The aspect of interest that I would like to discuss from this week’s reading is the differences between the Buto-Ma’adi culture in Lower Egypt and the Naqadi culture in Upper Egypt during the Predynastic Period. Because I am specifically interested cultural anthropology, this aspect of the reading was most fascinating to me.
During the Predynastic Period, the Buto-Ma’adi culture inhabited the prehistoric site of Ma’adi, which is located in a suburb south of Cairo and was considered to be part of Lower Egypt. After excavations were completed between 1930 and 1953, archaeologists from Cairo University found evidence suggesting some interesting things. Although the settlement occupied a large area, it was never completely occupied at any one time.
The village relied heavily on cereal cultivation and the animal husbandry of sheep, goats, cattle and pigs. Archaeologists found little evidence for hunting but did find bone harpoons and catfish bones, which serves as evidence of fishing. Ma’adi pottery consists of globular jars and bowls made from Nile clay. It was also found that members of this society also made storage jars that were found sunken into the ground throughout the settlement. Imported pottery found at this archaeology site also suggests that members of the Buto-Ma’adi culture traded with members of the Beersheba culture. Two other archaeological findings from this site that I found to be extremely interesting is that this site provides the earliest evidence of domesticated donkey and that the only burials of stillborn or infants were found within the settlement.
The other culture I would like to discuss in this post is the Naqada culture of Upper Egypt. This Predynastic site was excavated by W.M. Flinders Petric in 1894/1895. The interesting part about this culture is that it is marked by its’ burial grounds. At Naqada, Petric excavated two settlements and three cemeteries that had over 2,200 burials. The pottery found at the largest cemetery in Naqada was thought to represent an invading “race” in Egypt and was very different from the Dynastic pottery, which is why it is known as the “Great New Race Cemetery”. However, once Petric realized that the Naqada pottery was Predynastic, the name “Great New Race Cemetery” became irrelevant. Other interesting aspects of the Naqada culture are that there is evidence of ideological significance of burial and the burial orientation if the opposite of what was recorded for the Ma’adi burials. I was a little disappointed to learn that the archaeological evidence at this site is not sufficient enough to determine whether there was growth of an urban center.