Somaliland: Laas Geel
By: The PH Team
Republic of Somaliland
Somaliland has been inhabited since at least the Paleolithic period. During the Stone Age, the Doian and Hargeisan cultures flourished here.
Somaliland is home to a large collection of cave paintings. One of which features one of the earliest known depictions of a hunter on horseback. The rock art is in the distinctive Ethiopian-Arabian style, dated to 1,000 to 3,000 BCE.
Additionally, there is another site of numerous cave paintings of real and mythical animals. Each painting has an inscription below it, which collectively have been estimated to be around 2,500 years old.
Laas Geel is a site of cave paintings located in the unrecognized country of Somaliland, in the Horn of Africa. They contain some of the earliest known cave paintings in the Horn of Africa. Laas Geel's rock art is estimated to date back to between 9,000 and 3,000 BC. Since 2002, the location has become a site for curious travellers who come to Somaliland.
The paintings depict cows appearing isolated or in groups of up to fifteen, although no clear representation of herds can be made out, and they are often associated with human figures with a very standardized shape: frontally depicted with arms outstretched to the sides, and wearing a kind of shirt, usually white.
The Laas Geel cave paintings are thought to be some of the most vivid rock art in Africa. They depict cattle in ceremonial robes accompanied by humans, who are believed to have been inhabitants of the region at the time.
The site is excellently preserved due to the location of the paintings which are covered by the granite overhangs. The cave in which the rock art is located, also makes a good location for tourists to take in the beautiful view of Somaliland's nature.
Although the Laas Geel rock art had been known to the area's inhabitants for centuries, its existence only came to international attention after the 2002 discovery. In addition to Laas Geel, Somaliland is also home to numerous such archaeological sites and megalithic structures.
However, many of these old structures have yet to be properly explored, a process which would help shed further light on local history and facilitate their preservation for posterity.
Laas Geel is a marvellous example of the potential of African rock art still waiting to be discovered and studied.
Laas Geel is not only revered for the quality of the paintings themselves, but also the archaeological data associated with the site and the landscape itself help to reconstruct a key episode in human history.
The images have helped scholars better understand the point in history in which animals started to be domesticated.
Bakano, Otto (April 24, 2011). "Grotto galleries show early Somali life". AFP. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 10 Jan 2020.
Istituto universitario orientale (Naples, Italy) (1992). Annali: Supplemento, Issues 70-73. Istituto orientale di Napoli. p. 57.