Round Heads


The Round Heads style includes mainly pictographs decorating rock shelters, caves, and open-air rock walls. The iconic motifs of this style are the anthropomorphic figures with round heads, often represented in association with wild animals – particularly Barbary sheep and antelopes. The artworks depict hunting scenes and intricate representations of dancing and ritual activities traditionally linked to a sacred and symbolic context. Their traits are steady, and the figures usually shown in profile. The pictographs employ a variety of techniques: a simple contour, flat color, or polychromy.

The Round Head artworks are spread all over the massif, with significant concentrations found along the middle course of the Wadi Teshuinat and in the southernmost wadis. Based on archaeological data, the Round Head art production is attributable to foragers, who stored food and tamed the Barbary sheep; these settlers inhabited the region roughly between the eighth and seventh millennium BCE and partially overlapped with the first herders.

The stylistic attribution of the Round Heads petroglyphs is still debated. Highly stereotyped, anthropomorphic petroglyphs found in the Tadrart Acacus, Algerian Tadrart, and Djado (Algeria) were suggested as the prototype for the Round Heads paintings. These motifs, known as Ichthyomorphic motifs or Kel Essuf, are here included in the Round Heads style.