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Chapter 8 Chapter 10

Egyptian Origins (9)
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Naqada III Life (3200-3100 BC)

Political Consolidation. The increasing political complexity of life both in the Valley and in the Delta is even more accentuated in the Naqada III (Late Gerzean) period. It seems to have been a period of intense warfare and competition, including attempts by some proto-states to assimilate others.

In the Delta, a the town of Pe, symbolized by a cobra, was apparently successfully gaining control over other towns and rapidly becoming the "capital" of Lower Egypt.

In the South, Nekhen was just as rapidly becoming the "capital" of Upper Egypt. Nekhen's symbol, the falcon, now turns up on artifacts over a wider and wider area, and it seems to have come to symbolize Upper Egypt generally rather than Nekhen alone. [Note 12] A new cemetery was founded at Nekhen, a cemetery in which tombs were laid out like a map of Egypt, arranged along a wadi or dry river bed like towns along the Nile. Tombs at one end resembled the architecture of Lower Egypt, and a tomb built of stone in a style of Upper Egypt was placed "up-steam" in the wadi. This seems clear evidence that Nekhenites were thinking of Egypt as a single social system. Around the stone tomb, mummified animals were interred, sometimes deliberately treated with resin, although whether they were intended to represent the various nomes of Egypt is unknown and perhaps far-fetched. As Hoffman writes (1983:49),

…throughout Predynastic times an active trade along the Nile diffused and homogenized everything from material goods such as pottery to religious beliefs and political ideology. The Predynastic merchants who controlled that [river] trade had begun to unify Egypt culturally long before their descendants did it politically.

The extent of cultural uniformity may not have been quite as much as Hoffman suggests, but political unification would indeed follow, and trade in luxury goods desired by local elites played an important role in bringing this about:

The colonization of the Delta and the rise of the aristocracy were connected in a continuous loop: the conquest of new territories brought about the enrichment of families and individuals as well as the accumulation of property in the hands of the few; bigger élite graves, into which greater quantities of goods were put, stimulated demand for the production of more; and this in turn necessitated the colonisation of further territories and seizure of commercial routes. Egypt moved inexorably towards a national court culture under one king, who strengthened bureaucratic control over Egypt by monopolising the supply of luxury items through trade, controlling their production in royal workshops and dispensing patronage to the nobility. (Adams & Ciałowicz 1997: 52)

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