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Archaeologists have made a monumental discovery in Egypt. Experts from Yale and the Royal Museums of Art and History in Belgium have discovered an ancient Egyptian “billboard” hieroglyphs, unlike anything ever seen.
Each of the hieroglyphs has around one meter in height.
Experts have come across MASSIVE rock-art hieroglyphs—so big, that the team was left baffled by their size. But the size of the hieroglyphs isn’t the only thing that caught experts by total surprise. The age of the hieroglyphs could mean a LOT to history.
According to archaeologists, initial studies reveal that the hieroglyphs date back around 5,200 years, making them the oldest and largest inscriptions ever found in Egypt.
“This newly discovered rock art site of El-Khawy preserves some of the earliest — and largest — signs from the formative stages of the hieroglyphic script and provides evidence for how the ancient Egyptians invented their unique writing system,” says John Coleman Darnell, Yale professor and co-director of the Elkab Desert Survey Project.
“This also suggests that there is a much more expansive use of the early writing system than is indicated from other surviving archaeological material.”
“This discovery isn’t new in the sense that this is the first time that anyone has seen these hieroglyphs; this is the first time that anyone has seen them on such a massive scale. These individual hieroglyphs each measure just over a half meter in height, and the entire tableau is about 70 centimeters (27.5 inches) in height. Previously found signs were only one or two centimeters in size,” added Darnell.
Researchers have discovered the image of a herd of elephants carved between the years 4000 and 3500 BC. One of the drawn elephants has another smaller one inside, which was an “incredibly rare way to represent a pregnant female,” Darnell said in a statement.
In addition to the above, archaeologists also identified a set of four signs created around 3250 BC, and written from right to left–the dominant direction in later Egyptian texts—that carry images of a bull’s head on a short stick, two saddlebill storks posing back-to-back and a bald ibis above and between them.
These symbols are often seen in this formation in later texts that describe the solar cycle and luminosity and according to Professor Darnell, “These images may express the concept of royal authority over the ordered cosmos.”
Darnell explained that the findings discarded that writing developed slowly and mainly for bureaucratic uses as previously believed, but indicates that it had broader geographical spread and topical diversity at or shortly after its development.
Furthermore, the researchers are making use of new techniques to record the sites, by building 3D images out of photographs.
“This new technology makes it possible to record sites at a level of accuracy and detail that was absolutely impossible before,” says Darnell, adding, “It also means that we can record the site as a place, or a location, and not just as a series of inscriptions.”
“This was not what I was expecting to find when I set out on this period of work on the expedition,” says Darnell. “It was completely shocking to me.”