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Laas Geel: A Glimpse into Ancient Somaliland – Mysteries Tied to the Queen of Sheba

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Discover the secrets of Laas Geel, Somaliland’s ancient cave paintings, and explore their intriguing connections to the Queen of Sheba, ancient Jewish history, and the prophetic legends of King Solomon.

By Kasim Abdulkadir:

Laas Geel, located near Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, is a site of exceptional archaeological significance. Discovered in 2002 by a team of French archaeologists, the cave paintings at Laas Geel are estimated to be around 10,000 years old, making them some of the oldest and best-preserved examples of rock art in Africa. These vibrant paintings, which depict cattle in ceremonial robes, human figures, and wildlife, offer a fascinating glimpse into the life and culture of early inhabitants of the Horn of Africa.

The Significance of Laas Geel

The name “Laas Geel” translates to “The Camels’ Well” in Somali, indicative of the pastoralist culture that the paintings portray. The site consists of approximately twenty rock shelters of varying sizes, with the largest being around ten meters long and five meters deep. The natural granite overhangs have protected the paintings from the elements, allowing the vibrant colors and intricate designs to remain remarkably intact over millennia.

Connections to the Queen of Sheba and Ancient Jewish Links

While Laas Geel itself does not have direct evidence linking it to the Queen of Sheba or Jewish history, the broader region of Somaliland holds many untapped archaeological potentials that could reveal more about ancient connections. The Queen of Sheba, a figure steeped in legend and mentioned in both the Bible and the Quran, is traditionally associated with the ancient Kingdom of Saba, which some historical texts place in the Horn of Africa. Although definitive archaeological evidence connecting the Queen of Sheba to specific sites in Somaliland is still lacking, the region’s historical richness suggests that further discoveries could shed light on these ancient narratives.

Prophetic and Solomonic Connections

The lore of King Solomon, known for his wisdom and his ability to communicate with animals and djinn, also intertwines with the legends of the Horn of Africa. While there is no concrete evidence linking Solomon directly to Laas Geel, the oral traditions and historical texts of the region often mention the grandeur of Solomon’s reign and his connections to various parts of Africa.

Written Texts and Rock Art

The rock art at Laas Geel does not contain written texts but is purely pictorial. However, other sites in Somaliland, such as Dhagah Kureh and Dhagah Nabi Gelay, feature ancient inscriptions that are believed to be among the earliest forms of writing in the region. These sites provide invaluable context for understanding the development of written language and communication in ancient Somali cultures.

Preservation and Tourism

Efforts have been made to preserve the Laas Geel paintings, which are threatened by both natural and human activities. Digital documentation projects, such as those by CyArk and ICCROM, aim to protect and share this heritage with the world. These efforts not only safeguard the site but also promote Somaliland as a destination for cultural tourism, drawing visitors interested in exploring its rich history and heritage.

Laas Geel stands as a testament to the ancient peoples of Somaliland and their profound connection to their environment and spirituality. As more research and exploration continue, there is hope that new discoveries will further illuminate the ancient ties that connect this region to broader historical narratives, including those of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

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