This ancient rock picture near Egypt’s Nile River was first spotted by an explorer more than a century ago—and then almost completely forgotten.
Scientists who rediscovered it now think it’s the earliest known depiction of a pharaoh.
The royal figure at the center of the panel wears the “White Crown,” the bowling pin-shaped headpiece that symbolized kingship of southern Egypt, and carries a long scepter.
An imposing flotilla testifies to the power and status of the pharaoh. This close-up of tableau 7a shows five vessels accompanying the king. Four of the boats have the crescent shape or the animal emblems that mark them as royal vessels.
Though difficult to make out, this picture shows a herd of long-horned cattle accompanied by two human figures and two dogs. It could be a hunting scene, which was a common genre before the time of the pharaohs.
Three men on foot seem to be shaking their upraised fists at the boat in front of them.
Based on other images from roughly the same time period, the researchers think the men aren’t aggressors but prisoners: The features that look like arms thrust into the air are probably ropes tied to the men, whose arms are bound behind their backs. More.