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These routes of travel between the Nile and the Red Sea have been known since ancient times. Radiocarbon dating suggests the settlements in the Delta may somewhat predate those in upper Egypt. If agriculture was known in Anatolia and other regions of the Near East in the Natufian cultures from 9, BC, and if the Nile was resettled by immigrants from those regions, we should expect that they brought agriculture and animal herding with them.

The Nile valley did not exist in grand isolation from the rest of the world, even though many Egyptologists are oriented to that frame of mind. Evidence suggests that horticultural in small, local groups may have traveled southward along the Nile from the Delta into nearby oases and the Sudan.

However, penetration of such horticulture may also have come overland from the Red Sea. Several of the basic food plants that were grown are native to the Near East. Large-scale migrations were not necessary to introduce this influence.

We should also remember that the evidence from the Wadi Kubbaniya shows agriculture in Egypt before the great ice age deglaciation. Although direct evidence for agriculture and animal herding has not yet been found for this early period controversy exists.

Grinding stones, usually associated with grain production, and hence farming, were discovered. Unable to credit agriculture at this date some archeologists presume that the people ground harvested wild plants!

Note earlier discussion that showed the plants could not be processed through grinding. Decorated potsherds are also found at these sites, showing a more cultured way of life. The construction of wells, slab-lined houses, and wattle-and-daub buildings show a permanent populace, only possible with an adequate supply of food.

Much dispute exists about the possible of influence of different areas of the Near East. Some favor the Levant, and countries along the eastern Mediterranean shores. Others propose origins in Mesopotamian regions. The first possibility is preferred by many archaeologists because they believe the earliest known Neolithic cultures in Egypt were found at Marimda Bani Salama, on the southwest edge of the Delta, and farther to the southwest, in the Fayyum lake region.

The site at Marimda, which dates to the 6th-5th millennia BC, gives evidence of settlement and shows that cereals were grown. In the Fayyum the settlements were near the shore of Lake Qarun, where the settlers also engaged in fishing. Marimda is a very large site that was occupied for many centuries. The inhabitants lived in lightly-built huts and used pottery.

But other sites have been identified in the Western Desert, in the Second Cataract area, and north of Khartoum. Some of these Neolithic sites are as early as those in the Delta, while others overlapped with the succeeding Egyptian predynastic cultures. Hence the origin and chronology of the inhabitants of the Egyptian region are not clear from present knowledge.

British excavations there during the s revealed settlements and cemeteries dating to about BC, or earlier. The existence of a still earlier culture, called the Tasian, as a chronologically or culturally separate unit has not been demonstrated beyond doubt.

Precise separation of the cultures has not been determined; they may have coexisted, or may have blended one with the other. Tasian remains are somewhat intermingled with the materials of the subsequent Badarian stage, and, although the total absence of metal and the more primitive appearance of its pottery would seem to argue for an earlier date, it is also possible that the Tasian was contemporary with the Badarian.

The dead were usually buried in straw coffins, with the bodies in crouching or bent positions, head to the south, face looking west. Most Egyptologists today consider the Tasian to be simply part of the Badarian Culture, with the differentiation perhaps originating in the desire for fame by the excavators. The most characteristic predynastic luxury objects, slate palettes for grinding cosmetics, occur for the first time in this period.

The artistic and technical skills of the Badarians continually improved over the centuries. Material remains include combs and spoons of ivory, female figurines, and copper and stone beads. The pottery of the Badarian Period is distinguished by a black top with red body. It was extremely thin-walled and well-baked; many regard it as the best ever made in the Nile River valley.

The firing was probably done in a rudimentary kiln with the pottery and fuel piled together and then covered with animal dung. Pottery making at this stage is thought to have been a cottage industry with some local specialization. Badarian pottery is found in three main types which gradually change over time, and which continued to be produced in later periods: The B-ware pottery is the most distinctive of the early Predynastic pottery types.

The irregular black top and interior of B-ware is thought to have been produced by placing the red-hot vessel in the burning embers of a fire. They are all handmade using the coil method, since the slow wheel was not introduced into Egypt until later. The jars have very hard, thin walls but the shapes are still fairly basic, confined mainly to open bowls at this stage. Some vessels were decorated with prominent ribbing, while others are burnished.

A rippling effect was sometimes produced by trailing a serrated bone or comb over the surface before firing. Some finer vessels were decorated with incised designs of palm fronds or six-rayed stars. The economy was based on agriculture and animal husbandry. Settlement sites show small villages or hamlets.

The origins of this culture are problematic. Based on the limited evidence of pottery and grave goods archaeologists cannot reach a consensus whether the new culture was completely foreign to the Nile Valley or whether it represents an adaptation of new ideas and technologies by the indigenous people. Different archeologists have looked north, south, east, and west. Many believe it did not develop from a single source.

