Saturday, June 16, 2018


5,000-year-old Egyptian "Nativity

Italian rock art researchers have announced the discovery of what they are calling "the oldest nativity scene ever found." Because of the magnitude of the claim they are making about its meaning I am quoting the article in its entirety. On December 22, 2016, Rossella Lorenzi wrote on, "Italian researchers have discovered what might be the oldest nativity scene ever found - 5,000-year-old rock art that depicts a star in the east, a newborn between parents, and two animals." (Lorenzi 2016)

Now the panel undoubtedly does depict a man and woman with a small figure between them, two animals (one a probable), and a dot on the right that has been identified as the "star in the east."

The description goes on: "The scene, painted in reddish brown ochre, was found on the ceiling of a small cavity in the Egyptian Sahara desert, during an expedition to sites between the Nile valley and the Gilf Kebir Plateau. "It's a very evocative scene which indeed resembles the Christmas nativity. But it predates it by some 3,000 years," geologist Marco Morelli, director of the Museum of Planetary Sciences in Prato, near Florence, Italy, told Seeker. Morelli found the cave drawing in 2005, but only now his team has decided to reveal the amazing find." (Lorenzi 2016)

"The discovery has several implications as it raises new questions on the iconography of one of the more powerful Christian symbols," Morelli said. The scene features a man, a woman missing the head because of a painting detachment, and a baby. "It could have been interpreted as a normal depiction of a family, with the baby between the parents, but other details make this drawing unique," Morelli said. He noted the newborn is drawn slightly above, as if raising to the sky. Such position, with the baby not yet between the parents, would have meant a birth or pregnancy." (Lorenzi 2016) Where in the world would this conclusion have come from, that a position between and slightly above would have meant birth or pregnancy? But what if it is not rising to the sky? What if it is slightly higher to represent that it is farther away? They do not say that the lion is rising to the sky, yet it is much higher than the small figure. Maybe the lion is not yet born either.

"As death was associated to Earth in contemporary rock art from the same area, it is likely that birth was linked to the sky," Morelli said." (Lorenzi 2016) I would love to see the references that back this statement up, I just don't believe it.

"The scene becomes more symbolically complex if the other figures, two animals and a small circular feature are taken into consideration. On the upper part is a headless lion, a mythical beast which appears in several rock art drawings from the same area, while below the scene a baboon or an anthropomorphic monkey can be seen. In the east, the Neolithic artist (has) drawn what appears to be a star. The researchers called the site the "Cave of the Parents." No doubt it's an intriguing drawing," Morelli said. "We didn't find similar scenes until the early Christian age." (Lorenzi 2016)

In the above statement the author failed to distinguish whether any lion in general was the "mythical beast which appears in several rock art drawings from the same area" or whether it is the headless state of the lion which renders it mythical. Given the long tail it does appear to represent an lion, a figure important to the later Egyptians, and, as an apex predator, a figure likely to be of importance to anyone who lives where they are found. As to the "baboon or an anthropomorphic monkey", it is just as likely to represent a seated human with outstretched arms. Without a head I don't believe it can be definitely identified.

All in all this story would be perfectly acceptable if the author had inserted the word "possibly" about a dozen times, but as it stands it is unacceptable sloppy rock art analysis and reporting.


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