According to its
statutes, the AARS association has as projects – and as limits -
to contribute towards making known the extraordinary heritage of
humanity carried by the Saharan rock art.
Remains that are paradoxically so present in today’s world which
has become almost exclusively mineral.
What, an old conscience is still awake here! Doorways of
Let us try to see and to hear, and let us hope from the bottom
of our hearts that these messages may last!
In this way,
influenced by a reasoned passion, we can contribute our support,
which is totally disinterested, to the promotion and protection
of one of humanity’s oldest heritages.
Concretely, the AARS works to extend awareness,
by the organisation of meetings and by the distribution of
documents on Saharan Rock Art.
Indeed, we think that for the tourists discovering the desert, a
better knowledge of this heritage
(over and above advice that is sometimes unnecessary), will lead
to behave independently and responsibly, in view of the richness
and fragility of these remains
Values shared by the members of the AARS
Out of respect for the cultural and environmental heritage,
we wish to promote several measures aiming to arouse the
awareness of those people,
increasingly numerous, who are tempted by the world of sand:
What the visitor to the desert should know and respect, so that
the Sahara may remain this fascinating world, where there are
countless traces of the men who have passed on to us messages
that are thousands of years old
The conservation of a fragile heritage
adhere to the spirit of the following charter
of behaviour on the rock art sites
If you have come by car, don’t
take the vehicle right up to the site. Leave it at least 500
metres away and do the rest on foot. This will give you the
opportunity to notice interesting details (fauna, flora,
geology etc.) and minimise your impact on the environment of
the site. In actual fact, a “site” is not necessarily
limited to the exact spot where the images are to be found,
but can include very many other things: traces of
settlements, stone structures, stone and pottery remains,
On the site, don’t take or move
any object, even a simple stone looking quite ordinary.
Every single thing associated with the site constitutes one
of the pieces of a puzzle which provides us with information
about it. Once isolated, these elements lose all their
interest and have nothing more to tell us, because they only
mean something in relation to other elements. Don’t forget
that some of these details which can make the objects
“speak” are invisible to the naked eye and can only be
detected by specialists with specialised equipment. The
surrounding landscape and all its components - including
associated fauna and flora – are an important part of the
features needed to understand the history of the site.
Never say “oh, it’s only me,
I’m just doing it once” to justify doing something the
opposite of what has just been advocated here. In actual
fact, thousands of people can say the same thing. The
impression of being the first to visit a desert site is
always an illusion, and in any case, many others will follow
in your tracks. If you see thousands of prehistoric objects
on a site, resist the temptation to take “just one”: if
every visitor takes one, there will soon be none left (and
this has happened too often in the Sahara). Take only
photographs! Above all, if you find a particularly rich
site, refrain from going there - even if you avoid the
objects visible on the surface, your visit will damage those
hidden under a thin layer of sand.
the pictures. The fats and acids naturally present on your
skin will damage them (not to mention possible traces of sun
cream). Remember that you are not the only visitor to the
site and that in a desert environment, the slightest
micro-environmental change can have important consequences,
particularly on the paintings. With the increase in the
number of visits, fats and similar matter will soon mount up
and dull and damage the figures. Without taking into account
that with time, the simple fact of touching the
paintings contributes to obliterating them.
Particularly if you are a group, avoid trampling too
much on the same spot, thus raising fine particles of sand,
most of which will be deposited on the walls. If necessary,
drop off your back pack before going into the shelters,
since it could accidentally brush against the walls when you
turn round or get up. If required, respect the limits shown
by the small lines of stones on the ground in front of the
shelters: they have usually been put there as a protection
by the local authorities. As a general rule, before entering
a site, study the ground and the surroundings – it’s a way
of locating the signs of past activity, so as to
avoid them. This will also allow you to understand the site
Don’t add graffiti or change in any way
the pictures or the site. The rock pictures should not be
considered as “ancient graffiti” and graffiti are not
“modern rock art”: they are everywhere considered as
vandalism and are punishable by law. Even if others have
been unthinking enough to mark their name there and add a
drawing or a message of their own invention, don‘t continue
their action by adding your own.
Don’t walk on the pictures, don’t climb
on them to see other works more closely or simply to explore
the place, or again to find a short cut towards another
spot. Your tracks will quickly be followed and their
repetition will wear down the images, going as far as
damaging the sites irretrievably.
Don’t make rubbings or mouldings of the
petroglyphs (rock engravings). This wears them down and
leaves residues of matter which damage the patina, or
partially destroys it.
Don’t use chalk,
little pebbles or other markers to retrace the outlines of
the image … in a way that is particularly unsightly for
future visitors. Such a process is to be considered as
vandalism, for it permanently damages the site: the rubbing
of the chalk attacks the patina, and the chalk left on the
rock concentrates the humidity, encouraging local chemical
reactions. For those engravings that are not easy to read,
add an on-site sketch to your photos. This will later help
to decipher the engraving and once back home, you can then
mark in the outlines directly on the photos with the help,
for example, of the appropriate software.
Don’t moisten the
paintings to make them more visible. Don’t spray any product
on the walls, even distilled water. The result is often
worse, and it causes the progressive disappearance of the
images. This method is all the more useless since one can
now get extraordinary results by using digital photographs
and specialised software.
Don’t try to clean up a site, for
instance by removing the wasps’ nests or bird
droppings visible on the walls and which can hide parts of
the images. They are organic elements capable of being
radiocarbon dated, and which can thus usefully contribute to
the date of the images.
Don’t camp on the
sites nor make fires near them. Take your rubbish away with
you, and add to the cleanliness of the locality by also
taking away the rubbish that careless visitors may have left
Take photos, make
drawings, take notes. Leave on the spot only your footmarks.
Always remember that touching the images, in one way or
another, contributes to their destruction.
In one sentence :
« Look, don’t touch ! »
To download and print the AARS Charter, click on the
This document can be freely used and duplicated,
subject to the clear and explicit mention at the
and on each page of its origin : © AARS.
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