Early Dynastic Period (Egypt)

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Early Dynastic Period of Egypt

c. 3150 BC  c. 2686 BC
Double crown.svg
Capital Thinis then Memphis
Common languages Ancient Egyptian
Religion
Ancient Egyptian religion
GovernmentMonarchy
Pharaoh  
 c. 3100 BC
Narmer (first)
 c. 2690 BC
Khasekhemwy (last)
History 
 Established
c. 3150 BC 
 Disestablished
 c. 2686 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Deshret.svg Lower Egypt
Hedjet.svg Upper Egypt
Old Kingdom of Egypt Blank.png
Today part ofFlag of Egypt.svg  Egypt

The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt (also known as Thinite Period, from Thinis, the supposed hometown of its rulers [1] ) is the era immediately following the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the end of the Naqada III archaeological period until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom. [2] With the First Dynasty, the capital moved from Thinis to Memphis with a unified Egypt ruled by an Egyptian god-king. Abydos remained the major holy land in the south. The hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization, such as art, architecture and many aspects of religion, took shape during the Early Dynastic period.

Contents

Before the unification of Egypt, the land was settled with autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for much of Egypt's history thereafter, the country came to be known as the Two Lands. The pharaohs established a national administration and appointed royal governors. The buildings of the central government were typically open-air temples constructed of wood or sandstone. The earliest Egyptian hieroglyphs appear just before this period, though little is known of the spoken language they represent.

Cultural evolution

Early Dynastic Period (Egypt)
Early Dynastic Period (Egypt)
tȝwy 'Two Lands'
in hieroglyphs

By about 3600 BC, Neolithic Egyptian societies along the Nile had based their culture on the raising of crops and the domestication of animals. [3] Shortly after 3600 BC Egyptian society began to grow and advance rapidly toward refined civilization. [4] A new and distinctive pottery, which was related to the pottery in the Southern Levant, appeared during this time. Extensive use of copper became common during this time. [4] The Mesopotamian process of sun-dried bricks, and architectural building principles—including the use of the arch and recessed walls for decorative effect—became popular during this time. [4]

Concurrent with these cultural advances, a process of unification of the societies and towns of the upper Nile River, or Upper Egypt, occurred. At the same time the societies of the Nile Delta, or Lower Egypt also underwent a unification process. [4] Warfare between Upper and Lower Egypt occurred often. [4] During his reign in Upper Egypt, King Narmer defeated his enemies on the Delta and merged both the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt under his single rule. [5] Narmer is shown on palettes wearing the double crown, composed of the lotus flower representing Upper Egypt and the papyrus reed representing Lower Egypt - a sign of the unified rule of both parts of Egypt which was followed by all succeeding rulers. In mythology, the unification of Egypt is portrayed as the falcon-god, called Horus and identified with Lower Egypt, as conquering and subduing the god Set, who was identified with Upper Egypt. [6] Divine kingship, which would persist in Egypt for the next three millennia, was firmly established as the basis of Egypt's government. [7] The unification of societies along the Nile has also been linked to the end of the African humid period.

Funeral practices for the peasants would have been the same as in predynastic times, but the rich demanded something more. Thus, the Egyptians began construction of the mastabas which became models for the later Old Kingdom constructions such as the Step pyramid. Cereal agriculture and centralization contributed to the success of the state for the next 800 years.

It seems certain that Egypt became unified as a cultural and economic domain long before its first king ascended to the throne in the lower Egyptian city of Memphis where the dynastic period did originate. This would last for many centuries. Political unification proceeded gradually, perhaps over a period of a century or so as local districts established trading networks and the ability of their governments to organize agriculture labor on a larger scale increased, divine kingship may also have gained spiritual momentum as the cults of gods like Horus, Set and Neith associated with living representatives became widespread in the country. [8]

It was also during this period that the Egyptian writing system was further developed. Initially Egyptian writing had been composed primarily of a few symbols denoting amounts of various substances. By the end of the 3rd dynasty it had been expanded to include more than 200 symbols, both phonograms and ideograms. [7]

First Pharaoh

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Modern Egypt with important sites of the Early Dynastic Period (clickable map)

According to Manetho, the first monarch of the unified Upper and Lower Egypt was Menes, who is now identified with Narmer. Indeed, Narmer is the earliest recorded First Dynasty monarch: he appears first on the necropolis seal impressions of Den and Qa'a. [11] [12] [13] This shows that Narmer was recognized by the first dynasty kings as an important founding figure. Narmer is also the earliest king associated to the symbols of power over the two lands (see in particular the Narmer Palette, a votive cosmetic palette showing Narmer wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt) and may therefore be the first king to achieve the unification. Consequently, the current consensus is that "Menes" and "Narmer" refer to the same person. [4] Alternative theories hold that Narmer was the final king of the Naqada III period [6] and Hor-Aha is to be identified with "Menes".

