Tassili n’Ajjer National Park And Rock Paintings
Tassili n’Ajjer is a national park located the heart of the Sahara, in southeastern Algeria. There is almost no life and as it has never been, but in caves hiding mysterious images of animals and hunters…
Rich people come here with small aircraft. Those who are not so rich or are more adventurous are coming to the great limestone of Algiers mountain Tassili on terrain cars, crossing the pebble, rocky and sandy terrain over which the air blinks at a temperature that can reach 70°C (32°F).
Their destination is not a mountain chain in the usual sense of the term, although it rises to an altitude of 2250 meters above sea level. It is a sandy plateau of 640 km long which is divided into separate masses, and they are again separated by countless clams and hooves, leading to a chaotic scenes of full cliffs and stone towers. This is an unusually beautiful area that can not be compared to something.
Perhaps it is best to see it early in the morning, when twisted stone pillars are bathed in flaming, pink and purple, and on sandy ground they blow away shadows. Then, with just a little imagination of eroded rocks, they turn into skyscrapers and cathedrals, towers and chimneys.
Although the wind-worn sand was an artist who carved the soft rocks in forms that flourish with imagination, the main author of this work was still water.
The rapid streams of water sprang up the gullies and separated the rocks and monolithic rocks, separated the layers and made cracks, and dug the shallow caves.
The area that we call today Sahara once had a humid climate. At that time many of the ditches and gaps that sand fills today are real rivers and lakes. Today’s desert once was a green lawn. The drying process was very slow. And the name Tassili n’Ajjer actually means a “plateau river”, although this area was completely dry long before the Christian era.
Images of Tassili n’Ajjer by Raimund Andree
From this humid age, small groups of bushy cypress trees survived, whose roots cover the rocks in search of water.
It is assumed that these trees are about three thousand years old and represent the last generation, because although they produce healthy seeds, the soil is too dry to blot it.
Another species that has survived in this area is a wild mountain sheep, which has huge curved horns. It divides its dry habitat with gerbils and wheatears (birds) that build nest that bear the desert climate.
However, once on this plateau lived completely different animal species. There were giraffes and antelopes, hippos, lions and elephants, and even people who were engaged in cattle breeding. Part of this was found on the basis of the bones of ancient animals excavated from sand, but much more information is obtained in a completely unique and unpopular way: through the rocky sculptures found on the cliffs and paintings found in caves.
Tassili n’Ajjer cave paintings
Painting and carvings on rocks and caves show the life and death story in Tassili n’Ajjer in the most lively and most descriptive way. The Nomadic people of Tuarez, who inhabits the Sahara area, have always known art in Tassilia, but the outside world knew nothing about it until the French researcher and ethnographer Henri Lhote and his assistants spent two years in the 50s of the last century and made thousands of drawings and photos.
Most of the drawings share a common exuberance, simplicity of line and brilliant sense of color, by style and motives we can split them into several periods.
The earliest paintings in Tassili n’Ajjer were painted between 6,000 and 4,000 BC and show the people of dark skin color who hunt elephants, buffalos, hippos and wild sheeps – animals that inhabited the Sahara while it was still greener – or on themselves have costumes for some tribal ritual. Among them there are huge white creatures, half of the animals, and half of the people, who may be gods.
The second group of drawings, which may have occurred between 4000 and 1500 BC, shows a pastoral people who take care of the large herds of long-standing colorful cattle, including the giraffe and the ostrich. There are also different rituals, weddings, sleeping children among animal skins, and women who strike grain to get flour.
However, until the third group of drawings, which lasted from 1500 to 300 BC, the Sahara became a dry area as it is today, and a new nation has arrived there. It seems that these were armed soldiers who were riding in a horse carriage, but it is not clear whether they are conquerors, strangers, or the military army that escaped from the defeated pharaoh.
Between 200 and 100 BC horses gradually disappear and in their place there are drawings of camels. Thereafter, there are no longer any drawings. That leaves only almost unbearable curiosity and questions that have no answers.