Kondoa Rock Art Sites - A view from our expert author

Kondoa rock art Tanzania by Ariadne Van Zandbergen Africa Image LibraryThe rock art at Kondoa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site © Ariadne Van Zandbergen, Africa Image Library

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the prehistoric rock art that adorns the Maasai Escarpment is East Africa’s most intriguing outdoor gallery of its kind.

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006, the prehistoric rock art that adorns the Maasai Escarpment south of Tarangire is the most intriguing outdoor gallery of its sort in East Africa, and among the most ancient and stylistically varied anywhere on the continent. Although it extends over an area of 2,350km², the best-known panels are centred around the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village of Kolo, which straddles the Arusha–Dodoma road between Kondoa and Babati.

The rock art around Kolo and Kondoa is the most prolific in equatorial Africa. This is partly due to the lay of the land. Like the equally rich uKhahlamba- Drakensberg region in South Africa, Kondoa is endowed with numerous granite outcrops tailor-made for painting. The major rock art panels here are generally sited within small caves or beneath overhangs aligned to an east–west axis, a propensity that might reflect the preferences of the artists, or might have provided the most favourable conditions for preservation against the elements. The age of the paintings is tentatively placed at between 200 and 4,000 years, but their intent is a matter of speculation.

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