Deep into the Sahara desert, exists one of the oldest prehistoric wall art sites in a mountain range called Acacus. These mountains are situated in southwest Libya, right near the Algerian border to the west of Libya.
Southwest Libya is scarcely populated due to the harsh desert conditions. What’s surprising is that over 12,000 year ago, this abandoned sandy landscape was once full of lush greens and livelihood.
The wall drawings there present a one of a kind open-air gallery that tells the story of the ever evolving human ancestry. It also highlights the effects of climate change over the span of thousands of years. The drawings can be divided into three distinct eras: the Wild Fauna period, the Round Head period, and the Pastoral period. Each period echoing its own distinct legacy.
During the Wild Fauna period (10,000-6,000 BC), one can notice the prominence of wild animals - elephants, giraffes, hippos, and rhinos. Because of that, historians believe that the region looked nowhere near what it is today. It was once a lush jungle characterized by livelihood.
Towards the Round Head period (8,000-6,000 BC), one can notice the appearance of human figures alongside wild animals. These images highlight the hunter and gatherer era, which eventually evolved into more settlements in the region during the Pastoral period.
As more settlements were established in the area, more drawings of cattle husbandry and traditional ceremonies started to emerge as seen in the previous image.
These are the main eras depicted in the Acaus Mountain; however, there are still more that I did not cover, which include the horse (1,000 BC-1 AD) and camel (200 BC - present). Those eras are characterized by the evolving arid conditions we now see in the Sahara.
Reading about this historical site and seeing these paintings certainly makes one’s head spin with fascination and questions. Getting a small glimpse at how the landscape and human life have evolved over thousands years makes one wonder what life would be like 12,000 years from today.