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Author Topic: AFRICAN ROCK ART  (Read 6290 times)
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2009, 12:36:35 pm »


The “Great Fishing God” of Sefar is thus potential evidence that there is indeed a link between Egypt and the Tassili. Some of the rock paintings also show boats, such as at Sefar and Aouanrhet. These depictions are very similar if not identical to what was discovered by the likes of Toby Wilkinson in similar sites and similar rock paintings in the region between the Nile and the Red Sea. He dated these paintings to the 5th millennium BC, which overlaps with the paintings of the Tassili. Like the Tassili, the desert area where Wilkinson uncovered these paintings was then verdant grassland. Like the Tassili, these Egyptian paintings are a complex mixture of motifs, depicting crocodiles, hippos and boats from the Nile alongside ostriches and giraffes from the savannah, and suffused with cattle imagery and the religious symbolism that would characterize classical Egyptian art. This should by now sound familiar…

For Wilkinson, these rock paintings show that pre-Pharaonic Egyptians were not settled flood-plain farmers, but semi-nomadic herders who drove their cattle in between the lush riverbanks and the drier grasslands. He also identified that several of these paintings were located around ancient trade routes. For a “semi-nomadic people”, it is by no means a long stretch of the imagination to argue that they trekked throughout the savannah, from east to west and backwards. And thus, in Pre-dynastic Egypt, Egypt and the Tassili were more than likely “one”. So there is an Egyptian connection, but rather than arguing for a connection around 1200 BC, based on the fake paintings Lhote fell for, the connection can actually be found in predynastic Egypt.

Though the Tassili paintings are by far the best known, they are not the only area where such paintings can be found. Nearby areas such as Acacus and Messak have revealed similar rock paintings. It confirms that the Tassili was not an isolated incident, but part of a larger whole. Both Wilkinson and Zitman argue for a radical reinterpretation of the origins of ancient Egypt. For Wilkinson, the rock paintings in southern Egypt provide proof that it is there that we should look for the “Genesis of the Pharaohs” (the title of his book).

For Zitman, the origin of ancient Egypt can be found in a culture and area that stretches into the Tassili, where there is the pose painted on a cliff face in Sefar that would later adorn the front walls of several Egyptian temples. And that cannot be a coincidence. Furthermore, it also coincides with what Lhote wrote : “The most common profile suggested that of Ethiopians, and it was almost certainly from the east that these great waves of pastoralist immigrants came who invaded not only the Tassili but much of the Sahara.”

The Tassili has thus added a new chapter to African history – but it is a new chapter at the beginning of the book. It is the history of what is known as the “Neolithic wet period”, which lasted from 9000 to 2500 BC, when much of the Sahara was habitable for humans, when the dunes were covered with grassland, supporting hippos, lions, crocodiles, zebras, giraffes, etc. By 7000 BC, there were hunters, dancers, bakers and even sailors. There were shamans, leaving rock paintings on the cliff faces. The earliest examples of Saharan rock art are invariably engravings, sometimes on a very large scale, representing the ancient and partially extinct wildlife. That they were at this time nomadic hunters is inferred from a lack of representations of domestic animals.

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