MYSTERIOUS ROCK CARVINGS
It was in Ouenat that I made the most interesting
find of my 2,200-mile journey.
I had heard rumors of the existence of certain pictographs on rocks, so
shortly before 8 o'clock on the evening of our arrival I set out to find
them. With a small contingent of my caravan I traveled all night and
until the next morning at 10 o'clock, stopping only for prayers. After
breakfasting on rice, with the inevitable Bedouin tea, we slept until 4
in the afternoon. Upon waking, I was led by a native to the picture
rocks (see illustration, page 260).
The animals are rudely drawn, but not, unskillfully
carved. There are lions, giraffes, ostriches, and all kinds of gazelles,
but no camels. The carvings are from a half to a quarter of an
inch deep and the edges of the lines in some instances are considerably
"Who made these?" I asked Malakenni, the Tebu.
He expressed the belief that they were the work of
the jinn. "For," he added "what man can do these things now?"
What man among the present inhabitants, indeed!
Here is a puzzle which must be left to the research
of archeologists. Suffice it to say that there are no giraffes in this
part of Africa now, nor do they live in any similar desert country
Perhaps even more significant is the absence of
camels from the drawings. If they had been native to the region at time
that the carvings were made, surely this most important beast of the
desert would have been pictured. But the camel came to Africa from Asia
not later 500 B. C.
Can these carvings antedate that event? Or has the
character of this country undergone such astonishing modification to
have converted into desert a fertile region in which the giraffe roamed,
and the camel was not a familiar burden-bearer?
With the inspection of these rock carvings, my
hasty exploration of Ouenat was concluded.
It was now my chief concern to get safely back to
civilization with the scientific data which I had collected, including
the verification and the location of these two hitherto-mythical oases.