Egypt's Oldest Known Art Identified, Is 15,000 Years Old
2007 07 16
Dan Morrison | news.nationalgeographic.com
Etchings at Qurta, located about 400 miles (640 kilometers) south of Cairo, Egypt, depict a now extinct species of wild cow.
The rediscovered artwork—similar in look and age to iconic paintings in Spain and France—pushes "Egyptian art, religion, and culture back to a much earlier time," archaeologists say.
Photographs courtesy Dirk Huyge
Rock face drawings and etchings recently rediscovered in southern Egypt are similar in age and style to the iconic Stone Age cave paintings in Lascaux, France, and Altamira, Spain, archaeologists say.
"It is not at all an exaggeration to call it 'Lascaux on the Nile,'" said expedition leader Dirk Huyge, curator of the Egyptian Collection at the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, Belgium.
"The style is riveting," added Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo, who was part of Huyge's team.
The art is "unlike anything seen elsewhere in Egypt," he said.
The engravings—estimated to be about 15,000 years old—were chiseled into several sandstone cliff faces at the village of Qurta, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) south of Cairo (Egypt map).
Of the more than 160 figures found so far, most depict wild bulls. The biggest is nearly six feet (two meters) wide.
The drawings "push Egyptian art, religion, and culture back to a much earlier time," Ikram said.
The team's findings will be published in the September issue of the British quarterly journal Antiquity.
Before Its Time
The Qurta art has now twice been uncovered by modern researchers.
Some of the engravings were first found in 1962 by a group from the University of Toronto, Canada.
The leader of that expedition, Philip Smith, made the then novel suggestion that the figures were from the Paleolithic age—the Stone Age period from about 2.5 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago—in a 1964 article in Archaeology magazine.
But he abandoned the hypothesis in later years.
"The Paleolithic experts told them, It's absolutely crazy—Europe is the cradle of art," Huyge, the leader of the new expedition, said. "And they backed off the idea.
"They must have accepted the fact that that nobody wanted to believe them, but they were right."
Discoveries of Paleolithic art in southern Africa and Australia since then have paved the way for the scientific community to accept what Smith first diffidently suggested, Huyge said.
Neither Smith, who has retired, nor his assistant on that expedition, Morgan Tamplin, now a professor emeritus at Trent University in Canada, could be reached for comment.
Huyge's March 2007 expedition strengthened the findings that Smith had discarded. The team found several additional panels of artwork over a 1-mile-long (1.66-kilometer-long) stretch of 230-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) sandstone cliffs.
There is "little doubt" the engravings are 15,000-years-old, Huyge said. They depict a now extinct species of wild cow whose horns have been recovered from Paleolithic settlements nearby.
The drawings would be examined for lichens and organic grime called "varnish rind" that could be carbon dated or subjected to another process known as uranium series dating, Huyge added. Because the rocks are inorganic, they cannot be dated directly using these methods.
In the meantime, the finding has raised a big question: How were people in Western Europe and southern Egypt producing almost identical artwork at the same time?
While the caves at Lascaux are best known for their painted images of bulls and cows, that artwork is actually outnumbered by stone engravings. And the Lascaux engravings are virtually identical to those in Qurta, Huyge pointed out.
"I'm not suggesting that the art in the caves of Lascaux was made by Egyptians or that [European] people were in Egypt," he said.
"The art is so similar that it reflects a similar mentality, a similar stage of development," he added. "When people are confronted with similar conditions, this will automatically lead to a similar kind of thinking, a similar creativity."
Now the archaeologists are on the hunt for additional—and potentially older—artwork.
"The rock art must be part of an evolution," Huyge said. "There must be older art in Egypt, if we can find it. I think open-air sites like Qurta will be found all over North Africa."
Article from: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/
Red Ice Creations Radio - Ralph Ellis - Egypt, The Hyksos, Pharaohs and the Bible
The Rise of the Rough Beast
Atlantis, Egypt, and Ireland?
Red Ice Creations Radio - Michael Tsarion Interviews
The Crystal Sun
Egyptians, not Greeks were true fathers of medicine
Deciphering of earliest Semitic text reveals talk of snakes and spells
Latest News from our Front Page
Military Says No Presidential Authorization Needed To Quell “Civil Disturbances”
2013 05 17
A recent Department of Defense instruction alters the US code applying to the military’s involvement in domestic law enforcement by allowing US troops to quell “civil disturbances” domestically without any Presidential authorization, greasing the skids for a de facto military coup in America along with the wholesale abolition of Posse Comitatus.
The instruction (embedded at the end of this article), which ...
Ancient Maya Pyramid Destroyed in Belize
2013 05 17
An archaeological group says it plans to take legal action.
Despite its small size, the Caribbean country of Belize is known for a few outstanding characteristics: a spectacular barrier reef, a teeming rain forest, and extensive Maya ruins.
It now has one fewer of those ruins.
A construction company in Belize has been scooping stone out of the major pyramid at the site ...
Ginger: A Warming Herb
2013 05 17
Ginger is an Asian herb that is particularly well known to us in the West. Over time, and with trial and error, its stimulating properties and piquant flavor have been integrated into both our herbal “materia medica” and cuisine.
Brewed as an herbal tea, ginger root is particularly helpful for those people who have underactive stomachs and difficulty producing adequate amounts ...
Australian man dead for 40 minutes revived with new CPR machine
2013 05 17
In an Australian first, doctors have used a new resuscitation technique to revive three patients who were clinically dead for up to an hour.
One of the lucky survivors was Colin Fiedler, 49, who was pronounced dead at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, after suffering a heart attack, The Herald Sun reported.
Doctors brought Fieldler back to life using a U.S.-made ...
How a pregnancy test for humans caused a wave of global extinctions
2013 05 17
The deadly fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been wiping out amphibian species across the globe for decades. But how did this global environmental disaster get started? A new study suggests that it came from doctors importing frogs for use in pregnancy tests.
Since the 1980s, amphibian species have experienced a sharp decline in their numbers. Some estimates suggest that 400 or more ...
|More News » |