In some of the harshest landscapes discovered wherever in Egypt, archaeologists have found a shocking assortment of petroglyphs (rock artwork) and inscriptions that date from the fifth millennium BC up by way of the first millennium AD. The former pictures are particularly exceptional, since they present that the roots of the revered historical Egyptian tradition might be traced all the method again to the Neolithic interval .
To ensure these prehistoric petroglyphs are recorded, Egyptologists from the University of Bonn in Germany and Aswan University in Egypt are planning to create a database of all the rock work they will discover in the southern Egyptian desert close to Aswan, the place most of these pictures are positioned. This is being achieved no less than partially as a result of the rock artwork is at the moment threatened by construction-related exercise going down in the space.
Petroglyphs: Egypt’s Timeless Artform
The tradition of historical Egypt has been studied, written about and explored by scientists and historians for hundreds of years. But earlier than the earliest pharaohs united the dispersed peoples of Egypt round 3,100 BC, a wealthy and vibrant tradition had already developed in the area. The earliest rock artwork in the nation was left by artists who lived between 5 and 7 thousand years in the past, and the iconography and elegance of their work clearly distinguishes it from engravings left by the historical Egyptians of pharaonic occasions .
“This cultural treasure in the northeast of Aswan has been largely undocumented, not to mention printed,” Egyptologist and acclaimed petroglyph discoverer Dr. Ludwig Morenz of the University of Bonn mentioned in a press launch issued by his college. He identified that almost all of the Neolithic petroglyphs are present in distant spots in dry riverbeds (referred to as ‘wadis’ in Arabic).
Unfortunately, students could not have a lot time left to study extra about Neolithic Egyptian tradition by learning these rock pictures. There are issues about how for much longer this unbelievable storehouse of cultural data from prehistoric occasions will stay protected from hurt—and therefore the urgency to create a complete database of the prehistoric imagery, earlier than it’s too late.
The drawback is the relentless advance of fashionable civilization, which has completely different priorities than the historical inhabitants of what was thought-about a sacred area.
“Especially lately, there has already been critical destruction of this cultural asset,” mentioned Dr. Morenz, who performed a key function in the discovery of these really historical pictures.
Some of the petroglyphs, that are primarily comprised of light dots that the untrained eye will wrestle to see, have been defaced or destroyed by quarrying going down in the space. This damaging exercise is rising, and there’s a worry that many if not most of the historical rock work will ultimately be broken if nothing is finished to reverse present traits.
“Such losses can hardly be prevented fully, given the vastness of the space,” Dr. Morenz conceded, “however all the extra essential is no less than good documentation.”
If the lots of of petroglyphs and their accompanying descriptions are precisely and completely documented by way of pictures and mapping, they may by no means be fully misplaced to historical past, regardless of what occurs to them bodily.
Seeking the True Origins of Ancient Egyptian Art and Religion
Working intently with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the University of Bonn’s Egyptology Department has already documented just a few of the petroglyphs and inscriptions.
“These rock pictures are an excellent treasure for science, which will likely be systematically developed in the coming years in cooperation between the University of Bonn, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and particularly the Aswan Inspectorate,” mentioned Aswan University doctoral candidate Mohamed Abdel Hay Abu Baker, who’s main the present examine of rock pictures in the Aswan Inspectorate.
Abu Baker will likely be collaborating with University of Bonn consultants to create an intensive archive of rock artwork pictures present in the southern Egyptian desert, motivated by the hope that there’s nonetheless time to full this bold and traditionally essential challenge earlier than the destruction is simply too in depth.
Among the pictures that Abu Baker has found and recorded to this point, one specifically has drawn so much of consideration. This picture was from the latter half of the fourth millennium BC, and the petroglyph reveals a ship being pulled with a rope by 25 males with raised arms.
Predynastic rock picture, with ruler boat being pulled by 25 folks, ca. 3200 BC, Wadi al Agebab. (© Mohamed Abdel Hay Abu Baker )
According to Dr. Lorenz, it is a depiction of a ritual often called the nice procession of the gods. Filled with sacred iconography, this image reveals very important particulars about the metaphysical beliefs of folks dwelling round 3,200 BC, or not lengthy earlier than the first pharaohs created a united Egypt and launched the historical Egyptian tradition.
“This rock picture offers us insights into the sacred design of an apparently distant panorama, the Wadi al Agebab,” Dr. Morenz defined.
During excavations that began in 2015, Dr. Morenz himself was credited with the discovery of many desirable rock work courting to Neolithic occasions . This included a faint however nonetheless distinguishable depiction of a searching scene close to the Qubett el-Hawa necropolis simply outdoors Aswan. Notably, this discovery occurred in an space the place rock artwork from historical Egyptian occasions was additionally current in abundance. This highlighted the cultural continuity that related the long-lost Neolithic folks of southern Egypt with those that lived throughout the legendary pharaonic interval (3,100 to 332 BC).
With respect to the picture of the precession of the gods, its discovery could present clues as to how rock artwork developed as a showcase for spiritual concepts and experiences.
“Here, the excessive significance of faith and particularly the cult of the gods in the nonetheless pre-Egyptian society of the second half of the Fourth Millennium is revealed as a culture-creating issue,” Dr. Morenz mentioned.
Once the new database is full, the consultants will likely be in a position to additional discover the similarities and the variations between Neolithic interval Egyptians and their far more closely studied successors, to assist hint the improvement of the area’s distinctive cultural and metaphysical ideas.
Top picture: Predynastic rock artwork – with ruler boat procession, ca. 3200 BC, Wadi al Agebab. Source: © Mohamed Abdel Hay Abu Baker
By Nathan Falde