Predynastic Period

The Predynastic Period of ancient Egyptian history stretches from the earliest human settlements, throught the neolithic period when farming and herding replaced hunting and gathering to the Early Dynastic Period when the country was first unified (around 4,000 to 3,100 B.C.).

Archeological evidence is patchy. Agricultural villages began to spring up all over the country, but while we have a fair bit of information on the villages of Lower Egypt, less settlement remains have been found in Upper Egypt. Conversely, we have more information on burial practices in the south than in the north. There is significant cultural difference between the societies in the north and south, despite trading links between them. Most notable are differences in burial customs and types of pottery.

Fish tail knife, c 3500 - 3100 BC Calcite vase, c 5500 - 3100 BC babboon, c 3500 BC Dwarf, c 3500 BC Pottery, predynastic copyright Einsamer Schütze

The period is divided into cultural groups named after the geographical locations of settlements which bear their characteristics. The Naqada culture was originally divided into Amratian and Gerzean cultures. Excavations across Egypt suggesting that the move towards a unified state was gradual have caused many to question the established timescales. A new phase, the Protodynastic Period (Naqada III) also referred to by some as dynasty zero, is suggested for the period considered to be predynastic by some and early dynastic by others.

copyright J Hill 2016
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