For as long as I have been interested in Ancient Egypt, I have never actually looked in depth at its extended history: much of my focus has been on who ruled Egypt, and not what Egypt was like during the Predynastic period. In this blog post, I want to take a look at the Fayum, the largest oasis in Egypt.
The most interesting thing about the Fayum, in my opinion, is how agriculturally advanced it was for being the first Predynastic community. The underground grain silos found at the sites of Kom K and W on the northern edge of the oasis were relatively small compared to today’s silos, but I am sure that it was more than enough storage capacity to sustain a permanent, year-round agricultural society. I found it very interesting to learn that the Ancient Egyptians used woven baskets, not pottery, to line the silos with. It makes sense, though, because baskets were (and still are today) the most distinctive feature of the Fayum Oasis.
Unfortunately, there are no building remains at either Kom sites, so it is impossible to excavate any remains and see what daily life in the Fayum was really like. However, it is known that Kom W was the larger of the two sites, based on the fact that there were a great number of hearths found there. On the other hand, at Kom K, there is evidence of animal domestication. So, each of these sites had somewhat of their own defining attribute.
I, being a big fan of stone tools, was fascinated to learn that the Ancient Egyptians living in the Fayum had developed their own stone tool tradition. The most important tool was obviously the sickle, because without one they would not have been able to harvest grain to fill the silos. In addition to sickles, they were also quite well adept at making ground tools, in order to grind the grain. The Fayum Oasis was home to one of the earliest permanent Predynastic communities, and its technological advances made agriculture in more areas more manageable.