Prehistoric Egypt

Aterian Industry (Aterian tool-making Egypt c. 40,000 BCE)

Aterian tool-making reached Egypt c. 40,000 BCE. The Aterian is a Middle Stone Age (or Middle Palaeolithic) stone tool industry centered in the Maghreb, but also found in Oman and the Thar Desert. The earliest Aterian dates to c. 145,000 years ago, at the site of Ifri n’Ammar in Morocco. However, most of the early dates cluster around the beginning of the Last Interglacial, around 130,000 years ago, when the environment of North Africa began to ameliorate. The Aterian disappeared around 30,000 years ago and it is currently not thought to have influenced subsequent archaeological cultures in the region. Ref Ref

Khormusan Industry (Khormusan tool-making Egypt c. 40,000 and 30,000 BCE)

The Khormusan industry in Egypt began between 40,000 and 30,000 BC. Khormusans developed advanced tools not only from stone but also from animal bones and hematite. They also developed small arrow heads resembling those of Native Americans, but no bows have been found. The end of the Khormusan industry came around 16,000 B.C. with the appearance of other cultures in the region, including the Gemaian. There is clear evidence of lithic technological variability in Middle Paleolithic (MP) assemblages along the Nile valley and in adjacent desert areas. One of the identified variants is the Khormusan, the type-site of which, Site 1017, is located north of the Nile’s Second Cataract. The industry has two distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other MP industries within its vicinity. One is the use of a wide variety of raw materials; the second is an apparent correlation between raw material and technology used, suggesting a cultural aspect to raw material management. Stratigraphically, site 1017 is situated within the Dibeira-Jer formation which represents an aggradation stage of the Nile and contains sediments originating from the Ethiopian Highlands. While it has previously been suggested that the site dates to sometime before 42.5 ka, the Dibeira-Jer formation can plausibly be correlated with Nile alluvial sediments in northern Sudan recently dated to 83 ± 24 ka (MIS 5a). This stage coincides with the 81 ka age of sapropel S3, indicating higher Nile flow and stronger monsoon rainfall at these times. Other sites which reflect similar raw material variability and technological traditions are the BNS and KHS sites in the Omo Kibish Formation (Ethiopia) dated to ∼100 ka and ∼190 ka respectively. Based on a lithic comparative study conducted, it is suggested that site 1017 can be seen as representing behavioral patterns which are indicative of East African Middle Stone Age (MSA) technology, adding support to the hypothesis that the Nile Valley was an important dispersal route used by modern humans prior to the long cooling and dry trend beginning with the onset of MIS 4. Techo-typological comparison of the assemblages from the Khormusan sites with other Middle Paleolithic sites from Nubia and East Africa is used to assess the possibility of tracing the dispersal of technological traits across the landscape and through time. Ref Ref

Halfan culture (Halfan tool-making Egypt c. 18,000 and 15,000 BCE)

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. People 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. They are viewed as the parent culture of the Ibero-Maurusian industry, which spread across the Sahara and into Spain. The Halfan culture was derived in turn from the Khormusan, which depended on specialized hunting, fishing, and collecting techniques for survival. The primary material remains of this culture are stone tools, flakes, and a multitude of rock paintings. The Halfan industry is one of the Late Epipalaeolithic industries of the Nile Valley that began to appear by 22,000 BP. It is one of the earliest known backed-bladelet industries in Eastern Africa, largely dating between 19,000 and 14,000 BP in Nubia and Egypt. The Halfan was formerly seen as the parent culture of the Ibero-Maurusian industry in the Maghreb, however, since the earliest Ibero-Maurusian is dated to ≥ 21,000 BP it is more likely that both the Halfan and the Ibero-Maurusian are descended from a common cultural ancestor. The Halfan culture is believed to have descended from the Khormusan Culture which depended on specialized hunting, fishing, and collecting techniques for survival. The Halfan people 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 at preferred and more convenient sites from where to make short forays into their seasonal ones. The primary material remains of the Halfan culture complex are their stone tools, flakes, and a multitude of rock paintings. The Halfan industry is characterized by three main tools: Halfa flakes, backed microflakes, and backed microblades. It is only during a transitional stage that all three occur in significant amounts, but all types do occur in every assemblage. The most general observation, is the relative proportions of flakes, microblades, and cores chosen for retouch. This reflects both the tools desired in each assemblage (i.e., Halfa flakes vs. backed microblades), and the degree of the development of the microblade technology (i.e., backed flakes vs. backed microblades). The only type which shows a high stage of development is the Halfa core. The basic orientation of the Halfa core to opposed platforms is reflected in the number of poor opposed platform flake cores. These are never extensively utilized, and no real care has gone into their initial preparation. The Haifa core does, however, have a number of features which could lead to more generalized, yet effective, core types. Levallois cores are present, but they are poorly made and have not received the careful attention that the Halfa cores have. In fact, the Levallois flake is merely a more generalized form of Halfa flake and as such could have been of no great value to an industry producing Halfa flakes. Ref Ref

Sebilian culture (Sebilian tool-making)

Dates: circa 13,000 B.C.E. — 10,000 B.C.E.

Preceded by: Halfan culture

Followed by: Qadan culture

Sebilian is a pre-historic archaeological culture in Egypt spanning the period c.13,000-10,000 B.C. The culture is known by the name given by Edmond Vignard to finds he located at Kom Ombo on the banks of the river Nile from 1919 continuing into the 1920s. Nine sites were found by A. Marks in the area of the Wadi Halfa; Wendorf located three approximately 10 kilometres from Abu Simbel. The culture is located in entirety only in proximity to the Nile, ranging from Wadi Halfa to Qena. The culture was dated by Vignard as spanning the period c.13,000-10,000 B.C. Dating by way of geology shows the industry to have occurred within a period 15,000 – 10,500 B.C. though the industry has been subsequently re-established sui generis as emerging during 13,000 BC. Later archaeology had identified the Sebilian as having occurred during the same periods of time as those industries named the Silsilian, and the Sebekian of Upper Egypt that occurred 12,000 B.C. or perhaps earlier. Vignard’s analysis of the findings have been criticised, and later re-evaluated by P.E.L. Smith and Fekri Hassan though are considered to have given life to the modern field of investigation into a hitherto unknown (or only surmised) area of pre-history of Egypt. Sebilian implements were located along the Nile River at the 10–15 foot terraces. The formal characteristics of the finds indicate a development of technique that passed through three phases. SEBILIAN I were formally akin to Mousteroid tool-points, using a technique typical of the levallois diorite based industry, with few microburins present archaeologically. SEBILIAN II and III tools were made using a technique indicative of a microblade industry that had changed the production material to flint with a much greater number of microburins found. The industry was re-designated SEBILIAN based on those previously classified type I, and described as crudely produced, possibly resultant of the necessities of the occasional opportunities for groups engaged in hunting activities. The dietary manifestations evidenced were of the sort expected from a semi-sedentary population living near to the Nile river, namely fish, and much less frequently crocodile and turtle. Ref

Qadan culture (Qadan tool-making)

Dates: 13,000 B.C.E. — 9,000 B.C.E.

Major sites: Cemetery 117

Preceded by: Sebilian

Followed by: Harifian

The Qadan culture (13,000-9,000 BC) was an ancient culture that, archaeological evidence suggests, originated in Northeast Africa approximately 15,000 years ago, specifically in Upper Egypt (present day south Egypt). This way of life is estimated to have persisted for approximately 4,000 years, and was characterized by hunting, as well as a unique approach to food gathering that incorporated the preparation and consumption of wild grasses and grains. Systematic efforts were made by the Qadan people to water, care for, and harvest local plant life, but grains were not planted in ordered rows. Sites from this period span from the Second Cataract of the Nile to Tushka, situated approximately 250 kilometers upriver from Aswan. In archaeological terms, the Qadan culture is generally viewed as a cluster of Mesolithic Stage communities living in Nubia in the upper Nile Valley prior to 9000 BC. At a time of relatively high water levels in the Nile, it is characterized by a diverse stone tool industry that is taken to represent increasing degrees of specialization and locally differentiated regional groupings. Large numbers of grinding stones and blades have been found with glossy films of silica on them, which could possibly be the result of cutting grass stems on their surfaces. There is some evidence of conflict between the groups, suggesting periods of invasion or intense inter-tribal war. In fact, about 40 percent of individuals buried in the Jebel Sahaba cemetery near the border of Sudan on the Nile river show signs of fatal wounds caused by projectiles, from weapons such as spears, darts, or arrows. The remains found in the cemeteries suggest that ritual burials were practiced. The Qadan economy was based on fishing, hunting, and, as mentioned, the extensive use of wild grain. About twenty archaeological sites in upper Nubia give evidence for the existence of 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. However, there are no indications of the use of these tools after around 10,000 BC, when hunter-gatherers replaced them. In Egypt, analyses of pollen found at archaeological sites indicate that the Sebilian culture (also known as the Esna culture) were gathering wheat and barley. Domesticated seeds were not found (modern wheat and barley originated in Asia Minor and Canaan). It has been hypothesized that the sedentary lifestyle used by farmers led to increased warfare, which was detrimental to farming and brought this period to an end. Ref Ref

Harifian culture (Harifian tool-making)

Dates: 8,800 — 8,000 B.C.E.

