Project manager: mgr Paweł Polkowski

Project duration: 2012-2015

Project funding: National Science Centre, a scholarship for graduates embarking on scientific career without doctoral degree

Project objectives: the Dachla oasis in theLibyan Desert is a location that has been almost continuously inhabited for hundreds of thousands of years. Apart from many archaeological remains including Neolithic settlements, Dynastic period temples, town and churches from the Roman times and dense mediaeval housing, the oasis is famed for one more type of artefacts: rock art. As opposed to earlier research (Hans Winkler in the 1930s and Lech Krzyżaniak in 1985-2004), the “Within the palimpsest” project bases its research on different methodologico-theoretical assumptions. The emphasis has been shifted from petroglyphs to their settings, and the cultural horizons of which they were part have become the analytic category. The project’s author tries to answer a number of questions: what decided about the selection of a particular location for production of rock art? What was the symbolic/utilitarian significance of the site and rock art? Were their meanings changeable and how were the changes manifested? The research will be conducted on different scales: from the scale of a single rock panel and  relations between the engravings, the scale of the hill and a group of mounds with connecting footpaths, to the overall scale of the whole Oasis.

Methods: three one-month expeditions to the Dachla oasis have been planned for the project duration. Field work will include exploration of areas already known from earlier investigations and reconnaissance in uncharted territory. The author will document the on-rock art and other elements of archaeological landscapes with digital photography and GPS measurements. Selected petroglyphs will be copied on foil. The very fact of experiencing and observing the landscape will be a major part of research, as both the art and traces of human activities with footpaths linking sandstone mounds will be considered in the interpretation of the palimpsest of the title

Results: the author will attempt to present the Dachla Oasis rock art  as a semantic palimpsest. Instead of focusing on petroglyphs from a particular period, he will  try to analyse the relationships between engravings produced throughout the site’s history. The results will be published in a book form and selected photographs will be presented in a specially organised photo exhibition