Prehistoric Rock Art of Africa

Prehistoric Rock Art of Africa


Africa may have 200,000 rock art sites, more than any other continent.  It also has some of the oldest art. 

Almost every country in Africa has rock art, however, the best can be found in North Africa’s Sahara desert and in Southern Africa. 

Abstract inscriptions on a piece of loose ochre, found in Blombos Cave in the southern Cape, dated to 77,000 years old, are considered to be the oldest rock etchings found in Africa. 

The art comprises of both rock paintings (some of the time called pictographs) and rock engraving (in some cases called petroglyphs).


The vast majority of North Africa’s rock art is found in the Sahara Desert, in Egypt, Chad, Libya, Niger, Algeria, Mali, Morocco, and Mauritania. 

The most extravagant concentrations are found in mountain ranges, for example, the Tibesti (Chad), Ennedi (Chad), Akakus (Libya), Tassili-n-Ajjer (Algeria), Air (Niger) and obviously Atlas Mountains (Algeria and Morocco). Most extravagant of all is Algeria’s Tassili-n-Ajjer where a portion of the world’s most different and phenomenal rock craftsmanship happens.

In East and Central Africa, rock art is found in many nations in spite of the fact that not in the focuses found in the north or south. 

Tanzania has the most workmanship yet Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, Congo, and Gabon all have rock painting.

Every Southern African country has rock art – in particular, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Prehistoric Rock Art of Africa/Drakensberg, South Africa
 Drakensberg, South Africa.


Much of the art in these nations is the art that we term “Bushman” art. 

Paintings, portraying circles and spirals found around Lake Victoria, are credited to the ancestral Two people. 

Rock art depicted animals, for example, elephants, hippos and giraffes which no longer exists there. 

Aspects of local culture and lifestyle, particularly hunting scenes.  Abstract symbols, but difficult to interpret. 



In Southern Africa artists were ancestors of modern-day Bushmen/San forager-hunters, Khoe herders and Bantu-speaking farmers. 

Rock workmanship destinations with in excess of 100 pictures are exceptionally normal and sites with more than 1000 images not uncommon particularly in South Africa, Namibia, and the Sahara.

In North Africa, we realize that the prior art, dating before around 7,000 years back, was made by people groups who hunted and gathered wild sustenance. 

Paintings, including those of cattle dating somewhere in the range of 7,000 and 4,500 years prior, may have been made by ancestors of Black West Africans, possibly of Fulani people. 

A significant part of the art of the most recent 3,500 years, especially the etchings of Niger and Mali, was made by ancestors of Berber people groups, especially of the Tuareg.

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