Laas Geel – Hargeisa, Somalia - Atlas Obscura
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Laas Geel

Hargeisa, Somalia

This cave located in the badlands of Somaliland contains some of the oldest cave art in Africa.  

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The Laas Geel caves and their marvelous contents have been known to locals for many years. However, they remained relatively unknown to the rest of the world until 2002. That year, a team of French archaeologists conducted a survey and documented the various cave paintings across the site.

They discovered that the amazingly well-preserved paintings displayed both humans and animals; mostly dogs, cows, giraffes, antelopes, monkeys and possibly hyenas. Some of the researchers belonging to the team believed the cows represented divinity, as many of the paintings displayed them wearing robes. Several scenes also depict what appears to be humans worshipping cow-like figures and a woman caring for a dog. There have been difficulties in dating the paintings, but they are believed to be between 5,000 to 11,000 years old.

Laas Geel is located within the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, just a few kilometers from the Hargeisa-Berbera road. Sadly, due to a lack of international recognition of the Republic, Laas Geel does not benefit from international funding or protection. The cave and dozens of other archaeological sites across Somaliland are vulnerable to looting and degradation from a lack of preservation. 

Know Before You Go

Laas Geel is generally visited with a driver from Hargeisa as there is no public transport to the site. Any hotel in Hargeisa where foreigners stay will assist with organizing a visit and the necessary permits, along with an armed escort.

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