Major sites: Negev Desert

Preceded by: Qadan culture

Followed by: Faiyum A

The Harifians are viewed as migrating out of the Fayyum and the Eastern Deserts of Egypt during the late Mesolithic to merge with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) 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. The Harifian is a specialized regional cultural development of the Epipalaeolithic of the Negev Desert. It corresponds to the latest stages of the Natufian culture. Like the Natufian, it is characterized by semi-subterranean houses. These are often more elaborate than those found at Natufian sites. For the first-time arrowheads are found among the stone tool kit. Andy Burns states “The Harifian dates to between approximately 10,800/10,500bp and 10,000/10,200bp. It is restricted to the Sinai and Negev, and is probably broadly contemporary with the Late Natufian or Pre-Pottery Neolithic A. Microlithic points are a characteristic feature of the industry, with the Harif point being both new and particularly diagnostic – Bar-Yosef (1998) suggests that it is an indication of improved hunting techniques. Lunates, isosceles and other triangular forms were backed with retouch, and some Helwan lunates are found. This industry contrasts with the Desert Natufian which did not have the roughly triangular points in its assemblage. There are two main groups within the Harifian. One group consists of ephemeral base camps in the north of Sinai and western Negev, where stone points comprise up to 88% of all microliths, accompanied by only a few lunates and triangles. The other group consists of base camps and smaller campsites in the Negev and features a greater number of lunates and triangles than points. These sites probably represent functional rather than chronological differences. The presence of Khiam points in some sites indicates that there was communication with other areas in the Levant at this time.” Harifian has close connections with the late Mesolithic cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Deserts of Egypt, whose tool assemblage resembles that of the Harifian. Fusion with animal domestication elements of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) culture is hypothesised by Juris Zarins, to have 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 the region. Ref Ref

Faiyum A (also called Fayum Neolithic) culture (Fayum tool-making)

Dates: 5,500 — 4,000 B.C.E.

Major sites: Faiyum

Preceded by: Sebilian

Followed by: Harifian

There is a gap of around 1,000 years between the Epipaleolithi settlements (of the Faiyum B or Quarian culture) in the Faiyum and the establishment of earliest Neolithic settlements, at around 5500 BC. These early sites constitute the earliest fully Neolithic Culture in the Nile Valley. Like the people of the Western Desert the Neolithic peoples of the Faiyum do not seem to have been fully sedentary (although granaries and hearths seem to have been more permanent). They had seasonal camps composed of mat or reed huts with communal underground granaries to exploit the resources of the area. The most obvious difference between the two cultures is the domestication of sheep and goats, and the farming of emmer wheat and six row barley. Unlike other Neolithic cultures in the Nile Valley the Faiyum A culture never developed permanent agricultural villages, the only permanent features are hearths and granaries. The Faiyum was to some degree cut off from the Nile Valley cultures and lagged behind them in social and cultural development. They used sickle flints set in wooden handles, large thick flaked tools, and winged arrowheads and leaf-shaped pieces. Pottery did not develop beyond fairly crude open pots made with chaff tempered clay, but there is evidence of linen woven from flax and imported beads and shells being used as adornments. Wendorf and others have suggested, on the basis of differences in technology, pottery and tool use, that the Faiyum A culture did not derive from any local Paleolithic culture. Rather, the culture was formed by a group of settlers who may also have brought with them the prototype of the ancient Egyptian language. These settlers may have come from the Levant, they share some similar tools and domesticated the same animals. However, others (Hoffman, Hendrickx and Vermeersch) still consider the Faiyum A culture emerged from the peoples of the Saharan Neolithic culture with whom they also share many similarities. The evidence to date is not sufficient to confirm this issue one way or another. Faiyum or El Faiyūm is a city in Middle Egypt. Located 100 kilometres (62 miles) southwest of Cairo, in the Faiyum Oasis, it is the capital of the modern Faiyum Governorate. Originally called Shedet in Ancient Egypt, the Greeks called it Crocodilopolis or Krocodilopolis, the Romans Arsinoë. It is one of Egypt’s oldest cities due to its strategic location. Archaeological evidence has found occupations around the Fayum dating back to at least the Epipalaeolithic period (generally dated from 20,000 BP to about 10,500 BP). Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers, generally nomadic, made relatively advanced tools from small flint or obsidian blades, known as microliths. that were hafted in wooden implements. Around 5500–4500 BCE In the Middle and Lower Egyptian Nile Valley farming and herding were just beginning to be established. And therefore, nearly at the same time, when the Middle European landscape was transformed by the Linear Pottery Culture. Since the Neolithic transition had occurred much earlier in southwest Asia, it seems strange that the Neolithic economy appeared so much later in Egypt. For an explanation of this fact, several factors could be of importance: The Sinai Peninsula, too dry for farming, provided an effective barrier for the flow of farming technology between the southern Levant. And Egypt. None of the species of wild plants or animals that later became domesticated, with the possible exception of cattle, were present in Egypt at the end of the Pleistocene. During the early Holocene, the Nile Valley was extremely rich of natural resources, with no further need to supplement this subsistence with farming and herding. Much information about the final Epipaleolithic and early Neolithic transition in the Nil-valley is buried under thick sediments especially if such settlements were located next to the river. Most sites of the Fayum Neolithic (also called Fayum A) were found at the northern rim of the Fayum, first excavated by Caton-Thompson andGardner (1924-1926). While these sites show evidence of domesticated cereals, sheep and goat, there is no evidence of permanent houses or villages. Therefore many researchers have suggested that the inhabitants of Fayum were nomadic hunters and fishers that used only parts of the “Neolithic package” in addition to their original lifestyle. In this respect the Fayum people may be compared with the Ertebølle people 4000 km away at the Shores of the Baltic Sea( . Noriyuki Shirai from the Leiden University argued, that the timing of the advent of farming in the Fayum can be estimated by the presence of peculiar sickle blades during the early Neolithic of this area. Neolithic sickle blades at Fayum and in Lower Egypt are bifacially-retouched and deeply serrated on their working edge. Such sickle blades are known from early Levantine Pottery Neolithic sites (the Yarmukian, and Lodian [Jericho IX]), dated to the early 6th millennium cal. BC. It seems reasonable to consider that specific Neolithic techniques were accepted in Lower Egypt not earlier than during the early 6th millennium cal. BC. This process was possibly triggered by a climatic and environmental change around 6200 cal. BC, that finally lead to the desiccation of the southern Levant, Negev and Sinai and to changes of the rain regime in these areas and in Lower Egypt. These changes enabled for the first time during the Holocene winter crops like Levantine wheat and barley to thrive Northern Egypt. The people of Fayum adopted farming and herding into their lifestyle, but without abandon their major subsistence forms of hunting and fishing for the next millennium. The thesis of Noriyuki Shirai “The archaeology of the first farmer-herders in Egypt : new insights into the Fayum Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic” can be download at: Continued expansion of the desert forced the early ancestors of the Egyptians to settle around the Nile more permanently and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. The period from 9000 to 6000 BC has left very little in the way of archaeological evidence. Around 6000 BC, Neolithic settlements appear all over Egypt. Studies based on morphological, genetic, and archaeological data have attributed these settlements to migrants from the Fertile Crescent in the Near East returning during the Egyptian and North African Neolithic, bringing agriculture to the region. However, other regions in Africa independently developed agriculture at about the same time: the Ethiopian highlands, the Sahel, and West Africa. Some morphological and post-cranial data has linked the earliest farming populations at Fayum, Merimde, and El-Badari, to Near Eastern populations. However, the archaeological data also suggests that Near Eastern domesticates were incorporated into a pre-existing foraging strategy and only slowly developed into a full-blown lifestyle, contrary to what would be expected from settler colonists from the Near East. Finally, the names for the Near Eastern domesticates imported into Egypt were not Sumerian or Proto-Semitic loan words, which further diminishes the likelihood of a mass immigrant colonization of lower Egypt during the transition to agriculture. Weaving is evidenced for the first time during the Faiyum A Period. People of this period, unlike later Egyptians, buried their dead very close to, and sometimes inside, their settlements. Although archaeological sites reveal very little about this time, an examination of the many Egyptian words for “city” provide a hypothetical list of reasons why the Egyptians settled. In Upper Egypt, terminology indicates trade, protection of livestock, high ground for flood refuge, and sacred sites for deities. Ref Ref Ref Ref

*8.2 kiloyear event (Climatic Event 5,200 BCE or 8,200 years ago)

