New Qurta

Near current New Qurta, at the northeastern edge of the Kom Ombo Plain, a Paleolithic site was excavated in the 1960's, just before the area was developed for agriculture:
On the sandstone cliffs overlooking this site a large number of petroglyphs, depicting bovids and other animals, were preserved despite millennia of quarrying:
Large file, please be patient.


Objective of visit:
  To survey the current surroundings of the ancient petroglyphs near New Qurta.
Date of visit:
  February 2007
Fellow visitors:
  A small team of archaeological artists directed by Dr. Dirk Huyge of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels (Belgium), funded by the Egyptology Endowment Fund of Yale University (USA) and Vodafone Egypt.
A GPS-map of the area, complemented by satellite images and calculated elevations, to complement the detailed records of the ancient petroglyphs. Click here and here for additional information (both in French).
Approximate position and date of the site:   The Paleolithic site at New Qurta was located on the north-eastern edge of the Kom Ombo plain, which in ancient times received a regular supply of water from the Nile and the seasonal rainfall in the desert. Excavations in the 1960's unearthed stone tools and the bones of butchered wild bovids and hippopotami that were dated to around 15.000 years ago. The nearby petroglyphs depicting the same fauna were noted, but only cursory studied. More information can be found in Ph.E.L. Smith (1976), 'Stone-Age Man on the Nile,' Scientific American 235: pp. 30-38, which is the source of black-and-white photograph above. Since the 1960's the area has been developed to house the Nubians, displaced after the closing of the High Dam at Aswan, by spreading the Pleistocene silt layers on the desert surface.  The petroglyphs on the almost vertical cliff face may now be the only remains of the Paleolithic inhabitants of the region and were the focus of the research project of Yale University and the Royal Museums of Art and History.
Short description of the site:   In the south of Egypt, just north of Aswan, a fault and the subsequent depression of the Cretaceous Nubian sandstone formation forms a large low laying area, known as the Kom Ombo Plain. The Nile deposited large amounts of silt on this plain, much of which has recently been used to develop the area for agriculture. In ancient time the region received more water, allowing human settlement during the Paleolithic. These early inhabitants used the vertical cliffs at the edge of the plain to depict, for reasons only known to them, some of the animals (bovids, hippopotami, gazelles, fish) that were an important part of their diet. Despite numerous human alterations to the landscape, some of these petroglyphs have been preserved until today.
Additional remarks:
My participation in this project would not have been possible without the support of the Fayum Project, the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and many individuals.