Interlinking the cultural with the natural environment – an example from the Djebel Duwi area (Eastern Desert, Egypt)
Developments in landscape studies in the past decades have allowed scholars to successfully bridge the cultural and natural sciences and to also better understand how humans and the environment are interlinked. For the prehistory of Egypt’s Eastern Desert such links are relatively unexplored, due to the low density of archaeological sites and the limited knowledge of the environmental evolution.
A. Saadallah has attempted to rectify this deficiency in his recent master thesis. Through the following three themes, the influence of the natural landscape of Djebel Duwi on the present-day local inhabitants was examined:
- Physical landscape (e.g. topography, hydrology, vegetation)
- Spatial distribution of Pleistocene and Holocene human activities
- Traditional environmental knowledge of today’s local nomads
The spatial attributes of past human activities were seen as manifestations governed by the physical reality of the natural landscape. Results indicate that water, both as a resource and as a natural hazard (e.g. flash flood), played a significant role in site selection processes. Together with other features, such as the high population of arboreal vegetation near such sites, we can expect to predict the location of archaeological sites.
Landscape view of Djebel Duwi limestone ridge.
Photo: Ahmed Saadallah