The ancient Egyptians could have painted hundreds of thousands of their paintings, new study says
Ancient Egyptian art is a treasure trove of images that reveal a culture that lived during the period known as the Neolithic Revolution.
It is thought that a small group of artisans who were skilled in painting and pottery could have produced hundreds of millions of paintings.
The discoveries, published in the journal PLOS ONE, are based on work by two team members from the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at Egypt’s National Museum of Egypt.
One team member, Professor Alaa Zawad, an expert in ancient Egyptian art, said the paintings “were made in a very short period of time”.
The team was also able to identify the paintings as belonging to the early Bronze Age period, which stretched from about 600BC to 400AD.
They were found at the ruins of a Neolithic city called Punthen, in what is now southern Egypt.
“They are not just about a single group of people but also a very large number of different individuals.
It shows the richness of the culture and the way it was built on top of the landscape,” Professor Zawada said.
He said the discoveries could help scientists to understand how ancient Egypt developed and how the ancient Egyptians built on the landscape.
The work was done by two groups: one, led by Professor Zampouli, from the Egyptian Institute of Anthropology and Ancient Art in Luxor, found more than 150 pieces, the majority of them painted in clay.
He told BBC News that the oldest paintworks were painted at the Puntheb, which is also known as Punthed.
“The most significant discoveries are the works that were painted in Punthetb,” Professor Alba Zampouri, a professor of art at the University of Exeter, said.
“I think this will be a very important piece of evidence to look at how they were created.”
Professor Zavad said that the first painted image of a human head was discovered at the site.
The team also found a painting of a man and woman holding hands, as well as other human figures.
Professor Zwad said it is not yet clear how the team came to identify each of the paintings.
“This work is the earliest of the Neoclassical style of painting, and is probably the most important of the works of the ancient Egyptian people,” he said.
Professor Ala Zampou said that there are several possibilities for how the work was made.
He believes it was a product of a “complex process of social interaction, of making and painting, or even of the use of tools, like the hand.”
The team is currently working to identify other ancient Egyptian works that could shed light on the culture of the people of the region.
Professor Ali Abdel-Nasser, an archaeologist from the University at Alexandria, who was not involved in the work, said that it is possible that the ancient paintings could help to answer questions about the social organisation of the time.
“It is a very interesting finding,” Professor Abdel-Zahra said.