Tourist's find shows Africa 'influenced' ancient Egyptian art

Boats Arch site, Wadi el Obeiyid, Farafra Oasis The drawings were discovered etched into this shallow cave

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Rock drawings spotted by a tourist reveal ancient Egyptian art "drew upon cultural influences from Africa", archaeologists have claimed.

The Neolithic pictures are 1,000 years older than the pyramids and were discovered in a cave in eastern Sahara.

An archaeologist from Cambridge University examined the finds in April.

Dr Giulio Lucarini said previously archaeologists saw Africa as "somehow lagging behind Europe and the near East" in influence on Egyptian art.

Boat, Wadi el Obeiyid in the Farafra Oasis Dr Lucarini said the boat is similar in style to pictures found on pots in the Nile Valley from 3,500 BC but it could be "even older"

He added: "Our work shows that people living in the Eastern Sahara had a significant and developed culture, which fed into the development of the Pharaonic civilization and beyond."

Giraffe, Wadi el Obeiyid, Farafra Oasis The giraffe figure is between 6,000 and 7,000 years old

The archaeologists believe the finds "add substance" to the academic belief that Egyptian art "drew on cultural influences from Africa".

The drawings of a giraffe, a cow-like mammal, two boats and a human hand were examined by Dr Lucarini, who is co-director of the Archaeological Mission in the Farafra Oasis in April.

The project has been studying the archaeology of this region of the eastern Sahara, which is 372 miles (600 km) south west of Cairo, since the late 1980s.

The shallow cave, which the team has called Boats Arch, is three miles (4.8 km) from another site called Wadi el Obeiyid Cave where other examples of rock art were discovered in 1995.

Dr Lucarini said that despite rock art being "notoriously" tricky to date, the marked similarity in style seen in the animal drawings discovered at both sites suggests a similar period of around 6,000 to 5,500 BC.

Sheikh el Obeiyid village, Farafra Oasis Today the Wadi el Obeiyid village is in an arid landscape but thousands of years ago it was surrounded by grassland

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