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  • Writer's pictureDe Kochi

Laas Geel – Magnificent Cave Art

Laas Geel – Cave Paintings

Laas Geel is located nearly 50km away from Hargeisa, capital city of Republic of Somaliland. These Magnificent Ancient Rock Art paintings are estimated to be between 5,000 and 11,000 (BC 3000 and BC 9000) years old. A French team researchers found the Laas Geel cave formation and paintings on December 2002.


View of the desert from the top of the Laas Gaal Rocks, Hargeisa – Somaliland


Rocky exterior of Laas Gaal cave, Hargeisa – Somaliland

Meaning of the name Laas Gaal

Laas Gaal is spelled as Laas Gaal in Somali. Meaning of Laas Geel is ‘source of water for camels’. The complex is located near a confluence of two dry rivers, which lends credence to its name.


Landscape near Laas Geel cave, Hargeisa – Somaliland


In November and December 2002, an archaeological survey was carried out by a French team in Somaliland to search for rock shelters and caves containing stratified archaeological infills.


View from inside the Laas Geel cave, Hargeisa – Somaliland

On December 4, French archaeologist Xavier Gutherz from Paul Valery University, and his team ‘discovered’ the Laas Geel caves and spectacular paintings scattered among ten rock alcoves.

In November 2003, a mission returned to Laas Geel and a team of experts undertook a detailed study of the paintings and their prehistoric context.


Laas Geel rock exterior Woqooyi Galbeed region, Hargeisa – Somaliland

Cave and Paintings

The cave complex is comprised of approximately 20 shelters or rock caves made of naturally occurring rock formations of varying size, the largest being ten meters long with a depth of about 5 meters.  These shelters feature multi-colored painted panels that are considered to be the oldest known rock art in the Horn of Africa, a peninsula in Northeast Africa.


Long-horned cattle and other rock art in the Laas Geel cave complex, Hargeisa – Somaliland


Paitings of animal and rock art in the cave complex, Hargeisa – Somaliland


Red and brown colored rock art in the Laas-Geel cave complex, Hargeisa – Somaliland

Some of the cave paintings are stunningly well preserved as they have been sheltered from the elements by the granite overhangs. It is estimated that there are 350 animal and human representations, as well as numerous tribal marks among the rock art at Laas Geel.

Some paintings have faded due to rock degradation and the effects of weathering and erosion.  The caves house a constellation of brown, orange, white and red pre-historic sketches on the walls and ceiling.


Various rock arts in the Laas-Geel cave complex, Hargeisa – Somaliland


Laas-Geel complex at Woqooyi Galbeed region, Hargeisa – Somaliland


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