by Dustin T. Donaldson and Robynn Iwata
for THE SOURCE IN THE SAHARA JOURNAL and website
The World's Oldest Stone Circle Is in the Sahara: Bagnold's Stone Circle
The Real Purpose of Djedefre's Water Mountain
The 'Yam Inscriptions' of Pharaoh Montuhotep II
including a preview excerpt account of their discovery from co-discoverer Mahmoud Marai's
upcoming book Travels in the Setting Sun: A Diary of Discoveries and Explorations in the Egyptian Sahara
The Timasirayn temple/Amun Oracle equinox alignment discovery: Siwa Oasis entry at Wikipedia
"Astronomically Aligned Temple in Siwa Oasis is Ancient Calendar Device" by Enas El Masry, Ancient-Origins.net
"Siwa claims solar alignment at ancient temples on spring equinox" by Hanan Fayed, Cairo Post Youm 7 - English
"Siwa claims solar alignment at ancient temples on spring equinox" by Hanan Fayed, Cairo Post Youm 7 - Arabic
Relevant People, Books, Articles, Reviews and Recommendations:
• Mahmoud Marai:
The overwhelming majority of modern Egyptians couldn't care less about the life-changing beauty that can be found in the Egyptian Sahara. They are simply not the least bit curious, and consider it to be a useless wasteland. Meanwhile, soulless malls and western chain junk-food restaurants are appearing at a shocking rate... so you know you are dealing with a unique and individual character when you examine Mahmoud Marai, who, in the early 90's (alongside a couple other family-connected Egyptian visionaries) dared to ask the question: What is actually out there in that seemingly endless space? Together, this group hand-modified second hand 4x4's, and taught themselves how to navigate the desert lands, usually in and around the Siwa area (this was way before Siwa was visited by 'hip' Egyptians). With confidence setting in, the risks and challenges grew larger, eventually culminating in spectacular, single-vehicle rogue dashes to the furthest corners of the SW Egyptian Sahara. Nowadays, even Marai himself calls these epic triumphs "incredibly suicidal", as anyone who has ever been to these mortality-challenging locations will attest. These early victories, hard-won through sheer determination alone are enough to put this guy in the Sahara Desert hall of fame, but unsurprisingly, he is much more than simply courageous.
His book Travels in the Setting Sun: A Diary of Explorations and Discoveries in the Egyptian Sahara
Here is a quick overview/interview from 2012:
In one expedition alone he, along with Maltese businessman Mark Borda, co-discovered
the revolutionary 'Yam Inscriptions of Pharaoh Montuhotep' AND the 'Cave of the Shining Ones'!
Here are a couple of links to a great and clearly very fun period-authentic recreation
of a route by the original Long Range Desert Group of WWII.
• Sahara Journal.
The obvious model and inspiration for our own fledgling The Source In The Sahara Journal, it appears that this beloved and much relied-upon jewel - which began in the 1980's - is now sadly defunct as of issue 24. One hopes that this phoenix will rise again, so as to continue to inform and inspire.
Back issues may still be available. saharajournal.com
• Miroslav Barta. Swimmers in the Sand- On the Neolithic Origins of Ancient Egyptian Mythology
We purchased this handsomely designed (if a bit over-stylized) book immediately upon its release in 2010, in the hopes that it would mirror or at least support our own interpretive work in the SW Egyptian Sahara region and beyond (see the 'publication' section of this site). In title alone, it would seem to do just that, however in reality the definition of 'symbolism' that is apparently being used is, failingly, one of the all-pervading modern type and as such, falls before the target is reached. The ancient/classical definition of symbolism (as professed by the likes of Pythagoras, Plato, et al and the Mystery School tradition of antiquity, and resurrected in comparatively modern times by those such as R. Guenon, Manly P. Hall, Freemasonry, etc) is apparently unknown, or at least, unused by Barta, and indeed, apparently the whole of the modern group of researchers who genuinely and rightfully suspect that greater meaning is to be found encoded in the masterworks of the proto-Pharaonic Gilf/Uweinat Cattle Cult of the late Stone-age. Could it be that Barta has simply selected the wrong word to define the approach to meaning-making that we find in these prehistoric images? No, Barta absolutely has the correct historic word to define the language that the cave paintings are recorded in- it is just that this easily-misunderstood word has undergone a drastic change in definition in the modern era, and he falls prey to the current usage. He is not alone- these days we see this word tossed about everywhere, inhabiting a plethora of incorrect usages of the least credible type. This is not the place to define this most ancient, enormous and universal of word-concept, knowledge-encoding techniques, so for now we will have to leave it to this statement- the modern approach in which we find the usage of 'symbolism' here will simply not 'do the trick', as it were. Regardless, Barta clearly 'feels' the 'Uweinat-to-Pharaonic' connection on some level, and sincerely attempts to show these relationships, if ultimately unconvincingly. Of course, this lack of an accurate translation tool does not mean that the astonishing paintings found throughout this region don't actually have profound meaning- they do- it is just that Barta has not utilized the proper method that is needed to crack their symbolic encryption. The ancient/classical instructional method of pre-alphabet 'analogical symbolism' is just such a key, and since Barta is not using the proper approach, he scores very little clear and direct hits in his attempt at prehistoric-symbol-to-Ancient-Egyptian-real-world transcriptions. This having been said, Swimmers In The Sand is evocative, and ultimately, correctly suggests that this remote geographic region holds the key to the origins of the Pharaonic philosophical-scientific-religious conception. academia.edu/239671/Swimmers_in_the_Sand._On_the_Neolithic_Origins_of_Ancient_Egyptian_Mythology_and_Symbolism
• Andras Zboray.
