The Crying Cows Rock Engraving in Algeria

naomi algeria famlly tour oct 2022 - crying cow

Travelling to Algeria’s Tassil n’Ajjer National Park is sure to be an unforgettable experience! This huge plateau includes the Sahara Desert, which spans an area of nearly 70,000 square kilometers. This is not merely a day trip to the Sahara’s edge. Going WAY DEEPER than you could in Morocco or Tunisia, you’ll need at least a few days with overnight camping to fully experience the heart of the Sahara. Over 15,000 prehistoric cave paintings and engravings may be seen at the Tassil n’Ajjer National Park. The national park is also renowned for its Mars-like natural wonders, enormous dunes, and more!

The Crying Cows Rock Engraving, which is Algeria’s most well-known rock carving, is situated just outside Tassil n’Ajjer National Park. With your Sahara tour guide by your side, you won’t want to miss this historic marvel.

naomi algeria famlly tour oct 2022 - sahara sand dune

An Artistic Masterpiece in the Algerian Sahara

The Crying Cows Rock Engraving is known as ‘La vache qui pleure’ in French. This Neolithic sculpture is believed to be dated more than 7,000 years old. The rock engravings are constructed with very deep carvings into the rock – the depth and thickness of the engraving seem to differ from other rock engravings found in the nearby Tassil n’Ajjer National Park. The precision of the engraving may have been carefully calculated so that sun rays shining down on the engraving at different times of the day would cast variations of shallow and deep shadows into the carving. This technique enhances the overall engraving with a sense of movement. There is no doubt that the artist is a skillful carver, and some even regard the artist as a sculptor who understood the dimensions of material, light, shade, and projection.

Crying Cows Rock Engraving in Algeria
Crying Cows Rock Engraving in Algeria

The Crying Cows rock engraving represents a bas-relief sculpture, which is artistically defined by its projection from a shallow supporting background. The sculptural objects, which are the cows in this case, are projected very slightly from the ground which gives the impression that the cows are raised above the background.

The Local Myth About the Crying Cows

The engraving depicts a herd of cows with saddened faces. One of these cows in particular is illustrated with teardrops streaming from its eyes. According to local myth, a nomadic shepherd once traveled day and night with his herd of cows in search of a water source. They finally arrived at the location of a water spring only to find that it had completely dried up. It is here that the shepherd decided to carve into stone his cattle’s final moments as they shared in their master’s grief and eventually died from thirst one by one. Today, the Crying Cows rock engraving continues to captivate the imagination of visitors, providing a unique glimpse of the Sahara’s past.

naomi algeria famlly tour oct 2022 - crying cow
Close-up of the teardrop streaming down the cow’s face

Want to read more about the Crying Cows Rock Engraving in Algeria?

The History of Algeria in 54 Objects is an illustrative compilation of artifacts and objects that preserves the Algerian heritage. Travel in time through the pages to discover the long and rich history of Algeria. Readers can learn more about the Crying Cows Rock Engraving which is identified as Object #4 in this book.

You can purchase the French Edition of this book on Amazon:

How To Get To The Crying Cows Rock Engraving

Most travelers visiting the Tassil n’Ajjer National Park will begin their journey from the town of Djanet. From there, It is about a 25 km journey toward the eastern border of Erg Admer. You will approach a large sand monolith where the Crying Cows rock engraving is carved into a sheer sandstone rock face.

location of crying cow engraving in algeria
Sand monolith where the crying cows rock engraving is located

Here is a Google Maps link to the Crying Cows rock engraving. Your Sahara tour guide and driver are likely local Tuaregs who are familiar with the landmarks and points of interest.

Millennia ago, before the Sahara desert took over, ancient civilizations populated the Algerian Sahara region. They left behind pottery, cave drawings, rock engravings, and even tombs. Exploring the pieces of the desert’s past is not an activity just for history buffs. Visiting the Algerian Sahara, the largest desert in the world is a complete immersion into the desert landscape. Camping overnight in the picturesque landscape is an unforgettable experience that will stay with you forever. The spectacular geological formations and colossal-size dunes make the deep Sahara in Algeria one of the most magical places in the world!

Don’t believe me? Check out this YouTube video of our Deep Algerian Sahara Tour.

Start looking today by previewing our custom-made tour packages, such as our 10-day Deep South Algeria Adventure Tour. We have a popular 16-day Highlights of Algeria Tour that visits the Deep Sahara South of Algeria plus many highlights in other regions of Algeria. We would love to organize an Algeria trip for you, exactly as you want it. Don’t wait too long, contact us today!

About the author

Joshua Mok has been living in Tunisia since 2016. He has traveled extensively throughout the country, and has firsthand experience with the language, people, and culture of North Africa. It is his passion to introduce to others some of the best destinations in North Africa that he has experienced.

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