The dating results will be published in the December issue of Antiquity (Vol. 85 Issue 330, pp. 1184–1193).
The site of the rock art panels is near the modern village of Qurta, about 40km south of the Upper-Egyptian town of Edfu, the statement said.
"The rock art at Qurta is characterized by hammered and incised naturalistic-style images of aurochs and other wild animals. On the basis of their intrinsic characteristics (subject matter, technique, and style), their patina and degree of weathering, as well as the archaeological and geomorphological context, these petroglyphs have been attributed to the late Pleistocene era, specifically to the late Palaeolithic period (roughly 23,000 to 11,000 ago). This makes them more or less contemporary with European art from the last Ice Age — such as the wall-paintings of Lascaux and Altamira caves.
"The palaeolithic rock art at Qurta reveals that the well-known cave art of the late Pleistocene in Europe was not an isolated phenomenon," the statement said. "Qurta puts North Africa firmly in the world of the earliest surviving artistic tradition, and shows that tradition to have been geographically more wide-spread than heretofore imagined," said Darnell, professor of Egyptology.
The authors of the study note that while archaeologists generally did not dispute the estimated age of the images, proof in the form of indirect or direct science-based dating had hitherto been lacking, the statement said.
In 2008, an interdisciplinary team of scientists directed by Dirk Huyge of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels discovered partly buried rock art panels at one of the Qurta sites, the statement said.
The fieldwork for this study was funded by the William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Endowment for Egyptology of the Yale Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. The laboratory analyses were supported by the Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders. In addition, the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo and Vodafone Egypt offered administrative and logistical support, the statement said.
Project Gallery of Antiquity: http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/huyge313/
Yale Professor of Egyptology: http://www.yale.edu/egyptology/home.htm