Archaeologists Discover 3,500-Year-Old Paintings And Writings In The Eastern Desert Of Egypt

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Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has made the surprise announcement that paintings and early writings dating back from 3,500 to 3,000 B.C. have just been discovered in the Eastern Desert at the site of Bir Umm Tineidba which can be found on the eastern shores of the Nile.

The recent discovery was made by a team of Egyptian and American archaeologists that was headed up by Yale University’s John Coleman Darnell, as Newsweek reports. The location was once in great demand as it was used as a quarry site so that ancient Egyptians could manufacture large quantities of valuable flint.

At this site, archaeologists noticed that there were numerous rock slabs that had both inscriptions and paintings on them, and it has been determined that these would have been placed here during the Predynastic period of Egypt. Darnell noted that the inscriptions that were discovered upon these rocks were a very special kind of Egyptian writing and would have come before the creation of hieroglyphs that ancient Egypt is now known for.

These highly symbolic writings and paintings provide valuable information to archaeologists and historians about early religious beliefs that were practiced at the time, according to John Coleman Darnell, and also show the different styles of artistry conducted throughout the Nile Valley and the Eastern Desert.


One large painting that archaeologists were particularly enamored by featured a large array of animals that include Barbary sheep, donkeys, bulls, giraffes and antelopes, and archaeologists have dated the period of this artwork to approximately 3,300 B.C.

The Egyptian writings and art were first discovered when archaeologists were busy investigating the site of Bir Umm Tineidba, a location that the Ministry of Antiquities’ Ayman Ashmawy has referred to as a forgotten “oasis.” Discoveries of ancient rock art such as these are exceedingly rare in this particular region of the Eastern Desert.

Other finds that archaeologists came across were burial mounds of people who once lived along the Red Sea and the Nile Valley, including a young woman who archaeologists estimate as being between 25- to 35-years-old at the time of her death. It has been presumed that this woman would have been a highly-favored elite as her tomb was found to be filled with precious shells from the Red Sea as well as carnelian beads.

Darnell explained that this site shows clearly how those ancient individuals who once lived in this region of the desert would have assimilated influences from the Nile Valley near the end of the Protodynastic period of Egypt.

“The rock art shows the adoption of Nile Valley imagery by a group whose earlier art has more in common with that of other Eastern Desert sites. The importance of the Bir Umm Tineidba rock art and burial tumuli for understanding the integration of ‘marginal’ groups into the early pharaonic culture and state is considerable.”

With the recent discovery of the rock art and writings in the Eastern Desert of Egypt dating from 3,500 to 3,000 B.C., archaeologists will be busy learning more about those who once lived at the ancient site of Bir Umm Tineidba.