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Nyero Rock Paintings Uganda

Nyero Rock Paintings Uganda : This is situated high on top of the hill and has a good view of the surrounding countryside. The Nyero rock paintings are located in eastern Uganda in Kumi district 8 km (5.0 mi) west of Kumi town, about 250 km (155.3 mi) from the capital city Kampala. The site comprises of six discrete painted panels set within a few hundred metres of each other on a prominent granite outcrop called Moru Ikara.  Panel one is far less elaborate consisting of six sets of white concentric circles and a few ‘acacia pod’ figures. Panel two is the most impressive one with a 6m high rock face reached via a narrow cleft between two immense boulders. At least 40 sets of red concentric circles are partially visible on the face. At the top right is a very faded painting of three zebras and the most striking naturalistic figures on the panel are two large canoes of which one is about 1.5m long and evidently carrying people. Panel three consists of one white set of concentric circles on the roof of a low rock shelter and the remaining three panels are very faded or damaged.

There are traces of red pigment forming two finger-painted outlines of small oval shapes and a slanting L-shape as well as an outlined cross with a small circle below. The red pigments were created by scraping the surface of a ferruginous rock, while white paint was derived from a combination of clay, dung and sap, and black from oxidized organic matter such as charcoal and burned fat. The painted surface is exfoliating and is open to the rain and morning sun. The Iteso people who have inhabited the region for the last 300 years reckon that the art has always been there. Iteso tradition does relate that the region’s rock shelters were formerly occupied by a short, light-skinned race of people and excavations at Nyero have unearthed several microlithic tools of type not used by the iteso, most likely used by hunter gatherers with ethnic and cultural affiliations who were responsible for much of the rock art in southern Africa and the paintings must be above 300 years old. A little trek and a bit of climbing are involved, but it is all worth it to see rock art dated back before 1250 AD. The rocks were first documented in 1913 and were a part of the tradition of illustrations in red pigment, common throughout Africa.

Getting there

About halfway along the surfaced road between Mbale and Soroti, head west from the main crossroads in Kumi on to the Ngora Road for 8km, passing through the tiny trading centre of Nyero, then 2km later you will see the 100m side road to the rock art site signpost clearly to the right. Any public transport between Kumi and Ngora can also drop you there.

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