Upper and Lower Egypt were politically and culturally united in pre-dynastic times

Published: Monday, January 26, 2009, 12:28 [IST]
 

Cairo, Jan 26 (ANI): Recent discoveries by a Polish archaeological mission in the Nile delta have revealed that far from being hostile regions as previously supposed, Upper and Lower Egypt were politically and culturally united in pre-dynastic times.

According to a report in Al-Ahram Weekly, the findings were made by the archaeological mission at Tel Al-Farkha in the north-eastern Delta about 120 kilometers north-east of Cairo.

The material objects discovered by the team include numerous statuettes and amulets carved of hippopotamus tusk, and several dozen golden plate fragments, the latter arduously reconstructed into figurines of exceptional beauty.

Although a mere 60 centimeters in height, these naked standing men have eyes made of lapis lazuli, while various details such as sticking out ears, large phalluses, and detailed fingers and toes reveal characteristics of later Pharaonic art.

"From almost the very beginning of our work, it became obvious that the scientific value of the site was tremendous, and might lead to a completely different view on the processes resulting in the emergence of the pharaonic civilization," according to archaeologists M. Chlodnicki and K. Cialowicz.

The mission uncovered an extensive settlement and they were thrilled to find, in a large pottery vessel, the above objects "which have no counterparts in finds from the other sites with early Egyptian architecture and art", said the researchers.

They have been dated to the time of Dynasty "O" and the beginning of the First Dynasty (c. 3100 to 3000 BC).

Also discovered were pottery rattles, decorated rattles, pear-shaped mace-heads, miniature vessels, faience beads and gaming pieces.

The discovery is important, because one of the key issues of modern archaeology, and central to an understanding of the political and social development of ancient Egypt, is the formative period of the ancient Egyptian civilization and the origin of the concept of the "Two Lands" - a term used by the ancients themselves to describe their own country.

Until recently, it was believed that the predynastic communities in Upper and Lower Egypt, Nekhen in Upper Egypt and Pe (Buto) in Lower Egypt, were actually parallel institutions, artificially created by the early kings who wanted to establish a single, unified state in a country that did not easily lend itself to unification.

Now, thanks to the Polish discoveries, it is fairly certain that there were indeed two predynastic capitals of Upper and Lower Egypt, but that far from being rival and hostile regions as suggested in mythological tradition they may have been culturally and politically united for a long period of time.

Also significant is that the incentive behind unification may have been trade. (ANI)

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