Home Ancient History Ancient Egypt Periodization of the prehistory in the Egyptian area

Periodization of the prehistory in the Egyptian area

Arrow head from neolithic period found in Egypt

Half a million years ago Nile was much wider. Interglacial period in Europe corresponds to the period of rain in North Africa, due to which there was much higher level of the Nile than now. In this way, Nile’s bed, by reducing water masses, gained its stepwise form and this is how three terraces were made which allowed people to work on the land and to settle themselves. The oldest findings of human activity were stone axes, whose age is estimated at about 700.000 years ago, and they come from Abu Simbel in southern Egypt when the Nile was 100 meters higher than today. 12.000 years ago, people were oriented on to agriculture and 10.500 years ago they returned to hunting and fishing. Climate changes that occurred 5.500 years ago orientated people on to agriculture, which allowed civilization to develop.

Paleolithic periods of Egypt

Lower Paleolithic : 250.000 – 90.000

Middle Paleolithic: 90.000 – 30.000

Upper Paleolithic: 30.000 – 10.000

At the end of the Paleolithic period, a culture Sebil first time appeared (15.000-10.000) north of Kom-Ombo. The oldest layer of the culture shows use of hard and difficult arable diorite and quartz. Residents of the middle phase were using flint, and the remains of their dugout and bones were discovered.

Mesolithic period of Egypt

Capsien culture appeared on many places in the North Africa, and after that, it appeared in Egypt after 9.000. BC.

Neolithic periods of Egypt

  Lower (North) Egypt

Merimde beni Salame culture (5.000 – 6.000) 

    • it can be seen the appearance of pottery and palettes and also the use of two types of stone axes
    • pit hadn’t had an entry, but they had stairs which were made out of hypos bones
    • there were not special cemeteries, but the dead were buried within settlement around fire
    • a man who discovered culture is German Hermann Junker

Fayum culture (around 5.700. BC)

    • there were found stone axes, but there were not agriculture tools
    • in the period A it has been discovered ceramics which was not decorated
    • Gertrude Caton-Thompson and Elinor Gardner discovered this culture

El Omari culture (around 5.700. BC)

    • Typical pre-dynastic culture with three layers (A, B, and C)
    • El Omari A is characterized by the oval shaped houses that are divided into several rooms built of brick
    • Palettes were made of bones while ceramics were painted into red and black color
    • The deceased were buried in two cemeteries, where each has its own fireplace. Deceased were buried lying on their left side of the body and with hands on their faces
    • A discoverer was an archaeologist El Omari
Maadi culture (4.000. – 3.000.BC)
    • Pre-dynasty culture
    • appeared square-shaped houses
    • three burial grounds were discovered, and it is thought that they had sacrificed humans and animals
    • appeared ceramic with light tones, painted in red and brown and also there are palettes similar to those that were found in the Upper Egypt culture of Naqada
Upper (South) Egypt

El Badari culture (5.500 – 3.800 BC)

    • Eneolithic culture
    • cemetery outside the village was discovered, while the settlement itself did not exist, because the population was using some form of tents or temporary houses
    • ceramic bowls were colored black and red – black, while in the graves were placed ceramics with engravings
    • Women were buried without the head, and instead of the head, there was a bowl
    • Main features of this culture were in making bowls in the shape of tulips, cultivating land and raising cattle. Cult objects in the shape of animals and the occasional use of copper are also seen as the features of this culture.
    • Thompson and Gardner discovered it
Tassa culture (5.500 – 3.800) is characterized by the long shaped bowls which are made in the shape of a tulip, and in the graves were found a votive ceramic figurines

Naqada or El Garzeh culture (4.000 – 3.300)

    • is divided on Naqada I and II
    • the discoverer of culture is also “the father of British Egyptology“ Matthew Flinders Petrie
    • is trying to identify the origin of dynastic Egypt
    • it has been found 2.149 graves. Graves were found much deeper than in any other previous cultures, and they were found on the west side of the Nile
    • the bodies were laid on their left side, and in the graves were placed different types of bowls
    • on some bones there were found traces of teeth and knives which suggests on ritual cannibalism which is a presumption that it existed practices of human sacrifices
    • they were making axes of copper, also they made thin knives and maces
    • in Naqada I ceramics is painted dark with yellow drawings, while in Naqada II is other way around (drawings of humans, animals and ships)


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