by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | January 19, 2016 07:13am ET
About 60 drawings and hieroglyphic inscriptions, dating back around 5,000 years, have been discovered at a site called Wadi Ameyra in Egypt’s Sinai Desert. Carved in stone, they were created by mining expeditions sent out by early Egyptian pharaohs, archaeologists say.
They reveal new information on the early pharaohs. For instance, one inscription the researchers found tells of a queen named Neith-Hotep who ruled Egypt 5,000 years ago as regent to a young pharaoh named Djer.
Archaeologists estimate that the earliest carvings at Wadi Ameyra date back around 5,200 years, while the most recent date to the reign of a pharaoh named Nebre, who ruled about 4,800 years ago.
The “inscriptions are probably a way to proclaim that the Egyptian state owned the area,” team leader Pierre Tallet, a professor at Université Paris-Sorbonne, told Live Science.
Credit: Courtesy Pierre Tallet
He explained that south of Wadi Ameyra, the ancient expeditions would have mined turquoise and copper. Sometime after Nebre’s rule, the route of the expeditions changed, bypassing Wadi Ameyra, he said.
Early female ruler
While Egyptologists knew that Neith-Hotep existed, they believed she was married to a pharaoh named Narmer. “The inscriptions demonstrate that she [Neith-Hotep] was not the wife of Narmer, but a regent queen at the beginning of the reign of Djer,” Tallet said.
‘The White Walls’
An inscription found at Wadi Ameyra shows that Memphis, an ancient capital of Egypt that was also called “the White Walls,” is older than originally believed.
Ancient Greek and Roman writers claimed that Memphis was constructed by a mythical king named Menes, whom Egyptologists often consider to be a real-life pharaoh named Narmer, Tallet explained.
The new inscription shows that Memphis actually existed before Narmer was even born.
“We have in Wadi Ameyra an inscription giving for the first time the name of this city, the White Walls,and it is associated to the name of Iry-Hor, a king who ruled Egypt two generations before Narmer,” Tallet said. The inscription shows that the ancient capital was around during the time of Iry-Hor and could have been built before even he was pharaoh.
Among the drawings discovered at Wadi Ameyra are several that show boats. On three of these boats, the archaeologists found a “royal serekh,” a pharaonic symbol that looks a bit like the facade of a palace. The serekh looks “as if it were a cabin” on the boats, Tallet said.
|The hieroglyphic symbol at top, showing what looks like a rod with many arms beside a building, is the name for a queen called Neith-Hotep.
Credit: Photo and drawings courtesy D. Laisney
In later times, boats were buried beside Egypt’s pyramids, including theGiza pyramids. The design of the boats depicted at Wadi Ameyra “are really archaic, much older” than those found beside the pyramids, Tallet said.
The Wadi Ameyra site was first discovered in 2012, and the finds were reported recently in the book “La Zone Minière Pharaonique du Sud-Sinaï II” (Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 2015).
Photos: 5,000-Year-Old Hieroglyphs Discovered in Sinai Desert
Sprawling drawings and hieroglyphics were carved into stone in the Sinai Desert more than 5,000 years ago, possibly by mining expeditions sent out by early Egyptian pharaohs, say the archaeologists who discovered them. Here’s a look at the artwork found at a site in the desert called Wadi Ameyra.
Evidence of ancient quarries
In 2012 archaeologists discovered that a site at Wadi Ameyra, pictured here, has about 60 drawings and inscriptions carved by mining expeditions sent out by the early pharaohs of Egypt. They date back around 5,000 years. Wadi Ameyra is in Egypt’s Sinai Desert. The finds were reported recently in the book “La zone minière pharaonique du Sud-Sinaï II” (Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 2015). (Photo courtesy Pierre Tallet)
The carvings seen here date back around 5,200 years and are the oldest found at Wadi Ameyra. An image of a boat along with an assortment of animals can be readily seen. (Photo courtesy Pierre Tallet)
Help to see
This photo shows carvings left by a mining expedition sent by pharaoh Iry-Hor. From the photo alone it can be difficult to see the different carvings. Archaeologists carefully drew the carvings providing details that photographs don’t necessarily capture. (Photo courtesy D. Laisney)
Mentions of early civilizations
The results of the drawings can be seen here. In this image the drawings are shown along with the photograph providing a clearer view as to what the carvings show. An image of two boats can be readily seen. The inscriptions in this carving represent an early pharaoh named “Iry-Hor” and refer to “the White Walls” a name for Memphis, an ancient capital of Egypt. (Photo and drawings courtesy D. Laisney)
A time-worn image
The carvings seen here were left by a mining expedition sent out by Narmer, a pharaoh of Egypt who reigned two generations after Iry-Hor. Several boats can be seen including once which contains a royal serekh, which shows a falcon standing on a façade that looks like a palace. Researchers note that the serekh looks like a cabin on the boat. (Photo and drawings courtesy D. Laisney)
The carvings seen here were left by a mining expedition sent out by the pharaoh “Djer” who reigned about 5,000 years ago. At right there is a scene of people being clubbed to death. (Photo and drawings courtesy D. Laisney)
Ancient female monarch
The hieroglyphic symbol at top, showing what looks like a rod with many arms beside a building, is the name for a queen called “Neith-Hotep.” Analysis of the inscriptions revealed that she was a regent queen who ruled Egypt when Djer was young. She would have ruled Egypt, as a regent, millennia before Hatshepsut or Cleopatra VII did. (Photo and drawings courtesy D. Laisney)
A drawing showing the massacre scene. It shows a royal serekh, a carving of a falcon standing on what looks like the façade of a palace. In this version of the royal serekh the falcon appears to be holding a club and is striking at people who — researchers say — appear to be from the western delta of the Nile River. (Drawings courtesy D. Laisney)