Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oldest Art Found in Egypt Discovered

Another little mini-break from posting due to heavy workload between grad school, dayjob and home stuff now banished.

Of interest today in the scientific world, via Nat'l Geo: the oldest art work ever discovered in Egypt, quite similiar to engravings found with the French Lascaux cave paintings dating from about the same time period - 15,000 years ago.

"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 interesting item from this is that the engravings were actually discovered in 1962, but pretty much ignored by the archaeological community given the widespread theory (since disproved by additional evidence discovered in Southern Africa and Australia) that Europe was the "cradle" of Paleolithic artworks. The Egyptian engravings are almost identical to those found in France, whose own engravings vastly outnumber their more famous rock paintings.

The really interesting thing about these discoveries is the artistic similarities given their geographic dispersion. One has to wonder if the evidence we have discovered about hunter-gatherer tool sets from this period in these regions are also similar or if they have significant differences. Any differences in the tool set might help us understand how widespread the diaspora from Africa was and how quickly it occurred.

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