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  • The Sahara is the world's largest hot desert

  • spanning the entire northern part of Africa.

  • Yet it hasn't always been dry, archaeological and geological research

  • shows that is undergone major climatic changes over thousands of years.

  • Natural climatic shifts brought the African monsoon rains further north transforming the landscape.

  • This period between 11,500 and 5,000 years ago is called the African Humid or Green Sahara period.

  • Rain was far more abundant and vast areas of the Sahara

  • became savanna grasslands crossed by numerous waterways and lakes.

  • People have lived in the Sahara for thousands of years relying on these water systems

  • hunting, gathering, fishing and later herding animals along its fertile corridors.

  • Rock art is one of the best records of the life of past peoples who lived across the Sahara

  • It often depicts extraordinary images of life, landscape and animals

  • that show a time when the Sahara was much greener and wetter than it is now.

  • Some of the oldest rock art found in the Sahara is 8,000 to 12,000 years old

  • This period is called the Early Hunter period

  • and it often focuses on naturalistic engravings representing wild animals

  • Generally large mammals represented are typical of the savanna

  • or wetland environments that existed during the early Green Sahara.

  • These engravings have been connected to hunter-gatherer fisher cultures

  • followed wild game and waterways across the Sahara

  • The Messak plateau in the central Sahara contains thousands of rock art engravings

  • including some of the oldest rock art in the Sahara.

  • Found in this plateau is a large engraving depicting a crocodile walking with its hatchling

  • life-sized at more than two metres long, it dates back to a time when crocodiles were found in waterways

  • before the Sahara became drier, around 5,000 years ago.

  • There are still a few relic populations of crocodiles that can be found even today in isolated Oases.

  • Here we can see an engraving showing the outlines of a human figure next to a large elephant.

  • It is a good example of the naturalistic style of the early hunter period

  • the image probably depicts the savanna elephant which roams the grassy plains and woodlands of the savanna

  • and is now found largely in southern and eastern Africa.

  • These two exceptional engravings of giraffes are in northeastern Niger

  • The area has been part of the trans-Saharan caravan trade for up to two millennia

  • but archaeological evidence shows much older occupation dating back over 8,000 years

  • The two giraffes are life-sized measuring 5.4 meters

  • the engravings cannot be seen from ground level they are only visible by climbing onto the outcrop.

  • It is easy to imagine past peoples watching these long necked graceful animals

  • in the former savanna below and immortalizing them in stone for future generations.

  • Most rock art found today in the Sahara dates from the pastoral period roughly 7,500 to 4,000 years ago.

  • This type of rock art focuses on domesticated cattle and scenes of daily pastoral life.

  • Animals began to be domesticated in the Sahara around 7,500 years ago

  • and represent a major shift in lifestyle of the local people

  • in a period that was progressively getting drier and less green.

  • In the Tassili n'Ajjer plateau in Algeria is a site known as the crying cows.

  • These skillfully engraved images depict long horned cattle

  • with carved teardrops appearing to roll down their faces

  • They're thought to date between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago when this environment was wetter.

  • These engravings are incorporated in a local myth that tells of a shepherd

  • who engraved them after being unable to find water for his herd.

  • Climatic data shows a period of aridity around 8,000 years ago

  • which may coincide with these engravings and with the associated myth.

  • Camels were present in North Africa from roughly 2,000 years ago when the Sahara was as dry as it is today.

  • Their ability to survive in harsh climates allowed major trans Saharan trade to flourish

  • as people, goods and ideas moved across the desert a new type of rock art developed.

  • Now called the camel period.

  • In addition to camels subjects include highly stylized human figures, flocks of goats

  • caravans, palm trees and hunting or battle scenes.

  • This camel is part of a complex scene located in Chad on the southern edge of the Sahara

  • probably representing a camp with animal herds.

  • Camels feature widely in rock art across the Sahara

  • their resistance to heat and ability to survive with small amounts of water

  • have made them key animals for inhabitants of the Sahara

  • deeply bounds their economy, material culture and lifestyle.

  • It is not surprising that camels are considered the ships of the desert

  • transporting people, commodities and goods throughout the Sahara.

  • Around 7,000 years ago the Sahara began changing to a desert with natural climatic shifts.

  • As it dried out grasslands and lakes disappeared desertification processes were accelerated

  • as vegetation which helps generate rain was lost causing even less rain

  • and the soil lost its ability to hold moisture, the result: desert.

  • As the Sahara dried out rock art has become one of the best records of life in the past

  • and the animals and humans that inhabited it for thousands of years.

  • Although its original purpose and meanings have long since been lost the expressive power

  • of the engravings and paintings still remains allowing us to gain a small view into the world of the people

  • that lived in the Sahara thousands of years ago when it was a sprawling green savanna.

  • Sadly now the extremes of man-made climate change is causing rock art to be endangered and destroyed

  • forever losing thousands of years of our shared human history.

The Sahara is the world's largest hot desert

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B2 中高級 美國腔

撒哈拉的岩畫藝術(Rock Art in the Green Sahara)

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    Nai Ching Hsiao 發佈於 2021 年 03 月 06 日
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