Rock Art Sites of Somaliland, Somalia


Spectacular African Rock Art

Expedition Overview
In September 2013, CyArk digitally documented Laas Geel, Dhagah Nabi Galay and Dhagah Kureh rock shelters using laser scanning and photogrammetry.  The project was conducted in partnership with the Horn Heritage Charity, a nongovernmental organization that works to protect and promote the archaeological heritage of the Horn of Africa and ICCROM, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property.  CyArk also provided a training workshop to  heritage professionals from Somaliland. The expedition was made possible through a generous donation from the Government of Switzerland.
Introducing the Rock Art of Somaliland
The complex cave and rock shelters of Laas Geel, Dhagah Kureh, and Dhagah Nabi Galay lie just 30-45 minutes outside of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, a self-declared republic and autonomous region of Somalia. Exhibiting outstanding Neolithic rock art, the sites’ cave paintings are considered to be some of the best preserved rock paintings in all of Africa. The images provide valuable information about some of the earliest pastoralists living in this region. The paintings, dated to the third and second millennia BC, depict the herding of humpless cows, sheep and goats, as well as the hunting of antelopes, giraffes, and other wild animals.
Oldest Rock Art in Africa
The Laas Geel shelters feature poly chrome painted panels that are considered to be some of the oldest known rock art in the Horn of Africa. The scenes depict human figures and animals painted in bright reds, whites, yellows, and sometimes black. In many cases the human figures are shown with arms outstretched in postures that demonstrate reverence and perhaps even worship which may indicate the important status ascribed to cattle in this pastoral culture.

CyArk utilized the laser scanning and photogrammetry documentation to create models of several of the rock shelters. The models serve as a point in time record of the site conditions and were archived.

Summary of Data Captured

This project resulted in the following data which is now freely available for non-commercial use.

Areas with LiDAR documentation are indicated in grey.

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Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the following partners:

Government of Switzerland


The Horn Heritage Charity

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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