The Masterpiece of the Dabous Giraffes

On a recent rock art safari to Niger’s Air Mountains, Emma Silvester of the Royal Africa Foundation recorded a video of what happened when water was poured (gently) at the top of the giraffe heads. Check out the video below, and more on our Youtube video.

The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert in the northern part of Africa. Yet it hasn’t always been dry — archaeological and geological research shows that the Sahara has undergone major climatic changes over thousands of years. Rock art is one of the best records of the life of past peoples who lived across the Sahara depicting images of life, landscape and animals that show a time when the Sahara was much greener and wetter than it is now.

One of the most spectacular rock engravings is in the Air Mountains of today’s Niger, at a place called Dabous to the west of the mountains. Here, two life sized giraffes, one male, one female are carved on the top of an outcrop. Their age is estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000 years old. The larger of the 2 giraffes is over 18 ft tall. Each giraffe has an incised line emanating from its mouth or nose, meandering down to a small human figure.