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Ancient Egypt: Predynastic Period (5500 -- 3100 BCE)

The Predynastic period of Ancient Egypt corresponds to the Late Neolithic (Stone Age), and covers the cultural and social changes which occurred between the late Palaeolithic period (hunter gatherers) and the early Pharaonic era (the Early Dynastic Period). During the Predynastic Period, Egyptians developed a written language (centuries before writing was developed in Mesopotamia) and an institutionalized religion.

They developed a settled, agricultural civilization along the fertile, dark soils (kemet or black lands) of the Nile (which involved the revolutionary use of the plough) during a period in which Northern Africa was becoming more arid and the edges of the Western (and Saharan) desert (the deshret or red lands) spread.

Although archaeologists know that writing first emerged during the Predynastic Period, very few examples still exist today. What is known about the period comes from remains of its art and architecture.

The Predynastic Period is divided into four separate phases: the Early Predynastic which ranges from the 6th to 5th millennium B.C.E. (approximately 5500 - 4000 B.C.E.), the Old Predynastic which ranges from 4500 to 3500 B.C.E. (the time overlap is due to diversity along the length of the Nile), the Middle Predynastic which roughly goes form 3500 - 3200 B.C.E, and the Late Predynastic which takes us up to the First Dynasty at around 3100 B.C.E.

The reducing size of the phases can be taken as an example of how social and scientific development was accelerating.

The Early Predynastic is otherwise known as the Badrian Phase—named for the el-Badari region, and the Hammamia site in particular, of Upper Egypt. The equivalent Lower Egypt sites are found at Fayum (the Fayum A encampments) which are considered to be the first agricultural settlements in Egypt, and at Merimda Beni Salama.

During this phase, the Egyptians began making pottery, often with quite sophisticated designs (a fine polished red wear with blackened tops), and constructing tombs from mud brick. Corpses were merely wrapped

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