Burial practices of the Final Neolithic pastoralists at Gebel Ramlah, Western Desert of Egypt

Michał Kobusiewicz, Jacek Kabaciński, Romuald Schild, Joel D. Irish and Fred Wendorf

During three seasons of research (in 2000, 2001 and 2003) carried out by the Combined Prehistoric Expedition at Gebel Ramlah in the southern part of the Egyptian Western Desert, three separate Final Neolithic cemeteries were discovered and excavated. Skeletal remains of 67 individuals, comprising both primary and secondary interments, were recovered from 32 discrete burial pits. Numerous grave goods were found, including lithics, pottery and ground stone objects, as well as items of personal adornment, pigments, shells and sheets of mica. Imports from distant areas prove far-reaching contacts. Analysis of the finds sheds important light on the burial rituals and social conditions of the Final Neolithic cattle keepers inhabiting Ramlah Playa. This community, dated to the mid-fifth millennium B.C. (calibrated), was composed of a phenotypically diverse population derived from both North and sub-Saharan Africa. There were no indications of social differentiation. The deteriorating climatic conditions probably forced these people to migrate toward the Nile Valley where they undoubtedly contributed to the birth of ancient Egyptian civilization.

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To reference this article we suggest:

Kobusiewicz, M., J. Kabaciński, R. Schild, J. D. Irish and F. Wendorf. 2009. Burial practices of the Final Neolithic pastoralists at Gebel Ramlah,Western Desert of Egypt. BMSAES 13: 147–74.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/online_journals/bmsaes/issue_13/kobusiewicz.aspx

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mkobus@man.poznan.pl