Site name
Toponym(s) of the site

Uan Muhuggiag


A long rock shelter located along the left bank of the Wadi Teshuinat’s middle course. The site, known as Uan Muhuggiag, was discovered in the 1950s and is one of the most significant rock art sites of the Sahara region. At least fifteen panels with hundreds of paintings decorate the shelter’s back wall; the paintings are organized in different registers and exhibit almost all the known styles except for the Wild Fauna. Some of them include significant scenes that have been reproduced on eight canvases now in the Mori Collection. The site’s importance is also owed to the rich archaeological heritage excavated in the 1950s, 1980s, and 1990s. The site revealed an extraordinary continuity of use from the Late Acacus to the Pastoral period (about 8900-3000 years ago). Until recently, the rock art depicted at the site was known only through the publication of the most significant scenes, or subjects. The first full survey was published in 2008 (Gallinaro et al. 2008). The site’s state of conservation is precarious owing to several phenomena, including Hymenoptera nests and bird droppings, and wetting and former interventions for documentation and preservation that reduced the most famous panels to confused patches of color.
The Round Heads and part of the Pastoral paintings occur on the wall’s upper register. The Camel subjects and scenes were added on the margins of the wall’s left end side (Panel 1), on small empty wall portions, or over older paintings (i.e., the square humans on Panel 7). The majority of the visible paintings seems to date to the Pastoral Neo- lithic’s final phases: there are many red and white bitriangular subjects rendered in varying degrees of stylization (Panels 3, 6, 7, 8, 13, 15). They are often represented in large groups in static or running positions as part of convivial or hunting scenes. The most famous scenes are in the Round Heads style – probably in its final stages – and comprise the so-called “Symbolic boat” (Panel 2) and a possible “Funerary scene” with the representation of what F. Mori considered a mummy (Panel 8). Panel 2 contains a succession of humans in red contour and a few fully painted red snake-like shapes that appear to be sitting inside a boat. One of the humans is represented upside-down. The so-called “Funerary scene” (Panel 8) consists of a series of white humans overlapping a greenish elongated figure traditionally interpreted as a mummy. On the right there are several bitriangular humans painted at a later date. The interpretation of the scene as “Funerary” was motivated by the finding of a mummified individual in the archaeological deposit.
The rock art of the Pastoral period includes at least two remarkable features: a fragmented herd of red cattle with white patches similar to the Uan Tabu herd. The scene came from a collapsed portion of the rear wall dated to 4730±310 uncalBP and constitutes a terminus ante quem for the Uan Tabu Pastoral style. The fragment is now part of the permanent exhibition in the National Museum in Tripoli. Another sig- nificant feature is a five-meter-long painted scene (Panel 9) that was reproduced on a large canvas, now lost. It shows a row of about 30 women carrying heavy loads and walking toward the right. The panel’s state of conservation is highly critical owing to the actions of natural processes on the painting and rock surfaces. Later subjects partially cover the scene and limit its visibility. A remarkable scene painted on the vault’s left side contains a group of running white bitriangular humans with red garments and ornaments (Panel 15). A few late petroglyphs are a marginal element of the artistic setting.