Photographs of Wadi Hammamat by Su Bayfield

Su Bayfield has posted a number of photographs of inscriptions and views of the Wadi Hammamat on Flickr.

The Wadi Hammamat is a fabulous canvas of inscriptions from the prehistoric period onwards. From the prehistoric period there are images of hunting and herding. Later images, thought from similar ties to Naqada pottery to be Predynastic, include elaborate boats and figures. Pharaonic inscriptions include commemorative texts by the overseers of quarrying work and by those traveling along the route from the Nile to the Red Sea. In modern times Bedouin still leave tribal marks. The engravings stand out so well because a dark patina overlies a much lighter rock. When the patina is pierced the lighter rock stands out clearly against the dark brown surface.

Su’s photos capture a bit of everything – as well as the rock carvings (including one of my favourites, showing Thoth in his baboon form) and demotic and Greek inscriptions, she has shown the abandoned sarcophagus which had been carved in situ. Anyone who has been bored to the point of madness by my Western Desert photos, all golds and oranges, will be struck by the steely grey of the high desert of the Red Sea Hills.

There are two modern survey works dealing with the Eastern Desert petroglyphs, both out of print, and a very recent publication by Tony Judd – Rock Art of the Eastern Desert of Egypt Content, Comparisons, Dating and Significance (British Archaeological Reports International Series – BARI S2008). The book is based on Tony’s PhD.

Su’s Egyptian Monuments site is a great resource it is always good to see her adding more photographs of Egypt, wherever she stores them.

2 Responses to “Photographs of Wadi Hammamat by Su Bayfield”

  1. Su Says:

    Hi Andi

    Many thanks for this wonderful plug for my website & photographs. I actually have over 100 pictures of inscriptions and rock-art from Wadi Hammamat that I’m trying to identify. Would you know of any source of drawings or photographs that give details of the carvings? I already have Alexander Peden in my google books library but with no pictures.
    I also have even more rock-art from Kanais but can find next to nothing on these. Any help would be very welcome.

    Everyone I know finds these rock carvings very boring!!!!

    Thanks again
    Su Bayfield

  2. Andrea Byrnes Says:

    Hi Su

    Good to hear from you. It would be mean not to give your site a plug when I use it so often :-). I lead a tour to the Eastern Desert in 2006, and there is some amazing stuff to be seen out there and I have been back twice since.

    The best resources for Eastern Desert rock art in general are, easily, Morrow and Morrow (2000) and Rohls (2000). See below for full details. They are not exclusive to Wadi Hammamat, but they both include the Wadi Hammamat. I don’t think that a single comprehensive survey has ever been carried out on the WH, which is a shame because it is screaming out to be done. I for one would happily spend a couple of months there doing the work! Like you, I have rather a lot of photos from the three visits that I’ve made there.

    Morrow, M and Morrow, M. 2000
    Ships of the Desert
    In Rohls, D. (ed.)
    The Followers of Horus: Eastern Desert Survey Report volume 1
    Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences
    Review of Desert RATS (review of the book)

    Rohls, D. (ed.) 2000
    The Followers of Horus: Eastern Desert Survey Report volume 1
    Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences

    These were both surveys carried out and have lots of photographs and identifications. Both refer to “volume 1” and both teams were supposed to produce a second volume. The Morrows may yet do so, but it is unlikely that Rohls will. I’m not sure whether they are still in print (I suspect not) but if you contact the Morrows you may be able to get a copy of their book on CD-Rom. Mike Morrow very kindly provided me with one when I was doing my Eastern Desert website (you might find the bibliography of use on that website)
    I’ve lost Mike’s email address but I’ll see if I can find it from someone for you.

    Another resource that may be of use, and has some photos of Kanais is Francis Lankester’s Ships of the Desert website
    Francis is doing a PhD in Eastern Desert rock art (specializing in boat images but looking at other material too) and if you want to get in touch with him his email is on his home page on that site. He is currently in the process of moving house so his email account will be down for the next week. The site is a bit of a mess to navigate (unless he has changed it since I last visited) but keep with it and you’ll find quite a lot of material.

    Finally, Tony Judd’s book Rock Art of the Eastern Desert in Egypt in the BAR series can be purchased either directly from Archaeopress or from Amazon. It is the short version of his PhD which he submitted last year to Liverpool. It has diagrams and maps throughout and several photographs at the end.

    Both Francis and Tony specialize in Predynastic rock art so their work may be of less use to you than that of the Morrows and Rohls, although Francis’s website does have a lot more than Predynastic engravings. Rock art is great when you can date it, which is okay with many of the Pharaonic engravings which are accompanied by inscriptions, but is very difficult when the images are more generic. I wrote a huge tract in three sections about it if you’re interested, although as a Prehistorian I’ve focused on the Predynastic material

    There is predynastic engraving in the WH, although not a lot of it. It is quite easy to identify which panels are considered Predynastic. There’s a famous panel in particular (famous to those of us sad people who like Eastern Desert rock art, that is!) which I can send you a photograph of so that you can compare it with yours if you want.

    I think that’s about it off the top of my head. There’s Winkler’s vast work on the subject from the 1930s but you’ll only get access to that at an academic library. There’s a lot of material dotted around in academic journals (as per usual), but not many have photos. The journal Sahara has a number of articles but most of them are by Tony anyway.

    I hope that that’s of some help.


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