The 8.2 kiloyear event is the term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6,200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries. Milder than the Younger Dryas cold spell that preceded it, but more severe than the Little Ice Age that would follow, the 8.2 kiloyear cooling was a significant exception to general trends of the Holocene climatic optimum. During the event, atmospheric methane concentration decreased by 80 ppb or an emission reduction of 15%, by cooling and drying at a hemispheric scale. A rapid cooling around 6200 BCE was first identified by Swiss botanist Heinrich Zoller in 1960, who named the event Misox oscillation (for the Val Mesolcina). It is also known as Finse event in Norway. Bond et al. argued that the origin of the 8.2 kiloyear event is linked to a 1,500-year climate cycle; it correlates with Bond event 5. The strongest evidence for the event comes from the North Atlantic region; the disruption in climate shows clearly in Greenland ice cores and in sedimentary and other records of the temperate and tropical North Atlantic. It is less evident in ice cores from Antarctica and in South American indices. The effects of the cold snap were global, however, most notably in changes in sea level during the relevant era. The 8.2 kiloyear cooling event may have been caused by a large meltwater pulse from the final collapse of the Laurentide ice sheet of northeastern North America, most likely when the glacial lakes Ojibway and Agassiz suddenly drained into the North Atlantic Ocean. The same type of action produced the Missoula floods that created the Channeled scablands of the Columbia River basin. The melt-water pulse may have affected the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation, reducing northward heat transport in the Atlantic and causing significant circum-North Atlantic cooling. Estimates of the cooling vary and depend somewhat on the interpretation of the proxy data, but drops of around 1 to 5 °C (1.8 to 9.0 °F) have been reported. In Greenland, the event started at 8175 BP, and the cooling was 3.3 °C (decadal average) in less than 20 years, and the coldest period lasted for about 60 years, and the total duration was about 150 years. The melt-water causation theory is, however, thrown in to speculation due to inconstancies with its onset and an unknown region of impact. Researchers suggest the discharge was probably superimposed upon a longer episode of cooler climate lasting up to 600 years, and merely one contributing factor the event as a whole. Further afield, some tropical records report a 3 °C (5.4 °F) cooling from cores drilled into an ancient coral reef in Indonesia. The event also caused a global CO2 decline of ~25 ppm over ~300 years. However, dating and interpretation other tropical sites are more ambiguous than the North Atlantic sites. In addition, climate modeling work shows that not only the amount of meltwater, but also the pathway of meltwater is important in perturbing the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. Drier conditions were notable in North Africa while East Africa suffered five centuries of general drought. In West Asia and especially Mesopotamia, the 8.2 kiloyear event was a 300-year aridification and cooling episode, which may have provided the natural force for Mesopotamian irrigation agriculture and surplus production that were essential for the earliest class-formation and urban life. However, multi-centennial changes around the same period are difficult to link specifically to the approximately 100-year abrupt event as recorded most clearly in the Greenland ice cores. The initial meltwater pulse caused between 0.5 and 4 m (1 ft 8 in and 13 ft 1 in) of sea-level rise. Based on estimates of lake volume and decaying ice cap size, values of 0.4–1.2 m (1 ft 4 in–3 ft 11 in) circulate. Based on sea-level data from the Mississippi Delta, the very final stage of the Lake Agassiz–Ojibway (LAO) drainage occurred at 8.18 to 8.31 ka and ranges from 0.8 to 2.2 m. The sea-level data from the Rhine–Meuse Delta indicate a 2–4 m (6 ft 7 in–13 ft 1 in) of near-instantaneous rise at 8.54–8.2 ka, in addition to ‘normal’ post-glacial sea-level rise. Meltwater pulse sea-level rise was experienced fully at great distance from the release area. Gravity and rebound effects associated with the shifting of water masses meant that the sea-level fingerprint was smaller in areas closer to the Hudson Bay. The Mississippi delta records ~20%, NW Europe records ~70% and Asia records ~105% of the global averaged amount. The cooling of the 8.2 kiloyear event was a temporary feature; the sea-level rise of the meltwater pulse was permanent. In 2003, the Office of Net Assessment at the United States Department of Defense was commissioned to produce a study on the likely and potential effects of a modern climate change. The study, conducted under ONA head Andrew Marshall, modeled its prospective climate change on the 8.2 kiloyear event, precisely because it was the middle alternative between the Younger Dryas and the Little Ice Age. Ref

Merimde culture (Merimde tool-making)

Dates: 4,800 — 4,200 B.C.E. (6,800 – 6,300 years ago)

Preceded by: Faiyum A culture

Followed by: Amratian culture

The Merimde culture (also Merimde Beni-Salame or Benisalam) was a Neolithic culture in the West Nile Delta in Lower Egypt, which corresponds in its later phase to the Faiyum A culture and the Badari culture in Predynastic Egypt. It is estimated that the culture evolved between 4800 and 4300 BC. Merimde also refers to the archaeological site of the same name. The culture was concentrated around the main settlement site of 25 hectares in the West delta of the Nile in Lower Egypt 45 km northwest of Cairo. The site was discovered by German archaeologist and former Roman Catholic priest Hermann Junker, who excavated 6,400 m² of the site during his West Nile Delta expedition in 1928. The expedition was financed by Albert Rothbart from New York City for the account of the Vienna Academy. Later excavations in the 1970s performed by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the German Institute of Archaeology led to the establishment of the stratigraphical sequence. Characteristics, Merimde shows a sequence of occupations which lasted almost a millennium according to some estimates. While Junker identified three sequences, others such as Joseph Eiwanger established in 1977 that there are five with significantly different levels of development. Artifacts such as ceramics were quite primitive during phase I —a phase characterized by a light occupation. Eiwanger documented that storage areas appeared during phase II when the intensity of the occupation increased. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Merimde economy was dominated by agriculture although some fishing and hunting were practiced to a lesser degree. The settlement consisted of small huts made of wattle and reed with a round or elliptical ground plan. Merimde pottery lacked rippled marks. Burials had unique characteristics, different from those practiced in Upper Egyptian Predynastic Egypt and later Dynastic Egypt. There were no separate areas for cemeteries and the dead were buried within the settlement in a contracted position in oval pits without grave goods and offerings. In the time of the Maadi culture, the place was used as a cemetery. Excavations of Merimde burials have yielded a number of skeletons, chiefly those of females. The fossils are generally taller and more robust than later predynastic Egyptian specimens. In this regard, the Merimde skeletons are most similar to those associated with the Tasian culture. Furthermore, although the Merimde crania are dolichocephalic (long-headed) like many of the other predynastic skulls, they have a large and wide vault like the Tasian crania. Skulls excavated from Badarian, Amratian and Natufian sites tend instead to be smaller and narrow. From about 5000 to 4200 BC the Merimde culture, so far only known from a big settlement site at the edge of the Western Delta, flourished in Lower Egypt. The culture has strong connections to the Faiyum A culture as well as the Levant. People lived in small huts, produced a simple undecorated pottery and had stone tools. Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were held. Wheat, sorghum and barley were planted. The Merimde people buried their dead within the settlement and produced clay figurines. The first Egyptian lifesize head made of clay comes from Merimde. Ref Ref

Tasian culture (Tasian tool-making)

Dates: — 4,500 B.C.E. (unknown to 6,500 years ago)

The Tasian culture is possibly the oldest-known Predynastic culture in Upper Egypt, which evolved around 4500 BC. It is named for the burials found at Deir Tasa, a site on the east bank of the Nile located between Asyut and Akhmim. The Tasian culture group is notable for producing the earliest blacktop-ware, a type of red and brown pottery, which has been painted black on its top and interior. This pottery is vital to the dating of the various predynastic Egyptian civilizations. Since all dates for the Predynastic period are tenuous at best, Flinders Petrie developed a system called Sequence Dating through which the relative date, if not the absolute date, of any given Predynastic site can be ascertained by examining the handles on pottery. As the Predynastic period in ancient Egypt progressed, the handles on pottery evolved from functional to ornamental, and the degree to which any given archaeological site has functional or ornamental pottery can be used to determine the relative date of the site. Since there is little difference between Tasian and Badarian pottery, the Tasian Culture overlaps the Badarian place on the scale between Sequence Dating 21 and 29 significantly. Excavations of Tasian burials have yielded a number of skeletons. The fossils are generally taller and more robust than later predynastic Egyptian specimens. In this regard, the Tasian skeletons are most similar to those associated with the Merimde culture. Furthermore, although the Tasian crania are dolichocephalic (long-headed) like many of the other predynastic skulls, they have a large and wide vault like the Merimde crania. Skulls excavated from Badarian, Amratian and Natufian sites tend instead to be smaller and narrow. Ref

Badari culture (Badari tool-making)

Dates: 4400 — 4000 B.C.E. (6,800 – 6,300 years ago)

