L'art rupestre du Sud-Est Libyen (Région de KUFRA)

Abstract : In the light of our analysis of the animals encountered at the five rock art sites studied in the Kufra Basin, we are able to put forward a classification of three periods : 1. A first bovidian period encountered in a number of places such as Bzima, Rebiana and Bir el-Awadel and only in the form of engravings. Not many examples of this style have been found and depictions of humans are rare. In this first period hunting scenes predominate, where bovids, portrayed in a rather naturalistic style, are represented by several species of antelope, perhaps an elephant, and other unidentified animals. Most of the engravings from this period are located in hilly areas on the vertical walls of low cliffs. 2. The pastoral period (bovidian), found throughout the Kufra Basin, particularly the Jebel el-Uweinat region, where painted works are more numerous than engraved ones. The subjects of the engravings vary according to the sites but are mainly bovids associated with a few depictions of humans and various wild animals. Portrayals of humans within a scene, describing for example an aspect of daily life, are rare with the exception of a few representations of trapping or hunting. Also present are numerous geometric images and impressions of animal feet, particularly at Bzima 2. The dimensions of the engravings vary according to their age, the largest appearing to be the oldest and, except at Bir el-Awadel, there is no superimposition of engravings. All types of engraving techniques have been used – incisions of various depths and widths as well as picking and pick dressing, sometimes in combination. The few paintings remaining around Kufra are small in size and only the colour red has resisted damage caused by weather. 3. The cameline period found in the el-Uweinat region, especially at Bzima and Rebiana. The rock art of this period consists entirely of engravings – no paintings of dromedaries have been discovered, in contrast to the south-west of Libya. The engraved boulders from this period are generally found close to habitation and burial sites. Images of camels predominate, at times in groups, at times individually, and sometimes accompanied by camel drivers. Other animal species are rare whereas geometric designs regularly appear in conjunction with incised images of camels. There are numerous portrayals of scenes, often of caravans or herds of dromedaries, and in the Gara el-Mekhaze one engraving depicts armed conflict between two opposing groups of men. A few cameline engravings overlap bovidian ones, but most of the time the latter have been respected or at times unskilfully copied. The techniques used include incision, picking, pick dressing and polishing. However it is incision, a technique very easy to execute, which has been most often used. In addition, the great variety in the appearance of the engravings, and in the levels of expertise they reveal, indicates that there has been a succession of many artists expressing the product of their imagination on these boulders. No inscriptions in an ancient language have been found, but there are inscriptions in Arabic, often recent. The cameline period seems at times in our sector of study to correspond with positions of refuge for the populations concerned, probably in response to conflict, in particular raids from neighbouring territories. That is why, as at Rebiana, the sites are among fallen boulders on mountain slopes. However this is not always the case as at Bzima. The “Round Heads” style, found in the Jebel el-Uweinat, is found in our region only in the Karkour Ibrahim. Similarly, in none of the five sites studied have representations from the equidian (or caballine) period so far been found, in contrast to the Akakus region of south-west Libya where they abound. Thus a very clear difference becomes apparent between the cultures of the south-east and south-west of Libya, on either side of the Waw an Namus.
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Saad Abdulla Buhagar. L'art rupestre du Sud-Est Libyen (Région de KUFRA). Archéologie et Préhistoire. Université de Grenoble, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012GRENH013⟩. ⟨tel-00915778⟩

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