Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gebel el Silsila in the news

As an answer to a general request to learn more about the recent press release regarding our finds at Gebel el Silsila, below will follow a short summary of the finds, as well as links to a selection of news articles that spread the word. Thank you all for your support and shown interest!

Press release 1: Unique stela discovered at Gebel el Silsila

the now famous stela

A small rock carved stela was discovered during the ongoing Swedish archaeological survey within the sandstone quarries at Gebel el Silsila, 65 km north of Aswan. The 46 x 38.5 cm round-topped stela was discovered to the east of the famous unfinished sphinx, overlooking the Nile from the East Bank by a team from the Gebel el Silsila Survey Project (Lund University) currently documenting the archaeology and epigraphy in the area.

The stela depicts an unidentified pharaoh presenting offerings to the gods Amun-Ra and Thoth, a unique combination rarely depicted as a pair. The combination of the pair may be due to a lunar aspect of the cult at Gebel el Silsila, a topic which is currently studied by the team. All three figures are rather poorly preserved, but some details can be made out, including the characteristic double feather crown of Amun-Ra, and the moon disc of the ibis-headed Thoth. The item presented by the pharaoh is no longer discernible. 

The readable inscriptions are merely titles of the gods, "Amun-Ra, King of the Gods, Lord of [-]", and "Thoth, Twice Great, Lord of [-]". Just below the winged solar disc (adorned with two uraei) the text reads “Lord of the Two Lands, Behedet (Horus of Edfu)”. The personal text of the pharaoh is limited to “Lord of the Two Lands” followed by a cartouche and short epithet. The royal titles and the single cartouche are poorly preserved.

The preliminary study suggests a later dynastic date, presumably para or post Third Intermediate Period (1069-664 BC). The team is currently working on the stela (photogrammetry and other digital forms) in order to retrieve more information.

at the time when we discovered the stela

Press release 2: Swedish archaeological mission rewrites the early history of Gebel el Silsila

Epipalaeolithic motif

Over 60 rock art sites were discovered during the ongoing Swedish archaeological survey at Gebel el Silsila in Upper Egypt. The rock art sites were discovered on both sides of the Nile and incorporate material from the Epipalaeolithic (c. 8500-6500 BP), Predynastic (c. 4000-3100 BC), and Early Dynastic (c. 3100-2686 BC), plus rock inscriptions from Early Dynastic and throughout the subsequent ancient periods.

Early Dynastic motif

The more spectacular finds include a series of unique Epipalaeolithic “masterpieces” similar to those found in nearby el Hosh. Associated with those are two lithic surface scatters/workshops contemporaneous with the el Kabean industry, but also include examples of the Late Palaeolithic. The high concentration of rock art combined with the chronologically wide repertoire clearly establishes Gebel el Silsila as one of the earlier sites in Egypt.

Predynastic motifs

Other things that have been mentioned in the various international reports includes the find of a relief depicting two obelisks transported on a boat. This is a scene which Dr. Philippe Martinez discovered during his epigraphic work with us, and which we are preparing for publication, so no images of this yet. There was also reference made to two unfinished obelisks, which is based on two large sandstone blocks that we have documented in the Main Quarry of the East Bank. Contextual epigraphic material shows depictions of obelisks, combined with a technical sketch of how to lower an obelisk, which indicate that these blocks may have been extracted to be sculptured as obelisks. The topic will certainly be further explored.

Maria and John showing the technical mark to Mr. Nasr Salama
(General Director of Aswan) and Mr. Abd el Menum (General Director of Kom Ombo).

The large sandstone blocks, possibly extracted to be carved into obelisks.
The block shown here contains a graffito of an obelisk