The Badarian culture provides the earliest direct evidence of agriculture in Upper Egypt during the Predynastic Era. It flourished between 4400 and 4000 BCE, and might have already emerged by 5000 BCE. It was first identified in El-Badari, Asyut Governorate. About forty settlements and six hundred graves have been located. Social stratification has been inferred from the burying of more prosperous members of the community in a different part of the cemetery. The Badarian economy was based mostly on agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry. Tools included end-scrapers, perforators, axes, bifacial sickles and concave-base arrowheads. Remains of cattle, dogs and sheep were found in the cemeteries. Wheat, barley, lentils and tubers were consumed. The culture is known largely from cemeteries in the low desert. The deceased were placed on mats and buried in pits with their heads usually laid to the South, looking West. This seems contiguous with the later dynastic traditions regarding the West as the land of the dead. The pottery that was buried with them is the most characteristic element of the Badarian culture. It had been given a distinctive, decorative rippled surface. Badari culture is so named because of its discovery at El-Badari, an area in the Asyut Governorate in Upper Egypt. It is located between Matmar and Qau, approximately 200 km northwest of present-day Luxor (ancient Thebes). El-Badari includes numerous Predynastic cemeteries (notably Mostagedda, Deir Tasa and the cemetery of el-Badari itself), as well as at least one early Predynastic settlement at Hammamia. The area stretches for 30 km along the east bank of the Nile, was first excavated by Guy Brunton and Gertrude Caton-Thompson between 1922 and 1931. Most of the local cemeteries have yielded distinctive pottery vessels (particularly red-polished ware with blackened tops), as well as terracotta and ivory anthropomorphic figures, slate palettes, stone vases and flint tools. The contents of Predynastic cemeteries at el-Badari have been subjected to a number of analyses attempting to clarify the chronology and social history of the Badarian period. Populations in the Badari culture planted wheat and barley, and kept cattle, sheep, and goats. They fished from the Nile and hunted gazelle. Little is known of their buildings, although remains of wooden stumps have been found at one site and may have been associated with a hut or shelter of unknown construction. Pits that have been found may have served as granaries. Some Badarian sites also show evidence of later predynastic use. Badarian grave goods were relatively simple and the deceased wrapped in reed matting or animal skins and placed with personal items such as shell or stone beads. Green malachite ore, perhaps for personal decoration, has also been detected on stone palettes. Basalt vases found at Badari sites were most likely traded up the river from the Delta region or from the northwest. Shells came in quantities from the Red Sea. Turquoise possibly came from Sinai; copper from the North. A Syrian connection is suggested for a four-handled pot of hard pink ware. The black pottery, with white incised designs, may have come directly from the West, or from the South. The porphyry slabs are like the later ones in Nubia, but the material could have come from the Red Sea mountains. The glazed steatite beads were not made locally. These all suggest the Badarians were not an isolated tribe, but were in contact with the cultures on all sides of them. Nor were they nomadic, having pots of such size and fragility that would have been unsuitable for use by wanderers. Ancestral origins of the Badarian culture seems to have had multiple sources, of which the Western Desert was probably the most influential. Badari culture was likely not to have been solely restricted to the Badari region since related finds have been made farther to the south at Mahgar Dendera, Armant, Elkab and Nekhen (named Hierakonpolis by the Greeks), as well as to the east in the Wadi Hammamat. Ref

Amratian culture (Amratian tool-making)

Dates: 4,400 — 3,500 B.C.E. (6,400 – 5,500 years ago)

Major sites: El-Amra

Preceded by: Tasian culture, Badari culture, Merimde culture

Followed by: Naqada culture, Gerzeh culture

The Amratian culture was a culture of prehistoric Upper Egypt. It lasted approximately from 4000 to 3500 BCE. named after the archaeological site of el-Amra, located around 120 km (75 mi) south of Badari in Upper Egypt. El-Amra was the first site where this culture group was found without being mingled with the later Gerzeh culture (Naqada II). However, this period is better attested at the Nagada site, thus it also is referred to as the Naqada I culture. Black-topped ware continued to be produced, 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, begins to be produced during this time. The Amratian falls between S.D. 30 and 39 in Petrie’s sequence dating system. Trade between the Amratian culture bearers in Upper Egypt and populations of Lower Egypt is attested during this time through new excavated objects. A stone vase from the north has been found at el-Amra, and copper, which is not present in Egypt, apparently was imported from the Sinai Peninsula or perhaps from Nubia. Obsidian and an extremely small amount of gold were both definitively imported from Nubia during this time. Trade with the oases also was likely. New innovations such as adobe buildings, for which the Gerzeh culture is well-known, also begin to appear during this time, attesting to cultural continuity. However, they did not reach nearly the widespread use that they were known for in later times. Additionally, oval and theriomorphic cosmetic palettes appear to be used in this period. However, the workmanship was still very rudimentary and the relief artwork for which they were later known is not yet present. Ref Ref

Naqada culture (Naqada tool-making)

Dates: 4,400 — 3,000 B.C.E. (6,400 – 5,000 years ago)

Preceded by: Amratian culture

Followed by: Gerzeh culture

The Naqada culture is an archaeological culture of Chalcolithic Predynastic Egypt (ca. 4400–3000 BC), named for the town of Naqada, Qena Governorate. A 2013 Oxford University radio carbon dating study of the Predynastic period, however, suggests a much later date beginning sometime between 3,800-3,700 BC. Its final phase, Naqada III is coterminous with the so-called Protodynastic Period of Ancient Egypt (Early Bronze Age, 3200–3000 BCE). Naqada I a-b-c (about 4400–3500 BC) = black-topped and painted pottery trade with Nubia, Western Desert oases and Eastern Mediterranean obsidian from Ethiopia. Naqada II a-b-c (about 3500–3200 BC) = this culture represented throughout Egypt first marl pottery, and metalworking. Naqada III a-b-c (about 3200–3000 BC) = more elaborate grave goods, cylindrical jars, & writing. Predynastic Egyptians in the Naqada I period traded with Nubia to the south, the oases of the western desert to the west, and the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean to the east. They also imported obsidian from Ethiopia to shape blades and other objects from flakes. Charcoal samples found in the tombs of Nekhen, which were dated to the Naqada I and II periods, have been identified as cedar from Lebanon. Ref

Maadi culture (Maadi tool-making)

Dates: 4000 – 3500 B.C.E. (6,000 – 5,500 years ago)

The Maadi culture (also called Buto Maadi culture) is the most important Lower Egyptian prehistoric culture “Predynastic culture” contemporary with Naqada I and II phases in Upper Egypt. The culture is best known from the site Maadi near Cairo, but is also attested in many other places in the Delta to the Fayum region. Copper was known, and some copper adzes have been found. The pottery is simple and undecorated and shows, in some forms, strong connections to Southern Israel. 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 culture; whether this happened by conquest or infiltration is still an open question. The Maadi culture seems to have its origins in the other cultures of Lower Egypt (Fayum Neolithic, Merimde Beni-salame, el-Omari). Pottery pots are shaped by hand. The clay has always a dark hue. Some large storage jars were found in the settlements. There are a few black-topped red pots (indicating contact with the south- Naqada) and many imported vessels from Palestine. There are many black basalt stone vessels.  Burial customs involve cemeteries which are located some distance from the settlement; only infant burials were within a settlement, the bodies placed in vessels or directly into pits. The adult dead are buried in oval graves in a contracted position with the hand in front of the face. While the orientation of the dead in earlier graves shows no regular pattern, the dead are laid later always with the head to the south, the body on the right side. The graves have only a few goods. Ref Ref

*The 5.9 kiloyear event (Climatic Event 3,900 BCE or 5,900 years ago)

The 5.9 kiloyear event was one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene Epoch. It occurred around 3900 BC (5900 years Before Present) and ended the Neolithic Subpluvial and probably initiating the most recent desiccation of the Sahara. It also triggered human migration to river valleys, such as from central North Africa to the Nile, which eventually led to the emergence of the first complex, highly organized, state-level societies in the 4th millennium BC. It is associated with the last round of the Sahara pump theory. Cause? A model by Claussen et al. (1999) suggested rapid desertification, associated with vegetation-atmosphere interactions following a cooling event, Bond event 4. Bond et al. (1997) identified a North Atlantic cooling episode 5900 years ago from ice-rafted debris as well as other such now called Bond events, which indicate the existence of a quasiperiodic cycle of Atlantic cooling events approximately every 1470 years ± 500 years. For some reason, all the earlier arid events (including the 8.2 kiloyear event) were followed by recovery, as is attested by the wealth of evidence of humid conditions in the Sahara between 10,000 and 6,000 BP. However, it appears that the 5.9 kiloyear event was followed by a partial recovery at best, with accelerated desiccation in the millennium that followed. For example, Cremaschi (1998) describes evidence of rapid aridification in Tadrart Acacus of southwestern Libya, in the form of increased aeolian erosion, sand incursions and the collapse of the roofs of rock shelters. The 5.9 kiloyear event was also recorded as a cold event in the Erhai Lake (China) sediments. Effects: In the eastern Arabian Peninsula, the 5.9 kiloyear event may have contributed to an increase in relatively greater social complexity and have corresponded to an end of the local Ubaid period. Also, it may have contributed to the decline of Old Europe and the first Indo-European migrations into the Balkans from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, according to the book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, by David W. Anthony. Ref

***Bible Creation Timeline Begins***

(This is the thinking of young earth creationism)

5,777 Years Ago – According to rabbinic tradition and based upon pertinent calculations that rely upon scriptural data as well as the start of the traditional jewish (or Hebrew) calendar year 5777 A.M. (“A.M.” here is short for Anno Mundi, which is Latin for “in the year of the world”). Finally, the bible allows us to have a “start date” the presumed time of all creation and no time before. Where did a young-earth worldview come from that contradicts the current scientific understanding that the earth is 4.55 billion years old? Simply put, it came from the bible. Of course, the bible does not say explicitly anywhere the earth is 5,777 or even 6,000 years old as it is usually stated in young earth creationism. So, what is their argument in Genesis 1 that says the earth was created on the first day of creation. From there, young earth creationists calculate the age of the earth’s creation by calculating bible genealogies from Adam to Abraham in Genesis 5 and 11, then adding in the time from Abraham to our current time. If we add up the dates from Adam to Abraham, we get about 2,000 years, whether christian or secular, most scholars would agree that Abraham claimed to have lived about 4,000 years ago. Therefore, a simple calculation is: 2,000 years + 4,000 years = 6,000 years old young earth creationism thinking for the age of the earth.

