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Prehistoric rock carvings in the Atlas

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Some of the Atlas’s fascinating prehistoric rock carvings, depicting animals, weapons, battle scenes, an apparent game area, and various unknown symbols, can be found just before Oukaïmeden‘s ski area site – follow the sign pointing to “Gravures Rupestres.” It’s worth contacting local expert Hassan Hachouch (t 0678 551527, [email protected]) for a trip to the carvings. He speaks French well with limited English, but is a valuable resoure nonetheless to point out some of the lesser-known carvings; a modest tip of 50–100dh is sufficient.

A new eco-museum near the carvings displays photos of the flora and fauna of the national park and surroundings, as well as information about the carvings themselves.

A puzzling related feature of prehistoric rock sites in the Atlas and elsewhere are cupmarks – groups of small circular hollows (Peter Ustinov suggested they were egg-cups) with no apparent pattern carved into exposed rock surfaces at ground level. Unlike the usual rock art, they appear in granite (in the western Atlas) and conglomerate (at Tinerhir) as well as sandstone (in the Middle Atlas).

Most of the rock carvings are depicted in the indispensable guidebook, Gravures Rupestres du Haut Atlas (on sale in the Oukaïmeden Club Alpin Francais chalet and in some Marrakesh bookshops), though it is only available in French.

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