Abstracts of Sahara volume 24
(published July 2013)

Heiko Riemer, Franziska Bartz and Sabine Krause
New rock art sites in the Gilf Kebir, SW Egypt A review of recent results from the Wadi Sura survey 2009-2011

'Dating', 'context', and 'landscape' have appeared as essential topics in recent rock art research. They have, however, not yet been properly recognised in eastern Saharan rock art studies. This and the recent unparalleled boom of discoveries of new rock art sites in the Jebel Uweinat-Gilf Kebir region, at the border triangle of Libya, Sudan, and Egypt, were the point of departure for the Wadi Sura Project. Since 2009 this project has systematically explored the Wadi Sura micro-region as an example of these vast rock art landscapes, in order to study rock art in its archaeological context. As a result of three years of systematic archaeological survey, about 400 prehistoric sites have been recorded at Wadi Sura, among them 37 new rock art sites which are reported in this paper.

Jürgen F. Kunz
Tadrart Edjer: a prehistoric cult and burial site in the Tassili-n-Ajjer (Central Sahara, South-East Algeria)

Repeated field surveys in the remote south-western foothills of the vast Tassili-n-Ajjer plateaus have disclosed an exceptional funerary and cult complex with grave structures and widespread standing and toppled monoliths. They are closely connected with multi-component settlement traces that cover a broad chronological span from the Palaeolithic and Aterian period up to the pastoral nomadic groups of the Holocene and historical times. The campsite is marked by numerous clusters of Neolithic fire-places, scatters of potsherds, stone artefacts and faunal remains. Extensive areas with lake and swamp deposits show that the settlement was located on a dried-out palaeolake.


Andoni Sáenz de Buruaga
Note préliminaire sur la découverte de tumulus « géants » dans l'erg Azefal (Sahara occidental)

The start of the systematic inspection of the Azefal erg in its Sahrawi side has revealed the existence of a group of great-sized burial mounds. In addition to some typological features, these real "mega-tumuli", are concentrated in one particular area, around the current dune field. On the basis of the information available to us, we can assume that they form a unique complex in the Sahara, due to their great three-dimensional sizes. Indeed, the magnitude of some of them, as the spectacular formation Azefal-9/1, compels us to pose some remarks regarding the executing human group. In that respect, it is extremely difficult to claim the operational capability of a small clan or nomadic family, it would be easier to assume that a social collective, well organized and structured, was the builder of those "giant" tumuli. It is imperative to develop a plan of intensive field survey and archaeological excavations in the immediate future.

Michael Brass
Revisiting a hoary chestnut: the nature of early cattle domestication in North-East Africa

It has been almost three decades since the Wendorf & Schild-Andrew Smith debate over the timing and location of domesticated cattle in North Africa reached its climax. The time is now appropriate for a review of the old models in light of subsequent anatomical and genetic data which have come to light. This article summarises the main issues and models, and attempts to provide suggestions for future investigations.


Saad Buhagar et Thierry Argant
L'art rupestre du Sud-Est libyen (région de Kufra)

Although the region of Kufra, in southeastern Libya, has been explored ever since the late nineteenth century, it remains largely unknown. Yet, it is a major area for rock art, as a Libyan-French mission recently pointed out. The present paper focuses on the new findings, wanting to give a first overview of the richness of the iconographic documents. Two major periods have already been distinguished. The Camel period, with rock art particularly developed at Bzima and Rebiana, is potentially rich in information on the history of the region over the past two millennia. The Camel stage is preceded by a Pastoral period, within which at least six iconographic schemes have already been observed. They differ in some details or are based on quite divergent concepts of shape representation.


Salima Ikram
A possible panel of arachnids in Kharga Oasis (Egypt's Western Desert)

A panel of rock art has been found in Kharga Oasis (Egypt) that might depict arachnids. This brief communication provides an overview of the area and a discussion of the identification.

Pawel Polkowski, Ewa Kuciewicz, Eliza Jaroni and Michal Kobusiewicz
Rock art research in the Dakhleh Oasis, Western Desert (Egypt). Petroglyph Unit, Dakhleh Oasis Project

Since the onset of more humid conditions at the beginning of the Holocene and up to the present day, Dakhleh Oasis has been continuously inhabited. The sands of the Western Desert covered numerous archaeological remains of the ancient Oasis dwellers, but not all of them have been buried by dunes and rock art is one of them. Countless sandstone hills in the central and eastern parts of the Oasis are covered with petroglyphs, pecked, engraved or incised in the soft rocks. The existence of rock art in the Oasis was first mentioned by Herbert Winlock in 1908. Later on, in the late 30's, Hans Winkler undertook a thorough study, but after the interruption of World War II it took more than 40 years to resume his work. Since 1985 rock art in the Oasis is studied by the Petroglyph Unit, part of the long-term Dakhleh Oasis Project. The present paper focuses on the main issues of the latest rock art research in the Oasis, such as the associations between giraffe images and anthropomorphic figures, the "female" motif, characteristic of the region, and its potential associations with the fertility cult. Finally, "historical" rock art, mainly from the dynastic period, is dealt with. Besides the brief overview of the petroglyphs found in the Central Oasis, the most important theoretical issues and main features of the approach are shortly described.

Alessandra Bravin
Nuove figure antropomorfe del Jebel Rat, Alto Atlante (Marocco)

The plateau at the northern foot of Jebel Rat, in the heart of the High Atlas, is a major rock-art centre, mainly known for its numerous petroglyphs of horsemen often shown in hunting and fighting scenes. There are also large circles (interpreted as round shields, some of them decorated) and weapons such as daggers, halberds and axes. Some subjects can be attributed to the Bronze Age. The anthropomorphic figures are not so well known. Some of them are similar to the ones present at Oukaimeden and Yagour, while others are typical of this plateau. The figures are round or oval, their heads drawn with coils or spirals. A number of newly found anthropomorphs are presented in this paper.


Jean-Louis Bernezat
L'art rupestre de la Téfedest, une des richesses du Parc National de l'Ahaggar (Algérie)

The rock art of the Tefedest is constantly enriched by new findings of paintings and engravings. The discoveries made since the 1970s, with the Tuareg guides, contribute to a better knowledge of the local art and help form a more precise provisional framework. The art of the region is as ancient and diverse as that of other areas of the central Sahara, and a comparison with them is not without interest.


Enrique Gozalbes
Pharusians and Nigritas, people of the northern Saharan border

We know very little about the old civilizations in close contact with the Sahara, and writers of the classical age hardly ever provide lists of these peoples, not all of them matching. The present work analyzes assertions about the main settlements and presents a tentative approach concerning various aspects of these peoples' ways of life, activities, evolution and geographic positions.


Last update Monday, September 2, 2013