Coastal settlements in Palestine

Egyptian settlement and colonisation is also attested from about 3200 BC onward in the area of Gaza Strip and the Negev. The town of Tell El Sakan may have been the centre of this settlement.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

In Egyptian history, the Upper and Lower Egypt period was the final stage of prehistoric Egypt and directly preceded the nation's unification. The conception of Egypt as the Two Lands was an example of the dualism in ancient Egyptian culture and frequently appeared in texts and imagery, including in the titles of Egyptian pharaohs.

Upper Egypt strip of land on the Nile valley between Nubia and Lower Egypt

Upper Egypt is the strip of land on both sides of the Nile that extends between Nubia and downriver (northwards) to Lower Egypt.

Lower Egypt northernmost region of Egypt

Lower Egypt is the northernmost region of Egypt, which consists of the fertile Nile Delta, between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea — from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historically, the Nile River split into seven branches of the delta in Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was divided into nomes and began to advance as a civilization after 3600 BC. Today, it contains two major channels that flow through the delta of the Nile River.

Menes Founder of Manethos 1st dynasty and unifier of Egypt

Menes was a pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period of ancient Egypt credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt and as the founder of the First Dynasty.

The First Dynasty of ancient Egypt covers the first series of Egyptian kings to rule over a unified Egypt. It immediately follows the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, possibly by Narmer, and marks the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period, a time at which power was centered at Thinis.

History of ancient Egypt aspect of history

The history of ancient Egypt spans the period from the early prehistoric settlements of the northern Nile valley to the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. The pharaonic period, the period in which Egypt was ruled by a pharaoh, is dated from the 32nd century BC, when Upper and Lower Egypt were unified, until the country fell under Macedonian rule in 332 BC.

Narmer Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period

Narmer was an ancient Egyptian king of the Early Dynastic Period, circa 3150–3100 BC. He probably was the successor to the Protodynastic king Ka, or possibly Scorpion. Some consider him the unifier of Egypt and founder of the First Dynasty, and in turn the first king of a unified Egypt.

Narmer Palette Egyptian archaeological artifact

The Narmer Palette, also known as the Great Hierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, belonging, at least nominally, to the category of Cosmetic palettes. It contains some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. The tablet is thought by some to depict the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the king Narmer. On one side, the king is depicted with the bulbed White Crown of Upper (southern) Egypt, and the other side depicts the king wearing the level Red Crown of Lower (northern) Egypt. Along with the Scorpion Macehead and the Narmer Maceheads, also found together in the Main Deposit at Nekhen, the Narmer Palette provides one of the earliest known depictions of an Egyptian king. The Palette shows many of the classic conventions of Ancient Egyptian art, which must already have been formalized by the time of the Palette's creation. The Egyptologist Bob Brier has referred to the Narmer Palette as "the first historical document in the world".

Nekhen Religious and political capital of Upper Egypt in Ancient Egypt

Nekhen or Hierakonpolis was the religious and political capital of Upper Egypt at the end of prehistoric Egypt and probably also during the Early Dynastic Period.

Hor-Aha Egyptian pharaoh

Hor-Aha is considered the second pharaoh of the First Dynasty of Egypt by some Egyptologists, others consider him the first one and corresponding to Menes. He lived around the 31st century BC and is thought to have had a long reign.

Prehistoric Egypt period of earliest human settlement to the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt

The prehistory of Egypt spans the period from the earliest human settlement to the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period around 3100 BC, starting with the first Pharaoh, Narmer for some Egyptologists, Hor-Aha for others, with the name Menes also possibly used for one of these kings. This Predynastic era is traditionally equivalent to the final part of the Neolithic period beginning c. 6000 BC and ending in the Naqada III period c. 3000 BC.

Scorpion II Protodynastic Egyptian king

Scorpion II, also known as King Scorpion, refers to the second of two kings or chieftains of that name during the Protodynastic Period of Upper Egypt.

