Hugely tall figures with huge heads found in ancient cave paintings – and the theories are wild

MYSTERIOUS figures painted on the wall of a cave in Tanzania have stunned archaeologists.

Dating back hundreds of years, the intricate artwork features three humanoid characters with extremely oversized heads.

Three humanoid figures with large heads depicted in cave art in Tanzania

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Three humanoid figures with large heads depicted in cave art in TanzaniaPhoto credit: M. Grzelczyk

They appear to have been depicted with stylized buffalo skulls, although the meaning behind them is unclear.

The drawing was discovered in 2018 in one of 52 previously undocumented rock shelters in Swaga Swaga Game Reserve.

Images of it, however, only came to light in a paper published last year by Maciej Grzelczyk, a researcher based in Poland.

The artwork is part of a figurative art frieze at a location called Amak’hee 4.

Painted with a mixture of red and white pigments, it is thought to date from the hunter-gatherer societies of the region.

The panel features animals resembling wildebeest, eland, buffalo and even a giraffe.

A handful of humanoid figures with large heads are also featured, with one group in particular standing out.

“Particularly notable among the paintings of Amak’hee 4 is a scene that revolves around three images,” wrote Grzelczyk, a researcher at Jagiellonian University’s Department of Religious Studies.

“In this trio, the characters appear to have stylized buffalo heads.

“These shapes are reminiscent of the central depression in the profile of the buffalo head, from where the two horns rise and then curve outward away from the head, and the downward-pointing ears.”

The culture of the Sandawe – descended from those who created the paintings – has no history of depicting people with buffalo heads, Grzelczyk said.

They are not known to believe in legends about humans being able to transform into buffalo, so the images may represent something else.

However, buffalo horns play an important role in some Sandawe rituals.

Nearby, two other paintings of shelters show similar trios of large, human-like figures with huge heads.

The meaning behind the buffalo-headed figures remains a mystery for now.

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Some of the rock art is still used by the Sandawe for ritual activities today, and local communities may be able to shed some light on what the figures mean.

The paper was published in the journal antiquity.

The artwork is part of a figurative art frieze at a location called Amak'hee 4

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The artwork is part of a figurative art frieze at a location called Amak’hee 4Photo credit: M. Grzelczyk
A diagram of the artwork. The large-headed figures are to the right of center

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A diagram of the artwork. The large-headed figures are to the right of centerPhoto credit: M. Grzelczyk
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9020906/tall-figures-giant-heads-ancient-cave-paintings/ Hugely tall figures with huge heads found in ancient cave paintings – and the theories are wild

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