Go to the Egyptian Dreams shop
Egyptian Dreams
Ancient Egypt Discussion Board
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

The Tassili n’Ajjer [Algeria]: Birthplace of Ancient Egypt?

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Egyptian Dreams Forum Index -> Pre-dynastic Egypt
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 27 Mar 2008
Posts: 45
Location: California

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:05 am    Post subject: The Tassili n’Ajjer [Algeria]: Birthplace of Ancient Egypt? Reply with quote

Uadi Nesseret - Northern Tassili - Algeria

The Tassili n’Ajjer [Algeria]: Birthplace of Ancient Egypt?

By Philip Coppens, Investigative Journalist


January 2008

The Tassili n’Ajjer of Southern Algiers is described as the “largest storehouse of rock paintings in the world”. But could it also be the origins of the ancient Egypt culture?

In January 2003, I made enquiries to visit the Hoggar Mountains and the Tassili n'Ajjer, one of the most enchanting mountain ranges on this planet. The two geographically close but nevertheless quite separate landscapes are located in the Sahara desert in southeast Algeria.

The true highlight, however, was Sefar. Little is written about the city. French ethnologist and explorer Henri Lhote does not provide many details, except a map, showing its extent, as well as the presence of several streets and avenues, tumuli, tombs and something that he calls the “esplanade of the Great Fishing God”. Lhote named the character as he seemed to be carrying fish. But a closer inspection of the photograph that successive expeditions have taken, suggests what Zitman had always felt could be the truth: rather than a “fishing god”, was this character not depicted in a pose that the ancient Egyptians knew as “smiting the enemy”? It was a pose that was used by the Pharaohs to display their mastery over the forces of chaos.

"Great Fishing God” of Sefar

The “Great Fishing God” of Sefar is thus potential evidence that there is indeed a link between Egypt and the Tassili. Some of the rock paintings also show boats, such as at Sefar and Aouanrhet. These depictions are very similar if not identical to what was discovered by the likes of Toby Wilkinson in similar sites and similar rock paintings in the region between the Nile and the Red Sea. He dated these paintings to the 5th millennium BC, which overlaps with the paintings of the Tassili. Like the Tassili, the desert area where Wilkinson uncovered these paintings was then verdant grassland. Like the Tassili, these Egyptian paintings are a complex mixture of motifs, depicting crocodiles, hippos and boats from the Nile alongside ostriches and giraffes from the savannah, and suffused with cattle imagery and the religious symbolism that would characterize classical Egyptian art. This should by now sound familiar...

For Wilkinson, these rock paintings show that pre-Pharaonic Egyptians were not settled flood-plain farmers, but semi-nomadic herders who drove their cattle in between the lush riverbanks and the drier grasslands. He also identified that several of these paintings were located around ancient trade routes. For a “semi-nomadic people”, it is by no means a long stretch of the imagination to argue that they trekked throughout the savannah, from east to west and backwards. And thus, in Pre-dynastic Egypt, Egypt and the Tassili were more than likely “one”. So there is an Egyptian connection, but rather than arguing for a connection around 1200 BC, based on the fake paintings Lhote fell for, the connection can actually be found in predynastic Egypt.

Though the Tassili paintings are by far the best known, they are not the only area where such paintings can be found. Nearby areas such as Acacus and Messak have revealed similar rock paintings. It confirms that the Tassili was not an isolated incident, but part of a larger whole.

Both Wilkinson and Zitman argue for a radical reinterpretation of the origins of ancient Egypt. For Wilkinson, the rock paintings in southern Egypt provide proof that it is there that we should look for the “Genesis of the Pharaohs” (the title of his book). For researcher Wim Zitman, the origin of ancient Egypt can be found in a culture and area that stretches into the Tassili, where there is the pose painted on a cliff face in Sefar that would later adorn the front walls of several Egyptian temples. And that cannot be a coincidence. Furthermore, it also coincides with what Lhote wrote: “The most common profile suggested that of Ethiopians, and it was almost certainly from the east that these great waves of pastoralist immigrants came who invaded not only the Tassili but much of the Sahara.”

The Tassili has thus added a new chapter to African history – but it is a new chapter at the beginning of the book. It is the history of what is known as the “Neolithic wet period”, which lasted from 9000 to 2500 BC, when much of the Sahara was habitable for humans, when the dunes were covered with grassland, supporting hippos, lions, crocodiles, zebras, giraffes, etc. By 7000 BC, there were hunters, dancers, bakers and even sailors. There were shamans, leaving rock paintings on the cliff faces. The earliest examples of Saharan rock art are invariably engravings, sometimes on a very large scale, representing the ancient and partially extinct wildlife. That they were at this time nomadic hunters is inferred from a lack of representations of domestic animals. One of the most prominent and common representations is the Bubalus Antiqus, the ancestor of modern domesticated cattle, resembling the modern east African buffalo, but with much larger horns. As it became extinct around 5000 BC, it has allowed archaeologists to date the Tassili rock paintings.

Masked Figure. Sahara. Algeria. Archaic or Round Head style.
9000-7000 BCE

Lhote then identified the “round headed people” as the next phase. This peculiar style is officially limited to the Tassili, but there are similarities with the large cave at Wadi Sora in the Gilf Kebir and paintings in the Ennedi, showing that these people got very close to Egypt.

Sir Wallis-Budge was amongst the first to identify that the ancient Egyptians were inheritors of the African shamanic tradition. Wilkinson agrees; McKenna too. There was a religion in the Tassili, apparently involving hallucinogenic substances that opened up gateways into other dimensions for the shamans. The outcome must have been a religious doctrine, one that began to be written down on the cliff faces, including the “Great fishing god”, which by 3500 BC became incorporated in Dynastic Egypt as the symbol of Pharaonic control and which would throughout Egypt’s history be depicted on its great temple walls.

But when ancient Egypt went Dynastic, the Tassili did not follow the trend. The rock faces continued to be used for paintings, though became different in style. By 2500 BC, the savannah began to transform into the desert it is now. When the horse was introduced to the Sahara about 1200 BC, enabling horse drawn chariots to be used along the Saharan trade routes up until classical times, these animals too became incorporated in the art of the local people. But by 1200 BC, the climate had become vastly different from the savannah of 7000 BC. The difference in climate between today and 7000 BC could indeed be seen as being of a different world. Today, the Tassili could indeed be on a different planet. Though its artwork is more and more photographed, few if any are willing to incorporate it within a larger framework. Von Däniken was wrong when he stated that these were extra-terrestrial beings, but he was right to suggest that the Tassili had an unknown dimension to the history of ancient Egypt. Making a step into the Tassili will be harder than making a small step on the Moon, it would not be big step for Mankind, but it would be big step for archaeology. -- Source

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 492
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


The writer forgot to mention horses and war chariots which are also represented on these cliffs. It is very interresting, but the predynastic egyptian connection sound like a hype.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Egyptian Dreams Forum Index -> Pre-dynastic Egypt All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group