Project supported by:



In cooperation with Lionel Galand, Robert Bednarik, Marcos Sarmiento.

Many researchers publish in a foreign language, different from their mother tongue. Some of them are excellent rock art researchers but are not well acquainted with special terms of epigraphy and linguistic.
Therefore, a considerable confusion of terms took place among publications dealing with the topic of Libyco-Berber inscriptions. Unfortunately it became usual in reports about North African rock art to denominate each rock inscription - ancient or recent - as Tifinagh/Tifinar. Even the Unicode proposal for the encoding of the "Tifinagh script" uses terms like "Berber alphabet", "Tifinagh script", Libyan-Berber script", "Sahara Tifinagh", "Old Tuareg" or "Tuareg Tifinagh" in an undifferentiated way.
Basing upon first attempts on detailed aspects of this topic (Galand 1992, Bednarik 2000, Galand-Pernet 2006) we present a multilingual "concordance of terms" useful for every treatment with this database.

Englisch French German Spanisch
rock art art rupestre Felsbild arte rupestre
inscription inscription Inschrift inscripción

According to WIKIPEDIA:
     "writing on durable material"
     "letters inscribed on something"
     "something written on another thing"

For the purpose of this database: the representation of at least two signs which are known as part of an alphabet forming a line of script. Single signs like a cross or a circle could have been created as representations of the phonemes /t/ and /r/ but they cannot be identified as script in comparison to other representations of the signs "cross" or "circle".

panel panneau Paneel panel

A rock art motif or a group of motifs occurring in very close proximity on a rock surface of reasonably uniform orientation.

context contexte Kontext contexto

In the most restricted sense of the word: additional anthropic representations on the same rock panel. In case of the LBI-database: in addition to the inscription.
Also: "Context on site": additional inscriptions and/or representations on other panels of the same rock art site.

relation relation Beziehung relación

The connection between the inscription and the context on the panel concerning technique, "style", patina, superimpositions etc.

composition composition Komposition composición

The arrangement of the parts of a rock art panel so as to form a meaningfully juxtaposed whole.

Englisch French German Spanisch
type of rock type de rocher Art des Felsens Tipo de roca
shelter abri (paroi d'un abri) Felsüberhang abrigo

A concavity in a rock wall formed by natural processes, most commonly of erosion.

cliff (=wall) rocher (paroi d'un rocher) Felswand pared de la roca

A vertical rock surface.

boulder bloc Felsblock bloque

The largest fraction of gravel with more than 250 mm in diameter.

slab dalle Felsplatte losa

A horizontal or slightly inclined rock surface.

Englisch French German Spanisch
techniques techniques Techniken méthodos, técnicas
scratched incised incisé gekratzt, geritzt rayado, técnica incisa

A shallow linear incision of a rock surface produced with a single application of a pointed tool.

engraved gravé graviert grabado

A deeper linear incision produced through repeated abrasive movement of a tool.

pecked piqueté punziert picado

A rock marking produced by a process of percussion.

rubbed effacé geschabt raspado

A removal of the patina or weathering zone through abrasion.

painted peint gemalt pintado

The application of a liquid mixture of at least a pigment and a solvent.

Englisch French German Spanisch
peoples/ cultures peuple/ cultures Völker/ Kulturen pueblos/ culturas
Berber les Berbères Berber bereber

An ethnic group indigenous to Northwest Africa since ancient times. The term itself doesn't exist in their own language, they call themselves "Imazighen" (which is said to mean "free men").

Libyan les Libyens Libyer libio

Derived from the Egyptian term "Libu" which refers to one of the ancient peoples living west of the Nile. The term is also used for today's inhabitants of Libya.

Numidian les Numides Numidier númida

One of the ancient populations of North Africa, connected with the Numidian kingdoms.

Englisch French German Spanisch
language/ script langue/ écriture Sprache/ Schrift lengua/ escritura
Berber le berbère berberisch bereber

Collective term for today's languages of North Africa like Tachelhit, Tamazight, Rifain etc.

Libyc/Libyan le libyque libysch líbico

Collective term for ancient languages spoken in North Africa before the Islamic colonization (?).
Unfortunately the term "Libyc" is not usual in English. Thus it is not easy to distinguish between peoples/cultures and languages/scripts.

Numidic/Numidian le numidique numidisch númidia

In older publications used in the same sense as "Libyc/Libyan" in allusion to the Numidian kingdoms. The term "Numidic" is not usual.

Libyco-Berber le libyco-berbère libysch-berberisch líbico-bereber

Collective term for the whole family of scripts written in North Africa from ancient times till today.

Tifinagh le tifinagh/tifinar Tifinagh tifinagh

The modern script of the Touareg people.

Englisch French German Spanisch
epigraphy épigraphie Epigraphie epigrafía
sign signe Zeichen signo

An entity that stands for another, a referrer.
A circle can be a sign for "sun", "totality", "completeness", "infinity" and - in LB alphabets - a sign for the phoneme /r/.

character letter caractère, lettre Buchstabe, Letter carácter, letra

A sign that is conventionally used to represent a phoneme of a spoken language.

alphabet alphabet Alphabet alfabeto

A set of letters formed by convention.

grapheme graphème Graphem grafema

All of the letters and letter combinations that represent a phoneme.
E.g. f, ph, gh for /f/: four, phase, enough

allograph allogramme Allograph alógrafo

Different graphic representations (= glyphs) of one grapheme: a, a, a, A. Often called variants of a character.

ligature ligature Ligatur ligadura

Two or more letters joined as a single glyph: ? = ? plus ? = RT in Tifinagh alphabets

digraph digramme Digraphie dígrafo

Two graphemes for a single phoneme: engl. ship

bilingue bilingue Bilingue bilingüe

One text written in two languages on the same panel (often in two scripts as well).

biscript ? Biskript biescrito

One text written in two different scripts (but in one language) on the same panel. Unfortunately these terms are not at all usual to distinguish such inscriptions from bilingues.

transliteration translitération Transliteration transliteración

The practice of transcribing a text written in one writing system into another writing system.

transcription transcription, notation Transkription transcripción

The practice of mapping the sounds of one language to the script of another language.

translation traduction Übersetzung traducción

The practice of changing the preserving meaning into another language.

For further terms concerning rock art search at the ROCK ART GLOSSARY of AURANET: