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Q: Early Egyptian History ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Early Egyptian History
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: goddessisis-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 22 Jun 2004 09:49 PDT
Expires: 22 Jul 2004 09:49 PDT
Question ID: 364574
Can you help me find the positive and negative influences that early
egyptian civilisation may well have had on their surrounding cultures
and civilisations

Request for Question Clarification by digsalot-ga on 22 Jun 2004 10:06 PDT
"Early Egypt" is still a wide time span.  Are you asking about
proto-dynastic Egypt, the "Old Kingdom" or Ancient Egypt in general?

There are many quite large books written about Egyptian cross cultural
influences and as to whether they were negative of positive is highly
subjective.  For example, the introduction of writing from Mesopotamia
into proto-dynastic Egypt would be a positive when it came to the
expression of thought.  That "expressed thought" may later lead Egypt
into an international situation which is negative not only for Egypt
but for surrounding people as well.

If you can define what you mean by "Early" Egypt, it would go a long
way in allowing us to provide an answer.  Otherwise, we could write
expansive histories and still not touch on what you are looking for.

You also need to realize that whatever is written as an answer can be
little more than subjective interpretation with supportive backing. 
I've been doing it for decades.

retired Egyptian archaeologist

Clarification of Question by goddessisis-ga on 22 Jun 2004 11:25 PDT
Hi Digsalot, I was hoping it was you that replied :o) (No offence to others)

Early Egypt is a broad range of activity and I was hoping to narrow it
a little to the time between the Badarian up to pre-Dynastic.  I find
that part of the history fascinating.  There are plenty of sites that
I have descovered that tell of the influences that other countries -
mesapotamia, nubia etc, had on the early egyptian civilisation, and
also loads on the late dynastic/early romano/coptic influences on
other cultures, but nothing on the question I seek about the early
egyptian external influences.

This is where I hope you can help.

I have always liked what you have returned in other questions that I
have scoured on here, so Im hoping that you can do me proud here :o)

Thanks in advance
Subject: Re: Early Egyptian History
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 22 Jun 2004 17:11 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello there

LOL, Greco-Roman and early Coptic Egypt is my specialty and here you
want the early stuff.

I have no idea of what you already know about the subject and I don't
know what sources you have used.

One of the things I have to address when answering a question such as
this is whether your information has come from legitimate sources or
whether you have been contaminated by the pyramidiots.  I did not
realize just how much "alternative history" there was till I got my
computer.  Various message boards allowed me to find out just how
pervasive alternative history is. It is seriously wrong and based on
at best, ignorance or at worst, deliberate deceit. What I find even
worse is the tone in which alternative history is presented and
discussed on the Internet. Pseudoarchaeological creationists,
space-alien geeks and other pyramidiocy perpetrators and their
followers seemed to deal with each and every objection by abusing the
questioner, twisting facts, spouting religious dogmatic absolutes, or
invoking an Egyptological conspiracy that would make Watergate look

It is truly amazing how creationist semi-science, pushed by
alternative archaeologists such as Graham Hancock (a name which makes
me shudder) has been taken by the general public as mainstream.

Just so you know, if support for one of these off-beat theories is
what you are wanting, you won't find it in this answer.

So with your leave, I will start with a general history of the period
and proceed as though you are being introduced to the subject for the
first time.  That way, there is a chance I might not be leaving
something out as I would by presuming to try and guess just what your
knowledge level already is. < - I just put that in as a warning since
a recent question asker jumped me for providing general background
information to a specific question and called it unimportant. 
However, if I don't provide that information, then I get jumped for
not providing 'enough' background material to make the answer

So please forgive me if I sound as though I am lecturing "Predynastic
Egypt 101" as part of the answer.

One of the main reasons you find so much about external influences on
predynastic Egypt and so little about predynastic Egypt's influences
on outsiders, is that there was in reality very little, if any.  Even
the Egyptians themselves came from the "outside" and there is little
evidence of a large Egyptian population already in residence, though
there is some dating back 700,000 years at Abu Simbel.  Human settlers
who first began to farm the Nile Valley came from Palestine and Syria,
from the Libyan tribes living to the west and from Nubia to the south.
All of this 'inward' migration occured about 5000 B.C.. These people
prospered and eventually formed two kingdoms. Upper Egypt and Lower

This inward migration to the river valley was brought about by a
change in climate.  From 500.000 to 6.000 BCE Egypt was inhabited by
palaeolithic peoples who hunted in the green plains of the Sahara,
which was not yet a desert and the same holds true for the "upper
Mideast" which is Palestine and Syria.

The Neolithic began in Egypt about 6000 BCE. Social groups grew in
number (agglomerates of hundreds of individuals) and the first true
villages were built.  The most important innovation of this period is
agriculture, which produced a chain of major transformations in the
Egyptian neolithic society.  However, even this change was introduced
from the outside.  Those who settled the Nile Valley were mostly
hunters.  The concepts of agriculture developed more rapidly in the
Delta (Lower Egypt) and later made their way upriver.  These initial
forays into agriculture in the Delta were mostly due to the influence
of peoples further to the east. (Syria, Palestine)

So, the quick answer to your question about what influence predynastic
Egypt had on surrounding cultures is for all practical purposes - none
- other than to act as a "sponge" soaking up those things which were
introduced and as a melting pot for incoming migrants.

