Pristine rock paintings adorn caves at Laas Geel in Somalia
Primitive rock painting, one of a galaxy of colourful animal and human sketches to adorn the caves in the rocky hills of this arid wilderness in northern Somalia, near Hargeisa, home to Africa's earliest known and most pristine rock art.
Caves of Laas Geel. Pic/AFP
Centuries have passed since Neolithic artists swirled red and white colour on the cliffs of northern Somalia, painting antelopes, cattle, giraffes and hunters carrying bows and arrows. Today, the paintings at Laas Geel in the self-declared state of Somaliland retain their fresh brilliance, providing vivid depictions of a pastoralist history dating back some 5,000 years or more.
The caves. Pic/AFP
The paintings, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, are considered among the oldest and best preserved rock art sites in Africa but are protected only by a few guards who ask visitors not to touch the paintings. Another aspect is centuries of isolation and local beliefs that the site was haunted and the art the work of evil spirits may have contributed to it's protection.
But since their discovery, the cave paintings have become one of the main attractions for visitors to Somaliland.