» Home > In the News

Aurochs in Egypt

27 May 2012

World Current Archaeology 53 (June 2012) also has some other interesting articles. For example, some fascinating rock art has been found at el-Hosh, Qurta and Wadi Abi Subeira on the east bank of the Nile that is rather similar in style to European cave art (at Lascaux etc). It is at the same time unlike the rock art of the 4th millennium which is symbolic if the celestial boats are anything to go by, and conforms with Pre-Dynastic iconography. The new stuff is naturalistic with reasonable incised images of various animals, three quarters of which appear to be of aurochs (wild cattle). The role of the aurochs in the art may be what the art critics see as a similarity with the European cave art – in which aurochs also feature prominently, but the naturalistic style is the chronological marker it is argued, a style that was universal in time, the Late Palaeolithic period. Various other animals are also depicted and presumably were common to the Late Pleistocene in North Africa. Hybrid creatures and the odd human or anthropomorphic figure are also depicted but no C14 dating for the art has been done. What has been done is OSL methodology on sediments covering some of the rock art and this gave a date around 15,000 years ago (minimum) which is roughly the end of the Late Glacial Maximum. Quite apart from the fact that the event left a sedimentary signature it can safely be guessed the rock art pre-dates 15,000 years ago – but by how much is anyone's guess at the moment. The obvious conclusion, which is reached, is that the rock art is contemporary with the cave art in Europe, which dates between 40,000 and 13,000 years ago – but why do they portray the same fascination with aurochs, after all they are a long way apart? The key might be the association of aurochs, or bull aurochs, with a particular region of the sky, the constellation of Taurus.

There are articles on Pamphylia, Vanuatu in the Pacific, and several other subjects. You can buy the latest issue in WH Smiths nowadays – worth a browse.

Skip to content