Oldest Nativity Scene Uncovered In Egypt, Resembles The Christmas Nativity

First Posted: Dec 27, 2016 03:30 AM EST

Researchers may have found the oldest nativity scene in Egypt in the form of rock painting. It predated the Christian nativity art by about three millennia.

The painting was seen on the ceiling of a small cavity in the Egyptian Sahara Desert. It was composed of a newborn between parents, a star in the east and two animals. The team theorized that the rock painting was dated around the Neolithic or Stone Age, which could be about 5,000 years old.

Marco Morelli, a geologist and director of the Museum of Planetary Science in Prato, Italy, described it as a very evocative scene that indeed resembles the Christmas nativity. On the other hand, it predates it by some 3,000 years. The team found the rock painting in 2005, yet it just revealed this now with the title "Cave of the Parents," according to CBS News.

Morelli said that the discovery has many implications as it fosters new questions on the iconography of one of the most powerful Christian symbols. He further said that it could have been construed as a normal depiction of a family, with the baby between the parents, but other details make this drawing unique.

In the painting, the newborn is drawn slightly above, as if raising to the sky. This position means a birth or a pregnancy. Morelli said as death was linked to earth in contemporary rock art from the same area, it is likely that birth was linked to the sky.

A headless lion, a mythical beast, was drawn on the upper part. This appears in many rock art drawings from the same area. Meanwhile, a baboon or an anthropomorphic monkey was drawn below.

Morelli said that the discovery is no doubt an intriguing drawing. He concluded that they did not find similar scenes until the early Christian age, according to Live Science. 

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