Second Edition

Raymond S. Bradley

University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts

Amsterdam Boston Heidelberg London New York Oxford Paris San Diego San Francisco Singapore Sydney Tokyo

Front Cover Photograph:

Rock Art at Zalat el Hammad, Southeastern Sahara, Northwest Sudan. Rock art from Zalat el Hammad (17°50' N, 26°45' E), a circular group of fractured sandstone hills, in the Wadi Howar, southeastern Sahara. The Wadi (1100 km long and 10 km wide) is a now defunct watercourse which 10,000-2000 yr ago was the Nile's largest tributary from the Sahara. The engravings depict domestic cattle, giraffes, elephants, lions, antelopes, monkeys, ostriches, desert foxes, barbary sheep and other wildlife, as well as portrayals of round-headed humans with dogs. Based on their different stylistic characteristics, grades of patination, and the composition of species, the depictions must be from different epochs of the early and mid-Holocene wet phase in the Sahara. Bones of all the big game fauna depicted have been found in nearby excavations of paleo-lake sediments of early and mid-Holocene age; they suggest that the engravings were based on local observations, and not reproduced from memory of other regions. The absence of camels suggests that at least since the beginning of the camel period (about 2000 yr ago) no more engravings were rendered due to the worsening living conditions. Through their art, our prehistoric ancestors have provided a vivid record of the dramatic changes of climate that have occurred in what is today one of the most arid locations on earth. (Photograph courtesy of Stefan Kröpelin, University of Köln.)


Kröpelin, S. (1993). Zur Rekonstruktion der spätquartären Umwelt am Unteren Wadi Howar (Südöstliche Sahara / NW-Sudan). Berliner Geographische Abhandlungen 54. Rhotert, H. (1952). Libysche Felsbilder. Darmstadt: Wittich.

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Library of Congress Number: 98-83154 ISBN-13: 978-0-12-124010-3 ISBN-10: 0-12-124010-X

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