The Watch

Las Geel Rock Art

Las Geel District, Somaliland

2008 World Monuments Watch

A series of rock art sites discovered at Las Geel is providing a wealth of information about migration, climatic conditions, colonization, and religious expression of ancient, semi-nomadic peoples in the Horn of Africa. The numerous scenes preserved there depict daily life and the religious and cultural importance of cattle, some of which are shown wearing robes. Although people in the region now tend camels and sheep in addition to cattle, their way of life remains much the same as that of their ancestors. Since the discovery of the decorated caves and rock-shelters, which remain unprotected, Las Geel has begun to attract tourists. In addition, locals often spend nights in the caves, lighting fires for warmth—probably much like their ancient predecessors—and the soot damages the images. While Somaliland has yet to be recognized as an independent country, the region is relatively stable and seeks to develop its economy and its cultural heritage and tourism resources. Watch listing is intended to highlight the importance of Las Geel and the need to protect it. Last update: 2008

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