The presence of Red Sea shells in graves shows commerce to the east. Since no Badarian culture is evident from the lower Nile the contacts must have come over land routes from the Red Sea. For a long time the Badarian was considered to have emerged from the south, because it was thought that the Badarians had poor knowledge of chert, which would show that they came from the non-calcareous part of Egypt to the south; on the other hand, the origins of agriculture and animal husbandry were assumed to lie in the Near East.

The theory that the Badarian originated in the south is, however, no longer accepted. The selection of chert is perfectly logical for the Badarian lithic technology, which seems to show links with the Late Neolithic from the Western Desert. The rippled pottery, one of the most characteristic features of the Badarian, probably developed from burnished and smudged pottery, which is present both in late Sahara Neolithic sites and from Merimda in the north to the Khartoum Neolithic sites in the south.

Rippled pottery may thus have been a local development of a Saharan tradition. The Badarian culture may have been characterized by regional differences, the unit in the Badari region itself being the only one that has so far been properly investigated or attested.

On the other hand, a more or less uniform Badarian culture may have been represented over the whole area between Badari and Hierakonpolis, but, since the development of the Naqada culture took place more to the south, it seems quite possible that the Badarian survived for a longer time in the Badari region itself. The evidence suggests that the Badarian culture did not appear from a single source, although many archeologists prefer the Western Desert as the predominant one.

On the other hand, the provenance of domesticated plants remains controversial: The origin of the Badarian is not known, but influence from the Near East has been suspected Frankfort, , Kantor, Brunton and Caton-Thompson suggested that the Predynastic Egyptians were not indigenous, but possibly arrivals from the Red Sea. The idea of intrusion of people into the Nile Valley has been repeated by more recent workers. That these "Neolithic" groups came from outside the Nile Valley is generally accepted, but their origin has been placed in the east Kantor, , west Hassan et al.

Baumgartel and Arkell and Ucko postulated that the origins may be found in the Sudan. Hays evaluated pottery from various surrounding sites outside the Nile valley. He concluded that the pottery styles moved from the Central Sudan and Nubia, with a contribution from the Western Desert.

He sees this evolution continuing from about 6, BC. Strong evidence argues against origin of the Badarian people from the south. Although influences in ceramic styles and techniques may have come from various areas, and been incorporated into their pottery, this does not mean the people came from those areas.

More than a hundred years ago Flinders Petrie recognized the genetic traits of the Naqada people. They had "white" or "yellow" skins, and red, blond, or brown curly hair. He compared them to the Amorites and Libyans. By Amorites and Libyans he meant fair people with features similar to those found in many areas of Europe today. After exposing literally thousands of bodies that had been preserved in the hot Egyptian sands he could well testify to their racial features.

The chronological position of the Badarian Culture as a precursor to the more recent Naqada Culture is now clearly established through excavation at the stratified site of North Spur Hammamiya. In fact, the available evidence shows that one culture flowed into the next, as a social evolutionary process.

For a long time it was thought that the Badarian Culture remained restricted to the Badari region. Characteristic Badari finds however have also been found much further to the south at Mahgar Dendera, Armant, Elkab and Hierakonpolis and also to the east in the Wadi Hammamat.

The widespread cultural dispersion along the Nile valley provides some insight into the influence of these people as genetic ancestors to the later Egyptians. Refer to later discussion on Race. We also know that substantial travel of people across the Eastern Desert from the Red Sea is attested by petroglyphs in the mountains between the Red Sea and the Nile showing sea-faring boats.

Refer to later discussion on Boats Refer also to my previous discussion that shows cultures in the Nile valley at this early date had to come from the outside. No indigenous cultures could have survived the "wild Nile.

Wendy Anderson, in a paper entitle Badarian Burial: Cemeteries tended to be segregated according to wealth. Grave goods were status symbols, with the wealthier citizens accorded larger quantities of gifts to accompany them in the afterlife. This practice follows that of people all over the world, which equates lavish burials with high social rank.

As stated by Anderson: The most richly furnished graves were restricted to a minority of the mortuary population, and futhermore, such tombs were subject to plundering. This information may be interpreted as a manifestation of the unequal distribution of material wealth amongst the grave occupants and thus an indication of differential access to resources by members of the same Badarian community. Anderson goes on to comment about differentiation of grave goods that suggests a more complex arrangement of difference social positions, not merely an "elite" separated from "commoners.

However, she shows that a general analysis of the excavations, involving eighteen cemeteries, reflected a bimodal division of graves with ninety-two per cent of "poor" individuals, and eight per cent who were "wealthy. While the evidence suggests this was a limited practice at that point in Egyptian prehistory it became increasingly important throughout the subsequent Naqada Period.

Curiously, the Badarian children and young people were given a large number of grave goods, while some adults had none at all.


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