5,600-year-old tomb complete with mummy that PREDATES the First Dynasty of pharaohs?

5,600 Years Ago – (Egypt), Hierakonpolis (Nekhen), “City of the Falcon,” found a tomb and mummy of a male along with several small items most notably a crude ivory figurine of a thin bearded man possibly a god or an ancestor. 5,100 years ago, this old tomb was built before the rule of Narmer/Menes, the founder of the First Pharaonic Dynasty who unified Lower Egypt (northern) and Upper Egypt (southern). There are two temple sites associated with the ancient city of Hierakonpolis: 5,400 – 5,200 years ago, the pre-dynastic structures that were initially built of wood and reed matting were replaced with mud brick and sits in a pre-dynastic settlement near the desert to the west of the main settlement of Nekhen. The second and later temple was built within the town stonewalls of the city of Nekhen consisting of a large mound of clean sand supported by limestone blocks on which there may have been an Early Dynasty shrine containing several artifacts. The Narmer Palette is one of the items found and is a famous artifact of ancient Egypt. Likewise, a variety of ivory carvings with some inscribed with the names of Narmer. Also, found in Hierakonpolis, were the tombs of King Narmer and King Ka/Sekhen, a pre-dynastic pharaoh who paved the way to Egypt’s unification. King Narmer and King Ka expanded Egyptian power which is evident in the activity found in southern Canaan by the discovery of 33 serekhs on pottery shards at sites in Canaan dating 3,200 – 3,000 years ago proto-dynastic to First Dynasty. Thirteen of these belong to Narmer from six sites: Tel Arad (central Israel), Ein HaBesor (southern Israel), Tel es-Sakan (Gaza region of Israel), Nahal Tillah, Tel Erani, and Lod. An additional serekh from Lod is attributed to Narmer’s probable predecessor, Ka. The Ka hieroglyph holds the serekh with the horus name of the king, while the Ka itself holds an ostrich feather, the symbol of world order or ma’at, in one hand, and a long staff with a finial shaped like the king’s head in the other hand. Hence, the royal ka is related to the horus name describing the presence of that god in the king. This shows the dual nature of the king, which combines divine and mortal components. Also at Hierakonpolis, a sanctuary temple was composed of five small chambers likely not until the Middle Kingdom 4,134 – 3,991 years ago. A golden statue of nekheny meaning “falcon” (the falcon god who was assimilated by or was an early form of horus) was found buried in the floor of the central chamber. Ref Ref Ref

Gerzeh (Naqada II) culture (Gerzeh tool-making)

Dates: 3,500 — 3,200 B.C.E. (5,500 – 5,200 years ago)

Major sites: al-Girza

Preceded by: Amratian culture, Naqada culture

Preceded by: Amratian culture, Maadi culture, Naqada I

Followed by: Naqada III

Gerzeh (also Girza or Jirzah) was a prehistoric Egyptian cemetery located along the west bank of the Nile. The necropolis is named after el-Girzeh, the nearby present day town in Egypt. Gerzeh is situated only several miles due east of the lake of the Faiyum. The Gerzean culture is a material culture identified by archaeologists. It is the second of three phases of the prehistoric Nagada cultures and so is also known as Naqada II. Gerzeh culture was preceded by the Amratian culture (“Naqada I”) and followed by the Naqada III (“protodynastic” or “Semainian culture”). Though varying dates have historically been assigned by sundry authorities, the Gerzean culture as used as follows distinguishes itself from the Amratian and begins circa 3500 BC lasting through circa 3200 BC. Accordingly, some authorities place the onset of the Gerzeh coincident with the Amratian or Badari cultures, i.e. c.3800 BC to 3650 BC even though some Badarian artifacts may in fact date earlier. Nevertheless, because the Naqada sites were first divided by the British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1894, into Amratian (after the cemetery near el-Amrah) and “Gerzean” (after the cemetery near Gerzeh) sub-periods, the original convention is used in this text. The Gerzeh culture lasted through a period of time when the desertification of the Sahara had nearly reached its present state. The primary distinguishing feature between the earlier Amratian and the Gerzeh is the extra decorative effort exhibited in the pottery of the period. Artwork on Gerzeh ceramics features stylised animals and environment to a greater degree than the earlier Amratian artwork. Further, images of ostriches on the pottery artwork possibly indicate an inclination these early peoples may have felt to explore the Sahara desert. Some symbols on Gerzeh pottery resemble traditional Egyptian hieroglyphs, which were contemporaneous with the proto-cuneiform script of Sumer. Burial sites in Gerzeh have uncovered artifacts, such as cosmetic palettes, a bone harpoon, an ivory pot, stone vessels and several meteoritic iron beads. Technologies at Gerzeh also include fine ripple-flaked knives of exceptional workmanship. The meteoritic iron beads discovered in two Gerzean graves by Egyptologist Wainwright in 1911 are in fact the earliest artifacts of iron known. Lapis lazuli trade, in the form of beads, from its only known prehistoric source – Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan – also reached ancient Gerzeh. Other discovered grave goods are on display here. One burial uncovered evidence of dismemberment in the form of decapitation. The end of the Gerzeh culture is generally regarded as coinciding with the unification of Egypt, the Naqada III period. Ref

Naqada III culture (Naqada III tool-making)

Dates: 3,500 — 3,200 B.C.E. (5,500 – 5,200 years ago)

Preceded by: Gerzeh (Naqada II) culture

Followed by: 5,150 years ago the First Dynasty appeared in Egypt

Naqada III is the last phase of the Naqada culture of ancient Egyptian prehistory, dating approximately from 3200 to 3000 BC. It is the period during which the process of state formation, which had begun to take place in Naqada II, became highly visible, with named kings heading powerful polities. Naqada III is often referred to as Dynasty 0 or the Protodynastic Period to reflect the presence of kings at the head of influential states, although, in fact, the kings involved would not have been a part of a dynasty. They would more probably have been completely unrelated and very possibly in competition with each other. In this period, those kings’ names were inscribed in the form of serekhs on a variety of surfaces including pottery and tombs. The Protodynastic Period in ancient Egypt was characterised by an ongoing process of political unification, culminating in the formation of a single state to begin the Early Dynastic Period. Furthermore, it is during this time that the Egyptian language was first recorded in hieroglyphs. There is also strong archaeological evidence of Egyptian settlements in southern Canaan during the Protodynastic Period, which are regarded as colonies or trading entrepôts. State formation began during this era and perhaps even earlier. Various small city-states arose along the Nile. Centuries of conquest then reduced Upper Egypt to three major states: Thinis, Naqada, and Nekhen. Sandwiched between Thinis and Nekhen, Naqada was the first to fall. Thinis then conquered Lower Egypt. Nekhen’s relationship with Thinis is uncertain, but these two states may have merged peacefully, with the Thinite royal family ruling all of Egypt. The Thinite kings were buried at Abydos in the Umm el-Qa’ab cemetery. Most Egyptologists consider Narmer to be both the last king of this period and the first king of the First Dynasty. He was possibly preceded over some parts of Upper Egypt by Crocodile, Iry-Hor, Ka and perhaps by the so-called “Scorpion King(s)”, whose name may refer to, or be derived from, the goddess Serket, a special early protector of other deities and the rulers. Naqada III extended all over Egypt and was characterized by some notable firsts: The first hieroglyphs, The first graphical narratives on palettes, The first regular use of serekhs, The first truly royal cemeteries, and Possibly the first example of irrigation. Ref

*The First Dynasty*

Date: 3,150 B.C.E. (5,150 years ago)

 The Beginning Rise of the Unequal State Government Hierarchies, Religions and Cultures Merger

