» Home > In the News

Neolithic Art in the desert west of the Nile

21 May 2014

At http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/discovering-artists… … dating back between 7000 and 6000 years ago, during the Mid Holocene Warm Period, even earlier than the Pre-dynastic era, is a bit of rock art that is now under active research. In this instance, from the walls of a cave situated at Wadi el Obeiyid near the Farafra Oasis. They include drawings of a bovid (thought to be an oryx) and a giraffe – and most importantly, depictions of two boats – engraved on a white chalk surface. So, we have chalk rock in North Africa – which is not surprising as the region has yielded up a lot of evidence of Middle Pleistocene flint and chert hand tools. The site is 600km SW of Cairo and the boat images are similar to Predynastic examples in the Nile Valey, it is thought (dating around 5500 years ago). Farafra's rock art is 400km south of the Mediterranean and 300km from the Nile – so what on earth are boat images doing in the desert?

Boat images are commonly found in the desert between the Nile and the Read Sea, along dry wadis, as recorded by David Rohl and others. The speculation in this piece is that people were moving from east to west in a nomadic way of life, and it seems reasonable to assume people did that. It is also a fact that the Sahara was wetter 7000 to 6000 years ago, and boats may have travelled along what were then watery wadis, deep into the interior of the Sahara. We also have Lake Chad which was much bigger and an ideal water body for boats to ply. However, there is also the possibility that the Pharaonic funerary barques, based on the design and concept of real boats, were heavenly phenomena – and non-earthly in nature. So, do we need to see these boats as 'ships in the desert' – and might they be travelling along the Nile in the Sky.

Skip to content