Origins Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
The art of the Sahara is diverse and still not well understood. Conventionally, the art is believed to broadly fit into one of four stylistic and chronological categories. The earliest of these, known as the Bubaline Period, comprises engravings only, and there are many images of wild animals and therianthropic (part-human, part-animal) figures. The three later periods—Bovidian, Caballine, and Camelline—include both paintings and engravings and are marked by the appearance of specific domestic animals in the art.
In spite of an initial breakthrough in the understanding of the symbolism of these images in terms of the beliefs and practices of specific extant Saharan peoples in 1966, little further work has been done in using this approach to investigate the meaning of the images. Many new discoveries have been made in recent years; scholars are hopeful that among these a clue to the meaning of some of the images will be found.
Blundell, Geoffrey. “African Rock Art of the Northern Zone.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nroc/hd_nroc.htm (October 2001)
Blundell, Geoffrey, ed. Origins: The Story of the Emergence of Humans and Humanity in Africa. Cape Town: Double Storey, 2006.
Coulson, David, and Alec Campbell. African Rock Art: Paintings and Engravings on Stone. New York: Abrams, 2001.
Le Quellec, Jean-Loïc. Rock Art in Africa: Mythology and Legend. Paris: Flammarion, 2004.
Additional Essays by Geoffrey Blundell
- Blundell, Geoffrey. “San Ethnography.” (October 2001)
- Blundell, Geoffrey. “African Rock Art: Game Pass.” (October 2001)
- Blundell, Geoffrey. “African Rock Art of the Central Zone.” (October 2001)
- Blundell, Geoffrey. “African Rock Art of the Southern Zone.” (October 2001)
- Blundell, Geoffrey. “Arts of the San People in Nomansland.” (October 2001)
- African Rock Art
- African Rock Art: Tassili-n-Ajjer (?8000 B.C.–?)
- Introduction to Prehistoric Art, 20,000–8000 B.C.
- African Rock Art of the Central Zone
- African Rock Art of the Southern Zone
- African Rock Art: Game Pass
- African Rock Art: The Coldstream Stone
- Apollo 11 (ca. 25,500–23,500 B.C.) and Wonderwerk (ca. 8000 B.C.) Cave Stones
- Ife (from ca. 6th Century)
- Ife Pre-Pavement and Pavement Era (800–1000 A.D.)
- Ife Terracottas (1000–1400 A.D.)
- Inland Niger Delta
- The Magic of Signs and Patterns in North African Art
- The Monumental Stelae of Aksum (3rd–4th Century)
- Egypt and North Africa, 1800–1900 A.D.
- Egypt and North Africa, 1900 A.D.–present
- Western North Africa (The Maghrib), 1000–1400 A.D.
- Western North Africa (The Maghrib), 1400–1600 A.D.
- Western North Africa (The Maghrib), 1600–1800 A.D.
- Western North Africa (The Maghrib), 500–1000 A.D.
- Western North Africa, 1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
- Western North Africa, 1–500 A.D.
- Western North Africa, 2000–1000 B.C.
- Western North Africa, 8000–2000 B.C.