Combined Prehistoric Expedition to Egypt

Deep in Egypt’s Southwest Desert, members of American archaeologist Fred Wendorf’s team survey a circle of stones (see drawing) that probably served as an ancient calendar, helping to predict the onset of the monsoon rains. From about 11,000 to 5,000 years ago, this now-arid region west of Lake Nasser enjoyed a wetter climate in which Neolithic pastoralists thrived, building villages, tombs and monuments aligned with the heavens. Today the remains of Egypt’s dynastic forebears are threatened by massive desert-reclamation projects, such as the $1.8 billion Toshka Project.