Pictorial representations at Gebel el Silsila: A 10 000 year long repertoire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


Gebel el Silsila (Mountain of Chain) is located between Kom Ombo and Edfu on both banks of the Nile where it reaches its narrowest point. The site is generally known for its many Pharaonic cenotaphs, stelai and the speos of Horemheb, but it was once also the world’s largest quarry. As such it was renowned for its high quality sandstone, and the stone was extracted and transported to all over Upper Egypt, used for the construction of some of Egypt’s greatest temples such as Karnak, Luxor, Ramesseum, Edfu, Dendera, etc. However, in addition to its monumental grandeur what makes Gebel el Silsila unique is its extensive pictorial repertoire that ranges from Epipalaeolithic rock drawings to one of the world’s more complex quarry marking systems. This paper aims to present a brief overview of the site itself, the aims of the ongoing survey project, and with a strong focus on the pictorial graffiti (illustrations) from Epipalaeolithic rock drawings dated to approximately 10 000 B.P. to the highly symbolic Graeco-Roman quarry marks with some 5000 examples.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology
  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchaeology and Environment
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding the Past to Design the Future: a Multidisciplinary Approach: Proceedings of the International Workshop "Italian Days in Aswan" 15th-18th November 2013
EditorsGiuseppina Capriotti Vittozzi, Fransesco Porcelli
Place of PublicationRome
PublisherIstituto di Studi sul Mediterraneo Antico (ISMA)
ISBN (Print)9788880801849
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameArchaeological Heritage & Multidisciplinary Egyptological Studies (AHMES)
ISSN (Print)2334-8154