Now there WAS a cultural influence but it was an "internal" one. 
Predynastic Egypt was fragmented and the cultural influences effected
neighboring regions (which were at the time "outside" a given local
rulers sphere) but that were later integrated as part of the overall
Egyptian civilization by the beginning of the 1st dynasty.

A little before 3000 B.C., traders from Iraq then sailed to Egypt, and
many of these people, attracted by the fertile land of the country,
decided to stay. Soon these early Iraqi settlers to the Nile Valley
began to grow barley and to domesticate cattle, sheep and other
livestock. They began to build villages of mud huts in areas that
seemed to be safe from the annual flooding of the Nile.

Now these early Iraqi traders were just that, traders.  What they
wound up knowing about agriculture and animal husbandry came from the
Egyptians who had obtained it from elsewhere.  However, we are once
again back into an "internal" influence rather than one on neighboring
cultures for the simple reason the Iraqis remained in Egypt and became
part of the Egyptian mainstream rather than  carrying these influences
back to Iraq.  Iraqi agricultural and cultural development was along a
different path than that of Egypt, though both cultures were river
flood plain based.

In this process, the decisive change from the nomadic hunter-gatherer
way of life of Paleolithic times to settled agriculture has never been
identified. Some time after 5000 BC the raising of crops was
introduced, probably on a small horticultural scale in small, local
cultures that seem to have moved southward through Egypt into the
oases and the Sudan. Several of the basic food plants that were grown
are native to the Palestinian/Syrian regions of the Mideast, so the
new techniques probably spread from there. No large-scale migration
needed for this spread, and the cultures were at first largely

I know, it gets kind of confusing, but we are still at the stage of
Egypt's influence on neighboring cultures as being virtually nada,
zero, zilch.  And that remains true for the whole time period between
Badarian and proto-dynastic Egypt.  99.999 percent of any agricultural
or intercultural influence during this time was coming into Egypt
rather than flowing out.

Upper Egypt, between Asyut and Luxor, was the home of the Tasian
culture (named after Dayr Tasa) and the Badarian culture (named after
al-Badari); these date from the late 5th millennium BCE. Most of the
evidence for them comes from cemeteries, where the burials included
blacktopped red pottery, ornaments, some copper objects, and glazed
steatite beads. The most characteristic predynastic luxury objects,
slate palettes for grinding cosmetics, occur for the first time in
this period. The burials show little differentiation of wealth and
status and seem to belong to a peasant culture without central
political organization.  It is the peasant culture without central
political organization that makes this people very unlikely to have
had an influence outside Egypt itself.  To put it bluntly, they really
had nothing to offer that wasn't already adopted from the outside to
begin with.

Naqadah I, named after the major site of Naqadah but also called
Amratian after al-'Amirah, is a distinct phase that came after the
Badarian.   Naqadah I differs from Badarian in the density of
settlement and in the typology of its material culture, but hardly at
all in the social organization.  Once again, it is this status of
social organization (or lack of it) that pretty much precludes any
meaningful influence on the outside.  Without a central governing body
and related social organizations, even trade would have been
restricted to the local level.

Now here we may be able to sift out a few influences of Egyptian
civilization on the outside world, but even then it is minimal and
consists mostly of trade goods.  Naqadah II, also known as Gerzean
after al-Girza, is the most important of these  predynastic Egyptian
cultures. Thecenter of its development was the same as that of Naqadah
I, but it spread gradually throughout the country. South of Jabal
al-Silsila, sites of the culturally similar Nubian A Group are found
as far as the Second Cataract and beyond.  However because of the
nature of the artifacts and the differences between what is found in
the Delta and what is found in the Valley, a definitive and concise
chronology for this period has yet to be established.  So, whether
Egypt's Gerzean culture influenced the Nubian or whether a Nubian
culture influenced the Gerzean is a toss-up.

In the more recent "Afro-centered" studies of early Egyptian culture,
Nubia influencing Gerzean Egypt is gaining ground.  If you have not
made any study of "Afro-centered" Egyptian civilization, you should. 
Most of the research is excellent and the evidence of African
influence and origins for Egypt's High Civilization grows only

Contemporary with Gerzean culture was another culture located near
modern Cairo known as Ma'adi.  The Ma'adi traded with other parts of
the Mideast and were probably intermediaries for transmitting goods to
the Valley.  The finds of lapis lazuli in Ma'adi settlements provide
evidence that trade networks extended as far as Afghanistan.  However,
once again, that did not mean that the Egyptians went that far in
their early history.  It simply demonstrates that the Ma'adi Egyptians
had contact with others whose trade did extend that far.  So there is
little or no evidence Egypt influenced anybody else other than as a
trade market. (that is that bit I said we might be able to "sift" out
- not much to it, is there.)

