Ten Stunning Yet Little Known Ancient Treasures Across Africa
Laas Geel, meaning ‘source of water for camels’, is a complex of rock shelters and caves located 55 kilometers (34 miles) northeast of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, an autonomous region of war-torn Somalia. It is comprised of approximately 20 shelters or rock caves made of naturally occurring rock formations of varying size, the largest being ten meters long with a depth of about 5 meters. These shelters feature polychrome (multi-colored) painted panels that are considered to be the oldest known rock art in the Horn of Africa, a peninsula in Northeast Africa. It is estimated that there are 350 animal and human representations, as well as numerous tribal marks among the rock art at Laas Geel. Some of the cave paintings are stunningly well preserved as they have been sheltered from the elements by the granite overhangs.
Nabta Playa is a remarkable site composed of hundreds of prehistoric tumuli, stelae, and megalithic structures located in the Nubian Desert, approximately 100 kilometers west of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt. They are the result of an advanced urban community that arose approximately 11,000 years ago, and left behind a huge assembly of stones, which have been labelled by scientists as being among the oldest known astronomical alignments of megaliths in the world. Some archaeologists believe that the people of Nabta Playa were the precursor civilization for the first Nile cities that arose in Egypt thousands of years later.
Archaeological evidence appears to suggest that the first settlements of people in Nabta Playa arrived between 11,000 and 9,300 years ago. The people who occupied the region at this time were pastoral nomads, who may have set up seasonal camps, moving on again when the water dried up. Around 9,000 years ago, the settlements became larger and more sophisticated and the people built huts with fire hearths, arranged in straight rows, and started to dig deep walk-in wells, enabling them to have a year-round water supply, thus providing the conditions necessary for permanent settlement.
Around 6,000 years ago, the region saw the arrival of a substantially more complex and advanced society and it was during this period that most of the major megalithic structures were constructed. It is considered to be the height of human occupation at Nabta Playa. Over several thousand years of habitation, the people of Nabta Playa constructed numerous megalithic monuments, including stone circles, underground tombs, huge stone slabs, and rows of stelae, which extend over about 2,500 meters. The megalithic monuments are among some of the oldest in the world, pre-dating Stonehenge by thousands of years.
By: April Holloway