The Archaic Mode of Production:
Archaic Northern Africa

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Saharan rock art

Bubalus Period (end of 6th - mid-4th millenium BP)

[ Tassili N'Ajjer ]

1. The Tassili N'Ajjer mountains in the Algerian Sahara Desert. Before the dessication of North Africa, this was the home fishermen, hunters and herdsmen in great number. Their subsequent diffusion had a significant effect upon the emergence of Ancient Egypt, the states to the West where savannah met forest, and the Mediterranean coast to the North.

[ Bubalus-Cattle Period aniconic 
	figure from T'in Teferiest, Tassili ]

2. Thirty thousand rock paintings and engravings in the mountainous areas are known, half from Tassili. Perhaps the engravings were done by Libyo-Berber Afro-asiatic peoples and the paintings by darker peoples from the south. The earliest phase is called the Bubalus Period, for the art shows animals that became extinct in the area. The animals are naturalistic and often on a large scale. Men are armed with clubs, throwing sticks, axes and bows, but never spears. Then, in the Cattle Period, the appearance of rams and cattle suggests the beginning of herding. Most of these paintings seem intermediate between the Bubalus and Cattle Periods. Here is a faceless (aniconic) figure from T'in Teferiest and may be Bubalus. Some round headed figure painting from the Uan Telocat in the Acacus has been reported to be older than c. 4800 B.C.

[ Engraving of an elephant from 
	Bardai, eastern Sahara ]

3. Engraving of an elephant from Bardai, eastern Sahara, and is either from the Bubalus or the Cattle Period. Height 7-8'. The archaeological data is difficult to correlate with the art work, but human occupation at Tassili started at least around 5500 B.C., and it is assumed that the Bubalus Period began not long thereafter and lasted to ca. 3500 B.C.

Cattle Period (mid-4th to mid-2nd millenium B.C.)

[ Cattle Period herdsmen and cattle 
	at Tin Tazazarift, Tassili ]

4. The Cattle or Pastoralist Period that follows the Bubalus Period no longer displays the buffalo, and now especially cattle. The style is less naturalistic and sketchier; the pose is stiffer; horns are sometimes frontal; size is smaller. This painting from the Cattle Period shows herdsmen and cattle at Tin Tazazarift, Tassili. The cow in the foreground has a collar and a forked object in its mouth. Figures are 6-14' in height. The Cattle Period was from mid-fourth to perhaps mid-second millenium B.C. The Cattle Period reflects a fully pastoral economy, and it is associated with pottery, polished stone axes, grindstones, arrowheads and the bones of domesticated cattle, sheep and goats.

[ Cave painting on the Tassili 
	N'Ajjers Plateau ]

5. This cave painting in the Tassili N'Ajjers Plateau, shows an archer with bow and arrows. The figure style is archaic, and the use of bow and arrows suggests Cattle Period.

[ Settlement at Adrar Bouis in the Tenere 

6. Pastoralism spread from the Sahara to Cyrinaica and Khartoum in the early fifth millenium. The shift to cattle herding was accompanied by an extension of settlements far out into the plain, such as this site at Adrar Bouis in the Tenere desert. The three stone circles were possibly the foundations of storage bins. Such villages covered a considerable area and supported a large population, but building materials were insubstantial and left little trace.

Horse Period (from ca 1200 B.C.)

[ Horse Period painting of a camel 
	from late Tassili]

7. A Horse Period followed the Cattle Period. The horse seems to have been introduced by the Sea Peoples in about 1200 B.C., and with it came Cretan influence. The Horse period is subdivided into a Chariot, Horseman, and Horse-and-Camel sub-periods. Dessication ended the use of chariots, but the horse continued as a mount. The camel may have been introduced in about 700 B.C., but it took a long time to become generalized. The suceeding Camel Period extends from Roman times to the present. This small painting of a camel is from the late period of Tassili art. The art of the period is small and highly schematic; the human is represented by a double triangle.

[ A masked dancer at Inaouanrhat, 

8. A masked dancer at Inaouanrhat, Tassili. Height 31". The people of the Sahara apparently influenced the cultures of both the Nile valley and of West Africa, and the use of masks may be one such link. However, there is no stylistic similarity between the masks in Tassili art and those of West Africa.

The Tazina Style of Algeria-Morocco

Rock art

[ Rock art from Tazzarine Oasis, 
	South Morocco, in the Tazina Style ]

9. Rock art from Tazzarine Oasis, South Morocco, in the Tazina Style (Algerian type-site). The art of this hunting society typically shows graceful animals, roughly a foot tall, carved with polished lines. Here are gazelles. The art seems be the product of hunters and herders fleeing Sahara dessication. While many sites between Algeria and the Atlantic show the Tazina style, there emerges another style consisting of pecked designs of the domesticated ox as well as wild animals, as the economy shifts from hunting to herding.

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