View Full Version : Transition from neolithic to early Bronze, in Egypt.

01-30-2009, 05:09 AM
I'm probably on a wild goose chase here, since I've been researching for 2 years and have found almost nothing, but I was directed here because I was annoying the good folks in the fantasy/sci-fi forum.

I'm trying to get some sense of what life was like (or could realistically have been like!) along the Nile in 3200 BC. BEFORE the pharaohs. This subject is not covered in ANY published book, except in 1-2 vague paragraphs in the beginning of many Egyptian history books. The reason for this is simply that there is not enough archaelogical evidence of this period for anyone to say with any certainty what life was like then.

I am trying to create a fictional society that exists along a major river valley in a semi-arid climate, and which is just beginning to discover bronze. I'm having a devil of a time picturing the size/population/demographics/division of labor of villages, and also trying to wrap my brain around how they would have fought "wars" among one another (strategies, weapons, level of organization). If anyone has info or expertise that may help me develop this, please let me know!

01-30-2009, 05:36 AM
I'm sorry I can't offer you any real help, only a few suggestions.

I would imagine neolithic people in Egypt would be very much like neolithic people elsewhere. Before bronze, they'd use wood or large bones as weapons, rocks too. Although probably arid, Egypt was greener during the time of the Pharoahs so I imgine it would be even more fertile farther back in time.

Maybe take a look at Jean Auel's novels, which are set in caveman times. There may be some pointers there you could use.

Good luck!

01-30-2009, 06:00 AM
Actually from what I understand on the subject pre-pharoh egypt was pretty green it was the pharohs' constant building that sucked the life out of eqypt making it a desert.

Or atleast that is what I remember seeing on like the history channel or something a while ago...

But since there is so little about it you could always fictionalize a wee bit!

01-30-2009, 06:22 AM
Warfare would be with things thrown or to stab/club:
--slings ala David and Goliath,
--spear casters--long grooved wooden pieces with leather or horn or wooden ends: place spear, run and snap--casting the spear farther and harder
--bows and arrows
stab: spears, knives, clubs of wood with shark teeth in the end, or pieces of stone or horn, large femers could also be used for clubs. Fire-hardened bone or wooden tips could pierce easily.

01-30-2009, 07:32 AM
You might take a look at other cultures of the same vintage - in the Americas, middle east, far east. I think you're going to find a lot of similarities in the tools that were being used and cultural divisions - hunter, gatherer, gardener, etc. There were some pretty well developed societies in 3200 BC. Puma

01-30-2009, 07:43 AM
You're right about the greenery. There were various shrublands and undeveloped areas filled with plant life. An irrigation system also let them grow many different kinds of crops near the Nile. There were desert areas around them, but the green areas were--and still are--present.

This (http://www.touregypt.net/ebph5.htm) is a good article talking about predynastic Egypt from 5,500 - 3,100 BCE.

01-30-2009, 08:27 PM
Any suggestions on specific cultures I could look into from the period? I've already looked into Sumeria, but it's hard because they had entirely different natural resources to work with, and that affects daily life in profound ways.

01-30-2009, 11:17 PM
Hi Sirensix - Some possibilities to look at

Old Copper Culture (Great Lakes area of US)
Lovelock Cave (Nevada)
Pecos Culture (US)
Anasazi (US)
proto Mayan (central America)
Olmec (central America - a little late but)
pre-Inca (Peru)
Ur (Mesopotamia area)
Hongshan (China)

There are many possibilities. Even a lot of the un-named cultures were farming and had divisions of labor in the time period (pre-Mound-builders in Ohio for one). Hope those ideas help. Puma

01-30-2009, 11:28 PM
I know you said you've tried Egyptian history books, but try the Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, which has a really good couple of chapters on the Predynastic Period, and I'm sure there are books specifically about that era too that I've come across during my research, which an academic library would probably hold. Try searching for 'Naqada' online too, as Naqada was one of the most important Predynastic excavations and a lot of the information comes from there. Things like pictures of the Narmer Palette would also give you ideas about the sorts of weapons and dress, and although it's more speculative than strictly historical, also try 'Legend' by David Rohl. He has theories on the early cultures of Egypt and Sumeria and the links between the two that might be of use.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but I'll have a think if I have anything else around here that'd help.

01-30-2009, 11:52 PM
Undergrad was so long ago (I majored in Classical Civilizations) My Egyptology text doesn't seem to be with the other books. If I remember, major occupations other than farmer would have been fishermen, (if on the river), basket weavers, stone masons and potters. Priests and Priestesses were usually able to in an acceptable fashion predict the annual flooding of the Nile which brought in the silt which acted as fertilizer. Thanks to that, the food was usually plentiful and wars less common than other regions. Cats were revered for catching vermin that would otherwise eat the grain.

"The Exact Sciences in Antiquity" by O. Neugebauer ISBN 0-486-22332-9
was one of the books I could find. There's a bibliography section with many citations regarding Egyptology. That might be a place to start.

01-31-2009, 04:38 AM
Thanks for the help, all! The Native American suggestions are particularly intriguing, haven't looked into that much yet and will definitely do so.

Naqada I Yahoo!ed to death 2 years ago, and also a few weeks ago but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot on the "new discovery" front. I know close to as much about the Naqada I, II, and III culture as anyone living, I think, heh, which isn't much. Especially when it comes to daily life and so forth. Which is why perhaps looking at some parallel societies with better-preserved records may help.