The Cave of Swimmers is a cave with ancient rock art in the mountainous Gilf Kebir plateau of the Libyan Desert section of the Sahara. The Cave of Swimmers was first brought to popular attention by David Roberts’ book, The Cave Painters. The Cave’s name derives from the images found within it that show people swimming.
The Cave of Swimmers is approximately in area, with a network of different chambers and passages. It has five entrances in total, with one that is currently inaccessible due to debris. The Cave’s art includes depictions of animals such as giraffe and cattle, but also human figures. The Cave was used for ritual burials at some point between 8,000 BC and 300 AD. Many of the Cave’s chambers contain images that are very difficult to see with the naked eye; this meant that before electricity entered the Cave in 1985, it was virtually inaccessible.
The Cave is open to visitors year-round, though at night it can be accessed via jeep only with a professional guide. There are three different tour options available to tourists, lasting from 35 minutes to 2 hours and 45 minutes respectively.
In David Roberts’ book Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists, he states that “the Cave of Swimmers is a unique desert cave with ancient rock art depicting people swimming.” When discussing Cave Rock Art, he goes on to state that Cave is unique in the sense that it includes “the only known ancient art depicting swimming.”
Frequently Asked Questions About the Cave of Swimmers
How was the Cave of Swimmers discovered?
The cave and rock art was discovered in October 1933 by the Hungarian explorer László Almásy. He found the paintings after noticing markings on the surface of some boulders while flying over the area in his De Havilland Mosquito airplane. Almásy reported his discovery to British Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, who excavated and photographed the cave between December 1933 and March 1934.
What are some of the theories about why the Cave of Swimmers was formed?
The Cave of Swimmers was formed by the erosion of soft limestone by water. Over time, rain and groundwater slowly dissolve the limestone, creating a network of tunnels and caves. The name “Cave of Swimmers” comes from the ancient Egyptian paintings that depict people swimming in the cave’s underground chambers.
What do you think the Cave of Swimmers signifies for humanity?
The Cave of Swimmers may represent an ancient underground water system that was once used by humans. It’s possible that the cave paintings in the cave were created by ancient people as a way to communicate and leave their mark on the world.
What was the most difficult part of exploring the cave?
It was difficult to explore the cave because of the darkness. The darkness made it difficult to see where you were going and what was in front of you. Additionally, the darkness made it difficult to navigate through the cave.
What was your favorite part of exploring the cave?
My favorite part of exploring the cave was the feeling of adventure and excitement I got from being in an unknown place. It was really cool to be in a dark, damp cave with all these different formations and wondering what else was hidden in the darkness.
Do you think the Cave of Swimmers is worth visiting?
Yes, I think the Cave of Swimmers is definitely worth visiting if you are in the area. It’s a beautiful cave with stunning rock formations and swimming pools. And it’s not too crowded, so you can enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
By Roland Unger, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link