Researchers have found what may be the oldest nativity scene ever found - 5,000-year-old rock art depicting a newborn between parents, two animals and a star in the east - in the Egyptian Sahara desert.
The scene, painted in reddish-brown ochre, was found on the ceiling of a small cavity, during an expedition to sites between the Nile valley and the Gilf Kebir Plateau.
“It’s a very evocative scene which indeed resembles the Christmas nativity. But it predates it by some 3,000 years,” said geologist Marco Morelli, director of the Museum of Planetary Sciences in Prato, Italy.
Morelli discovered the cave drawing in 2005, however his team has decided to unveil the finding now.
“The discovery has several implications as it raises new questions on the iconography of one of the more powerful Christian symbols,” Morelli said.
The scene features a man, a woman missing the head because of a painting detachment and a baby, ‘Seeker’ reported.
“It could have been interpreted as a normal depiction of a family, with the baby between the parents, but other details make this drawing unique,” Morelli said.
The newborn is drawn slightly above, as if raising to the sky. Such position, with the baby not yet between the parents, would have meant a birth or a pregnancy, he said.
“As death was associated to Earth in contemporary rock art from the same area, it is likely that birth was linked to the sky,” Morelli said.