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Ancient Egypt
1. Introduction
2. People
3. Life styles
4. Culture
5. Education and Science
6. Society
7. Economy
8. Government
9. Cities and Villages
10. Language
11. Religion
12. Kings / periods
13. History
14. Map

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Predynastic PeriodPredynastic Period

Open map of Ancient EgyptAncient Egypt /
Predynastic Period

Probably ruler in the 32nd century BCE.
Possibly ruling after Menes, also in the 32nd century BCE.
Perhaps the place that can be considered the birth place for Ancient Egypt, beginning around 4400 BCE.

In Ancient Egypt, the period prior to the unification Egypt around 3100 BCE, including the first era after formal unification.
There is really no beginning to this period, but archaeological evidence sets its beginning as far back in time as between 10000 and 9000 BCE, when the first traces for the development towards civilization can be found. Of the principal reasons for the emergence of civilization in Egypt seems to be climate changes in the Sahara that from around 8000 BCE began to make the large plains gradually uninhabitable around 8000 BCE, forcing people to relocate more and more along the Nile. With this also came a gradual shift from nomadic to settled life styles.
Economy along the Nile and in the Nile Delta was largely linked to hunting, wild grains were collected but there was very little farming. Important advances were made, like domestication of animals, early agriculture and the development of larger boats for sailing and trade along the river. Weaving and the production of simple pottery were developed, as well as production of copper products, and around 4000 BCE also iron products. All this allowed an economy of some specialization.
The oldest attested finds of hieroglyphs belong to this period, the first finds date to ca. 4000 BCE.
Settlements were simple, houses were mud huts. Still, this was really not much less than private houses in the richest eras of dynastic Egypt. What sets the Predynastic Period apart is the scarcity of stone buildings, whether it be palaces, temples or graves. Still, it was in this period that many of the basic principles of stone architecture were first developed.

The unification of Egypt
Being the country of the Nile, Egypt has no natural centre. No matter which region would rise to prominence, it would face the challenge of long distances. When unification happened it was a gradual process over several centuries, but unification is often linked to King Menes, who probably lived and ruled in the 32nd century BCE. Many scholars define the era of Menes as the Protodynastic Period, with a Dynasty 0.
Still, there is little substantial information about the political structures and power in this period. To exercise national control a central power would need substantial technical facilities, both boats and weaponry, as well as a rather advanced economy that could feed and equip an army. These facilities were probably out of reach, and centralized control would have to rely upon cooperation and alliances with local rulers, allowing local rulers to retained much of their predynastic power.
Over the 1300 years between the time of the first city centre and the shift into Early Dynastic Period, Egypt had at least 7 centres where technical and cultural advances were made. Most of these centres were not parallel in time, at any time, Egypt never had more than two or three real power centres.
The most important was Naqada, not far from later Thebes (modern Luxor). Other important centres were Abydos, slightly north of Naqada, the oasis of Fayoum and Ma'adi (near later Memphis).

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By Tore Kjeilen