1. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Ian Shaw ed. 2000. (O)
2. The British Museum (BM)


MAP 1,  MAP 2,  MAP 3


Osiris: fertility and regenerative

Sphinx is a greek word. The word in egyptian means living image of Ra (the lion). The lion is seen as a force of destruction but also as the ruler.

Nemes – striped head dress of the pharoh (son of Ra) trns into mane of lion image of pharoh as sphinx one of conqueror, protector of son god

First sphinx we looked at sent to Levant in Amenhap III rule

Lecture at the British Museum on the Armana Letters

Amenhoptep III, next to Ramses II (or was it the III?), was the biggest builder of the pharohs

The letters were usually from abroad.

1886 – found a horde of tablets in cuneform.

Gold is for diplomatic gifts btw rulers, silver is for trading. Gold, ivory and meticula (sp?) are sought after. Egyptians do not have lapis.


Lower (700/500,000-250,000 BP)

Middle (250,000-70,000 BP)

100,000 year old  Flint Tools (scrapers and hand axes)

100,000 year old Fossilized Wood

Transitional Group (70,000-50,000 BP)

See Middle.

Upper (50,000-24,000 BP)

Late (24,000-10,000 BP)

No human presence attested btw 11-8,000 BP except a very small Arkinian site (9400BP) by second cataract. Due to downcutting of the Nile with a reduced floodplain. More likely that the sites are covered by modern alluvial deposits.

Epipalaeolithic (10,000-  7,000 BP)

From 7000 onwards human groups again present in the Nile Valley.

Number of sites limited, normally covered by flood plain deposits.

Continuation of style of subsistence: hunting, fishing and gathering.

Two distinguishable cultures:




Not sure where this fits in: Canton-Thompson’s Faiyum B Culture



The western desert had been abandoned towards the end of the Middle Palaeolithic. People returned about 9300 BC with the Holocene wet phase.

Early (8800-6800 BC)

Middle and Late (6600-4700 BC)

6600/6500-5100      Middle

5100-4700               Late

In Middle there is a shift in Lithic Technology: Blade production gave way to bifacial flaking for foliates and cancave based arrowheads. Geometrics except lunates were rare. At Late sites basin type grinding stones are common… and pottery developments, see page 34 Oxford.

After 4900 BC and especially from 4400 BC onwards the desert bacame less inhabitable, onset of arid climate the continues today.


5300 – 4000 BC (or 6400-5200 BP)

Tarifian Culture

Faiyumian Culture (5450-4400 BC)

5th Millenium Flint Tools

5th Millenium Wooden Throwstick, Sickle and Pottery

5th Millenium Reed Basket

5th Millenium Pottery Cup and Reed Basket

Merimda Beni Salama Settlement (5000-4100 BC)

Three main cultural stages, situated on a low terrace at the edge of the Western Nile Delta. See p. 37 Oxford

Classic Merimda Culture (Levels III-IV)  4600-4100 BC

el-Omari Culture (4600-4350)


BADARIAN CULTURE (4400-4000 BC)                       MAP

Maybe began as early as 5000 BC. Possibly a still earlier culture, the Tasian.

Oldest human representation from the Nile Valley. 2 (see Classical Merimda)

Related settlements at Deir Tasa, Matmar, Mostagedda.


Originally believed to be from the south.

Rippled pottery may have been a local development of a Saharan tradition.

Provenance of domesticated plants my have originated in the Levant then passed through Faiyem and Merimda cultures.

Origins not from a single source, probably predominantly Western Desert.

Relationship to Naqada I culture

Badarian finds have also been made to the south at Mahgar Dendera, Armant, Elkab and Hierakonpolis; and to the east in the Wadi Hammamat.

Originally the Badarian Culture seen as a chronologically separate unit out of which the Naqada culture developed. But the Naqada I period poorly represented in the Badari region suggesting they were contemporary with the Naqada I culture to the south. How far south (from Badari to Hierakonpolis) the separate Badarian culture existed contemparily with Naqada I is at this point indeterminable.

5th Millenium Flint, Bone and Ivory Artefacts

5th Millenium Pottery, Celts and Knives

5th Millenium Cosmetic Palettes

5th Millenium Ivory and Pottery Figurines, a boat and a hippopotamus

5th Millenium Pottery

5th Millenium Pottery and Jewelery

5th Millenium Various Jewelery

5th Millenium Pottery and Ivory Figurines

NAQADA PERIOD (4000-3000 BC)




Development of Pottery

Name comes from site of Naqada (‘Nubt’ in ancient times meaning [city] of gold) where in 1892 Flinders Petrie uncovered a 3000 grave cemetery of humble burials with a body in foetal poition wrapped in an animal skin, sometimes covered by a mat in a simple pit hollowed out of the sand. Example

