Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Karkur Talh: Late Bovidian Paintings

Karkur Talh:  Late Bovidian Period
FJExpeditions: "In 1938 [Hans] Winkler spent some time exploring the side valleys, and during these trips, came accross a unique site near the watershed towards Karkur Murr. The site itself is clearly from the later part of the bovidian period, but the strange symbols and shapes are without parallel, and their meaning is unknown."
Courtesy Fliegel Jezerniczky Expeditions (Link)

Most of the Karkur Tahl engravings are from the main valley.  Their focus on a mix of animals, including barbary sheep, bovines, giraffes and ostriches, suggests that most these engravings are from an early period in the great Wet Phase when the Karkur Tahl was a grassland.  The paintings, on the other hand, seem to be concentrated in side valleys.  They are more stylized than the early engravings.  The cattle in many of these late stage paintings have lost their speckles and instead have large white spots and dark heads and backs.  There are very few paintings of anything but cattle. 

One of the most beautiful and vivid late state paintings is pictured above.  In addition to cattle, the artist draws several symbols. One of the symbols, star like with dots on the end of the star arms, is likely a version of a bolas.   As it turns out, archeological evidence of the bolas has turned up in both North Africa (link) and East Africa (link), so there is a very good chance that the painter of the above picture is illustrating the use of the bolas on Karkur Talh cattle.

The other partly faded shapes in the top right of the above picture are less identifiable. They might represent hunting blinds, but that is just a guess.


Karkur Talh Rock Art (Link)


Harrison, A. R. C. 1947. A Bolas-and-Hoop Game in East Africa, MAN:  A Monthly Record of Anthropological Science, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. XLVII, pages 169-176. (Link)

Lagercrantz, S. 1936. Did bolas anciently occur in Africa? Ethnos:  Journal of Anthropology, Volume 1, Issue 2, pages 30-34 (Link)

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