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Yale: Art find in Egypt 15,000 years old

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« on: December 04, 2011, 06:20:47 pm »

Yale: Art find in Egypt 15,000 years old
John Burgeson, Staff Writer
Updated 11:36 p.m., Tuesday, November 29, 2011



    Belgian archaeologist Wouter Claes, a member of the research team, poses with a carving of wild cattle at the site near Quarta, Egypt. The art, from the late Palaeolithic period is the oldest art found in Egypt so far. Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed
    Belgian archaeologist Wouter Claes, a member of the research team, poses with a carving of wild cattle at the site near Quarta, Egypt. The art, from the late Palaeolithic period is the oldest art found in Egypt so far. Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed


Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Yale-Art-find-in-Egypt-15-000-years-old-2307625.php#ixzz1fcALhv6L

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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2011, 06:21:58 pm »



Detail of the rock art panel at the Qurta site, showing how the makers of the rock art used the relief of the rock surface to give a sense of volume and movement to their images. Photo: Contributed Photo /

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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2011, 06:23:00 pm »



Wooden scaffolding constructed to reach the rock art at the Qurta site in Egypt, which overlooks the Nile Valley. Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed



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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2011, 06:23:42 pm »

NEW HAVEN -- The words "ancient Egyptian art" brings to mind the popular tomb art found in the region of the Upper Nile, created between 5000 BC and about 300 AD.

As ancient as those works are, they're almost contemporary compared to what a Yale University professor and a team of Belgian scientists found in Qurta, Egypt -- rock carvings dating back to between 15,000 and 23,000 years ago. They are the oldest Egyptian works of art known to exist and are among the oldest art found anywhere.

The findings were announced in the December issue of Antiquity, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

These carvings are nothing like the familiar Egyptian carvings and paintings of man-beast gods, epic battles and the beauty of Nefertari. Rather, these newly discovered works offer views of animals that the Paleolithic hunters encountered -- mostly the wild predecessors of the domestic cattle of today. Other carvings, called petroglyphs, depict hippos and gazelles. Humans are found, too, among the drawings, but usually they are shown only as stick figures.

The researchers said that the carvings have more in common with the drawings found in Lascaux, the cave in France, as opposed to the art of the Egyptian dynasties. The Lascaux cave paintings have been dated to 17,300 years ago, or about the same era as this new discovery in Egypt.

"As such, they're not considered as Egyptian art, because it predates the appearance of Egyptian culture," said Yale's Colleen Manassa, assistant professor of Egyptology. She added that it even pre-dates "by a long shot" the predynastic art that was the precursor to Egyptian art.

"There's nothing specifically Egyptian about it," Manassa said, noting its similarity to the cave paintings at Lascaux. "They're both trying to represent these animals in a very natural way."

She said that even in pre-Egyptian art, animals and other objects are depicted in a symbolic fashion. "When you see a picture of a boat in Egyptian art, the boat means something," she said. "We don't think that's the case with Paleolithic art."

The Yale professor on the discovery team was John Coleman Darnell, who has had a number of papers published on the early art of the Egyptian deserts.

"The rock art at Qurta reveals that the well-known cave art of the late Pleistocene in Europe was not an isolated phenomenon," Darnell said in a prepared statement. "This puts North Africa firmly in the world of the earliest surviving artistic tradition, and shows that tradition to have been geographically more widespread than heretofore imagined."

The Pleistocene refers to the geologic epoch from 11,700 to 2.6 million years ago, in which there were repeated glaciations in Europe and North America. It coincides closely with the Paleolithic era -- 10,000 to 2.6 million years ago, which refers to a period of human history in which humans used stone tools for the most part.

Darnell could not be reached for comment.

Manassa said that Paleolithic stone tools have been found in Egypt, but this is the first time that art from that era has been confirmed.

Researchers said the carvings were actually found by a Canadian team in the early 1960s, but they were not researched or dated at that point. This latest research took place in 2008, and was not announced until the article appeared in the Antiquities journal. He was with a team from the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, Belgium.

The age of the art was determined using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence, or OSL dating. It is useful in situations, such as this, in which the date of minerals, rather than organic material, must be determined, scientists say.

Reach John Burgeson at 203-330-6403 or at jburgeson@ctpost.com. Follow twitter.com/johnburgeson.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Yale-Art-find-in-Egypt-15-000-years-old-2307625.php#ixzz1fcCxIpFJ

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