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Ancient Egypt: The Predynastic Period

The late Neolithic period in Egypt is known as the Predynastic period. It began in the sixth millennium BC, and ended with the unification of Egypt, which marked the start of the historical period in Egypt. This long period of time is traditionally divided into two subgroups, called the Naqada I period (4000-3500 BC) and the Naqada II period (3500-3100 BC). Naqada was an important southern town where these periods were first distinguished in modern times.

The inhabitants of Egypt first lived in settlements during the Predynastic period. Cemeteries were located in the low desert near the settlements. Finds from settlements and cemeteries suggest that the north and south of the country were culturally distinct. The south was administered from the city of Hierakonpolis, while the capital of the north was Buto.

The burials of this time were simple pit graves, in which the dead person was laid in a crouched position. The bodies were naturally dried by the hot sand. In later burials, the bodies were sometimes wrapped in mats. Sometimes the person's head and limbs were bound with cloth. The objects placed in burials, such as items of jewellery, slate palettes and pots are the main sources of information about this time.

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British Museum collections, £12.99

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