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About Wadi Sura

Wadi Sura - The Valley of Pictures

Wadi Sura (the "Valley of Pictures") is located at the southwestern base of the Gilf Kebir plateau close to the border of Libya. The name is intrinsically tied to the famous "Cave of Swimmers", a rock shelter showing paintings of animals and human figures. Among the latter a number of procumbent figures by their unusual posture gave reason to the spectacular interpretation that they represent swimmers in the desert.

In 1996 the Oscar awarded movie "The English Patient" raised worldwide interest in the mysteries of the Libyan Desert. One of the protagonists of the drama is the desert explorer László Almásy. The plot of the movie was fictional, based on a novel by Michael Ondaatje, but certain characters and scenes referred on real persons and locations. The "Cave of Swimmers" at Wadi Sura does exist, as well as László Almásy, who discovered the cave in 1933 when he was leading the first archaeological expedition, the German DIAFE 11 with Leo Frobenius, Hans Rhotert, and Elisabeth Pauli, to Gilf Kebir and Jebel Ouenat. In 1935, in the frame of DIAFE 12, Rhotert returned to the site for a systematic recording of the rock art (Rhotert 1952), now without Almásy, but together with a large team of ethnographers, archaeologists, and graphic artists.

More information about the history and exploration of the Libyan Desert offers the Homepage of András Zboray.