The history of African Art is a complex and controversial topic. Historians, archaeologists, and researchers all have their own opinions on influences and the origins of the various types of arts. The majority of the controversy is which culture derived their arts from that of another culture and where each art was born.
Rock art displays many similarities between cultures, but also you can see that different African regions have distinct styles. There is a debate on when certain rock art was actually produced; scientists have done their best to dissect the rock art into categories based on their time of creation. The earliest period of rock art is called the Bubalus period. Most of the rock art in this period consisted of mostly carvings or engravings. The engravings were mostly of wildlife that was around in that period, most likely the act of hunters. The most common carving was of Antiqus, which scientists" believe was a form of cattle with large horns. Recent findings have shown that Antiqus" were actually domesticated cattle which would imply that the earliest Saharan rock art is no older than 5,000 B.C. .
The next period was named the Roundhead period by Henri Lhote after the round headed figures of the paintings. There is an overlap in time with the Bubalus engravings, the animals seem to be the same, and the human-like figures express a very high degree of imagery which seems to show a more developed society, that has established religious beliefs and rituals. The exact dating of this period is also controversial, with a range as much as 5,000 years between different researchers. Most researchers believe that this period was sometime between 6,000 and 4,000 B.C.
(Roundhead rock painting).
The next period is called the Bovidian or cattle herder period. This period is responsible for the most rock art sites, including both engravings and paintings. Pictures of wild animals decrease, and the focus shifts more towards cattle.