PRESERVING THE WORLD'S LARGEST ROCK ART PETROGLYPH CARVING IN NIGER

THE ORIGIN OF THE PREHISTORIC ROCK ART ARTISTS

Page 2/10
 
 
Niger Africa Dabous
But who were the artists? The present-day custodians are the Tuareg, but their origin is historic, whereas the carvings are clearly prehistoric. Scientists came closer to the answer in 2000. During the Bradshaw Foundation expedition to the Tenere Desert in Niger in 1999 to take a mould of the Dabous giraffe carvings, the team travelled north of Dabous to explore an area of desert where there were reports of archaeological remains on the shores of an extinct lake. The team indeed found numerous and varied artifacts on the desert floor, ranging from arrow heads and stone axe heads to shards of pottery.
 
rock art petroglyph niger africa
Photo by Mike Hettwer
Grave with a female adult and two children. 'This strongly indicates they had spiritual beliefs and cared for their dead.' Elana Garcea, University of Cassino in Italy
Although there was clear evidence of sedentary life involving hunting and gathering, little did we realize we were standing on top of further evidence of this past life-style that reflected a greener Sahara, and evidence which would later provide clues as to who the original artists of the giraffe carvings just to the south were and when they were carved. At this time Dr Jean Clottes estimated that the carvings were between 7,000 and 10,000 years old.
 
It was a year later that the new evidence at the site, now named Gobero, was excavated. As reported in New Scientist August 2008, and in National Geographic magazine September 2008, Paul Sereno, one of National Geographic's explorers-in-residence, visited the 10,000-year-old site, during a dinosaur-hunting expedition in 2000. The subsequent excavation of a graveyard on the shore of this dried-up lake suggests that at least two Stone Age peoples once lived there. Some 200 graves excavated so far reveal intriguing clues about these desert dwellers.
 
Flint Tenere Desert niger africa
Flint from the Tenere Desert
The artists must have used a harder material like flint to carve the softer sandstone of Dabous
First came the Kiffian, who grew up to 2 metres tall and hunted wild game, the bones of which were found nearby. They vanished when the Sahara entered a dry spell about 8000 years ago, to be replaced by the shorter, leaner Tenerians when the rains returned a millennium later. Bones and artefacts imply that they herded cattle and hunted fish and wildlife. Presently it is not possible to say with any certainty which culture – the Kiffian or the Tenerian - was responsible for the carvings.
 
How were the carvings created? 10,000 years ago there was no metal - this was well before the Bronze Age - so how did the artists carve the lines? They must have used a harder material like flint to carve the softer sandstone of Dabous. The desert sands surrounding the outcrop are covered with numerous chisels of petrified wood, perfect for wearing away grooves and then polishing the surface. This in itself magnifies the significance of Dabous, for its scale and craftsmanship, and therefore the amount of time it must have taken to execute.
 
Go to page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

The Dabous Rock Art Petroglyph
The Origin of the Prehistoric Rock Art Artists
The Giraffe Motif
The Preservation & Protection of the Carving
The Foundry and Returning the Cast to Agadez
World Monuments Watch
Scientific research page | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
The Africa Rock Art Archive


bradshaw foundation donate help
Mailing List

Email Sign-Up
website updates

Email

First Name

Last Name

Country

Prints
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Coso Range Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes List of Research Papers Other Websites Contact the Foundation