A recently published study by two Egyptian researchers has uncovered invaluable information on ancient rock art in the Shalteen area on Egypt’s southeastern border with Sudan.
Researchers Mohamed Galal Mahmoud, instructor at Misr University for Science; and Khaled Saad Mostafa, general manager of predynastic archaeology at the Ministry of Antiquities have published a paper in the Journal of the General Union of Arab Archaeologists, No. 25, 2022, on rock art in two Shalateen sites: Wadi Mneija and Wadi al-Bayda Cave.
The research describes Shalateen as among the most significant areas where rock art is concerned because it contains very distinctive rock art in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. It was an important location for the existence of ancient humans, especially since the beginning of the Mesolithic period and throughout the Neolithic period, until climatic changes led them to migrate into the Nile Valley. It was also used it a land crossing in later historical ages.
“Wadi Mneija” is the valley that leads to the Valley of al-Bayda towards the “Shalatin-Suhail” road northeast Jabal Jarf, where rock carvings are widespread. It includes as well a huge necropolis, mine, miners’ settlement, and ancient water wells.
The other site, Wadi al-Bayda”, featured an archaeological cave with a rare funnel shape, which is the only cave discovered so far in the Shalateen and Halayeb region. Outside the cave there are many Pictographs and Petrographics of wildlife, dominated by different forms of carvings of rams and cows, dating to numerous historical periods. There is also a variety of Thamudic inscriptions in a very poor state of preservation, perhaps dating to the late period around 500BC; also early Arab inscriptions, as well as quarries and wells.
It became clear through the study that the site of the “Shalateen” area, “Wadi Al-Bayda” – Wadi Mneija” is one of the most important areas which contains a very distinctive rock art in the eastern desert of Egypt, both those dated For the Neolithic period or dated later times, to join to the lists of sites of newly discovered rock Art in Egypt that must be listed as world heritage sites.
Abdel-Rehim Rihan, director of the media office of the General Union of Arab Archaeologists, said that the findings indicate that the area was in use until the Greek era in Egypt (330 – 32BC), and throughout the Arab period as a route of pilgrimage to Mecca.
The researchers conclude their paper with the suggestion that the distinctive rock art discovered in Shalateen qualifies the area to be listed as a world heritage site.
18 August 2022