Pre-dynastic history of Egypt

Pre-dynastic history of Egypt Last updated on Thursday 15th April 2010

Archaeological evidence suggests that Egypt was inhabited by hunters over 250,000 years ago when the region was a green grassland. The Palaeolithic period around 25,000BC brought climatic changes which turned Egypt into a desert. The inhabitants survived by hunting and fishing and through a primitive form of cultivation. Desertification of Egypt was halted by rains which allowed communities of cultivators to settle in Middle Egypt and the Nile Delta. These farmers grew wheat, flax and wove linen fabrics in addition to tending flocks.

The first indigenous civilizations in Egypt have been identified in the south of the country through archaeological excavations. The Badarian culture is the earliest known developed Egyptian civilization based on farming, hunting and mining. Badarians produced fine pottery and carved objects as well as acquiring turquoise and wood through trading.

The Naqada lived in larger settlements about 4,000BC and produced decorated pottery and figurines made from clay and ivory which indicate they were a war-like people. Naqada artefacts from 3,300BC show further development both in terms of culture and technology. Evidence of irrigation systems and more advanced burial sites, as well as the use of alien materials like lapis lazuli, indicate a cultural diversity and the development of external trading.

Throughout most of its pre-dynastic history Egypt encompassed a multiplicity of settlements which gradually became small tribal kingdoms. These kingdoms evolved into two loosely confederated states: one encompassed the Nile valley up to the Delta (with the Naqada dominating) with ::I as capital, represented by the deities Seth and White Crown; the other encompassed the Delta, with ::I as its capital and represented by the deities Horus and Red Crown.

The two kingdoms vied for power over all the land of Egypt. This struggle led to the victory of the south and the unification of the Two Lands in 3100BC under the command of Menes who is also known as Narmer. This was the beginning of the dynastic period of the Pharaohs.

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