Dhambalin ("half, vertically cut mountain") is an archaeological site in the northwestern Togdheer province of Somalia. The sandstone rock shelter, contains rock art depicting various animals, such as horned cattle and goats, as well as giraffes, an animal no longer found in the northwestern Somalia region. The site also features the earliest known pictures of sheep in Somalia. Discovered in autumn 2007, residents of Beenyo Dhaadheer reported the rock art to the Somali archaeologist Sada Mire, Director of the Department of Archaeology within the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Somaliland.
The archaeological site, is one of the 100 sites discovered by Dr. Mire, which are dated to more than 5000 years ago. They provide an important link to the rock art of the Horn of Africa, particularly representing its pastoral cultures, fauna and pre-historic importance.
The site is stated to be in danger of theft in view of lack of adequate security arrangements. Though the archaeological study has been done with funding by the UN, the site’s recognition as UNESCO World heritage site is not feasible at this stage as Somalia has not ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
It is situated approximately 40 miles (64 km) from the Red Sea. The nearest town is Beenyo Dhaadheer, a small rural village about 60 kilometers east of the port city of Berbera. The lower part of the sandstone shelter rock is covered by sand. The sandstone is fragile and affected by corrosion. Due to wind erosion and porosity, portions of the rock fragments are broken off while paintings are visible on the remaining ruins.
The multi-layered paintings cover an area of approximately 4 by 12 metres (13 ft × 39 ft). They are of the Ethiopian-Arabic style, and dates to 5000-3000 BP. Similarities are noted with the rock art in Jilib Rihin and Haadh that were found in the Togdheer region by Sada Mire also in 2007. The polychrome paintings of the Neolithic or proto-historic Arabian–Ethiopian Style, depict the first sheep paintings in Somali archaeology and also many of antelopes, dogs, giraffes, snakes and a turtle with and also without humans. There are eight to ten people represented, usually as part of hunting scenes, with bow and arrow; they are surrounded by wildlife. One of the hunters is depicted with hair down and with headgear, accompanied by two dogs. Another hunter sits on an animal, possibly a horse; the depiction of humans riding the animals with raised hands is interpreted to mean worshipping the cattle. Two human figures are clearly male and have their arms outstretched. A humanoid figure is painted in white with a large head compared to the body; possibly a child. Compared to animals, people are painted less lifelike.
Most of the animals are shown in profile. Of the wildlife, there are at least eight giraffes (which are now extinct in Somalia) in different colors, a turtle, antelopes, lions, snakes, baboon-like animal and a wild cat. Fourteen sheep are clearly identifiable with a typical shape, head, nose and thin legs. Three of them are painted in red with a white belt around the waist, while the remaining eleven are white with red decorative elements. In contrast to sheep found in the Somalia region today, they do not have black heads. Cattle are in different colors and sizes, but usually depicted as cows with full udders and sometimes accompanied by calves and also some without humps and headless. Several bulls and at least five goats are shown. Other conspicuous bands drawn on the backs and bellies of cows attest to the farming traditions of the people.
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