Around 60 drawings engraved in stone and hieroglyphic inscriptions that date back at least 5,000 years have been discovered by archaeologists in Wadi Ameyra in the Sinai desert.
According to archaeologists, they were created by mining expeditions sent there by the first pharaohs of ancient Egypt, revealing numerous previously unknown details of ancient Egyptian history.
One of the inscriptions talks about a queen by the name of Neith-Hotep, co-founder of the First Dynasty who ruled Egypt as regent of the young pharaoh Djer. Researchers estimate that the most ancient engravings are around 5200 years old while the more “recent” inscription approximately 4800 years mention a Pharaoh called Nebra, second pharaoh of the Second Dynasty of Egypt.
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.
Professor Tallet explained that south of Wadi Ameyra, ancient Egyptian expeditions would have been sent to mine turquoise and copper Sometime after Nebre’s rule, the route of the expeditions changed, bypassing Wadi Ameyra, he said.
Interestingly, the inscriptions carved by mining expeditions tells us that queen Neith-Hotep became ruler of Egypt approximately 5,000 years ago, millennia before more famous counterparts Hatshepsut or Cleopatra VII ruled the land of the pharaohs.
While this new finding did not introduce queen Neith-Hotep to Egyptologists, it helped them correct the history behind her. Egyptologists new of her existence but believed that Neith-Hotep was married to Pharaoh 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.
Another extremely important inscription found at Wadi Ameyra has shown archaeologists that the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, once the capital of Ancient Egypt, was also referred to as “the White Walls” and is much older than what researchers previously estimated. Tallet explained that according to ancient Greek and Roman writers, Memphis was constructed by a mythical king referred to as ‘Menes’, a ruler whom Egyptologists consider to be real-life Pharaoh Narmer.
The inscriptions at Wadi Ameyra indicate that Memphis existed much sooner than previously thought, even predating Narmer.
“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.
Tallet further explained that among the inscriptions at Wadi Ameyra, researchers also found several inscriptions of boats. Among three depictions of the boats, archaeologists were able to identify 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.
Interestingly, boats were buried beside Egypt’s pyramids in the distant past, and some boats were even buried near the Pyramids at the Giza plateau. However, the design of boats depicted by mining expeditions at Wadi Ameyra “are really archaic, much older” than those which are found beside the Pyramids said Tallet in an interview.
The finds were reported recently in the book “La Zone Minière Pharaonique du Sud-Sinaï II” (Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 2015).