|ROCK ART IN AFRICA|
African Rock Art is amongst the world's oldest surviving art, predating writing by tens of thousands of years. Today, it helps us understand how our ancestors thought, saw and portrayed their world. Some rock paintings and engravings are themselves magnificent art, comparable to some of the finest works found in the World's art galleries. African rock art is not just an African heritage, but a World heritage.
Africa has the greatest variety and some of the oldest rock art on earth. About 30 countries in Africa have rock art with a total of between 10 and 20 million images. Major concentrations occur in the Sahara and Southern Africa.
Rock art is important because it offers tantalizing glimpses into early cultures and beliefs, as well as into early morality and the development of imaginative abilities. As such, it is irreplaceable.
It has so far proven difficult to establish accurate dates for rock art. Scientists use radiometric techniques to date organic components such as charcoal and to date binders such as blood, egg-white and urine.
In some parts of Africa, experts have been able to develop chronologies based upon the existence of ancient species such as the crocodile, now extinct in the Sahara, or the introduction of exotic new species like the horse, camel or dog.
Because Africa's rock art was created in exposed places, much has now disappeared. What we see today was probably created during the last 12,000 years, while much of it is less than 6,000 years old. Researchers however believe that Africa's now-vanished art may have been contemporary with Europe's great Palaeolithic cave art - between 15,000 and 33,000 years old.