Hedjet White Crown of Higher Egypt

Hedjet is the formal name for the white crown of pharaonic Upper Egypt. After the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, it was combined with the deshret, the red crown of Lower Egypt, to form the pschent, the double crown of Egypt. The symbol sometimes used for the white crown was the vulture goddess Nekhbet shown next to the head of the cobra goddess Wadjet, the uraeus on the pschent.

Thinis Lost city in Nome VIII of Upper Egypt, Ancient Egypt

Thinis or This was the capital city of the first dynasties of ancient Egypt. Thinis is, as yet, undiscovered but well attested by ancient writers, including the classical historian Manetho, who cites it as the centre of the Thinite Confederacy, a tribal confederation whose leader, Menes, united Egypt and was its first pharaoh. Thinis began a steep decline in importance from Dynasty III, when the capital was relocated to Memphis, which was thought to be the first true and stable capital after unification of old Egypt by Menes. Thinis's location on the border of the competing Heracleopolitan and Theban dynasties of the First Intermediate Period and its proximity to certain oases of possible military importance ensured Thinis some continued significance in the Old and New Kingdoms. This was a brief respite and Thinis eventually lost its position as a regional administrative centre by the Roman period.

Naqada III Last phase of the Naqada culture of ancient Egyptian prehistory

Naqada III is the last phase of the Naqada culture of ancient Egyptian prehistory, dating from approximately 3200 to 3000 BC. It is the period during which the process of state formation, which began in Naqada II, became highly visible, with named kings heading powerful polities. Naqada III is often referred to as Dynasty 0 or the Protodynastic Period to reflect the presence of kings at the head of influential states, although, in fact, the kings involved would not have been a part of a dynasty. They would more probably have been completely unrelated and very possibly in competition with each other. In this period, those kings' names were inscribed in the form of serekhs on a variety of surfaces including pottery and tombs.

The dynastic race theory was the earliest thesis to attempt to explain how predynastic Egypt developed into the sophisticated monarchy of Dynastic Egypt. The theory holds that the earliest roots of the ancient Egyptian dynastic civilisation were imported by invaders from Mesopotamia who then founded the First Dynasty and brought culture to the indigenous population. This theory had strong supporters in the Egyptological community in the first half of the 20th century, but has since lost mainstream support.

The Thinite Confederacy is an Egyptological term for a hypothesized tribal confederation in Ancient Egypt. It is thought to have preceded the full unification of Upper Egypt c. 3100BC. The leaders of the Thinite Confederacy were most likely tribal nobles. Based at the city of Thinis, the Thinite Confederacy would later be incorporated into the combined state known as "Upper and Lower Egypt".

Cosmetic palette archaeological artifacts from middle to late predynastic Egypt

The cosmetic palettes are archaeological artifacts, originally used in predynastic Egypt to grind and apply ingredients for facial or body cosmetics. The decorative palettes of the late 4th millennium BCE appear to have lost this function and became commemorative, ornamental, and possibly ceremonial. They were made almost exclusively out of siltstone with a few exceptions. The siltstone originated from quarries in the Wadi Hammamat.

Outline of ancient Egypt Overview of and topical guide to ancient Egypt

The following outline is provided as an overview of a topical guide to ancient Egypt:

Egypt–Mesopotamia relations

Egypt–Mesopotamia relations seem to have developed from the 4th millennium BCE, starting in the Uruk period for Mesopotamia and the Gerzean culture of pre-literate Prehistoric Egypt. Influences can be seen in the visual arts of Egypt, in imported products, and also in the possible transfer of writing from Mesopotamia to Egypt, and generated "deep-seated" parallels in the early stages of both cultures.

References

  1. Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell Publishing, 1992, p. 49
  2. Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. p.  479. ISBN   0-19-815034-2.
  3. Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons Publishing: New York, 1966) p. 51.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1966) p. 52-53.
  5. Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons Publishers: New York, 1966), p. 53.
  6. 1 2 Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times, p. 53.
  7. 1 2 Kinnaer, Jacques. "Early Dynastic Period" (PDF). The Ancient Egypt Site. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  8. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt pg 22-23 (1997) By Bill Manley
  9. "Site officiel du musée du Louvre". cartelfr.louvre.fr.
  10. Cooper, Jerrol S. (1996). The Study of the Ancient Near East in the Twenty-first Century: The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference. Eisenbrauns. ISBN   9780931464966.
  11. Qa'a and Merneith lists http://xoomer.virgilio.it/francescoraf/hesyra/Egyptgallery03.html
  12. The Narmer Catalog http://narmer.org/inscription/1553
  13. The Narmer Catalog http://narmer.org/inscription/4048

Further reading