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 IFRAO Report No. 36


IFRAO Global State of the Art

with the UISPP 15th Congress

Lisbon, 4 &endash; 9 September 2006


As a world non-governmental organisation, IFRAO has organised major international rock art congresses since 1988. These took place in countries as diverse as Australia, Bolivia, India, Italy, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa and the United States. In 2006, the IFRAO Congress coincides with the 15th Congress of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP) in Portugal.

An invitation to this three-day event is extended to researchers and members of the IFRAO organisations, who are warmly asked to present the most relevant discoveries, studies and trends in the field of rock art studies from the last decade. Our sessions will be concurrent with the other sessions and workshops of the UISPP 15th Congress. The IFRAO Congress President will be Jean Clottes (Association pour le Rayonnement de L'Art Pariétal Européen and Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées, France) and it will be chaired by Mila Simões de Abreu (APAAR, Portugal) and Hipolito Collado (Colectivo Barbon, Spain)



The IFRAO Global State of the Art (IGSA) will be arranged in geographical or thematic sessions proposed both by the organisers and by participants.

Each session will be co-ordinated by at least two persons from two different countries. The co-ordinators will be responsible for the organisation before, during and after their session. This includes invitations, call for papers and selection of papers, chairing the session and pre- and post-editing of material for the website or book. The final date for acceptance of new sessions will be 30 September 2005.

All aspects of global rock art studies will be addressed, with emphasis on current concerns and developments, the future direction of the discipline and its global priorities. The title, summary and keywords should be sent directly to the session co-ordinators or to the secretariat of IFRAO by 31 December 2005. Later arrivals may be considered, depending on the discretion of the session co-ordinators. Summaries will be published on the official website prior to their presentation. Final texts should include congress feedback.

The official languages will be English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.



Lisbon is Portugal's capital, a modern cosmopolitan city steeped in tradition. Inhabited since the Palaeolithic, Lisbon has a Roman past that can be seen in ruins like ones of the Roman Theatre in the 'Baixa' (downtown). Alfama and other surrounding quarters inherited an Arabic tradition and are among the few old areas that survived the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 1755. In the monument zone of Belém (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which includes the National Archaeological Museum in the monastery of Jerónimos, you can step back to the age of the first voyages around the oceans. The Parque das Nações is a new part of Lisbon, built for the remarkably successful EXPO 98. The surrounding beaches and seaside towns make Lisbon a pleasant place to visit with all the family.

The UISPP congress and IFRAO sessions will take place in the Faculdade de Letras in the 'City' of the University of Lisbon. The venue can be easily reached by public and private transport from all parts of town. It is close to the airport and places like the Colombo shopping centre and the football stadiums of Sporting and Benfica.



Besides a free trip during the Congress, participants can take part in a selection of special excursions to rock art sites in Portugal and Spain covering different chronologies and techniques. Excursions, both before and after the UISPP congress, will be guided by researchers and include rock art sites in the Tejo/Tagus Valley, Douro/Côa, Spanish Extremadura and Palaeolithic caves. A grand-tour will take in sites in both Portugal and Spain.



This will be through the UISPP congress. Please see general information in

For further information about the 15th UISPP congress see the official web page




Activities by TARA (Trust of African Rock Art)

Community rock art projects. TARA is working with local communities to conserve rock art and earn tourism resources from it. Anigourane, a rock art organisation created in Niger following the first recording of the now famous Dabous giraffe site, is our longest-running community (Tuareg) partner. More recently the Abasuba Community Peace Museum has partnered with TARA and the National Museums of Kenya to manage rock art sites in western Kenya. 

South African President opens African Rock Art Museum. Located in attractive modern premises, the Origins Centre's first phase, devoted entirely to rock art, was opened by President Thabo Mbeki on March 8th in Johannesburg. Find out more at 

Northern Kenya survey trip. In January and February, David Coulson travelled to northern Kenya along with Dr Mulu Muia, archaeologist at the National Museums of Kenya, and Tilman Hochmüller from the German Embassy in Nairobi, which had provided funding for the expedition. The group who were accompanied by Dr Abdullahi Shongolo, an anthropologist working in northern Kenya, recorded a fine-line giraffe painting in the area south of Moyale which is very interesting as the nearest other fine-line red painting so far recorded in East Africa is hundreds of miles to the south in northern Tanzania. A remarkable petroglyph of a horse's hoof further south was also recorded, which is the first horse-related art so far seen in Kenya. Very interestingly, after the trip Dr Shongolo has sent us a text message to indicate that he has seen paintings of horses in northern Kenya and other carved hoof prints in southern Ethiopia. We are looking forward to finding out more from him when he is next in Nairobi. Petroglyphs and paintings of animal tracks (wild and domestic animals) are common throughout Africa but especially in north Africa. TARA has recorded hundreds of such images (lion pugmarks, gazelle tracks, porcupine tracks etc.) in the Sahara during the last ten years. Paintings and petroglyphs of human foot prints and hand prints are also common.

Rock art exhibition moves to Kisumu. TARA's rock art exhibition closed in Kampala, Uganda, after four months and 22 900 visitors. It has moved to the Kisumu Museum in western Kenya where it will stay about three months. Thereafter the Arusha Museum is interested in having the exhibition; TARA is presently looking for financial support for the exhibition to be shown at this venue as well as other museums in this region (northern Tanzania).

TARA participation in Hazina exhibition. TARA is co-operating with the National Museums of Kenya and the British Museum to provide rock art images and information in support of a major temporary exhibition to open at the Old PC's office in Nairobi entitled: Hazina [treasures]: traditions, trade and transitions in eastern Africa. The British Museum is lending artefacts from their collection for their first east African showing.

Public rock art sites added to TARA website. We are constantly updating our website and the latest is that we have added some contact information for rock art sites open to public visitation: Please contact us to add your site to our page &emdash; especially with a website link.

The Trust for African Rock Art is dedicated to the awareness and preservation of African rock art. It is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation, registered in Kenya and U.S.A. TARA's photos of African rock art have been seen by millions on CNN as well as in National Geographic and many other international publications. TARA is creating a continent-wide digital archive of rock art images, and expanding its collaboration with museums and educational institutions across Africa. The Trust is also working to develop an information network for public policy issues in African rock art. TARA's work has been endorsed by Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.




The Honourable Head of Iran's Cultural Heritage

Archaeology and Tourism

Research Centre


I am Jamal Lahafian, a researcher of Kurdistan rock art and a member to the Australian Rock Art Association (AURA). As you know, there are abundant rock art sites left from the ancient times in different parts of Iran. Almost since 1969, research carried out on this has been individual and unintegrated, appearing in reports of a few lines. No expert work has been done on this pre-Historic art and it is left without any scientific study and preservation.

As you know, many organisations in different countries are scientifically studying rock art. These organisations have formed the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO). I suggest and appeal to you as the head of the Research Centre to prepare the ground for the establishment of a rock art organisation called 'Iran's Rock Art Association' in accordance with the constitution of IFRAO.

Evidently, the Research Centre can invite those who have conducted research in this regard and archaeologists interested in rock art to hold meetings and prepare the way for establishing the association. Thus a scientific and comprehensive work can be done to perform research on and preserve rock art according to research standards so that petroglyphs and pictograms in different parts of Iran can be put on the agenda of the association.


Faithfully yours,

Jamal Lahafian