Culture and Heritage

Somaliland is a land of great historical interest, with coastal trade links to ancient Egypt and to the other classical civilizations such as the Adal Sultanate, Ming Empire (China) Ottoman (Turks) and the British.

The interior of the country is scattered with intriguing rock art sites, mysterious sites, and other monuments of a complex pastoral society that dates back well over 10,000 years. The oldest direct evidence of human habitation of Somaliland is Acheulean stone blades and flint tool discovered in the vicinity of Hargeisa (Capital City) and in caves along the Golis Mountains. The sites where these tools were discovered have not been subjectedto modern dating techniques, but various sources place them at between 12,000 and 40,000 BC. Almost nothing is known about these Stone Age habitants of Somaliland beyond the fact that they were nomadic hunter-gatherers (Somali Heritage).

A more revealing of ancient human activity in Somaliland is the Neolithic rock art sites, preserved thanks to the dry climate. The most famous of these is Laas-Geel, located approximately 50km north of Hargeisa. However, numerous other rock art paintings and engraving sites are scattered around the country, and the likelihood is that others remain to be discovered. Given their great antiquity, these paintings unambiguously demonstrate that Somaliland supported one of the world’s earliest pastoral livestock herding societies, dating back some 6,000 to 9,000 years, several millennia before pastoralism was adopted in Europe or Asia. The art that adorns the rocks also appears to have a strong spiritual dimension, bearing in mind that any paintings made on a less durable or protected surface would have vanished.  It probably represents a tiny surviving fragment relict of Somaliland’s sophisticated Neolithic artistic tradition (Somali Heritage).

 Somaliland possesses the richest concentration of rock art of East Africa with many almost entirely unpublished sites of Neolithic polychrome paintings. On the other hand, it constitutes a very rich reserve of pre-Islamic funerary megaliths, including thousands of tombs whose architectural forms are often original and have not yet been studied by archaeologists(Somaliland Gov).