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Naqada (Egyptian: Nubt, "gold") and the nearby, much larger site of Nekhen, are located south of modern Luxor (slightly north of modern Edfu). The Naqada cemeteries cover a period of almost 1,500 years, and have given the name "Naqada" to nearly the whole post-Badarian millennium (4000-3100 BC) in Upper Egypt.
Broken bits of pottery are nearly indestructible, and archaeologists extract all the information they can possibly get from them. Further, since pottery is easily shaped and colored in various ways, it is subject to the whim of fashion. The sequence of styles in pottery manufacture can be used to date pottery fragments and the associated deposits if one knows the sequence of fashions and the dates associated with at least some of the changes in fashion.
It has been a long, slow struggle to develop a clear "pottery sequence" for Predynastic Upper Egypt, but much patient work has now produced good material, beginning with excavations in the 1980s at the site of Nekhen, a major Naqada-like site, somewhat to the south of Luxor, on the west bank of the river. Nekhen and its immediate surroundings make up the largest Predynastic settlement in Egypt. It even appears that the ultimate unification of the country may have been initiated by people from Nekhen, and Nekhen will dominate much of our discussion of this process.
Throughout the Naqada period, archaeologists see a gradual change in the artifacts, and for convenience they have developed terms to describe styles and artifact inventories from the earlier and later parts of this long period. The following more or less complete sequence worked out for Nekhen seems to work for other Naqada-like sites as well:
|Badarian period||5000 - 4000 BC|
|Naqada I (= Amratian period)||4000 - 3500|
|Naqada II (= Gerzean period)||3500 - 3100|
|Naqada III (= Protodynastic period)||3200 - 3100 (overlapping)|
|Early Dynastic (Archic period)||3100 - 2700|