The Pharaoh in ancient Egypt was the political and religious leader holding the titles ‘Lord of the Two Lands’ Upper and Lower Egypt and ‘High Priest of Every Temple’. In 5,150 years ago the First Dynasty appeared in Egypt and this reign was thought to be in accordance with the will of the gods; but the office of the king itself was not associated with the divine until later. Around 4,890 years ago during the Second Dynasty the King was linked with the divine and reign with the will of the gods. Following this rulers of the later dynasties were equated with the gods and with the duties and obligations due those gods. As supreme ruler of the people, the pharaoh was considered a god on earth, the intermediary between the gods and the people, and when he died, he was thought to become Osiris, the god of the dead. As such, in his role of ‘High Priest of Every Temple’, it was the pharaoh’s duty to build great temples and monuments celebrating his own achievements and paying homage to the gods of the land. Among the earliest civilizations that exhibit the phenomenon of divinized kings are early Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. In 5,150 years ago the First Dynasty appeared in Egypt with the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by the king Menes (now believed to be Narmer). Menes/Narmer is depicted on inscriptions wearing the two crowns of Egypt, signifying unification, and his reign was thought to be in accordance with the will of the gods; but the office of the king itself was not associated with the divine until later. During the Second Dynasty of Egypt 4,890-4,670 years ago King Raneb (also known as Nebra) linked his name with the divine and his reign with the will of the gods. Following Raneb, the rulers of the later dynasties were equated with the gods and with the duties and obligations due those gods. As supreme ruler of the people, the pharaoh was considered a god on earth. The honorific title of `pharaoh’ for a ruler did not appear until the period known as the New Kingdom 3,570-3,069 years ago. Monarchs of the dynasties before the title of `pharaoh’ from the New Kingdom were addressed as `your majesty’ by foreign dignitaries and members of the court and as `brother’ by foreign rulers; both practices would continue after the king of Egypt came to be known as a pharaoh. Ref Ref

*4.2 kiloyear event (Climatic Event 4,200 years ago)

The 4.2 kiloyear BP aridification event was one of the most severe climatic events of the Holocene period in terms of impact on cultural upheaval. Starting in about 2200 BC, it probably lasted the entire 22nd century BC. It is very likely to have caused the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt as well as the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia. The drought may have also initiated southeastward habitat tracking within the Indus Valley Civilization. Evidence? A phase of intense aridity about 4.2 ka BP is recorded across North Africa, the Middle East, the Red Sea, the Arabian peninsula, the Indian subcontinent, and midcontinental North America. Glaciers throughout the mountain ranges of western Canada advanced at about this time. Evidence has also been found in an Italian cave flowstone, the Kilimanjaro Ice sheet, and in Andean glacier ice. The onset of the aridification in Mesopotamia about 4100 BP also coincided with a cooling event in the North Atlantic, known as Bond event 3. Despite this, evidence for the 4.2 kyr event in northern Europe is ambiguous, suggesting the origin and impact of this event is spatially complex.

4.2 kiloyear event Aftermath?

Ancient Egypt: In c. 2150 BC the Old Kingdom was hit by a series of exceptionally low Nile floods, which was instrumental in the sudden collapse of centralized government in ancient Egypt. Famines, social disorder, and fragmentation during approximately 40 years were followed by a phase of rehabilitation and restoration of order in various provinces. Egypt was eventually reunified within a new paradigm of kingship. The process of recovery depended on capable provincial administrators, the deployment of the idea of justice, irrigation projects, and an administrative reform.

Mesopotamia: The aridification of Mesopotamia may have been related to the onset of cooler sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic (Bond event 3), as analysis of the modern instrumental record shows that large (50%) interannual reductions in Mesopotamian water supply result when subpolar northwest Atlantic sea surface temperatures are anomalously cool. The headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are fed by elevation-induced capture of winter Mediterranean rainfall. The Akkadian Empire—which in 2300 BC was the second civilization to subsume independent societies into a single state (the first being ancient Egypt at around 3100 BC) —was brought low by a wide-ranging, centuries-long drought. Archaeological evidence documents widespread abandonment of the agricultural plains of northern Mesopotamia and dramatic influxes of refugees into southern Mesopotamia around 2170 BC. A 180-km-long wall, the “Repeller of the Amorites,” was built across central Mesopotamia to stem nomadic incursions to the south. Around 2150 BC, the Gutian people, who originally inhabited the Zagros Mountains, defeated the demoralized Akkadian army, took Akkad, and destroyed it around 2115 BC. Widespread agricultural change in the Near East is visible at the end of the third millennium BC. Resettlement of the northern plains by smaller sedentary populations occurred near 1900 BC, three centuries after the collapse.

Arabian peninsula: In the Persian Gulf region, there is a sudden change in settlement pattern, style of pottery and tombs at this time. The 22nd century BC drought marks the end of the Umm an-Nar Culture and the change to the Wadi Suq period.

Spain: On the Iberian peninsula, the construction of Motillas type settlements in the period after 2200 BCE is believed to be the consequence of severe aridification that affected this area. According to Moreno et al., who reported the first palaeohydrogeological interdisciplinary research in La Mancha, Spain, “Recent studies show that the “motilla” sites from the Bronze Age in La Mancha may be the most ancient system of groundwater collection in the Iberian Peninsula. … These were built during the Climatic Event 4,200 years ago in a time of environmental stress due to a period of severe, prolonged drought.” The authors’ analysis verified a relationship between the geological substrate and the spatial distribution of the “motillas”.

China: The drought may have caused the collapse of Neolithic Cultures around Central China during the late third millennium BC. At the same time, the middle reaches of the Yellow River saw a series of extraordinary floods. In the Yishu River Basin, the flourishing Longshan culture was hit by a cooling that made the paddies shortfall in output or even no seeds were gathered. The scarcity in natural resource led to substantial decrease in population and subsequent drop in archaeological sites. About 4000 years BP Longshan was displaced by the Yueshi culture which was relatively underdeveloped. Ref

Population history of Egypt

Egypt has a long and involved demographic history. This is partly due to the territory’s geographical location at the crossroads of several major cultural areas: Northeast Africa, the Maghreb, the Sahara, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. In addition, Egypt has experienced several invasions during its long history, including by the Canaanites, the Ancient Libyans, the Assyrians, the Kushites (a Nubian civilization), the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Arabs. During the Paleolithic period, the Nile Valley was inhabited by various hunter-gatherer populations. Around 10,000 years ago, the Sahara had a wet phase, the Neolithic Subpluvial (Holocene Wet Phase). People from the surrounding areas moved into the Sahara, and evidence suggests that the populations of the Nile Valley reduced in size. Around 5,000 years ago, the wet phase of the Sahara came to an end. The Saharan populations retreated to the south towards the Sahel, and east in the direction of the Nile Valley. It was these populations, in addition to Neolithic farmers from the Near East, that played a major role in the formation of the Egyptian state as they brought their food crops, sheep, goats and cattle to the Nile Valley. Prehistoric Egypt (also known as “Predynastic Egypt”) dates to the end of the fourth millennium. From around 4800 to 4300, the Merimde culture (Merimde Beni-Salame) flourished in Lower Egypt. This culture, among others, has links to the Levant. The pottery of the Buto Maadi culture, best known from the site at Maadi near Cairo, also shows connections with the southern Levant. In Upper Egypt, the predynastic Badari culture was followed by the Naqada culture (Amratian).

Biogeographic origin based on cultural data

Located in the extreme north-east corner of Africa, Ancient Egyptian society was at a crossroads between the African and Near Eastern regions. Early proponents of the dynastic race theory based this on the increased novelty and seemingly rapid change in Predynastic pottery and noted trade contacts between ancient Egypt and the Middle East. This is no longer the dominant view in Egyptology; however, the evidence on which it was based still suggests influence from these regions. Fekri Hassan and Edwin et al. point to mutual influence from both inner Africa as well as the Levant. This evidence suggests that Ancient Egypt was populated by Afro-Asiatic-speaking peoples from Northeast Africa and the Near East. Maria Gatto has suggested that the makers of the predynastic Egyptian Naqada culture centered in Upper Egypt shared an almost identical culture with the A-Group peoples in Lower Nubia. This is based in part on the similarities with the royal tombs at Qustul. Joseph Vogel, Cheikh Diop, Volney, and other scholars have even proposed an Egyptian origin in Nubia among the A-Group. In 1996, Lovell and Prowse reported the presence of individual rulers buried at Naqada in what they interpreted to be elite, high status tombs, showing them to be more closely related morphologically to populations in Northern Nubia than those in Southern Egypt. However, most scholars have rejected this hypothesis and cite the presence of royal tombs that are contemporaneous with those in Qustul and just as elaborate, together with problems with the dating techniques. Toby Wilkinson, in his book Genesis of the Pharaohs, proposes an origin for the Egyptians somewhere in the Eastern Desert. In addition, there is evidence that sheep and goats were introduced into the Nabta Playa from Western Asia about 8,000 years ago. There is some speculation that this culture is likely to have been the predecessor of the Egyptians, based on cultural similarities and social complexity which is thought to be reflective of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.

