Archive for Africa

Enigmatic Configurations in Arequipa Rock Art, Peru

The rock art of Arequipa (southern Peru) is characterised by several idiosyncratic images, like ‘Dancers’. However, also rather simple elements form rare and uncommon configurations that are composed of grooves, arcs of dots and crosses that are hovering over or are emanating from zoomorphic petroglyphs, yet intimately associated. Similar configurations prove to be very rare in global rock art.

By Maarten van Hoek Read more

The Cupules of the Imaoun Complex, Southern Morocco

In the area just south of the Anti-Atlas numerous rock art sites have been recorded. However, there are remarkably few rock art panels with cupules in that area. This study describes a surprisingly high number of cupule panels in the Imaoun area, north of the town of Akka in southern Morocco, which represents a true anomaly in this respect.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Long Distance Diffusion of Rock Art Motifs in the Americas

Rock art motifs are found in every inhabited continent. In most cases those motifs develop independently, but it is also certain that specific rock art motifs migrated from one area to another area, sometimes travelling for thousands of kilometres. This study investigates the possible long-distance diffusion of a number of abstract rock art motifs along the Pacific seaboard of the Americas.

 By Maarten van Hoek Read more

The ‘Trophy-Bird’ of Alto de Pitis

This paper provides a few examples of petroglyphs that have drastically been transformed by later rock art manufacturers. However, it focuses on one specific petroglyph, which is found at Alto de Pitis in the Majes Valley of southern Peru; aptly called ‘The Death Valley of the Andes’. In this paper I tentatively argue that the unique ‘Trophy-Bird’ petroglyph of Alto de Pitis initially started off as a ‘trophy’ head, which was later intentionally transformed to symbolise the Supernatural Flight of the Dead towards Apu Coropuna, the Sacred Mountain of the area.

by Maarten van Hoek

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Water supply of the fortress Gala Abu Ahmed


Sudanese desert

To reconstruct the paleo-environmental conditions near an ancient fortress from Napatantimesin the first millennium BC a 6m deep soil profile in the Sudanese desert was studied using 14C-dating and stable C isotope analyses. Strong evidence for the existence of an open water source or at least a near surface water resource during or near the period of the use of the fortress was found. This would explain the establishment and the operation of the fortress at this remote place.

by Nadia PRAYS, Friederike LANG,

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The Case of Guelta Oukas, Morocco


Very recently several petroglyphs at the rock art site of Guelta Oukas in the Anti Atlas Mountains of southern Morocco were severely damaged. However, the mutilation was limited to two panels with mainly depictions of cattle and – moreover – to specific body parts of those zoomorphic images. In this paper I argue that this is not just another case of unwanted vandalism. Instead, I propose that the mutilation at Guelta Oukas could represent an instance of ‘negative’ rock art, involving the desecration of the images.

by Maarten van Hoek
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New Anthropomorphic Figures from Jebel Rat

Jebel Rat

Jebel Rat

The plateau at the northern foot of Jebel Rat, in the heart of the High Atlas, Morocco, is a major rock-art centre, mainly known for its numerous petroglyphs of horsemen. There are also large circles (interpreted as round shields, some of them decorated) and weapons like daggers, halberds and axes. 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. Those figures are round or oval, their heads drawn with coils or spirals. A number of newly found anthropomorphs are presented in this paper.

by Alessandra Bravin
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Maroc, programme “Paysages Gravés”

00pays_gravBrève annonce sur le
programme “Paysages Gravés”
Mission du 4 au 10 novembre 2012
Région de Guelmim (bas Draa), Ifrane et vallée de Tamanart (Anti Atlas)

by Association Anti Atlas occidental
du tourisme montagnard
à Boutrouch Tafraout – Morocco Read more

