Cave of Beasts Rock Art

The “Cave of Beasts” – Wadi Sura, Gilf Kebir, Egypt.
The “Cave of Beasts” was discovered in 2002. Located in the Gilf Kebir plateau in Egypt’s desert, this cave is one of the most spectacular prehistoric sites of the African continent due to its richness and variety that extends over an 18 metre wide and six metre high canvas. It is the most heavily decorated known rock cave in the Sahara. The cave is known as the “Cave of Beasts” due to the strange headless creatures that adorn its walls.

Details of the Site
The “Cave of Beasts” rear rock wall bears more than 7000 images of well-preserved painted figures, petroglyphs and mysterious headless beasts. These are said to be 8000 years old and created by hunter-gatherers in the early Neolithic period.
Rudolph Kuper, a German archaeologist, used absolute dating to conclude that the site must be at least 8,000 years old. Both the swimming figures and animals contributed greatly to dating the cave. The figures portrayed in the cave are found in groups dancing, swimming and hunting. Hundreds of hand stencils are scattered through the cave and most likely signify a ritual. The groups of hunters with bows and arrows illustrated on the site’s walls, indicate the art was created by hunter-gatherers. The dancing figures are understood to be partaking in a ritual. The swimming figures suggest the prior large amounts of water in the area, indicating that the paintings were created in the Holocene period. This period is explained by Kuper, who investigated the seasonal rainfall that once appeared in the region. Beginning in about 8500 BC, the climate attracted hunter-gatherers to the area. By 5300 BC, the rains had stopped and human population began to recede, 2000 years later the settlements disappeared entirely. Animals such as elephants, ostriches, gazelles and giraffes adorn the cave walls, both painted and engraved into rocks. “It seems that the paintings of the “Cave of Beasts” predate the introduction of domesticated...