Continuing from last year, this is the second part of a trip to visit the rock art for which the Lhote mission produced copies, with the aim of locating them by GPS and documenting the current state of the rock art. Last year, we mainly visited the tourist route where many of the major rock art were concentrated, whereas this year we visited areas off the tourist route in the north-west of the region.

Last year’s sites had many paintings from the hunter-gatherer period, and large paintings  such as ‘Great God’ and ‘Martian’ stood out, but this year’s sites had fewer paintings from the hunter-gatherer period and were dominated by pastoralist rock art. In addition, there were few large sites with a high concentration of rock art, except in Tisukai. The number of paintings reproduced by the Lhote mission was 617 on last year’s route, 260 on this year’s route, 827 in total after deducting overlapped sites, with a discovery rate of around 60% overall. Many of the paintings are no longer visible to the naked eye, making it difficult to improve the discovery rate.

Despite the difficulty, we could see many of the excellent paintings we had hoped to see. The diversity and quality of the work was astonishing. They vividly depicted scenes of life, such as various animal hunts, beautiful herds of cattle and sheep, life in camps and talks with family and neighbors. On the other hand, many things that do not exist in reality are also depicted. Therianthropes with heads like a bird, a lion and an antelope, anthropomorphic monkeys and antelopes. Even strange creatures that do not exist are depicted. It is assumed that during the long years when the Sahara was green, diverse people throughout the ages competed with each other to paint rocks shelters, which led to the development of various methods of expression as well as the improvement of depiction techniques. Such diversity and quality is unparalleled in the world. Diversity is the essence of Tassili rock art. (Trip in October 2023)

Map of the visited sites (2022 and 2023).






Other panoramic photos of Tassili n’Ajjer are available. 前回までに撮影したタッシリのパノラマ写真はこちらです:

Nefertiti,Techekalauen, October 2023  (3.78m x  1.95m)
ネフェルティティ、テシェカラウエン 2023年10月 (3.78m x  1.95m)
Life of Cattle herders, Tissoukai, October 2023 (2.22m x 1.25m)
牛飼いの暮らし、ティスーカイ、2023年10月撮影(2.22m x 1.25m)
Tethered calves, Tissoukai, October 2023  (2.62m x  1.12m) Outlook
繋がれた子牛ティスーカイ、2023年10月撮影(2.62m x 1.12m) 外観
Grand Fresco of Ouan Bender, October 2023 (6.52m x 1.86m )  Outlook
ウアン・ベンダー  2023年10月撮影 (6.52m x 1.86m ) 外観
Cattle Herd,Ouan Bender, October 2023 (2.4m  x  1.57m)
牛の群れ ウアン・ベンダー 2023年10月撮影  (2.4m  x  1.57m)
Hunters, Tamrit,October 2023  (1.54m  x  0.99m) Outlook
狩人 タムリット, 2023年10月撮影 (1.54m  x  0.99m) 外観

It was very sad that some paintings had problems with the Lhote mission having traced the outlines of the paintings in charcoal or pencil and left them without removal after the reproduction process. These were mostly fine lines and looked like pencil marks. It is assumed that pencil was used because charcoal makes the lines thicker and it is difficult to trace fine outlines. The techniques of wetting the rock surface or directly copying on tracing papers (flower wrapping papers) were used until the 1960s for cave paintings in France, although it is now prohibited. However, it is difficult to imagine that this method of tracing by applying charcoal or pencil directly to the painted rock surface, a technique that is clearly damaging the paintings, was also used outside Tassili.

Experiments show that charcoal traces disappear when a wet sponge is lightly applied, but pencil traces do not disappear until the sponge is pressed against the surface and wiped 4-5 times. Charcoal traces were made since the 1956-57 mission and there are probably a significant number of them, but most are washed away after the copy work and leave no visible traces. Pencil traces, on the other hand, can further damage the paintings when washed away. It is highly likely that the pencil traced paintings were not intended to be restored to their original state from the outset. It is inconceivable that an obvious act of damaging the cultural heritage itself in order to copy it would have been permitted even 60 years ago. The achievements of the Lhote missions are very significant, but on the other hand they are responsible for the damage to the valuable cultural heritage.



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