Naqada I (Amratian)  4000-3500 BC

Not much different from the earlier Badarian culture, possibly an older regional version. 1

4000-3600 Pottery

4000-3600 Pottery

4000-3600 Pottery

4000-3600 Two hoe blades of flint

4000-3600 Mudstone amuletic palettes, one: hippopotamus (1), (2)

4000-3600 Bone and Ivory Figurines

4000-3600 Bone Tags, figure, model tusk and pendants

4000-3600 Maceheads

Naqada II (Gerzean)  3500-3200 BC

The 'Painted Tomb' at Hierakopolis

3600-3250 Maceheads and a limestone vessel of a hippopotamus

3600-3250 Jewelery

3600-3250 Limestone and Ivory Woman Figures and Maceheads

3600-3250 Pottery (1), (2)

3600-3250 Pottery (1 and 2), (3)

3600-3250 Pottery Vases and Flint Tools

MAADIAN COMPLEX (Northern Egypt)

Emerged from the tradition of the Faiyum region and sites at Merimda Beni Salama and el-Omari. (See Neolithic – Lower Egypt)

Appeared during the second half of Naqada I and continued until Naqada IIc/d when it was eclipsed by the spread of Naqada II culture.

Cemeteries less prominent – knowledge comes from settlements.

Metalic objects common

Pastoral-agricultural and sedentary culture

Cultural Crossroad:

Naqada III (Dynasty ‘0’)  3200-3000 BC


Egypt first united into a large territorial state. The political consolidation laid foundations for the Early Dynastic state of the 1st and 2nd Dynasties. Evidence of kings in the later part buried at Abydos also indicated on the Palermo Stone. Much debate concerning the nature of unification, the date and origins of Dynasty 0.

Greater success of cereal agriculture produces surpluses which are used to pay for specialization of craft goods. Possibly first southerns to go north were traders, followed by colonists. This expansion seems to be a peaceful one at first. The northern culture was not in a vaccum (see Maadi Complex) and very well may have offered some resistence. No evidence of migration.

Boats would have been necessary for control and communication. The timber (cedar) would have come from modern day Lebanon. A motivating factor for expansion north may have been to control trade with eastern mediterranean which had developed earlier.

At some sites show a layer of only Maadian wares and then one of Naqada II wares. “At Tell el-Farkha there is a transitional layer of aeolian sand between such strata suggesting the abandonment of the settlement by the local population for unknown reasons. (intimidation?) and the later reoccupation of the site in Dynasty 0 by people of the Naqada culture. By the end of Naqada II (c3200 BC) or early Naqada III the indigenous material culture of Lower Egypt had disappeared.” 1

Burials as evidence of the political enviroment

Three major centers: Naqada, Abydos and Hierakonpolis in Naqada II times become united in Naqada III resulting from alliances and/or warfare.



Elite cemetery T burials impoverished compared to Naqada II. In a cemetery 6 km south has burials from late Naqda II with a ‘royal’ brial style indicating a split with the polity centered at South Town (located 150m north of the large predynastic cemetery), and the Naqada polity being absorbed into a larger one. Politically insignificant in Early Dynastic Period.


Umm el-Qa’ab region: the graves in Cemeteries U, B and the ‘royal cemetery’ (all in one area) evolved from undifferentiated burials in eary Naqada times to an elite cemetery in late Naqada II to the burial place of Dynasty 0 and 1 kings.

Tomb U-j dating to c3150 BC contained the earliest known hieroglyphs, the invention of which most likely predated unification.

Most important centre for the cult of the dead king. Last three kings of Dynasty 0: Iri-Hor, Ka, and Narmer were buried in Cemetery B.


An important centre associated with the god Horus, symbolic of the living king.

Became the the residence of the Predynastic rulers of Upper Egypt. 2

Macehead of King Scorpion and Palette (2)and Macehead of King Narmer possible donations to the temple of Horus indicating Hierakonpolis was still important at the end of Naqada III. Illustrates dead enemies and vanquished peoples and/or settlements, war captives and booty. 1

No layers of destruction of Naqada III date in the delta. But warfare could have implemented the expansion and consolidation into Lower Nubia and southern Palestine which occurred in the early 1st Dynasty.1

EARLY DYNASTIC (c3000-2686 BC)

1st Dynasty (c3000-2890)


Queen Merneith

Roots of 1st Dynasty are believed to be in Upper Egypt and they created a unique and indigenous state. No evidence that the foreign contact in the 4th millenium was military. Contemporary polities in Nubia, Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine ranged a much smaller area. See more p. 66 (O). 1

Mortuary Cult / Royal Tombs

2nd  Dynasty

Khasekhemwy has the best preserved funerary enclosure. p. 73

3rd Dynasty