- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); view of engraved rock art showing oblique view in evening light of polished cattle engravings belonging to Early Hunter Period. Tegharghart, Algeria.
- Production date
30 December 1997 (original photograph)
20 June 2006 (date digitized)
File size: 121 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
Known as the ‘Crying Cows, these engravings appear to move as the sun travels across them during the day. During the rains, the depression in the sand at the base of the engravings fills with water, which gives the appearance that the cows are bending their heads to drink.
Algeria is Africa’s largest country and most of it falls within the Sahara Desert. It also hosts a rich rock art concentration. Most of the sites are found in the south east of the country near its borders with Libya and Niger but there are also important concentrations in the Algerian Maghreb and in the Hoggar Mountains in the central south. The most renowned of all these areas is the Tassili n’Ajjer (meaning ‘plateau of chasms’) in the south east. Water and sand erosion have carved out a landscape of thin passageways, large arches, and high-pillared rocks, described as “forests of stone” by French archaeologist and ethnographer Henri Lhote. The resulting undercuts at cliff bases have created rock shelters with smooth walls ideal for painting and engraving.
The Ajjer plateau rises to approximately 500-600 metres above the plain of Djanet, an oasis city, and capital of Djanet District, in Illizi Province, southeast Algeria. The region has been inhabited since Neolithic times, when the environment was much wetter and sustained a wider extent of flora and fauna as witnessed in the numerous rock paintings of Tassili n'Ajjer. Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 and Biosphere Reserve in 1986, Tassili n'Ajjer covers a vast area of desert landscape in southern Algeria, stretching from the Niger and Libyan border area, north and east of Djanet, as far as Illizi and Amguid, covering an area of 72,000 sq. km. More than 15,000 rock paintings and engravings, dating back as far as 12,000 years are located in this region and have made Tassili world famous for this reason. The art depicts herds of cattle and large wild animals such as giraffe and elephant, as well as human activities such as hunting and dancing. The area is especially famous for its Round Head paintings which were first described and published by Henri Lhote in the 1950s. Thought to date from around 9,000 years old, some of these paintings are the largest found on the African continent, measuring up to 13 feet in height.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: ALGDJA0060007 (TARA number)