Pre-dynastic Period (5500 B.C.- 3100 B.C.)
The different cultures/periods are identified by distinguishable forms of pottery and other items.
Lower Egypt- period/culture divided into Fayoum A and B
Immediately before 5000 b.c.- Badarian period/culture
5000 b.c.-4000 b.c.- Badarian culture
4000 b.c.-3500 b.c.- Naqada I (or Amratian) period/culture
3500 b.c.-3150 b.c.- Naqada II (or Gerzean) period/culture
3200 b.c.-3100 b.c. –or- 3150 b.c.-3000 b.c.- Naqada III (or Protodynastic) period/culture
Prior to approximately 5500 b.c., the area was mostly inhabited by hunger-gatherer parties. Around 5500 b.c., though, people started to settle alongside the Nile in small agricultural communities. Of course, there was no formal type of government at this time. These settlers are usually referred to as the Naqada Culture.
By about 3400 b.c., the agricultural communities had developed into two main areas of settlement, one in Lower Egypt and one in Upper Egypt. Both had distinct monarchies, ruled by kings.
3200 b.c.- 3100 b.c.- regions or states, known as nomes, developed and merged, though it is not known if it was peacefully or by conquest.
Approx. 3100 b.c. (roughly stated as 3050 in some texts)- The pre-dynastic period drew to a close when one king united the Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) parts of Egypt. This king is speculated as being one of the following:
~~~Scorpion King- supposedly reigned from 3150 b.c.-3050 b.c.
~~~King Narmer of Upper Egypt- perhaps the father of Menes
~~~King Menes the Fighter- supposedly constructed Memphis, the capital of the unified kingdom (The one most often credited).
Speculation also includes that the Scorpion King and Narmer were the same person, that Narmer and Hor-Aha were the same person, that the Scorpion King didn’t exist, etc. Archeology and history at this point leaves us only knowing that a king DID unite the empire, not any information about that king.
Clothing was very much optional in Egypt due to the hot weather. Animal skins were sometimes worn, but those who did opt for clothes usually wore linen. Linen is made by gathering the stems of the flax plant. Soaked in water for several days, then laid out to dry. Beaten to soften them. Used spindle to wind into thread, which was then woven.
hunting and fishing, along with agricultural products. They also began the process of domesticating livestock such as cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. Agricultural practices included plowing, raking, and the use of manure.
Shaped by witnessing the natural cycles of the sun and river. Practices include placement of funerary goods in graves and nobility being interred in mastaba (platform) tombs. The common person was buried in the sand, which retarded decay, and may have led to belief of life after this one.
simple houses constructed of mud and straw.
White-painted pottery, harps, flutes, lyres, and double-harps are all present in Eygpt. The Egyptian calendar, which took into account both the sun and moon, was 360 days long- divided into 12 months of 30 days each. Copper work was taking place.
**Language and Writing:
Earliest known numerals were used in Egypt. Writing (in the form of hieroglyphics), perhaps as a result of Mesopotamian influence. Direct borrowing of Mesopotamian writing is unlikely, as Meso. quickly moved on to abstract cuneiform, while Egypt retained a more “picture” element. Meso. used their first writing for administrative rather than funerary purposes. It is more likely that travelers and merchants brought the CONCEPT of expressing sound through writing. While the writing was similar in concept to the Sumerian pictographic script, the specific hieroglyphics developed in Egypt were from earlier symbols used to decorate pottery.
The earliest known decorated tomb (Tomb 100 @ Hierakonpolis) was adorned with a series of painted boats, building, and men hunting and fighting. These images have close affinity with the marks on pots from the period. Vessels from the latter part of the Predynastic Period do not have the standardized painted decoration from the Naqada II Period, but ink marks on plain wares that seem to be the earliest manifestations of hieroglyphic script. Precise dating is unclear, but these earliest hieroglyphics certainly lie somewhere within the 150 years directly preceding the unification of Egypt (3050 b.c.)
Tomb 100 at Hierakonpolis is suspected to be the oldest surviving Egyptian royal burial. There is a main room adorned with scenes, believed to hold one of the “proto-pharaohs” of approximately 3300 b.c. Hierakonpolis seems to have been the capital of the first rulers of Upper (southern) Egypt.
The Umm el-Qaab cemetery at Abydos lies at the mouth of the valley leading to the Western Desert- speculated that it was chosen as a burial place due to it being regarded as a gateway to the West, the home of the dead. Largest of the earliest tombs is U-j, identical in construction to Tomb 100, but with a dozen rooms vice one. From approximately 3000 b.c., and a direct ancestor to similar tombs built by 1st dynasty kings.