Over the last few years Gharb Aswan, at the west bank of the Nile just opposite Aswan city, has emerged as an important rock art location. This is due to new surveys by the QuarryScapes project and the Aswan-Kom Ombo archaeological project. Dozens of sites with thousands of images ranging in time from the Epipalaeolithic (5-7.000 BC) to the Roman period (and later) have been discovered.
Arguably, the most important findings so far is the corpus of Epipalaeolitic to Neolithic geometric rock art, as well as Late Predynastic images that incorporate royal scenes from the dawn of Pharaonic culture.
The Epipalaeolitic rock art
Epipalaeolithic petroglyphs were discovered by myself and my colleagues in the QuarryScapes project as we looked for ancient stone quarries in the region. Geometric motifs range from simple lines and circles to highly complex compositions and the findings imply that Gharb Aswan ties in with Abka i Lower Nubia, el-Hosh in Upper Egypt and a few other sites in the region. The images are thought to be the expression of highly mobile groups that ranged across Lower Nubia, Eastern Sahara and Upper Egypt as the climate was more favourable 6-9.000 years ago.
- Storemyr, P., 2009. A Prehistoric Geometric Rock Art Landscape by the First Nile Cataract. Archéo-Nil 19, 121-150. PDF (2 MB)
- Storemyr, P., 2008. Prehistoric Geometric Rock Art at Gharb Aswan, Upper Egypt. Sahara 19, 61-76. PDF (1,4 MB)
The Late Predynastic royal scenes
Partially a rediscovery, the royal scenes were found by both of the missions mentioned above. Royal scenes are rare in rock art and at Gharb Aswan they show boat processions, hunting and perhaps military victory. A most interesting aspect is that they probably can be regarded as a “transition” between traditional rock art and formal art later depicted e.g. on temple walls. The papers of the Aswan-Kom Ombo archaeological project are also online and in addition to royal scenes they include descriptions of several other rock art sites:
- Hendrickx, S., Gatto, M.C., 2009. A Rediscovered Late Predynastic-Early Dynastic royal scene from Gharb Aswan (Upper Egypt). Sahara 20, 147-2009. View online at academia.edu
- Hendrickx, S., Swelim, N., Raffaele, F., Eyckerman, M., Friedman, R., 2009. A lost Late Predynastic-Early Dynastic royal scene from Gharb Aswan. Archéo-Nil 19. PDF from Nabil Swelims website (o,4 MB)
- Gatto, M.C., Hendrickx, S., Roma, S., Zampetti, D., 2009. Rock art from West Bank Aswan and Wadi Abu Subeira. Archéo-Nil 19, 151-168. View online at academia.edu