The earliest Saharan rock art has only scarcely been published in random books or on individual travellers’ private websites. Furthermore, the existing literature consists of repetition of the same – few – examples, the most famous or beautiful ones, the majority of the corpus remaining still unpublished. This is a serious lack because often important informations are given by secondary figures, considered not “nice” or interesting enough to be published.
Often the images were published as hand tracings. In numerous cases such tracings revealed to be wrong or differ significantly from their originals. The goal of this catalogue is also to correct the existing and impede further misleading information thanks to the DStretch technique, an innovative software used for advanced elaboration of digital photographs which can reveal every detail.
The catalogue is divided into sections corresponding to the four countries in which the Round Heads are found today: Algeria, Libya, Niger and Chad. Their borders created during the colonial era divided artificially the region where the prehistoric hunters lived and created the rock art; we must therefore consider the Algerian Tassili, Tadrart, Libyan Acacus, Nigerian Djado and Tibesti mountains in Chad as a single geographic area.
The paintings and petroglyphs are not distributed equally in these mountains. 85% of all Round Head paintings are found in Algeria, 10% of them are found in Libya and only 5% in Niger and Chad. Roundhead petroglyphs are found mainly in the Djado Mountains, but to a lesser extent also in the Tassilis (e.g. at In Taradoft, In Abtall), and in Southern Libya (Toummo). Kel Essuf petroglyphs are mainly found in the Algerian and the Libyan Tadrart region.
It is due to the morphology of the landscape which is extremely rich in rock shelters in Algeria whereas in Libya and Niger shelters are rather scarce. The largest section of the catalogue belongs therefore to Algeria. The images of rock art from other periods or styles are not taken into consideration unless they are painted or picked next to or over Round Head figures.
Each section is composed of rock art sites. The number of their photos varies according to the quantity of painted or picked figures in a given site. In the Central Sahara a site may be represented by a single painted or picked rock or wall but it may also be an accumulation of shelters containing hundreds of images. The division in sites follows therefore geographic criteria: an isolated painted/picked wall/shelter surrounded by a larger area without rock art is counted as a small site, an accumulation of shelters exhibiting rock art surrounded by a sterile area is counted as a big site.
Each site is named with its local name (if it is known) and it contains the photographs of all available Round Head figures. Each photograph is inserted twice: in its raw state in order to see the picture in its actual state, and in its DStretch elaborated form to show the hidden details of the figures.
For security reasons related to the protection of the rock art, the exact position is not revealed and the GPS coordinates are not furnished.
The system of tagging evidences the fundamental elements/subjects of each panel, for example the masks, body attributes or animals.
See the PAINTINGS