Signs of Infinity at Aït Ouazik, Southern Morocco

Aït Ouazik

Aït Ouazik

Aït Ouazik is a renowned and – fortunately – protected  petroglyph site in the eastern part of the Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The current paper focuses on continuous loop patterns in this area and explores their possible parallels in the rock art of NW Africa. Although the focus in this paper is on only a few specific petroglyph panels, Aït Ouazik has much more to offer. In order to give a more complete impression of the site and its petroglyphs, the paper is enriched by a YouTube video.

by Maarten van Hoek

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Reflecting (on) Petroglyphs: Two Cases


Parque Diaguita

Two instances of special petroglyph manifestations in Namibia (Twyfelfontein Valley) and Peru (Virú Valley), having very limited visibility, will be discussed in this paper.
Dos casos de manifestaciones especiales de petroglifos en Namibia (Valle de Twyfelfontein) y Perú (Valle de Virú), que demuestran de tener una visibilidad muy limitada, serán discutidos en este documento.

by Maarten van Hoek

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The Felines of Foum Chenna, Morocco

Foum Chenna

Foum Chenna

Depictions of cats in rock all over the world art are frequently characterised by specific feline properties. The feline images at the petroglyph site of Foum Chenna in southern Morocco are much less idiosyncratic. Besides a general description of the rock art site of Foum Chenna, the current paper attempts at a re-evaluation of the image of the feline at Foum Chenna, simultaneously trying to fit the image into a chronology of Moroccan rock art.

by Maarten van Hoek

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Oukaimeden, a Moroccan rock art site


Oukaimeden engraving

Here some slides and draft notes of a lecture I delivered in 2010, after visiting Oukaimeden in April 2007. I’m pleased to share pictures, but also some ideas: comments are welcome. Oukaimeden is a very important petroglyphic complex, showing Copper or Ancient Bronze  Age (III-beginnings of II mill. BC) engraved weapons, and also  interesting points of contact with similar European petroglpyhs, from the Iberian peninsula to the Alpine arc, Mt. Bego particularly. Last but not least, it is also a beautiful natural site...

by Andrea Arcà (Footsteps of Man – IIPP)

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Rock Paintings and engravings in Namibia


The Brandberg massif is a large granite elevation in the north-west of Namib Desert; in this area more than 1000 painted rock shelters were found. Twyfelfontein site contains about 2500 rock engraving on 200 sandstone slabs.
Photo gallery.

by † Leonardo Gribaudo

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Hannibal was here



At the beginning of the 1980’s some strange rock inscriptions were first found on Fuerteventura, later on Lanzarote as well. “Inscriptions” may be a misleading term in this context. They are only shallow markings scratched on to hard basalt rocks.

by Werner Pichler

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Discovering Southern African rock art

Farmer art

Eight years ago, two South African archaeology students were walking in the breathtaking Drakensberg Mountains. As the sun began to set after a hard day’s searching for ancient rock paintings, they made their way back to camp. Suddenly, a ferocious lightning storm struck. One of the students pointed to a rock shelter at the top of a steep hill to the west.

by Jamie Hampson MA (Oxon)

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Rock Art in Africa Symposium

AURA 2000

TRACCE no. 12 – by Jean-Loïc Le Quellec, Manuel Gutierrez

Third AURA Congress. Millennium: a fresh start.
Hosted by the Australian Rock Art Research Association
in Alice Springs, 10 – 14 July 2000.

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Why the Eland?

Female eland, Sevilla

TRACCE no. 12 – by Grant S. McCall

Why the Eland? An Analysis of the Role of Sexual Dimorphism in San Rock Art.
The eland is by far the most commonly depicted animal in Southern African art, and the most recognized by the modern viewer.

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Two enigmatic petroglyphs on Fuerteventura


TRACCE no. 12 – by Werner Pichler

Two enigmatic petroglyphs on Fuerteventura/Canary Islands.
As a result of an one years research project in 1993/94 the author was able to document about 780 panels of rock art exclusively on Fuerteventura, one of the eastern islands of the Canarian Archipelago.

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