The Late Predynastic Culture Period Of Egypt

Late Predynastic, Egypt, culture, tomb, civilization, political leader, temples god, Gerzean, Naqada, history, ancient, middle eastThe Late Predynastic Period, (also called Gerzean Period or Naqada II) is known as the most important predynastic culture in Egypt. Although the center of the development was the same as that of Amratian (or Naqada I), Gerzean culture slowly spread throughout Egypt. The Late Predynastic Period is best characterized by the discovery of the el-Gerza Culture providing a third predynastic phase and a second stage of the Naqada period. Kawm al-Ahmar, Naqada, and Abydos are the large sites developed during Naqada II period. They had large settlement areas with increasing division of wealth and status. Social stratification is evident from the burials of this time.
The rich were buried in tombs lined with mud brick, while the poor were buried in oblong tombs with one-sided ledges to hold funerary offerings. Tombs of people in the upper class were bigger and richer than those of the middle class. Regional political leaders can be easily identified by their "chieftains's tombs'' at different sites. Compared with the pharonic civilization, the Gerzean culture reached a stage of development that was already well advanced, especially in its funeral and religious rituals. Gerzean tombs had become virtual replicas of earthly dwellings; sometimes they comprised several profusely furnished rooms. There were amulets, figurines and ceremonial objects decorated with thematic scenes of animals (lions, bulls, cattle, hippopotami and falcons) which are known to have represented various gods from a very early period in Egyptian history.

Fodor's Egypt, 3rd Edition (Fodor's Gold Guides)
By Naqada II (also called Nakada II or Naqadah II) Period, bigger and more practical river ships were made, and the trade along the Nile River was flourishing. Egyptian boats changed from crafts made of reed bundles to ships made of wood planks. There is evidence of intense trade with the Near East. Ma'adi was a center of trade with the Near East and there were a wide range of settlement that presumably played a role of intermediary to transport goods to the south. Imports of lapis lazuli tell us that their trading went as far as Badakhshan in Afghanistan. Lapis lazulis was traded across land and by ocean via the Persian Gulf to Sumer. Evidence of a brief period of either direct or indirect contact with cultures in Mesopotamia during the late Gerzean time was found. Some of the influence from Southwestern Asia can be seen from pottery paralleled in Mesopotamia and Palestine, seal stones with Mesopotamian motifs-interlacing ophidians, master of animals, griffin with wings, and the complex niched-facade mud brick architecture paralleled in Sumer where it was used for the decoration of the temples of the gods.
The major difference between the Amatian and the Gerzean lay in their ceramic production. The decoration of Gerzean pottery was more developed with the use of stylized motifs including geometrical representations of flora and more naturalistic depictions of fauna and other aspects of their culture. Gerzean culture was introduced into Egypt by the "Eastern Desert Folk,'' who invaded and governed Egypt while the Amratian white-lined pottery was brought by "Libyan invasions.'' Gerzean culture is characterized by a buff-coloured pottery with pictorial decorations in dark red paint, use of an abrasive tubular drill for stonecutting, pear-shaped mace-heads and ripple-flacked flint knives and an advanced metallurgy.
During the Gerzean period, pottery was mass-produced and was of very good quality. Unusual animal motifs drawn on the Gerzean pottery, such as ostriches and ibexes tell us that Gerzean people went to hunt in the sub-desert since those animals could not be found near the Nile River. The donkey was the only locally domesticated animal that was portrayed as tame in the late Predynastic art. Gazelle herding and the domestication of sheep and dogs are found in the Gerzean along with cattle and pigs. The dwarf goat was found at the Gerzean site of Tukh and Esh-Shaheinab. The ancient indigenous way of hunting, fishing and utilizing wild plants supported the subsistence economy of Egypt until late Predynastic Period. However, population increase affected the distribution of plants and animals in the desert. In the late predynastic period, elephants, giraffes and ostriches seem to have vanished from the desert and floodplain.

Writing was most likely not brought into Egypt, but may have began during this period with representations on the Naqada pottery. This pottery apparently charts gradual stylization of the plants, animals and religious dances depicted, eventually resulting in a set of divine symbols that are virtually hieroglyphic signs. These Naqada pictures reflect a fundamental principle throughout Egyptian history: the combination of pictograms and phonograms.
In the later Gerzean period, there is evidence of increased political activity and the general opinion is that a struggle for predominance now developed between Upper and Lower Egypt. In both regions, the basic unit of government was the local community clustered around a town or group of villages and was under the greater control of a local variant of one of the universal gods, and looking for leadership to some powerful headman. The unification of Egypt began with the First Dynasty. It also marked the beginning of Egyptian history, for it was the time when hieroglyphic writing in Egypt became standardized. Little is known about the First or Second Dynasty due to the ravages of wars and of time. Many of the comments regarding the early Pre-dynastic Periods can be used for both the first dynasty and the second.

Architecture of the First Dynasty evolved from simple structures of wood, reeds and mud, to larger, more complicated buildings of brick and later of stone. During the First Dynasty, the traditions of wood structures had a strong influence on the later buildings constructed of brick and stone. Mat and reed textures are imitated on many stone walls giving a distinctly Egyptian character to the architecture. In addition, Egyptian sculpture was quite distinct and elaborate.
The Second Dynasty, maintained the war records of raids into Nubia. None of the raid efforts were large scale or resulted in permanent conquest, but they are indicative of a desire for the wealth of Nubia. Another large exploit of the Egyptians during the Second Dynasty is the shift of a power center from Abydos to Memphis. This shift, due largely in part to resources, could also possibly have been due to the cult of the Sun god Ra beginning during this period, and also due to a want for greater political control by the king. By the end of the 2nd Dynasty an end to political opposition of north and south established a basic economic, religious and political system, which lasted well into dynasties to come, and paved the way for the more affluent.
The Pharaohs of the Third Dynasty were the first to have actual pyramids constructed as shrines to their deaths. Although crude, these step pyramids were the predecessors to the later Pyramids of Giza and others. The first of these pyramids was designed by Imhotep for Dzoser. Prior to, and during the construction of the step pyramids, rulers were buried in a structure called Mastaba. The Mastaba were non-pyramidal shaped structures which did not contain walls or stone art and closely resembled burial mounds, with long shafts leading down into the tomb area. Sanakhte and Dzoser, the first two Pharaohs of this Dynasty, began exploitation of the Sinai Peninsula, which was rich in turquoise and copper. Little else was done by the kings during this dynasty.


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