Friday, 24 August 2012

Prehistory of Ancient Egyptian civilization


Just like any other great civilization in the ancient world , the Egyptian civilization also flourished on the banks of an great river called the NIle.The Nile River rises from the lakes of central Africa as the White Nile and from the mountains of Ethiopia as the Blue Nile. The White and Blue Nile meet at Khartoum and flow together northward to the Nile delta, where the 4000 mile course of this river spills into the Mediterranean Sea . No one really knows exactly where these early Egyptians came from. Learned guesses incline to the view that they were a cross between Nubian, Ethiopian and Libyan natives on one side and Semitic or Armenoid immigrants on the other. The invaders or immigrants from Western Asia brought a higher culture with them, and their intermarriage with the vigorous native stocks provided that ethnic blend which is often the prelude to a new civilization. Egyptian civilization is most probably the greatest of all ancient civilization if the extent of land area and archeological sites and treasures are taken into considerations .


Many findings suggest that the Predynastic period equivalent to the neolithic period existed in the Nile valley,the Predynastic period is generally divided into cultural periods, each named after the place where a certain type of Egyptian settlement was first discovered. Vast majority of Predynastic archaeological finds have been in Upper Egypt, because the silt of the Nile riverr was more heavily deposited at the Delta region.


Late Paleolithic period started around 30,000 bc which is evident by the finding of skeletons of modern humans dating to the same time period. Mobile structures were first build which could be easily disassembled and reassembled.  developed advanced tools not only from stone but also from animal bones and hematite. They also developed small arrow heads. The end of the Khormusan came around 16,000 B.C. with the appearance of other cultures in the region, including the Gemaian.


The Halfan culture flourished along the Nile valley of Egypt and Nubia between 18,000 and 15,000 BC, though one Halfan site dates to before 24,000 BC. They survived on a diet of large herd animals and the Khormusan tradition of fishing. Greater concentrations of artifacts indicate that they were not bound to seasonal wandering, but settled for longer periods. There existed a grain grinding Mesolithic culture called the Qadan culture, which practiced wild grain harvesting along the Nile during the beginning of the Sahaba Daru Nile phase, when desiccation in the Sahara caused residents of the Libyan oases to retreat into the Nile valley. Qadan peoples developed sickles and grinding stones to aid in the collecting and processing of these plant foods prior to consumption. Sebilian culture also known as Esna culture were gathering wheat and barley.

The Mushabian culture emerged from along the Nile valley and is viewed as a parent of the Natufian culture, which is associated with early agriculture.The Harifians are viewed as migrating out of the Eastern Deserts of Egypt during the late Mesolithic to merge with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture, whose tool assemblage resembles that of the Harifian. This assimilation led to the Circum-Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, a group of cultures that invented nomadic  pastoralism, and may have been the original culture which spread Proto semitic languages throughout Mesopotamia.


Desertification forced the early ancestors of the Egyptians to settle around the Nile more permanently and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. Around 6000 BC, Neolithic settlements appeared all over Egypt. some morphological and post-cranial data has linked the earliest farming populations at Fayum, Merimde, and El-Badari, to local North African Nile populations. Near Eastern domesticates were incorporated into a pre-existing foraging strategy and only slowly developed into a full-blown lifestyle. Weaving is evidenced for the first time during the Faiyum culture Period. People of this period, unlike later Egyptians, buried their dead very close to, and sometimes inside, their settlements. Stone tools include small flakes, axes and sickles where used and the use of metal was not yet known.

The Maadi culture also called Buto Maadi culture is the most important Lower Egyptian prehistoric culture during this time use of Copper was known, and some copper adzes have been found. Pottery was simple and undecorated. People lived in small huts, partly dug into the ground. The dead were buried in cemeteries, but with few burial goods. The Maadi culture was replaced by the Naqada III cultureThe Tasian culture was the next in Upper Egypt. This culture group is named for the burials found at Der Tasa, onthe east bank of the Nile between Asyut and Akhmim. The Tasian culture group was notable for producing the earliest blacktop-ware, a type of red and brown pottery that is painted black on the top and interior during this time the handles on pottery evolved from functional to ornamental . The Badarian culture, from about 4400 to 4000 BC, is named for the Badari site near Der Tasa. Badarian flint tools continued to develop into sharper and more shapely blades, and the first faience was developed.


The Amratian culture lasted from about 4000 to 3500 BC. It is named after the site of El-Amra.During this period Black-topped ware continues to appear, but white cross-line ware, a type of pottery which has been decorated with close parallel white lines being crossed by another set of close parallel white lines, is also found at this time.New innovations appeared in Amratian settlements as precursors to later cultural periods the mud-brick buildings for which the Gerzean period is known were first seen in Amratian times, but only in small numbers. Oval and theriomorphic Cosmetic palettes appear in this period, but the workmanship is very rudimentary.
The Gerzean culture flourished from about 3500 to 3200 BC and is named after the site of Gerzeh. It was the next stage in Egyptian cultural development, and it was during this time that the foundation of Dynastic Egypt was laid. Gerzean culture is largely an unbroken development out of Amratian Culture, starting in the delta and moving south through upper Egypt. Gerzean culture coincided with a significant decline in rainfall and farming along the Nile  produced the vast majority of food during this period. With increased food supplies, Egyptians adopted a much more sedentary lifestyle and cities grew as large as 5,000.During this time that Egyptian city dwellers stopped building with reeds and began mass-producing mud bricks, first found in the Amratian Period, to build their cities. Copper was used for all kinds of tools, and the first copper weaponry appears here. Silver, gold, lapis, and faience were used ornamentally,The first tombs in classic Egyptian style were also built in this time.

The Naqada III period, from about 3200 to 3000 BC is generally taken to be identical with the Protodynastic period, during which Egypt was unified. Naqada III is notable for being the first era with hieroglyphs, the first regular use of serekhs, the first irrigation, and the first appearance of royal cemeteries.


Starting from the late Paleolithic period around 40 millenium BC till the time around 4000-3000 BC Prehistoric Egypt was settled and resettled by many varied cultures and groups of people majority of which practised nomadic lifestyle untill the Nile river valley became enough reliable for mass cultivation and agricultural practices. With the Nile river valley becoming an lifeline of people permanent settlements started coming up and Dynasties of rulers started ruling over the land of Egypt and hence cultural maturity was slowly and consecutively attained.


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