Art Sheds New Light on the Ecology of Ancient Egypt

Nathaniel Dominy, associate professor of anthropology and biological sciences at Dartmouth, is working to unravel 6,000 years of complex ecological interactions in the Nile Valley. His key for shedding light on this ecology? Ancient Egyptian artwork.

Using detailed depictions of fauna from ancient Egyptian tomb paintings and carved reliefs, Dominy and his colleagues have pieced together a chronological catalogue of animals that once lived along the valley.

Dominy, along with his former graduate student Justin Yeakel, and other collaborators, have published this research in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

In a recent article with Dartmouth Now, Dominy describes his experience with the project: "We are excited by this paper because it is the first high-resolution record of an expanding human population coming into contact with essentially an intact Pleistocene community of large mammals...We can watch those animals disappear from the artistic record, and, by inference, the landscape, one at a time."

Click here to read the full story at Dartmouth Now.

Click here to access the publication at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.


*The goddess Sekhmet, Dynasty 18 (ca. 1390-1352 BCE), granodiorite. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Winfield Smith, Class of 1918; S.975.6.