Prehistoric Egypt c. 5000–3000 BCE


Map Code: Ax00043

From c. 5000 BCE, drought and the desertification of northeast Africa caused nomadic cattle herders to gravitate toward the Nile flood plains, creating separate kingdoms spanning the Nubian desert to the delta. The first settlements kept livestock, practised agriculture and used simple clay pottery. Excavations show that in the Early and Middle Predynastic period (c. 5000–3000 BCE) the dead were placed in shallow holes with burial goods, such as food and jewellery. By the Late Predynastic period, burial had become more hierarchical with the wealthy being buried in inscribed tombs containing, artefacts made of gold, lapis lazuli and ivory. This shows that the Egyptians had become enthusiastic traders in exotic goods, from as far away as Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa. Excavation of a grindstone palette, used for mixing pigments, at the predynastic Temple of Hierakonpolis show inscriptions of the great battle, which led to Narmer becoming the first dynastic king.

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