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Durham e-Theses
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Predynastic & Pharaonic era Rock-Art in
Egypt’s Central Eastern Desert:
Distribution, Dating & Interpretation

LANKESTER, FRANCIS,DAVID (2012) Predynastic & Pharaonic era Rock-Art in
Egypt’s Central Eastern Desert:
Distribution, Dating & Interpretation.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The aim of this thesis is to examine the rock-art of Egypt’s Central Eastern Desert in order to outline the petroglyphs’ distribution and influences on their location, to date them, and to explore the reasons why they were created. The area is notable for the presence of boat petroglyphs, along with images of people and a wide range of fauna, in the middle of the desert many miles from the Nile and Red Sea. Since Hans Winkler’s pioneering work in the 1930’s, the corpus covering the whole of the area has been considerably increased due to work from the 1980’s to the present, thanks mainly to the Eastern Desert Survey (EDS) and the Rock Art Topographical Survey (RATS).
The construction of a comprehensive corpus enables an analysis of the distribution of the approximately 4000 images, the dating of a significant majority of the rock-art sites and interpretation of the reasons for their creation. Many of the petroglyphs were probably made in the early predynastic period: Naqada I c to II a/b (which scholars generally date from 3750 to 3650 BCE), and often show hunting scenes associated with boats, or even have vessels integrated within them. As the spatial analysis carried out in this work demonstrates, these motifs are often located in shaded locations and, especially in the south of the survey area, near to the entrances to side wadis. In contrast, the smaller numbers of dynastic and Greco-Roman images are usually situated on routes to the mines and quarries of the Eastern Desert, as well as to the Red Sea.
This thesis also proposes a new approach to the interpretation of boats and the figures with arms raised and incurved above the head. As opposed to common scholarly practice where they have previously been interpreted by retrospective comparison with pharaonic themes, I pursue a synchronic approach to interpretation, placing the predynastic motifs in Naqada culture funerary context linked to hunting as an elite activity. The later rock-art is divided between pharaonic images related to mining and quarrying expeditions, and horse and camel riders pictured in unique conflict scenes.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Rock-art Egypt Central Eastern Desert Distribution Dating Interpretation animals human figures boats
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Nov 2012 11:54

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