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Spider rock art in Egypt - Khargah

Very unusual rock art discovered in Egypt

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Archaeologists have discovered a rock panel in the Kharga Oasis about 175 kilometres west of Luxor in Egypt, which is believed to contain the only known example of ‘spider’ rock art in Egypt and, it appears, the entire Old World.

While the date of the panel is still uncertain, it is thought to go back to prehistoric times, at least 4,000 BC or even earlier.  The main panel shows what appear to be a few spiders, with a "star" that may depict a web, although that is open to interpretation. There are also comb-like drawings that Egyptologist Salima Ikram said could be insects being trapped by the spiders, plants or even silken tubes spun by the spiders.  Whatever they are, Ikram has said the panel is “very unusual”.

Ikram has conducted research in order to determine why the people who once lived in the Kharga Oasis would have created rock art depicting spiders. She consulted with Hisham El-Hennawy, an arachnologist who mentioned spiders called Argiope lobata livie in the western desert, where the rock panel was found, and may have attracted the interest of ancient people. These spiders can be found "shaded and surviving, in the middle of their orb web under the burning sun at Noon," Ikram writes.

According to Ikram, the idea of spiders bathing in the sun may have held religious significance to ancient people in the area.  Alternatively, the spiders may have been more prevalent in the oasis in the past and were therefore featured in the rock art, much like the way in which other indigenous cultures have depicted animals that are common to their region.

Of course, it cannot be ruled out that the spiders were drawn with “no special reason in mind”, or, that they are not spiders at all. Nevertheless, the unusual panel presents a mystery for Egyptologists to try to unravel and decode.

By April Holloway



Michael Ledo's comments are very compelling. The carving/constellation which does resemble a spider most - Mr Ledo's 'scorpio' - reminded me immediately of the shapes of lines at Nazca, Peru. We still have much to learn but the picture is becoming much more clearer in recent times.

aprilholloway's picture

Very interesting, thanks Michael.

I found that the mystery spider stone extremely easy to decipher. It is more important than you believe.
The stone has basically 4 symbols going across the bottom. The second one is actually a spider.
As the stone was facing east it clues us to an astronomical answer which will be very clear to you once I explain it. The bottom four figures represent zodiacal constellations associated with the summer solstice.

Starting from the left:

1) The first constellation is a bird. Note the beak pointing west. This is the constellation Scorpio which in ancient times was typically depicted as an eagle or bird.

2) The second constellation which looks like a spider, is a spider. The spider was an ancient representation of the constellation Ophiuchus. It was known as the 13th zodiac constellation. In this case it has replaced Libra, or perhaps merged with it. The spider is important because it was associated with the third constellation located to the right of the vertical line.

3) The third constellation is the key. It is a badly worn Neith, one of the earliest depictions we have of her. The thatching is her woven skirt. At the top of her head is the distinct curved crown of Lower Egypt which astrologically represent the constellation of the Northern Crown. Her arms are extend outward as she is holding something that is badly worn. It could be her bow, but looks more like a cup which would be the constellation Crater, not exactly known to be an Egyptian constellation.

4)The constellation on the far right is a lion. The thatched area is the Mane. You can make out the lion's face underneath it.

If dated to 4,000 BCE, the area that would represent the summer solstice would be located between Leo and Virgo (Neith). It would be the worn item she is holding in her hands. However if the center line represents the solstice then the rock would date to closer to 6,000 BCE.

The three upper thatch marks above the break is where the constellation Hercules would be located. Hercules was associated with the sun. In my own research I have been able to associate it with the rising sun...but that is a very long story. How could all you guys have missed what is so obvious?

Michael Ledo
author of "On Earth as it is in Heaven. The Cosmic Roots

aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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