The place of rock art in Egyptian predynastic iconography: some examples from the fauna

Frederick E. Hardtke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Hierakonpolis (ancient Nekhen) near Edfu, in Upper Egypt, is well known for its late Predynastic and Early Dynastic archaeological localities, which have been excavated and researched over many decades. These localities lie in the desert, west of the Nile River, adjacent to rock beds and hills that exhibit rock art and inscriptions representing a very broad span of time. While much of the rock art occurs near areas that had permanent settlement or funerary sites in the Predynastic period, there are also a number of seasonal or temporary campsites and shelters incorporating petroglyphs ranging from abstract compositions to 'fauna' and 'boats'. The themes purportedly depicted in the rock art and its close proximity to areas rich in archaeological heritage present unique research opportunities in associating the two, and many of the motifs depicted in rock art here have parallels in other media of the Predynastic period. Of the rock art recorded to date, the figural motifs have the closest affinity to specific iconography known from other aspects of Predynastic material culture such as pottery, potmarks and 'palettes'. This paper will consider a selection of the animal motifs from the site and assess their level of coherence with Predynastic iconography as it is known from these other media. This coherence is examined at a number of levels: the types of infill used to decorate the bodies of animals; to their distinctive morphologies; and finally their inclusion in compositions such as purported hunting scenes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
JournalRock Art Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


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