The problem with gaining an understanding of the Predynastic comes from the lack of written records to produce factual knowledge of that time period. We all know that it’s difficult to understand the form and use of objects of prehistoric times because of their lack of abundance and because the user of that time is not present to explain its use.So Anthropologist came up with a method to relatively place culture in a chronological order. Is the Predynastic culture misrepresented or is sequence dating accurately representing the history of that time. Flinders Petrie came up with the sequence dating method which relatively dated material.The lecture led me to discuss how Petrie came up with his method. What Petrie did was ” take pots, grouped, and ordered them in what he PERCIEVED to be in sequence by style; looking at decoration and form” (according to the lecture).

My questions may arise from my lack of thorough knowledge of Petrie method, but how did he decide which styles, trends, and form came from each period? Is some biases produced when he was categorizing these materials? Another issue that comes from hearing Petrie Methodology is; How are cultures classified? According to the lecture Egyptian culture now varies and lower Egypt culture is different from Upper Egypt culture. With sequence dating material is collected from numerous sites but with the same culture. Where did Petrie collect from? Can we say that the culture in lower and upper Egypt was the same or was it different during Predynastic times. Again these questions may come from my lack of knowledge of Petries methodology but these are the questions that arise when I study prehistoric times. Sequence dating is used alot and Petries method is considered the most advanced. When sharing knowledge it is important information is accurate.

2 thoughts on “Predynastic

  1. I can understand where your confusion and concerns about Petrie’s sequence dating method come from because I had a similar path of thoughts. It’s interesting to see a man create such an intense and precise list of when artifacts were created, but I once had a similar challenge with a much smaller scale. Back in high school while learning about Ancient China my teacher had groups of students try to arrange pots from different time periods. At that point in the semester very little had been studied about ancient China art, so I thought it would be near impossible, but once the ceramics were in front of my group we were able to create a timeline with multiple overlaps of what was created before or after other pieces. Surprisingly, all the groups did well with ordering. This was possible because the complexity of a very basic ceramic with less durable material is likely to come before one that is of similar design but with more durable materials, and ect. There’s a lot to each artifact that can be taken in to consideration. Everything from the material, the shape, the design, the location, to the microorganisms remains are used to give a rough estimation of the piece’s age.
    I found it awesome that pots were just left behind by the people, and today it is a primary source of how we are understanding and recreating the communities that once existed. I do find it weird that artifacts of completely different regions are matched up to exist in a similar time period. Some places may have advanced at a slower rate creating pieces that could be compared to a different community’s style that occurred 1000 years before. Because of this idea and many other narrow thought questions we have to think about the sequence dating method as one that uses a wide range of techniques to create an ordered timeline of Egyptian history. Putting the information together is how professionals are able to create a precise and reliable estimation.

  2. I would look at the method as more of a logical approach as to how the pottery changed over time. If you look at pages 95-96 in this week’s readings, you can get a pictorial view of what the pots looked like. After looking at these different types of pots, it is easy to see that their is sort of a hierarchy involved in their evolution. I too was confused with the initial layout of the pots mainly because some pots look similar to each other, although they may be a bit smaller. My first thought was that maybe the ancient Egyptians needed a big pot and a small pot for different types of grain. However, I am sure that Petrie thought this through well enough to know that even though the pots were similar did not mean that they were of two totally distinct time frames. In reality, the method of Petrie’s dating took place over a span of about 1000 years. He also prepared his numbering system by leaving 1-29 and 81-100 undefined if someone discovered new pots that were older/newer than the already discovered ones. There are clearly three distinct types of pots though that were found and they were: Red pots with black tops, Wavy decorated pots and cylindrical grave pots. From these pieces, Petrie was most likely able to look at the design and assign these types of pots to a certain period in time.

    My guess is that he already knew that the grave pots were later than the rest since a tomb was discovered from the first dynasty with the same pot type. I would argue that the wavy-decorated pots required a much more skilled craftsmen to make and that technique was not yet established in the time of the red/black top pots. Overall, I say that for being able to date these materials without the use of scientific methods, Petrie did very well and was remarkably close compared to results from radiocarbon methods.

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