South West Libya 2002

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Tadrart Acacus - Wadi Teshuinat Messak Settafet - Wadi Mattendush
Tintararat Site Wadi Tiksatin
Uan "Fathi" Wadi Mattendush
Uan Muhuggiag
Uan Amil
In Ehed
Uan "Abdul"

My trip to Libya was made possible through the Prehistoric Society who awarded me the student place on their trip in October 2002. After flying first to Tripoli, and then onto Sabha in south west Libya, we journeyed to Germa to see the remains of the Garamantian civilisation at Old Jarma. Our next stop was Al Uwaynat for petrol but with none to be found we had to head onto Ghat. Once fuelled up the route took us through the pass in the Tadrart Acacus to the eastern side and then up to Wadi Teshuinat. Lithic scatters and broken pottery littered the route through the mountains. Wadi Teshuinat is a very impressive area with high cliffs fencing in the area and art sites nestling at the bottom of the rock faces. The art is predominantly painted though with one carved panel of two elephants near Tintararat. Our time was limited and we saw seven sites in one morning. We crossed the desert dunes on Erg Uan Kasa and followed the Messak Settafet up until we reached the Wadi Mattendush area. Here the art is carved. We visited three sites here: Wadi Tiksatin, El Awrer and Wadi Mattendush. Wadi Tiksatin has the milking scene panel. Unfortunately it also has a seismic line access road cut into the hillside and down to the wadi. El Awrer further along the wadi has a large panel of carved giraffes. Finally Wadi Mattendush has numerous carved panels which provide the subject matter for many rock art books. The fighting cats panel is here as is the crocodile. A large panel consisting of a dead rhino being towed away by two dog headed therianthropes is the most curious of the lot. A favoured subject is the giraffe and in the wadi it is sometimes accompanied by circles which have been described in the literature as 'sun discs'.

Thank you to the Prehistoric Society for selecting me for the student place on the trip.
Michael Rainsbury

Lutz R, Lutz G (1995) The secret of the desert: the rock art of the Messak Settafet and Messak Mellet, Libya. Golf Verlag: Innsbruck
Van Albada A, AM (2000) La montagne des hommes-chiens: art rupestre du Messak Libyen. Paris

all photos by Michael Rainsbury
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