Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cartouche found in Libyan Desert

The Malta Independent

Explorers just returning from the Sahara desert have claimed they found a remarkable relic from Pharaonic times.

Mark Borda and Mahmoud Marai, from Malta and Egypt respectively, were surveying a field of boulders on the flanks of a hill deep in the Libyan desert some 700 kilometres west of the Nile Valley when engravings on a large rock consisting of hieroglyphic writing, Pharaonic cartouche, an image of the king and other Pharaonic iconography came into view.

Mr Borda would not reveal the precise location in order to protect the site.

He explained the far-reaching implications of the find for Egyptology. “Although very active in the Eastern Desert, as attested to by the innumerable inscriptions they left behind, there is very little evidence for the presence of the ancient Egyptians in the much larger and harsher Western Desert.

“The consensus among Egyptologists is that the Egyptians did not penetrate this desert any further than the area around Djedefre’s Water Mountain. This is a sandstone hill about 80 kilometres south west of the Dakhla Oasis that contains hieroglyphic inscriptions. Its discovery in 2003 by the German explorer Carlo Bergmann caused a sensation as it extended the activities of the Pharaonic administrations an unprecedented 80 kilometres further out into the unknown and waterless Western Desert. The find we just made is some 650 kilometres further on!! Egyptologists will be dumbstruck by this news.”

But that is not all. As soon as he emerged from the desert Mr Borda flew to London to discuss the find with Maltese Egyptologist Aloisia De Trafford from the Institute of Archaeology (University College London).

She immediately facilitated a preliminary decipherment of the text via Joe Clayton, an ancient languages specialist who lectures on hieroglyphic writing at Birkbeck College at the same university.

Mr Borda continues, “Within a matter of days the short text was yielding astonishing revelations. In the annals of Egyptian history there are references to far off lands that the pharaohs had traded with but none of these have ever been positively located.

“It turns out that the script we found states the name of the region where it was carved, which is none other than the fabled land of Yam, one of the most famous and mysterious nations that the Egyptians had traded with in Old Kingdom times; a source of precious tropical woods and ivory.

“Its location has been debated by Egyptologists for over 150 years but it was never imagined it could be 700 kilometres west of the Nile in the middle of the Sahara desert.”

Speculation about the extent to which the Egyptians penetrated the Western Desert gained momentum in the 1990s when it was determined that caches of pottery discovered all along the Abu Ballas Trail by Bergmann, where determined to be of XVIIIth Dynasty manufacture.

See the above page for more. Congratulations Aloisia!

2 comments:

JLLQ said...

Looks great, but without photographs, it is difficult to have any idea on the validity of these claims...

Andie said...

I agree - photographs would be great. I haven't had much time to look any further since I returned but I'll see what I can dig up.