Well, we’re in full swing, and two weeks into Season 13 the Gebel el-Silsila team has already made some amazing discoveries!
We spent several days focusing on the site of Shatt el-Rigal located adjacent to the northern boundary of Gebel el-Silsila on the west bank.
|Wadi Shatt el-Rigal Image: Google Earth|
This area, which rises high above the verdant Nile valley below, is marked by steep and rocky sun baked hills, flowing sand dunes, and jaw-dropping archaeology. Our current excavation and tentative results at Shatt el-Rigal must, for now at least, remain top secret, but stay tuned!
|View of the Nile Valley from Shatt el-Rigal|
|All we can show you of our excavation!|
What we CAN tell you about is our recent exploration of Wadi Shatt el-Rigal. The wadi, Arabic for dry river bed, snakes deep into the western desert cutting through the sandstone landscape. Wadi Shatt el-Rigal is best known for the colossal relief of Mentuhotep II, who reunited Egypt in Dynasty 12 after the 2nd intermediate period. Upon entering the wadi you need only walk several hundred meters and you are confronted with this beautiful depiction.
If, however, you venture further and look closer you will find that this place bears the marks and scars of not merely this great king, but 10,000 years of human history! The wadi shows evidence of human activity from the epipalaeolithic to the 20th century, from the earliest tick marks to trade route camel tracks, everything is here!
|For thousands of years humans have left their mark in this wadi.|
|Trade route camel tracks are still visible (and so are dog tracks of today)!|
What differentiates this wadi from so many others is the plethora of inscriptions and rock art sites, which cover most any viably inscribable surface. There are simple peck marks, clearly defined animal depictions like giraffes (my favorite), crocodiles, ibex, birds, and more, anthropomorphic figures, geometric shapes, cartouches, kings, and gods to name just a few.
There is another popular depiction, boats, and on this day we set out determined to walk the length of the wadi to thoroughly document the so-called boats of Hatshepsut first mentioned by Archibald Sayce in 1906. An ultimate goal for the Gebel el-Silsila team is to find, document, and analyze all of the sites. Never before has such a detailed study been conducted on all historical periods. Another goal is to answer the long debated but never answered question, why here? What was so special about this wadi that made kings and commoners alike want to leave their mark? Again, stay tuned for what we find out!
|Do you see that this boat has been carved over an earlier animal depiction?|
For those of you have continued to support the Gebel el-Silsila mission, we are incalculably grateful. Without that support we would not be able to further our explorations and reveal the secrets, which our beloved Madam Silsila wishes to divulge.
Thank you, and keep an eye out for future announcements!
Post and images by Tricia Coletto
Gebel el-Silsila Project