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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Discovered Upper Egyptian Late Paleolithic rock art

Via Tim (not yet at
Remote Central due to technical issues but soon to come).

The 51st issue of the International Newsletter on Rock Art (PDF) reveals the impressive findings at Qurta, not far from Edfu, in Upper Egypt, described as the Côa of Africa.

The open-air art complex includes many engravings like the one above, mostly of bovids. Unlike later pre-Dynastic art, these images show a strong sense of naturalism and movement, they also tend to represent individuals rather than scenes, the figures can be pretty large (as much as 80 cm) and sometimes they integrate the irregularities of the wall in the drawing itself. Human figures (rare) are, unlike animal ones very schematic. In all this they resemble other late UP art of Europe and Anatolia.

The author, Dirk Huyge, suggests a date of 16-15,000 years BP, based on the C14 datations of the UP settlements found just under them and in nearby areas, belonging to the Ballanian-Silisian culture, whose members hunted precisely the animals represented in these murals.

Huyge ponders that the style similitudes with Western European art are impressive though the kind of influence that could have moved this style through such long distances is impossible to determine on light of the available evidence (scarce for North African Paleolithic). They says that only one expert has criticised this datation, Jean-Loïc Le Quellec, who claims instead an stylistic connection with the so-called Bubaline-Naturalistic art of the Saharan Neolithic. The author replies arguing that this style is not as naturalistic as its name suggest but rather somewhat caricaturesque of the criatures imaged and pondering the diferent kind of fauna depicted and archaeologically known to have existed in Upper Egypt in the different periods.

Another discovery mentioned is the increase in more of 500 items in the account of the rock art of the Yagour area of Moroccan Western High Atlas. The overall importance and diversity of the North African rock art is also considered in yet another article.

There is also an article on the very serious conservation issues at Lascaux cave (Aquitaine), plus another on the Interpretation Center of Candamo cave (Asturias), that has opened a replica of the original cave for visitors.


Tim Jones said...

It's a pretty good paper, I think I wrote a post on the site some time ago, interesting comment on the possible dating.

I'm back online, lots of blogs were taken down by Blogger spam-bots wrongly flagging potential splogs.

Maju said...

Hi, Tim. Glad that you are back online. I told you it looked like an error. The problem may come to bloggers that are maybe on vacation, I suspect.

The dates and reasoning mentioned is all from the original article (just synthesized). It would seem clear is late UP: their reasoning is pretty solid, IMO. That doesn't mean it did not influence (or maybe even originate somehow) the Neolithic Saharan art.

My personal wonder is about its origins anyhow. Is it a local developement or is it actually linked with European rock art? And, if so, how? I am really tempted to make Oranian culture a bridge between Europe and Egypt but I don't know that Oranian had any artwork of this kind. The other possible "bridge" might be at Anatolian Baldibian culure, also with European affinities (at least in what regards to mural art) but it is almost as distant as Iberian sites from Qurta.