For a long time it was believed that, unlike its sister city Elkab on the east bank, Hierakonpolis had relatively few examples of Predynastic rock art (petroglyphs). Thanks to the dedicated rock art survey initiated in 2009, this is no longer true.
Coming soon, Fred Hardtke (rock art survey leader) will take us on a tour of some of his new rock art revelations, often detected in the most unlikely places. In the meantime, follow along with Fred during his first season of survey at http://www.archaeology.org/interactive/hierakonpolis/field09/2.html
The best known cluster of Predynastic petroglyphs is found on one side of a prominent hill at the junction of a side wadi and the Wadi Abu Suffian. (Locality HK61). The beautiful boat that forms the logo for the Expedition was discovered there in a natural rock cleft in 1979. This cleft formed when a large boulder rolled down the side of the hill and cracked in two. On the opposing walls of the cleft are three sickle shaped boats with elaborate with animal headed prows. Above two of them are carved animals, one at least is clearly a bull. Also in the cleft is a finely carved giraffe, but it is unclear whether it was made at the same time as the boats or was already present when the boats, all believed to be of late Predynastic date, were created. Similar boats are known in the Eastern Desert, especially at Kanais, however the ones at Hierakonpolis represented some of the few examples of such boats this far north and on the west side of the Nile.
Further exploration of HK61 revealed another cleft rock nearby which has complex scenes of boat processions with similarly elaborate boats and animals, but on a smaller scale. These now faint pictures were made by pecking the rock surface rather than by carving. Unfortunately they were damaged by rock miners before the decoration could be fully recorded. The locality also includes a tiny elephant and a human figure carrying a yoke.
Petroglyphs and inscriptions of later date are found at other prominent and not so prominent locations throughout the site. In a crevice by the HK6 cemetery, priests of the New Kingdom carved their names and titles, while on the far southern border of the site (Flint City) another set of priests names have been found. However it is the petroglyphs and inscriptions together with the surrounding campsite on the far northeastern edge of the site (see HK64) that are perhaps the most intriguing.
For more information see:
Nekhen News 11 (1999) - Concession Survey
Nekhen News 20 (2008) - Flotilla
Nekhen News 21 (2009) - Rocky Start;
Nekhen News 22 (2010) - Donkey Days.
Berger M., 1982. The Petroglyphs at Locality 61 in Hoffman, M.A. (ed.), The Predynastic of Hierakonpolis. (ESA 1) Cairo and Illinois: 61-65
Berger, M., 1992. Predynastic Animal-headed Boats from Hierakonpolis and Southern Egypt, in Friedman, R. and B. Adams (eds.). The Followers of Horus. Studies dedicated to Michael Allen Hoffman. Oxford: 107-120.