- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); view of engraved rock art on a rock face (sandstone) showing an outlined (polished) buffalo upright facing left, curved upturned horns with polished, vertical markings within. Bubalus period. A 10 cm photo scale has been fitted at the bottom of the tableau. Wadi Mathendous, Libya.
- Production date
- 07 October 2009
File size: 57.40 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
- Buffaloes are one the most characteristic animals depicted in the older periods of Messak rock art, its scientific denomination used to name the so called Bubalus period. The one depicted in the photograph but follows all the stylistic conventions of the Bubalus, naturalistic style.
The engraving is located in the Wadi Mathendous area, one of the many 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. Wadi Mathendous is one of the most important rock art sites in the Messak and together with some its tributaries as the Wadi Tilizaghen constitutes the core of the Messak rock art. The sandstone cliffs of these dry riverbeds are full with tens of thousands of rock art engravings –only a few paintings have been located insofar-, mostly depicted in vertical rocks.
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: LIBMES0310021 (TARA number)