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Nowadays, one always reaches the site from the south-west. The rocks in the west are less high than those in the east. The first rock on the south face with very visible engravings is Rider. About 40m to the east, a number of engravings were made on some superficial flats slabs on the ground. This is called Renee's site; it is easy to miss as the petroglyphs are only visible if one walks directly on those slabs. All the rocks on the south side are engraved but most with very few subjects. Their varnish is generally reddish (f. ex. Dogs), indicating that they are far less old than the big giraffes and other deeply varnished works elsewhere on the site. It is necessary to climb on the rocks to discover compositions with a significant number of animals. Those compositions cannot be seen from ground level. On some rock faces visible from the south side (Aardvark, for example), many more engravings could have been made and were not, even if the quality of the rock surface is quite good. It is surprising, from that point of view, that no engravings were made on the south face of the monumental Second Giraffe and very few on the less monumental boulder called Big Cow. No superficial erosion can explain those choices.


The east face is the one with the most important compositions, whether one considers the numbers of subjects represented, their sizes and their techniques. For example, in the narrow passage called Antelope, between Big Cow and Lion, the superb petroglyphs show deep wide grooves with inside polishing and deep dark varnish, indicating their relative age all the more as some more recent engravings (camels, tiffinars) are reddish and more superficially pecked. The technique of the polished big grooves is that used in part for the big giraffes and a number of other animals on the top. The top parts of Big Cow and Lion are covered with numerous engravings, especially Big Cow where some big animals, also deeply varnished, have the inside of their bodies pecked. Whereas in the crack between Lion and Camel the rare engravings are reddish and recent (camel). A few fairly eroded engravings are still visible on Easternmost and the lower ones are covered by the sand. Beautiful Cow is a gigantic rock which was entirely undecorated on its top and very little on its south and east side while its north face was engraved with a huge giraffe and a herd of cattle, all very eroded now.


The first big rock of the north face we called Sloping, because of its shape, where the rocks were often engraved but where the works are more exposed and exfoliate or get eroded, so that the figures are quite damaged and often are not very visible any more. Only the most recent ones, with their clearer varnish, can be seen well (with a few exceptions, like a very beautiful bovid with polished grooves on one of the North boulders).


On the west face, one can hardly see anything at first sight and the engravings are rather rare. It is true that it is the less spectacular side of the whole, with its scattered and not very high boulders. Only the top of the boulders (center) to the south-east are spectacularly covered with engravings, the best being of course the two big giraffes, which are really the center of the whole - archaeologically if not topographically. Next to them are Second Giraffes, also profusely engraved, as well as a number of other rocks on the south side. The top of Big Cow is a complex maze of engravings. Elsewhere on the top, petroglyphs are scattered here and there, sometimes on the very top of the boulders, sometimes on their vertical sides.
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The Dabous Rock Art Petroglyph
The Origin of the Prehistoric Rock Art Artists
The Giraffe Motif
The Preservation & Protection of the Carving
The Foundry and Returning the Cast to Agadez
World Monuments Watch
→ Scientific research page | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
The Africa Rock Art Archive
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