Sites of late Naqadah II (sometimes termed Naqadah III) are found
throughout Egypt, including the Memphis area and the Delta, and appear
to have replaced the local Egyptian cultures. Links with the Near East
became stronger and some distinctively Mesopotamian motifs and objects
were briefly popular in Egypt. The cultural unification of the country
probably accompanied a political unification.   This must have
proceeded in stages and cannot be reconstructed in detail. In an
intermediate part of this process, local states formed at Kawm
al-Ahmar, Naqadah, and Abydos, and in the Delta at such sites as Buto
(modern Tall al-Fara'in) and Sais. Ultimately, Abydos became
preeminent; its late predynastic cemetery of Umm al-Qa'ab was extended
to form the burial place of the kings of the 1st dynasty. In the
latest predynastic period, objects bearing written symbols of royalty
were deposited throughout the country, and primitive writing also
appeared in marks on pottery. Because the basic symbol for the king, a
falcon on a decorated palace facade hardly varies, these objects are
thought to have belonged to a single line of kings or a single state,
and not to a set of small states.  Predynastic Egypt thus became
Proto-dynastic Egypt.

Yes, ancient Egypt did have an influence on the world surrounding it
but not within the time frame you have indicated.

The research you have already done has truly turned up the right
answer.  The reason there is so little information about Egyptian
influence on surrounding cultures during the predynastic period is
that there was no such influence to speak of.

If you had found a good source for this kind of information, then the
"good" source you found was probably the product of a great
imagination combined with alternative history.  The reality is such
evidence, if it exists, has yet to be found.

Egypt's influence on the world around it begins at the end of the time
period the question covers and would not be applicable to an answer
restricted only to that period.

Some excellent websites about predynastic Egypt:

"Kafr Hassan Dawood on-line" - A new Website for the Late Predynastic
period excavated since 1995 to present by prof. Fekri A. Hassan and
his team. The site features site location and formation, excavations
history, 1995 to 1999 fieldwork reports and pages on KHD and the
Egyptian State formation (on this latter topic Prof. F. Hassan has
written outstanding articles), artifacts, photos and bibliography.
Really a wonderful website.

This website is based on an academic paper by the author, aiming to
gather informations about Prehistoric and Predynastic Fayum (and
related areas') geology and archaeology. The site (and the paper) will
be continuously updated, but even in its present state (version 2.1)
it undoubtedly ranks as one of the most useful resources actually
available on-line for Predynastic Egypt and surely the WWW
top-reference about Prehistoric/Predynastic Fayum, West Delta and
Southern Cairo region.

And, I might be able to introduce you to a friend of mine without
breaking any Google Answers personal contact regulations.  His name is
Mikey Brass (Mike if he is having an off-day)  While he has yet to
receive his Masters degree, he is already making a splash in the world
of Egyptology.  (there are several of us who like to think the same
way, even though we have yet to obtain a 'higher' degree.  Good grief,
I've retired - and am still just a poor stumbling BA with a little BS
on the side)

He has written "The Antiquity of Man," a book which should be on the
shelf of anyone interested in ancient history, especially Egypt.  He
is also as adamant about putting alternative histories and the
pyramidiots out of business as I am and his website offers many
resources for doing just that. - His website is a "must" for those
interested in predynastic Egypt.  He also offers an occasional online
course about Egypt which is announced through my website: - where you will also find an extensive
amount of material about predynastic Egypt.

So to summarize a final time, Predynastic Egypt was a sponge absorbing
what was brought into it and offering little or nothing in return.

Search - google
Terms - predynastic egypt
Methodology - mostly just writing from knowledge and checking the
facts against a few websites which I have listed above.

I know it may not be the answer you wanted to hear, but it is the answer that is.

If I may clarify anything, please ask.


Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 04 Jul 2004 16:08 PDT
Thank you for the kind words and the extra - and it sounds like we
might get a Mikey Brass Fan Club going here.

I will see what I can dig up on the Old Kingdom for you from the
flotsam that abounds.

I will post it here as a clarification.  That way you should get a
notification for it.


Request for Answer Clarification by goddessisis-ga on 05 Jul 2004 00:30 PDT
Thanks Digsalot, I appreciate that :o)

Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 05 Jul 2004 08:11 PDT
Hi again - - This response is just to pull down the clarification
needed flag.  Back at you soon.

If you want to chat a little, use the comments section.  I will check for it.


Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 12 Jul 2004 15:49 PDT
I'm still trying to find something "unique" about the Old Kingdom. 
Since I now know who you are and what you already have access to, it
is a little tricky to come up with something 'different.'

goddessisis-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks Digsalot

Sorry its been so long, but I dont have much time to peruse.  I do
agree with you in the fact that there is not much information about
the time frame I am interested in.

Maybe I should try on the old kingdom then and away from pre-dynastic.
But ther is so much out there when it gets to this period that it gets
a little mindnumbing sifting through the rubbish.

As for Mikey, I know Mikey very well (online), and have chatted to him
for about 4 years.  My website is in his links and he is a moderator
on my yahoo group history-r-us.  He's a good guy that is nobodys fool,
extremely talented and underated.

Have you got any good links for me for Old Kingdom sites that I could look at?


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