In south western Libya, in what is now the Siberian desert, is a rock shelter site. Located on a plateau about 3000 feet above sea level. 1500 miles west of the Nile Valley.
The site was excavated in 1950. The Mummy was discovered in 1958. And, in 1982. It was excavated again.
Based on date the site appears to be settled from at least 5500 BC to about 2700 BC. The 7 stratigraphic layers suggest the area was inhabited during a much wetter period than today. Tashwinat Mummy was found on the eastern side at a layer around 1 meter deep.
What is Tashwinat Mummy?
It is a 2.5 year old mummified child. Found embalmed, in fetal position, with a necklace. Then placed in antelope skin which was insulated by a layer of leaves. His organs were removed. And, to stop decomposition, an organic preservative was inserted. It is believed he was black.
Tashwinat preredates egyptian mummies by about 1,000 years. Scientists radiocarbon dated it to between 54 and 5600 BC (74 and 7600 years ago).
Rock art is mostly attributed to the later occupation around 5000 years ago or 3000 BC
More than 100 rock paintings are found on the walls and ceiling of the site. Round head paintings is a well known piece. The heads are out of proportion of the body. Another painting, depicts figures in a boat. Some scientists claim it is significant. Because of its age, and that one of the figures in the boat appears upside down and dead. Which may have ritual or some sort of religious significance.
There are many other paintings. As well, in the surrounding region. Of farming, fishing, and hunting. The dry period, beginning 5000 years ago to this day, is probably what led to the abandonment of the site. They sure did leave some cool stuff.
Gazelle, turtle, hare, baboon, donkey, cattle, sheep or goat, wild cat, and warthog were found here. Hearths, and many plants and seeds were also found. Millet, wild mellon and 28 others.
At the top layers, there were pottery. The dotted wavy line was common in the region during that period. More than 500 stone tools (and, fragments) have been documented and found.
Did you know? Special NASA cameras have been able to detect a vast network of ancient river beds, water bodies and lakes around Uan Muhuggiag.
People lived here when the Sahara was less arid. Uan Muhuggiag’s rock art and early mummy are a unique and interesting part of northern Africa’s history.
Bibliography: Cremaschi, M.; Di Lernia, S. (1999). “Holocene Climatic Changes and Cultural Dynamics in the Libyan Sahara”. The African Archaeological Review. 16 (4): 211–238. doi:10.1023/A:1021609623737 (https://doi.org/10.1023%2FA%3A1021609623737). S2CID 59066573 (https://api.semanticscholar.org/CorpusID:59066573).
Hooke, C. (Director), & Mosely, G. (Producer) (2003). Black Mummy of the Green Sahara (Discovery Channel)
Mori, F. (1998). The Great Civilisations of the ancient Sahara: Neolithisation and the earliest evidence of anthropomorphic religions. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider. ISBN 88-7062-971-6..
Van Der Meer, M. (1995). “Ancient Agriculture in Libya: A Review of the Evidence”. ActaPalaeobot. 35 (1): 85–98. hdl:2381/4671 (https://hdl.handle.net/2381%2F4671).
Barich, B. (1998). People, Water, and Grain: The Beginnings of Domestication in the Saharaand the Nile Valley. Roma: L’Erma Di Bretschneider. ISBN 88-8265-017-0.
Cremaschi, M.; Di Lernia, S. (1999). “Holocene Climatic Changes and Cultural Dynamics in theLibyan Sahara”. The African Archaeological Review. 16 (4): 211–238. doi:10.1023/A:1021609623737 (https://doi.org/10.1023%2FA%3A1021609623737).
S2CID 59066573 (https://api.semanticscholar.org/CorpusID:59066573).