|Classification:||erosional sandstone caves and arches|
Office du Parc national du Tassili (OPNT), BP 11 Djanet, 33100 Algeria, Tel: +213-9-475282.
Direction du Patrimoine Culturel, Ministere de la Culture, Les Anasser-Kouba, Alger.
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The Tassili n'Ajjer is a mountain range in the Sahara desert in southeast Algeria. It extends about 500km from 26°20'N 5°00'E east-south-east to 24°00'N 10°00'E. This range is composed of sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstones. Erosion formed arches and overhanging cliffs, rock shelters and small caves. About 300 of this places are known, many of them showing rock art.
During glacial times the local climate was much moister, the desert was a rather fertile savannah and home to many people. There remains of this people are cave paintings showing typical animals and sometimes even swimming people. The most frequent depicted animals are hippopotamus, buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros and giraffe. Most paintings and engravings are found in Wadi Djerat and on the Plateau of Dider.
The geology of this mountain range is important for the local vegetation. The sandstone is able to store water, and even transport it through its pores by capillary forces. This results in a higher amount of moisture and a different, more abundant vegetation. In the eastern half of the range, in higher parts, a very scattered woodland of Saharan Cypress and Saharan Myrtle exist. This endemic species are endangered and protected in a National Park, Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, the Tassili n'Ajjer National Park.