Zboray is one of the core members of a small group of modern Sahara Desert explorers who are tirelessly working towards bringing the knowledge of this ancient lost world into the present. Since Zboray runs a consistent gamut between tourism and serious research, he is quickly becoming the main hub for many disparate connections. He introduced the rock art number-classification system that is now extensively in use by almost all involved in this region. His DVD-library compilation of known sites and photographic documentation (some of which is contributed by other researchers) is simply a must have, as it is by far the most comprehensive visual resource for Egyptian Sahara rock art available. It, and much more information, is available at his website: fjexpeditions.com
Also, while there, don't miss his almost-comprehensive Sahara-desert-research reading list.
If you like the idea of the page you're currently reading, you'll love his too:
• Wael T. Abed. The Other Egypt: Travel In No-Man's Land, Zarzora Expeditions Press, 1998
This is the first 'modern' book to be released that covers the bulk of the now-familiar places that we call the 'Western Desert' (aka Egyptian Sahara) and therefore it is one of the first books that I acquired when, around this time, I came to the conclusion that the Egyptian Sahara was the most likely and logical place to look for the origins of the Ancient Egyptians. It is amazing how far it has all come in such a short period of time, and Abed (along with C. Bergmann, A. Zboray, and Mahmoud Marai) was on it early. It appears to be out of print, but should be able to be found fairly easily online somewhere. Get it- it is informative, well written and edited by an Egyptian who knows their stuff.
• Hardy Boeckli.
Swiss desert adventurer and photographer extraordinaire, his stunning images will take you there
from the comfort of your monitor.
Feel the epic stillness! erzej-publishing.ch/tagebuch/home.htm
• Carlo Bergmann.
Info coming soon. carlo-bergmann.de/
• Rudolph Kuper. Wadi Sura –The Cave Of Beasts - A rock art site in the Gilf Kebir (SW Egypt),
Heinrich Barth Institut, 2013
Well... where to begin with this one? In my view, while the vast majority of the known sites in this region have compelling features and are more or less important in their own right, there are only three major-league, discrete cave/shelters in SW Egypt: The 'Cave of Swimmers' (now basically destroyed due to being 'loved to death' by visitors), the history-changing 'Cave of the Shining Ones' near Clayton's Craters, and the almost-unfathomable shamanistic stone-age madness of the 'Cave of the Beasts'. This latter site is now the sole star of its own book, assembled by the ubiquitous veteran archaeologist Rudolph Kuper. At 540 pages, this weighty, body-building tome has clearly set out to be the authoritative word on this spectacular neolithic shelter. And is it? As far as photographic documentation goes, there is no doubt. Other than the quickly-uncomfortable physical reality of the unwieldy book (it's too big and heavy to do anything with but put on a table), one would surely never need another image document source for the Cave of the Beasts. In the link, one can see for oneself the contents of this excellently designed and presented work, which, outside of straight photographic documentation, actually numbers at about 60 pages of textual information. There is a fine section on pigment sourcing and production; information that has been sorely personally needed by the present author, and, i suspect, others. I had hoped to find . . . (full review coming soon)
• Robert Bauval and Thomas Brophy. Black Genesis: The Prehistoric Origins of Ancient Egypt, Bear and Co., 2011
I was a member of the 2008 Uweinat-destined expedition that generated a large bulk of the work that comprises this book, so you will understand that I have plenty to say about Black Genesis. That said, I will refrain from doing so at length here, and will instead briefly attempt to expand and/or clarify moments within the work. Firstly, I was pleased to see an image from what I now call the 'Cave of the Shining Ones' on the cover of the book. Of course, this raised my expectations for solid interpretations of the spectacular painted works found in this rock shelter, but alas, they are . . . (full review coming soon)
All content © 2008-2017, Donaldson/Iwata for The Source In The Sahara and Mesmer Detector, Ltd, unless otherwise noted.
Media and website/blog photo use permitted ONLY if credited to TheSourceInTheSahara.com.
Please notify us if you use the images or any other content.
All rights reside with the content owners.
Press and media, please see the CONTACT page.