.90 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
- Detail of 1023,2034.3107.
Detail of one of the most famous engravings in the Messak plateau depicting a big (more than two meters long) crocodile and its hatchling. Crocodile depictions are really scarce in the region (only ten have been recorded insofar). Representations with offspring are scarce in the Messak, too, making of this engraving a unique piece. The stylistic conventions date the animals in the Bubalus period, while some technical features as the double groove to outline the animal are characteristics of Messak oldest depictions. The cupules within the head of head of the bigger crocodile seem to be a later addition, as the eye is already marked with grooves.
The engravings are located in In Habeter, the middle course of Wadi Mathendous. This wadi is one of the main dry riverbeds on the southern edge of the Messak Plateau in southwest Libya, near the borders between Algeria and Niger. The 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 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. In this case, the engravings are placed in the Wadi Mathendous itself.
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: LIBMES0170037 (TARA number)