DNA history of Egypt

Contamination from handling and intrusion from microbes create obstacles to the recovery of ancient DNA. Consequently, most DNA studies have been carried out on modern Egyptian populations with the intent of learning about the influences of historical migrations on the population of Egypt. Blood typing and DNA sampling on ancient Egyptian mummies is scant; however, blood typing of dynastic mummies found ABO frequencies to be most similar to modern Egyptians, and some also to Northern Haratin populations. ABO blood group distribution shows that the Egyptians form a sister group to North African populations Egyptologist. The use of craniofacial criteria as reliable indicators of population grouping or ethnicity has been a longstanding focus of biological anthropology. In 1912, Franz Boas argued that cranial shape was heavily influenced by environmental factors and could change within a few generations under differing conditions, thereby making the cephalic index an unreliable indicator of inherited influences such as ethnicity. Gravlee, Bernard and Leonard (2003), Beals, Smith, and Dodd (1984) and Williams and Armelagos (2005) similarly posited that “race” and cranial variation had low correlations, and proposed that cranial variation was instead strongly correlated with climate variables. Brace (1993) differentiated adaptive cranial traits from non-adaptive cranial traits, asserting that only the non-adaptive cranial traits served as reliable indicators of genetic relatedness between populations. This was further corroborated in studies by von Cramon-Taubadel (2008, 2009a, 2011). Clement and Ranson (1998) estimated that cranial analysis yields a 77%-95% rate of accuracy in determining the racial origins of human skeletal remains. A craniofacial study by C. Loring Brace et al. (1993) concluded that the Predynastic Egyptians of Upper Egypt and the Late Dynastic Egyptians of Lower Egypt were most closely related to each other. They also showed general ties with other Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations in Northeast Africa and Northwest Africa, as well as Nubians, Neolithic and modern Europe, and India, but not at all with populations of sub-Saharan Africa, eastern Asia, Oceania, or the New World. “Adjacent people in the Nile valley show similarities in trivial traits in an unbroken series from the delta in the north southward through Nubia and all the way to Somalia at the equator. At the same time, the gradient in skin color and body proportions suggests long-term adaptive response to selective forces appropriate to the latitude where they occur. An assessment of “race” is as useless as it is impossible. Neither clines nor clusters alone suffice to deal with the biological nature of a widely distributed population. Both must be used.” He also commented, “We conclude that the Egyptians have been in place since back in the Pleistocene and have been largely unaffected by either invasions or migrations. As others have noted, Egyptians are Egyptians, and they were so in the past as well.” Joseph Deniker and other early anthropologists similarly noted that the overall cranial form of Ethiopic, Arab and Berber ethnic groups, all of whom speak Hamito-Semitic languages, are largely the same.

Modern and ancient Egyptians

A survey cited by Kemp (2005) of pooled ancient Egyptian crania spanning all time periods found that the ancient Egyptian population clustered closest to modern Egyptians. Egyptians in general, ancient and modern, also clustered closely with Nubian and Ethiopic populations, and more remotely with Northwest African, Near Eastern and Southern European populations. However, they were distant from Negroid populations. In Kemp’s unpooled dendrogram, the Pre-Dynastic Upper Egyptians (El Bardi and Naqada) samples further clustered closest to certain ancient samples from the Nubia region as well as modern Ethiopic populations, 5-26th dynasty Egyptians grouped New Kingdom Lower Nubians and with the ancient Levant, whereas Late Kingdom and some modern Egyptians leaned toward some Middle Eastern and modern European populations. Kemp also noted that Egypt conquered and settled Nubia beginning in the 1st Dynasty. Anthropologist Nancy Lovell states the following: “There is now a sufficient body of evidence from modern studies of skeletal remains to indicate that the ancient Egyptians, especially southern Egyptians, exhibited physical characteristics that are within the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sub Sahara and tropical Africa. In general, the inhabitants of Upper Egypt and Nubia had the greatest biological affinity to people of the Sahara and more southerly areas.” And, “must be placed in the context of hypotheses informed by archaeological, linguistic, geographic and other data. In such contexts, the physical anthropological evidence indicates that early Nile Valley populations can be identified as part of an African lineage, but exhibiting local variation. This variation represents the short- and long-term effects of evolutionary forces, such as gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection, influenced by culture and geography.” This view was also shared by the late Egyptologist Frank Yurco. A 2005 study by Keita of predynastic Badarian (Southern Egyptian) crania found that the Badarian samples cluster more closely with East African (Ethiopic) samples than they do with Northern European (Berg and Norse) samples, though importantly no Asian and Southern Africa samples were included in the study. Sonia Zakrzewski in 2007 noted that population continuity occurs over the Egyptian Predynastic into the Greco-Roman periods, and that a relatively high level of genetic differentiation was sustained over this time period. She concluded therefore that the process of state formation itself may have been mainly an indigenous process, but that it may have occurred in association with in-migration, particularly during the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom periods. In 2008 Keita found that the early predynastic groups in Southern Egypt were similar craniometrically to Nile valley groups of Ethiopic extraction, and as a whole the dynastic Egyptians (includes both Upper and Lower Egyptians) show much closer affinities with these particular Northeast African populations. He also concluded that more material was needed to make a firm conclusion about the relationship between the early Holocene Nile valley populations and later ancient Egyptians. Anthropologist C. Loring Brace points out that limb elongation is “clearly related to the dissipation of metabolically generated heat” in areas of higher ambient temperature. He also stated that “skin color intensification and distal limb elongation is apparent wherever people have been long-term residents of the tropics”. He also points out that the term “super negroid” is inappropriate, as it is also applied to non negroid populations. These features have been observed among Egyptian samples. According to Robins and Shute the average limb elongation ratios among ancient Egyptians is higher than that of modern West Africans who reside much closer to the equator. Robins and Shute therefore term the ancient Egyptians to be “super-negroid” but state that although the body plans of the ancient Egyptians were closer to those of modern negroes than for modern whites, “this does not mean that the ancient Egyptians were negroes”. Anthropologist S.O.Y. Keita criticized Robins and Shute, stating they do not interpret their results within an adaptive context, and stating that they imply “misleadingly” that early southern Egyptians were not a “part of the Saharo-tropical group, which included Negroes”.[45] Gallagher et al. also points out that “body proportions are under strong climatic selection and evidence remarkable stability within regional lineages”.[46] Zakrzewski (2003) studied skeletal samples from the Badarian period to the Middle Kingdom. She confirmed the results of Robins and Shute that Ancient Egyptians in general had “tropical body plans” but that their proportions were actually “super-negroid”. Trikhanus (1981) found Egyptians to plot closest to tropical Africans and not Mediterranean Europeans residing in a roughly similar climatic area. A more recent study compared ancient Egyptian osteology to that of African-Americans and White Americans, and found that the stature of the Ancient Egyptians was more similar to the stature of African-Americans, although it was not identical: Our results confirm that, although ancient Egyptians are closer in body proportion to modern American Blacks than they are to American Whites, proportions in Blacks and Egyptians are not identical.

Dental morphology

Modern studies on ancient Egyptian dentition clusters the Ancient Egyptians with Caucasoids (Europeans, Western Asians, and Northeast Africans such as Somalis and Ethiopians) who have small teeth, as opposed to Negroids (Western Sub-Saharan Africans) who have megadont/large teeth. A 2006 bioarchaeological study on the dental morphology of ancient Egyptians in Upper Egypt by Joel Irish found that their dental traits were most similar to those of other Nile Valley populations, with more remote ties with Bronze Age to Christian period Nubians (e.g. A-Group, C-Group, Kerma) and other Afro-Asiatic speaking populations in Northeast Africa (Tigrean). However, the Egyptian groups were generally distinct from the sampled West and Central African populations. Among the samples included in the study is skeletal material from the Hawara tombs of Fayum, (from the Roman period) which clustered very closely with the Badarian series of the predynastic period. All the samples, particularly those of the Dynastic period, were significantly divergent from a neolithic West Saharan sample from Lower Nubia. Biological continuity was also found intact from the dynastic to the post-pharaonic periods. According to Irish: [The Egyptian] samples [of 996 mummies] exhibit morphologically simple, mass-reduced dentitions that are similar to those in populations from greater North Africa (Irish, 1993, 1998a–c, 2000) and, to a lesser extent, western Asia and Europe (Turner, 1985a; Turner and Markowitz, 1990; Roler, 1992; Lipschultz, 1996; Irish, 1998a). Anthropologist Shomarka Keita takes issue with the suggestion of Irish that Egyptians and Nubians were not primary descendants of the African epipaleolithic and Neolithic populations. Keita also criticizes him for ignoring the possibility that the dentition of the ancient Egyptians could have been caused by “in situ microevolution” driven by dietary change, rather than by racial admixture.

