The Rock Art of Sub-Saharan Africa

Jean-Loïc Le Quellec

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Rock Art

ISBN: 9780190607357
Published online March 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190607364 | DOI:
The Rock Art of Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • African Archaeology
  • History of Art


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This chapter presents key dimensions of sub-Saharan African rock art (pictograms and petroglyphs). Particular attention is paid to recent approaches, the application of physico-chemical analyses, and stylistic determinations used to establish reliable chronologies. Stylistic approaches have been particularly influential in the interpretation of rock imagery, as has the identification of specific motifs (such as loincloths and aprons) that serve to indicate ritual and initiatory roles, particularly for women. The preservation of rock art and access to sites are topics of renewed concern that tend to increasingly involve local communities. In sub-Saharan Africa as in other parts of the world, rock art research is well poised to build on a long history of research, and to benefit from new techniques such as digital enhancement that are likely to considerably improve knowledge and increase the known corpus of art.

Keywords: rock art; Paleoart; Africa; petroglyphs; pictograms; chronology; radiocarbon dating; therianthropes; conservation; gender

Article.  13660 words. 

Subjects: African Archaeology ; History of Art

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