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It was end of May when the Red Sea Bulletin had the chance to join desert expert Karen van Opstal from ‟Desert Experiences Your Way” and Adel Kelany from the ‟Supreme Council of Antiquities Aswan”, on a time travel from Prehistory to Present. The journey through time took us into Wadi Abu Subeira, about 12km north of Aswan, visiting rock engravings from the Prehistoric Stone Age thru present day. In prehistoric times herds of wild cattle and other game were grazing the wadis in the desert bordering the Nile. We started our journey with the prehistoric rock engravings of bovines and hippopotami, which are very similar in style to the “Lascaux animals” known from the rock paintings in France. About 15,000 to 20,000 years ago the waters of the Nile were much higher than today and Wadi Abu Subeira may have been a small 'fjord', reaching several kilometers into the desert, frequently visited by hippopotami from the main river. The engravings were probably made by people that stayed in the area along the fjord, fishing and hunting. The later engravings of wild animals like African gazelles, elephant, ostriches and giraffes witness that the landscape at the time of their making resembled more the savannas of today’s East Africa.

An amazing travel through time!

People started to domesticate animals and you will find petroglyphs of human figures with plumed heads and penis sheaths herding cattle. Scenes of humans hunting ibex and gazelle, sometimes with dogs, are seen today. An important food source was tubers and wild plants. Small oval rubbed impressions in the rocks, and grinding stones still found in abundant quarries, most probably were used to grind these for consumption. Engravings of different style boats, occupied by human figures or animals, can be compared with similar scenes found on ancient ceramic bowls and dated to have been made in pre-dynastic times around 5000 to 6000 years in the past.

The introduction of horses and camels in Egypt facilitated traveling larger distances through the desert. Later during the Ptolemaic and Greek-Roman occupation periods resulting in tribal and territorial conflicts you find recorded on the rocks. Tribal marks and religious symbols date from the same time period. Most recent are the Arabic writings, and a pickup engraved in 2005.

Excursions will be offered

from November 2013, with cooperation between ‟Desert Experiences Your Way” and the archeological field team on site. The journey leaves early morning and takes a full day. During the trip you will be accompanied by guides of the local Ababda tribe. Lunch with bread baked on-site in the sand and traditional fresh roasted Ababda coffee or tea will be served around midday at a shady place en route. To keep the Journey from Prehistory to Present alive, you have the possibility towards the end of the tour to add your own impression for the future engraved in the rocks of Wadi Abu Subeira. For further information and reservation please contact






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