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Life Before the Pharaohs

Uploaded by Admin on Dec 05, 2000

For more than half of the twentieth century, much like the pyramids, the predynastic Egypt was a mystery to archeologists. The little discoveries that had been made from the period preceding the pharaohs were not enough to either prove or disprove the various theories circulating at the time.

One of the first artifacts dated at the time of the unification to be unearthed was Narmer’s palette, discovered by the English archeologist James Edward Quibell at the end of the nineteenth century. The discovery was made at Hierakonpolis, about four hundred and fifty miles outside of Cairo. The object depicted the unification of the Lower and Upper Egypt, the event being attributed to Narmer; he also found a macehead that carried the insignia of Scorpion, a king which was believed to have ruled Upper Egypt just before the unification. Not far from the spot where Quibell had found the palette, his colleague, Frederick W. Green, discovered an extremely decorated tomb that had been built for a ruler who dominated the surrounding region almost two centuries before Narmer. Their discoveries were the first ones to document this moment of extreme importance in history: a time of political and cultural change and evolution. Unfortunately they were not nearly enough to explain that evolution.

The little evidence available led several archeologists to come up with more or less “believable” theories about the predynastic Egypt. Some sustained that the society before the pharaohs was a primitive and one that could not have evolved into the great Egyptian state without any outside help. Walter Brian Emory was one of the supporters of this theory.

Only three years before this amazing discovery, another English archeologist, William Fliders Petrie, had unearthed at Naqada about twenty-one hundred graves containing such objects as fired-clay pots, palettes, and amulets made of stone, bone, and ivory. The latest graves were dated to about 3100 BC, while the earliest were dated to the predynastic period. Petrie assigned the objects found in the “predynastic graves” to three major periods: the Amratian (3800-3500 BC), the Gerzean (3500-3200 BC), and the Protodynastic (3200-3100 BC) periods; a fourth period, the Badarian (before 4000-3800 BC), is added in the 1920’s. Using the scarce evidence they had, Petrie and other archeologists concluded that life before the pharaohs was quite a primitive one and it wasn’t until very short before the dynastic era that the culture would evolve. But he had deduced...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   12/05/2000

Category:   History

Length:   4 pages (887 words)

Views:   1283

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