The Dabous Giraffes

Located in the Sahara Desert, what do the world's largest known petroglyphs (rock carvings) show?

And the answer: Giraffes.  

Photo credit: BradshawFoundation.com

Believed to be between 6,000 and 8,000 years old, the two life-size giraffe petroglyphs, known as the Dabous giraffes, are the largest known rock carvings in the world. More than 820 other images of animals and ancient humans have been found engraved on rocks in the area.

Among the hundreds of carved wild animals, humans and other carvings at this Sahara site, the incredible detail of the giraffes stands alone in its beauty. These ancient giraffes were carved using multiple techniques, including shaping of the rock itself. Considering the technology of 6,000 years ago, that's quite a feat.

What's more: the giraffes are massive. The two are believed to portray a male and female, and the larger of the two is between 18-21 feet tall. This impressive fact makes the giraffe petroglyphs the largest known rock carvings in the world.

Why giraffes, you might wonder? The answer may be one, unfortunately, lost to time. Some archaeologists suspect that the giraffes were revered by the Paleolithic society for their size and unhurried magnificence. Or, perhaps, it was the large eyes of the giraffe that called to mind a metaphor for foresight and prediction.  

In an attempt to preserve the native landscape of the carvings and magnify their brilliance, the Bradshaw Foundation has recently embarked on a preservation project of the carvings. The project intends to take two molds in aluminum casts, one of which will be gifted to the local town of Agadez and the other to the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Learn more about these breathtaking petroglyphs here.


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