The name Messak Settafet & Mellet is also found
as Mesach Mellet & Settafed, and as Amsach Mellet & Settafed (as
in Google maps). In EWP's Djebel Akakus (Jebel Acacus) Tourist Map & Guide
they are marked as Msak Mustafit & Msak Mallat. The exposed stones
are covered with dark varnish colouring known as patina. This layer is apparently
a few microns thick of oxides of iron and manganese. Experts believe that the
sandstone does not contain such minerals and that its age, around 5000 years,
coincides with the period when this part of the Sahara was very wet and hence
the time when the patina was formed. The following engraving shows the light
sandstone beneath the patina:
The half-moon-shaped mountain range is located between Wadi Alajal from the north and Edhan Murzuk (or Murzuq) from the south, and it extends a few hundred kilometers south-west towards the sand dunes of Wan Casa, just before the eastern side of Acacus. The western part of this mountain range (near Acacus, or bottom-left in the above map) is Messak Mellet, and the eastern part of the plateau is Messak Settafet (top-right side of the map), which slowly dips to level with the sand dunes of Edhan Murzuq and thus appearing to be no more than a flat Hamada (rocky plain), where this tree still stands alone.
The engraving techniques include: grinding, pecking and scratching.
Generally the engraving was contoured by grinding a U- or V-shaped lines on the
rock, the strongest of which measure about 6 to 7 centimeters deep. The surface
stone varies in hardness from soft sandstone to rigid quartzite and pure silex
(flint). The initial lines were scratched, and then masterfully ground, probably
using water, to a beautiful finish. Some of these drafts can be found around
where the work was never finished.