Millenia of artistic expressions: digital documentation of Prehistoric Rock Art at Gebel el Silsila

Pris: Pris (inklusive medaljer och utmärkelser)


In 2015, with the support from Crafoorska stiftelsen, an initial rock art survey was conducted at Gebel el Silsila (abbreviated below as GeS) in Upper Egypt. Prehistoric (Epipaleolithic and Predynastic) and early dynastic petroglyphs and rock inscriptions were documented by means of traditional, analogue methods, including photography and acetate copying in situ, and a selection of the images have been processed digitally as part of creating a digitalized corpus of facsimiles of the complete collection of rock art. The material is currently being analysed in agreement with the set, previous, aims to outline the petroglyphs’ distribution, to provide chronological outlines, and explain their purpose and meaning if possible. The aim now is to continue the study and focus on the digital documentation, bringing in experts within digital archaeological technologies, including recordings in 3D, RTI (night photography), and GIS, including aerial photography and total station work. The importance of digital documentation is immense, as it allows the project to share its results with the wider audience, and can provide an educational platform that reaches people of all ages that have a genuine interest in archaeology and prehistory, but who cannot visit the site in person.
Thus far, over 70 rock art locations have been discovered during the initial phase of surveying GeS. This preliminary documentation was an answer to the growing threat to the rock art, which unfortunately has been seen in various ancient sites in Egypt since 2011 and the Egyptian revolution. The material is still threatened by encroachment and environmental impact, and while the immediate rescue study has been concluded, further studies will hopefully reveal more information and eventually reach out to a larger group of people.
In line with the previous aim, the study will approach Prehistoric and Early Dynastic rock art locations at GeS diachronically and as components of a “cultural landscape” that also includes other site types such as ceremonial cup marks, burials, temporary shelters, and natural landscape features used by or considered important to local, Prehistoric human groups. By detailed study of the art motifs themselves, combined with landscape data, the aim is to identify different types of rock art locations and to explore their functions within the cultural system that created them. As a larger project, this study will approach rock art as an integral part of the historical chain of development of not only the site itself, but consider also continuations of the pictorial repertoire, ceremonial aspects, religious life, and overall, human activity and relation to the site as a ritual and socio-political landscape.
Tilldelande organisationerCrafoordska stiftelsen

Fria nyckelord

  • Gebel el Silsila
  • Rock Art
  • Archaeology
  • Fieldwork