Looking back looking forward: TARA in 2016

2015 was a great year for archaeology and rock art. Featured on Archaeology magazine’s recently released list of the top 10 archaeology discoveries of 2015 are Homo naledi (of course), earliest stone tools found yet from Turkana, Kenya, and significantly for rock art, the Sulawesi paintings. These hand stencils and paintings of pig-deer in Indonesia were dated up to 40,000 years ago making them among the oldest dated rock art so far. And they are significant because they finally put to rest the ‘lightbulb’ theory of human symbolic thought. The Sulawesi dates rival those of European rock art and indicate that symbolic thought had likely developed in Africa before humans migrated to other parts of the world.

At home, TARA continued with its survey and rock art conservation work especially with trips to Niger, Northern Kenya, and Morocco, where we organised a workshop for conservation practitioners. We also ran our first ever crowdfunding campaign that managed to reach people in about 73% of the world’s countries- how’s that for putting rock art on the map!

So what’s in store for rock art and TARA in 2016?

New discoveries! TARA is always recording new rock art to add to our 25,000 strong image archive; and in 2016 we plan to do so with improved methods and in new locations! We are planning a trip to a new country- Gabon- to record rock art in the Lope-Okanda National Park and World Heritage site (you can come with us!)

Another recording trip in the works is to Ennedi, Chad to record sites using laser scanning, the technology whose use revealed the likely presence of hidden tombs inside Tutankhamen’s tomb.

We are excited to do more outreach work in 2016 to keep raising awareness of rock art, and keep building on previous years’ work. What’s more is that TARA will be celebrating 20 years since its founding in 1996. Keep in touch to find out how we’ll mark this occasion and how you can participate. A happy and adventurous 2016 to you!

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