Egyptian Language element

Egyptian language: “The language spoken in ancient Egypt was a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. The earliest known complete written sentence in the Egyptian language has been dated to about 2690 BCE, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known, along with Sumerian. Egyptian was spoken until the late seventeenth century in the form of Coptic. The national language of modern Egypt is Egyptian Arabic, which gradually replaced Coptic as the language of daily life in the centuries after the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Coptic is still used as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It has several hundred fluent speakers today. The Egyptian language belongs to the Afroasiatic language family. Among the typological features of Egyptian that are typically Afroasiatic are fusional morphology, nonconcatenative morphology, a series of emphatic consonants, a three-vowel system /a i u/, nominal feminine suffix *-at, nominal m-, adjectival *-ī, and characteristic personal verbal affixes. Of the other Afroasiatic branches, Egyptian shows its greatest affinities with Semitic, and to a lesser extent Cushitic. In Egyptian, the Proto-Afroasiatic voiced consonants */d z ð/ developed into pharyngeal ⟨ꜥ⟩ /ʕ/, e.g. Eg. ꜥr.t ‘portal’, Sem. *dalt ‘door’. Afroasiatic */l/ merged with Egyptian ⟨n⟩, ⟨r⟩, ⟨ꜣ⟩, and ⟨j⟩ in the dialect on which the written language was based, while being preserved in other Egyptian varieties. Original */k g ḳ/ palatalize to ⟨ṯ j ḏ⟩ in some environments and are preserved as ⟨k g q⟩ in others. Egyptian has many biradical and perhaps monoradical roots, in contrast to the Semitic preference for triradical roots. Egyptian probably is more archaic in this regard, whereas Semitic likely underwent later regularizations converting roots into the triradical pattern. Although Egyptian is the oldest Afroasiatic language documented in written form, its morphological repertoire is greatly different from that of the rest of the Afroasiatic in general and Semitic in particular. This suggests that Egyptian had already undergone radical changes from Proto-Afroasiatic before being recorded, that the Afroasiatic family has so far been studied with an excessively Semito-centric approach, or that Afroasiatic is a typological rather than genetic grouping of languages. The earliest Egyptian glyphs date back to around 3300 BC. These early texts are generally lumped together under the general term “Archaic Egyptian.” They record names, titles and labels, but a few of them show morphological and syntactic features familiar from later, more complete, texts. Old Egyptian is dated from the oldest known complete sentence, found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen and dated to around 2690 BCE. Extensive texts appear from about 2600 BCE. Middle Egyptian was spoken from about 2000 BCE for a further 700 years, when Late Egyptian made its appearance; Middle Egyptian did, however, survive until the first few centuries CE as a written language, similar to the use of Latin during the Middle Ages and that of Classical Arabic today. Demotic first appears about 650 BCE and survived as a written language until the fifth century CE. Coptic appeared in the first century CE and survived as a living language until the sixteenth century, when European scholars traveled to Egypt to learn it from native speakers during the Renaissance. It probably survived in the Egyptian countryside as a spoken language for several centuries after that. Pre-Coptic Egyptian does not show great dialectal differences in the written language due to the centralized nature of Egyptian society. However, they must have existed in speech; this is evidenced by a letter from c. 1200 BCE complaining that the language of a correspondent is as unintelligible as the speech of a northern Egyptian to a southerner. Recently, some evidence of internal dialects has been found in pairs of similar words in Egyptian, which, based on similarities with later dialects of Coptic, may be derived from Northern and Southern dialects of Egyptian. Written Coptic has five major dialects which differ mainly in graphic conventions, most notably the southern Saidic dialect which was the main classical dialect and the northern Bohairic dialect which is currently used in Coptic Church services. The Ancient Egyptian language has been classified as a member of the Afroasiatic language family. There is no agreement on when and where these languages originated, though the language is generally believed to have originated somewhere in or near the region stretching from the Levant in the Near East to northern Kenya, and from the Eastern Sahara in North Africa to the Red Sea, or Southern Arabia, Ethiopia and Sudan. The language of the neighbouring Nubian people is one of the Nilo-Saharan languages, and is not one of the Afroasiatic languages. (The general consensus is that Afroasiatic is indeed a genetic grouping, and that Egyptian did in fact diverge greatly in its prerecorded history, although there is almost certainly a Semitic bias in Afroasiatic reconstruction. Scholars group the Egyptian language into six major chronological divisions:

*Archaic Egyptian language (before 2600 BCE, the language of the Early Dynastic Period)

*Old Egyptian language (2686 BC – 2181 BCE, the language of the Old Kingdom)

*Middle Egyptian language (2055 BC – 1650 BCE), characterizing Middle Kingdom (2055 BC – 1650 BC, but enduring through the early 18th Dynasty until the Amarna Period (1353 BCE), and continuing on as a literary language into the fourth century CE).

*Late Egyptian language (1353–700 BCE, characterizing the Third Intermediate Period (1069–700 BC), but starting earlier with the Amarna Period).

*Demotic (7th century BCE – 5th century CE, Late Period through Roman Egypt)

*Coptic (first century CE – 17th century, early Roman Egypt to the early modern period) Ref Ref Ref

Genetic history of North Africa?

The genetic history of North Africa has been heavily influenced by geography. The Sahara desert to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the North were important barriers to gene flow in prehistoric times. However, Northeast Africa and the Levant form a single land mass at the Suez. At the Straits of Gibraltar, North Africa and Europe are separated by only 15 km (9 mi). At periods of low sea-levels, such as during a glacial maximum, islands that are currently submerged would appear in the Mediterranean and possibly in between the Gibraltar straits. These may have encouraged humans to “island hop” between Africa and Europe. During wetter phases of the Sahara, some Saharan inhabitants would have expanded north into southern parts of North Africa. West Asian populations would have also been attracted to a wet Sahara. West Asian populations could also migrate into Africa via the coastal regions of the Mediterranean. As a result of these geographic influences, the genetic profile of North African populations is a complex mosaic of European, West Asian and Sub-Saharan African influences to variable degrees. Though North Africa has experienced gene-flow from the surrounding regions, it has also experienced long periods of genetic isolation in some parts, allowing a distinctive genetic markers to evolve in some Maghrebi populations, especially in some isolated Berber speaking people. Current scientific debate is concerned with determining the relative contributions of different periods of gene flow to the current gene pool of North Africans. Anatomically modern humans are known to have been present in North Africa during the Upper Paleolithic, 45,000 years ago, as attested by the Aterian culture. With no apparent continuity, 22,000 years ago, the Aterian was succeeded by the Iberomaurusian industry, whose lithic assemblages bore relations with the Cro-Magnon cultures. The Iberomaurusian was succeeded by the Capsian, a pre-Neolithic culture. Around 9,000 years ago, the Sahara desert entered a wet phase, the Neolithic Subpluvial, which attracted Neolithic peoples from elsewhere in Africa and the Near East. In historic times, North Africa was occupied by various populations, including the Phoenicians (814–146 BCE), Romans (146 BCE–439 CE), Vandals and Alains (439–534 CE), and Byzantines (534–647 CE). In the 7th century, Islam was diffused in the area. Under the unifying framework of Islam, on the one hand, and the settlement of some Middle Eastern tribes together with the migration of the Moors of Andalusia into the Maghreb (after the Spanish Catholic Reconquista) on the other, a fusion took place that resulted in a new ethnocultural entity all over the Maghreb and Egypt and all contributed to the diffusion of the Arab-Islamic culture among the North African populations. On 13 January 2012, an exhaustive genetic study of North Africa’s human populations was published in PLoS Genetics and was undertaken jointly by researchers in the Evolutionary Biology Institute (CSIC-UPF) and Stanford University, among other institutions. The study reveals that the genetic composition of North Africa’s human populations is extremely complex, and the result of a local component dating back thirteen thousand years and the varied genetic influence of neighbouring populations on North African groups during successive migrations. According to David Comas, coordinator of the study and researcher at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF), “some of the questions we wanted to answer were whether today’s inhabitants are direct descendants of the populations with the oldest archaeological remains in the region, dating back fifty thousand years, or whether they are descendants of the Neolithic populations in the Middle East, which introduced agriculture to the region around eight thousand years ago. We also wondered if there had been any genetic exchange between the North African populations and the neighbouring regions and if so, when these took place”. To answer these questions, the researchers analyzed around 800,000 genetic markers, distributed throughout the entire genome in 125 North African individuals belonging to seven representative populations in the whole region, and the information obtained was compared with the information from the neighbouring populations. The results of this study show that there is a native genetic component that defines North Africans. In-depth study of these markers shows that the people inhabiting North Africa today are not descendants of either the earliest occupants of this region fifty thousand years ago, or of the most recent Neolithic populations. The data shows that the ancestors of today’s North Africans were a group of populations that already lived in the region around thirteen thousand years ago. Furthermore, this local North African genetic component is very different from the one found in the populations in the south of the Sahara, which shows that the ancestors of today’s North Africans were members of a subgroup of humanity who left Africa to conquer the rest of the world and who subsequently returned to the north of the continent to settle in the region. As well as this local component, North African populations were also observed to share genetic markers with all the neighbouring regions, as a result of more recent migrations, although these appear in different proportions. There is an influence from the Middle East, which becomes less marked as the distance from the Arabian Peninsula increases, similar proportions of European influence in all North African populations, and, in some populations, there are even individuals who present a large proportion of influence from the South of the Sahara in their genome. A 2015 study by Dobon et al. identified an ancestral autosomal component of West Eurasian origin that is common to many modern Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations in Northeast Africa. Known as the Coptic component, it peaks among Egyptian Copts who settled in Sudan over the past two centuries. The Coptic component evolved out of a main North African and Middle Eastern ancestral component that is shared by other Egyptians and also found at high frequencies among other Afro-Asiatic populations in Northeast Africa (~70%). The scientists suggest that this points to a common origin for the general population of Egypt. They also associate the Coptic component with Ancient Egyptian ancestry, without the later Arabian influence that is present among other Egyptians. Ref