Archaeologists have discovered ancient artwork in almost 100 new sites in Somaliland.

The cave paintings were found by a team led by Dr. Sada Mire, from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London (UCL). 

The finds include a painting of a man riding a horse, estimated to have been painted 4000 years ago. That makes it one of the oldest images of a rider on horseback. The team also discovered paintings of antelopes leaping, snakes ready to strike, giraffes, and images of the moon in various phases. The paintings range from 2000 to 5000 years old.

Somaliland is internationally recognized as a region of Somalia, in eastern Africa.  But it has its own government, and claims that it is an independent country. Dr. Mire said “With wars, droughts and piracy in Somalia, hardly anyone has researched the archaeology until now. But it’s absolutely full of extraordinarily well-preserved rock art.”

Ten of the cave painting sites may be candidates for UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list.

Dr. Mire said she was struck by the eeriness of some of the paintings, a portion of which are headless.  The discoveries will be profiled in the next issue of  Current World Archaeology.

(image credit: Dr. Sada Mire, Somali Heritage and Archaeology)