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Ancient Rock Art in Egypt
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  11/15/11
By: Yona Williams

The advancements in technology have allowed archeologists to uncover hidden jewels of information that would have never seen the light of day otherwise. From ancient artifacts to physical records of history, researchers are constantly learning more about the humans that lived in the past. In this article, you will encounter some of the latest discoveries that have been taking place in Egypt.

Ancient Rock Art in Egypt

With the help of a technology called "optically stimulated luminescence" (also known as OSL), petroglyphs located along the banks of Egypt’s Nile River at Qurta have been dated to 15,000 years ago. If this is correct, then the rock art represents the oldest of its kind in Egypt. Before this discovery, some believed that the well-known cave art of the late Pleistocene in Europe was just an isolated case. With this find, Qurta helps North Africa's case of being one of the earliest civilizations that embraced this kind of artistic expression.

Using the optically stimulated luminescence on the rock art, a group of Belgian scientists and a professor from Yale University have assessed that the Egyptian petroglyphs are around 15,000 years old. It would stand for the earliest known graphic record in North Africa. If you are interested in learning more about the results, an article will appear in the December issue of Antiquity (Vol. 85 Issue 330).

The rock art is found on a site situated close to the modern village of Qurta, which is around 40 kilometers south of the Upper-Egyptian town called Edfu. The site was first visited by Canadian archaeologists during the early 1960s, but had been forgotten over the years. The rediscovery of the site was made public in 2007 in the Project Gallery of Antiquity.

The people responsible for creating the rock in Qurta are believed to have hammered and used tools to incise images that showed natural scenery. Wild animals were some of the images found on the rock. They also drew the now-extinct aurochs, which were ancestors of domestic cattle – a kind of large wild cattle. Features of the artwork have made it easier to date the find. Researchers looked at the subject matter, technique, and style, and compared it against the patina and degree of weathering. The drawings are associated with the late Palaeolithic period.

Another example of ancient rock art found in the world includes:

Stone Age cave painters decorated cave walls in France with horses. Interestingly, some of the animals had leopard spots on their bodies even though scientists have evidence that only single-colored horses existed during this time. The bones and teeth from more than 30 horses that date as far back as 35,000 years were analyzed by researchers, who concluded that horses from the past shared a gene that could produce a type of spotting that resembles leopards.


 

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