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Predynastic Egypt

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Predynastic and Proto-Dynastic Egypt in Pictures | Predynastic Egypt

Predynastic Egypt refers to the period before the pharaohs. During this period, the Egyptians first practiced agriculture along the Nile valley. Earlier inhabitants were pastoralists. Sir Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) and Jacques de Morgan (1857-1924) started the study of Predynastic Egypt.

The earliest predynastic areas were in the Nile Delta and the Fayum depression, located 70 km southwest of Cairo. These predynastic cultures are considered part of a Neolithic phase in Egypt that began in about 5300 B.C., in Lower Egypt. In Upper Egypt (south of the Nile Delta), the earliest Predynastic sites come from about 4500 B.C. At the end of the Predynastic period came the Proto-Dynastic period. After that came the unification of Egypt, attributed to Menes, and the Early Dynastic Period.

Predynastic tombs from between 3500 and 3200 B.C. include painted tombs with scenes of boats and people. Predynastic artifacts include ceramic, mud-brick architecture, imports from Palestine, and copper objects.

Source: Neil Asher Silberman, Diane Holmes, Ogden Goelet, Donald B. Spanel, Edward Bleiberg "Egypt" The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Brian M. Fagan, ed., Oxford University Press 1996.

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