In the later pre-Dynastic period in Egypt, the
most important culture during the four centuries before the country
became united under a single king was the second stage of the
civilisation which originated at Naqada in Upper Egypt.
This is known by the name Naqada II (3600-3200 BC),
or alternatively as the Gerzean period, and it was a period of
rapidly accelerating development.
Before Naqada II
Before that, during the earlier Badarian period
and by the beginning of Naqada I, at around 4000 BC, settled
agriculture had become the way of life for Egypt as a whole,
exploiting rich but geographically restricted natural resources
probably due to changing economic conditions, competition, and
The ancient indigenous methods of survival -
hunting, fishing, and making use of wild plants - all served to
support the subsistence economy of Egypt until the 'Late
Pre-Dynastic Period'. However, the population was increasing and
this affected the distribution of plants and animals in the desert.
Elephants, giraffes, and ostriches seem to have vanished from the
nearby desert and Nile floodplain during this period (climatic
changes would have a devastating effect on the Sahara region
just two thousand years later - see related link in the sidebar).
The pre-Dynastic communities in the Nile Valley
were becoming increasingly urbanised while this was going on. The
north and south developed independently, with the south (Upper Egypt)
displaying very distinctive cultural elements such as new artistic
activities, plus highly specialised craftsmanship and religious beliefs
By 3600 BC those artistic activities had resulted
in the appearance of two entirely new products which distinguished
the Naqada II culture: a distinctive pear-shaped mace head, and a
style of pottery painted with lively images of people, animals, boats,
During the same period, and by 3000 BC, all the
habitable areas in Egypt were occupied, including the Nile Delta (Lower
Egypt), the Faiyum, the Western Desert Oases, and the Nile Valley.
Clusters of regular mud-brick dwellings were constructed
at the old centre of Naqada and also at Hierakonpolis, a town which
became the residence of the pre-Dynastic rulers of Upper Egypt. One
of their tombs at the latter site, the 'Painted Tomb', was found to
be very richly decorated. Naqada had been at the height of its success
during the Naqada I period, judging by graves and grave goods, but was
subsequently overtaken by Hierakonpolis, which was probably the dominant
of the three proto-cities in Naqada II.
Early kings of Egypt