Gilf-el-Kebir : la “Capella Sixtina” de la Prehistòria

Gilf-el-Kebir, és més que un jaciment, mes que un paratge … per alguns escollits es possibliment el bressol d’una de les civilitzacions antigues mes rellevants que ha conegut la Humanitat: l’Egipcia. De motius no n’hi falten.

En efecte, el paratge habitat de Gilf Kebir es remunta a al voltant de l’última Edat de Gel, fa uns 10.000 anys. La Cova dels nedadors es troben en la dècada de 1930 per part del comte hongarès László Almásy. Caldria arribar fins el 2003 perquè es revitalitzés aquest espai amb la descoberta d’una cova propera: la “Cova de les Bèsties” formalment nomenada: Foggini-Mestekawi.

Almásy va néixer a Borostyanko (actual Bernstein a Austria) en el si d’una familia aristocrática, apassionat per les noves tecnologies de l’època: cotxes, avions, va arribar a ser pilot als 17 anys i va realitzar proves de resistencia entre Alexandria i Sudan com a provador de la marca Steyr. Tres anys mes tard Almásy recorrria 12.000 kilòmetres a través del norest d’ África: Libia, Egipte i Sudan, en un viatge que cambiaría la vida.

Almásy va redescobrir l’antigua Ruta dels Quaranta entre Egipto i l’Africa Negra. Els dies que tardaven els esclaus en recórre-la. La vida d’aquest  personatge, va ser portada al cinema a la película El pacient anglès, adaptant  novel.la de Michael Ondaatje, i que seria amplament guardonada als Oscar. Durant la Segona Guerra Mundial el paratge va ser la ubicació d’una important base de l’Exèrcit Britànic.

Geogràficament parlant, Gilf Kebir és un altiplà de pedra arenisca erm de 7770 quilòmetres quadrats que s’alça 300 metres sobre el terra del desert a l’extrem sud-oest d’Egipte proa de la frontera amb Libia, a uns 400 km del riu Nil.

Fa uns 10.000 a 7.000 anys, l’aigua va córrer per la regió, fet que va ser aprofitat per una civilització prehistòrica per evolucionar. Aquells primers pobladors van deixar la seva empremta artística en dos llocs en particular: la Cova dels nedadors i la Cova deles Bèsties, també coneguda com a Foggini-Mestekawi.

La Cova dels nedadors compta amb belles imatges d’humans petits nedant a través de les parets de la cova, mentre que la de Foggini-Mestekawi es encara més espectacular, ja que conté les siluetes i emprentes de les mans, així com imatges de la caça de les persones, la pesca, ball, escenes familars. Els animals estan molt presents també : gossos, girafes, lleons i una estranya criatura , coneguda com “la bèstia”, que s’assembla a un toro sense cap, amb les cames d’un home. S’alimenta d’éssers humans, i es creu que va ser imaginat pels artistes egipcis prehistòrics que representen un vincle entre la vida i la mort.

Aquesta es la línia de treball que defensa Rudolf Kuper, de l’Institut Heinrich Barth a Köln, ja que creu que la Cova de les bèsties es remunta a 8.000 anys enrera. Els descendents dels seus artistes emigrarien finalment a la vall del Nil per crear l’Egipte faraònic.

El Sàhara Oriental és el desert mes calent i sec del món. Els moderns egipcis es refereixen a aquesta zona com la “Gran Barrera”, i pels antics com el Gran Mar de Sorra. No obstant això, al voltant de 8500 aC la regió va gaudir de l’estació hivernal i es va convertir en una fèrtil sabana, tot el contrari dels pantans inhòspits de la Vall del Nil.Les precipitacions van anar minvant a Gilf Kebir i vers el 5300 aC es van parar del tot. Dos-mil anys mes tard, sobre el  3.500 aC els assentaments humans ja havien desaparegut. Dos-cents anys mes tard floriria la Civilització Egípcia ….

Kuper esposa que les pintures de la Cova de les Bèsties son d’abans de la introducció dels animals domèstics, cap el 6000 aC, tot i que algunes veus contradiuen aquesta opinió ja que a la Cova Doyet (Bèlgica) hi ha datacions de domesticació de gossos 30.000 anys aC … i les actuals llistes de domesticació ofereixen indicadors mes enllà dels 6000 aC en moltes espècies.

Les pintures de la Cova de “la Bèstia” mostren unes escenes extraordinàries sobre la vida d’aquells pobladors i la  seva misteriosa civilització. La caça, l’amor, els jocs, la pesca, els pares de la mà dels seus fills … envoltats per la natura i el seu esplendor: tot tipus d’animals: gaseles, lleons, girafes gossos, i una estranya criatura – un enorme bou o un elefant, sense cap, però amb les cames d’home, sembla estar devorant els éssers humans s’ha interpretat com la representació de la transició de la vida a la mort.

Mahmoud Nour El Din, guia d’expedició diu que tothom pregunta sobre que representen aquests animals a la cova, especialment la bèstia que es repeteix en altres espais de la zona de Wadi Sura. La major part convé en que cal estudiar la representació en el context de la transició de la vida a la mort, que els antics egipcis els amoïnava especialment. Per Kuper la bèstia és un símbol de captura per part d’un animal imaginari, com ja ho fa la civilització japonesa, i que es caracteritza per devorar el cap, que fa que la víctima estigui totalment indefensa.

Gilf-el-Kebir, nois que naden, grups que ballen, i bèsties imaginàries que s’empassen els caps dels homes i dones, potser ja morts. Alguns admiradors la coneixen com la “Capella Sixtina” de la Prehistòria. Sens dubte, una obra d’art que intenta explicar el que no entenien els nostres rebesavis …

Per saber-ne mes:

László Almásy: “The Unknown Sahara” (fjexpeditions.com)

Prehistoric Swimmers in the Sahara / Pauline de Flers, Philippe de Flers, Jean LoÏc Le Quellec (rupestre.on-rev.com)

From the Sahara to the Nile: the low representation of dangerous animals in the rock art of the Libyan desert could be linked to the fear of their animation / Julien d’Huy and Jean-Loïc Le Quellec -Translated by Geoffrey Kolbe- (aars.fr)

The Early Hunter-Gatherer Civilizations of the Libyan Dunes,Analysis of the painitngs of “Cave of the Beasts” and “Cave of the Swimmers” Wadi Sura / by Roland Keller (rolandkeller.org)

Prehistoric Paintings in Gilf Kebir (heritage-key.com)

Font: Prehistoric Gilf Kebir Cave Paintings to Unlock Secrets of Ancient Egypt – Submitted by Sean Williams on Wed, 05/26/2010 (heritage-key.com)

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