Africa is home to a fascinating group of cultures that intrigue us to this day. The Cradle of Humanity,
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Africa’s history is longer than anywhere else on Earth for obvious reasons. Modern humans evolved here and later populated the world. This is a (deliberately) brief summation of pre-history to historic Egypt. *More extensive write-ups will start appearing in the culture/empires below very soon.
6000 BCE to 8000 BCE the pottery, agriculture & animal domestication appeared in the Middle-East spreading into Africa. This period included the first organized settlements along the Nile including the cultivation of barley & emmer (early grass-family wheat precursors). Larger villages & irrigation appeared along the Nile around this time. What is termed the Amratian culture emerged in this period. In SW Africa, cattle domestication and larger buildings emerged.
Around 5000 BCE the Sahara started drying out, turning into the massive desert that it is to this day.
The next culture to appear was the Tasian culture, in Upper Egypt starting around 4500 BCE. The Tasian culture is distinguished by unique pottery & burial practices.
3500 BCE Narmer united Upper & Lower Egypt, both of which evolved from villages learning how to cultivate land with the life-giving Nile eight or ten thousand years ago.
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*PLEASE MAKE SURE TO SEE THE LIVELY & INFORMATIVE TOPICS BELOW THE LISTED FORUMS!Timeline of Ancient Egypt
The below dating system has been very useful, and Egyptologists by this system, have been able to add chronological dates to the Egyptian dynasties. So, tracing the course of Egyptian civilization, based on the King Lists and other historical documents, also with the aid of relics & artefacts, both Historians & Egyptologists agreed upon & organised the following major periods of Ancient Egypt.
Early Dynastic Period 3150 - 2686BCE.
The Old Kingdom 2686 - 2181BCE.
The First Intermediate Period 2181 - 2040BCE.
The Middle Kingdom 2040 -1782BCE.
The Second Intermediate Period 1782 - 1570BCE.
The New Kingdom. 1570 - 1070BCE.
The Third Intermediate Period 1070 - 525BCE.
The Late Period 525 - 332BCE.
Reference used : Nathalie Beax-Grimal & Salima Ikram.
The Pre-Dynastic Egypt.
The Pre-Dynastic period dates from approximately 5500 - 3100BCE and ends with the unification of Greater Egypt, during this period Egypt was divided into two very distinctive cultures, of Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt.
Archaeologically speaking, cemetery sites are located primarily in Upper Egypt and the living settlement site were in Lower Egypt, close to the irrigation of the Nile. For many years, archaeologists thought the cultures of Upper & Lower Egypt were completely separate from the Later Egyptian Cultures.
Victorian archaeologists just assumed, incorrectly, that the pre-Dynastic cultures were completely foreign cultures to the Lands of The Nile, and a culture created by an Asiatic invasion. More recent research now shows a slow progression from these contrasting cultural elements to a better-known Egyptian civilization.
The cultures of both areas are very different from the more traditional culture that most people associate with ancient Egypt, however, several commonalities that continued through the Graeco-Roman period appear in the art of these earliest Egyptian cultures including :
Smiting Depictions, or images in which the Egyptian King is hitting the enemies of the Nile, the Goddess Hathor with images of her cattle and livestock agricultural cult, The Red Crown of Lower Egypt, which symbolizes the Royal Power of the Kings, in this region, the earliest depiction of the Red Crown of Lower Egypt is dated at 3500BCE approximately because of the numerous ceramic potsherds found around the Red symbol of authority.
Reference used : Charlotte Booth & Edda Bresciani.
Uniting The Land of Egypt.
The Egyptian civilization, as it is known today, started during the reign of Narmer 3100BCE, at the start King Narmer's reign, Egypt was divided into locally governed regions, this complicated system made Narmer instrumental in unifying these regions and to be governed at one central location with the king chairing all debates.
Historians are uncertain whether the unification of Egypt was achieved by peaceful means, by small skirmishes or a major battle, the unification is recorded on the Narmer Palette, which is a ceremonial slate, that was discovered at Hierakonopolis. The Palette includes the earliest battle scene from ancient Egypt, as well as a number of images that continued to be used for the next 3,000 years.
The images include, the king hitting an enemy over the head with the Royal Mace, the king wearing the crown of Upper & Lower Egypt and the king depicted as a ferocious Egyptian bull trampling the enemies of the Nile.
The symbolism of the Palette reinforces the idea that the king was the undisputed head of the single state of Egypt. The imagery is the beginning of the kingship ideology prescribing that Egypt should never again be divided. From this point on, all kings & pharaohs tried to maintain this ideal and all strived to rule a united Egypt.
Reference used : Charlotte Booth & Orly Gold-Wasser.
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Scholars still argue whether Somalia or Eritrea are the location of Punt, likely areas of both as it seems currently by what has been revealed in research. It is known that the Egyptians were trading with Punt as early as the 4th or 5th Dynasties (of unified Egypt), possibly as early as 2600 BCE - 2400 BCE, if not earlier.
The earliest known references to the land of Punt was by the ancient Egyptians, describing it as Te Netjer ("The Land of The Gods") also known as "Land of Plenty" (I do not know what that is in ancient Egyptian). Among other things, Punt was known for spices and herbs, “terraces of Myrrh”, for example. Punt was recorded as trading in aromatic gum, gold, ebony, ivory, leopard skins, live apes, ebony, wild animals, animal skins, elephant tusks, ivory, spices, precious woods, cosmetics, incense and frankincense and myrrh trees.
The most famous mention of Punt in early history was the expedition in -1493 BCE- by Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt having been told by the God Amun-Ra to find the route to Punt which had been lost. She is said to have return with live trees, the first mention in history (that I know of) of transporting foreign trees (flora in general).
Image source (as w/ all other images on this site except for various personal imagery) are from wikicommons/wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_of_Punt#/media/File:King_and_Queen_of_Punts_and_Attendants.png
Please read the Ancient History Encyclopedia article about Punt!
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