Thousands of years ago, humans from the Neolithic age, decorated the walls of rock shelters with paintings of animals and humans at a site called Laas Geel in Somaliland. Their work would last 5,000 years and would one day attract the attention of the 21st century. The caves provide a glimpse into the little known history of this part of the world. Even with the history of political instability, war, natural weathering, and other factors, the paintings have survived intact, retaining their clear outlines and vibrant colors. They are thought to be among the best and oldest preserved rock paintings in Africa.
Laas Geel, meaning ‘source of water for camels’, is a complex of rock shelters and caves located 55 kilometers (34 miles) northeast of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, an autonomous region of war-torn Somalia. In an area encompassing a nomadic village, the Naasa Hablood hills, the site overlooks a wide district of countryside, where nomads graze their livestock and human settlement is sparse. Much of Somalia is now comprised of vast badlands and the parched Laas Geel region no longer draws herds of cattle coming to graze and water. The complex is located near a confluence of two dry rivers, which lends credence to its name.
Locals knew of the place for centuries but avoided it due to what they believed to be the haunt of demons and evil spirits.
“We believed it was drawn by the devil with blood,” said caretaker Musa Abdi Jama [via csmonitor], “and believed that when we slaughtered a goat for protection, the devil would come and suck the blood from the sand.”