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Giraffe Petroglyphs

Two giraffe petroglyphs that were carved on red sandstone rock about 6000 years ago


Giraffe Petroglyphs

These two giraffe petroglyphs, slightly larger than life-size, were carved on red sandstone rock about 6000 years ago. Hundreds of the animals are engraved on a gently sloping rock face, known as Dabous Rock, located north of Agadez in Niger in the Air Mountains.

The carvings range in size from very small to life-size male and female animals (like those pictured here), and were made using a combination of techniques. Their outlines are deeply carved and the markings speckling the giraffes' bodies are carved in low relief to a depth of about an inch. Other sections have been polished smooth or scraped to form patterns.

At the time these petroglyphs were made, the climate in the Sahara area was much wetter than it is today, and the grassland that existed was rich with wildlife. There are many examples of these animals found in other rock engravings in the Air Mountains, but these particular giraffes are considered unique in their subject matter, style and scale. The spot is a World Heritage Site and is listed as one of the world's most endangered monuments. To aide in the site's preservation, a mold of the rock was taken in 1999, and a cast is on display in Niger as well as at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. (Date of Image: 1999)

Credit: Jean Clottes (France)

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