November 19, 2012

Predynastic Period of Ancient Egypt

The Two Kingdoms
Only towards the end of the pre-dynastic Egyptian period does an admixture between the Two Lands appear. Lower Egyptian- style pottery was found in Upper Egypt and so was the Horus hawk, traditionally a totem of Delta settlers. ‘Followers of Horus’ established settlements as far south as Hierakonpolis and Edfu. This does not necessarily presuppose a conquest of Upper Egypt by the Delta. In fact, it seems to have had the direct result of establishing a political awareness of the physical and cultural differences between them, for just before the dynastic period the ‘Two Lands’ stand out with greater clarity than before. The capital of the Delta Kingdom was Pe (Buto) in the north-west. The leader wore the Red Crown and adopted the bee as the symbol of his kingdom, which included the entire Delta and a stretch of the valley south of the Delta. The Upper Egyptian capital was Nekhen, where the leader wore the conical White Crown and took the sedge as his emblem. His Kingdom extended as far south as the First Cataract. The cobra, wearing the crown of the huntress-goddess Neith, was chief deity of the Egyptian Delta Kingdom and the vulture-goddess was chief deity of Upper Egypt.
Predynastic Period of Ancient Egypt
The formation of Two Egyptian Kingdoms was a vital step towards unification. The early tribes who had settled in the Nile valley, had set traditions and cultural patterns that had at first developed independently of one another. These many social units had gradually coalesced during the neolithic era to form fewer but larger settlements in both the Delta and Upper Egypt. With the federation of the former into a Delta Kingdom and the latter into an Upper Egyptian Kingdom, the country had formed two distinct political entities. It remained to unite them into a single Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The unification of the Two Egyptian Lands was not the result of a single victorious battle, but a slow progress that may have continued for over a century. The aggressive thrust came from Upper Egypt: confined to their long, narrow valley, the Upper Egyptians sought the fertile expanses of the Delta and moved northwards to more temperate zones. The first leader of whom we have historical evidence is known as the Scorpion King in ancient Egypt , who left a fascinating record on a ceremonial macehead found at Hierakonpolis (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). It is carved in three registers. In the upper register is a symbolical representation of the triumph of Upper Egypt over the Delta; dead birds (representing the provinces of the Delta federation) are hung from standards bearing the emblems of the southern tribes. In the central register the Scorpion King, wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt, breaks ground with a hoe. Behind him are fan-bearers and scenes of rejoicing. In the lower is a scene of agricultural activities. The events on the macehead are unmistakable records of military triumph. A political victory in the sense of the Upper Egyptians actually adopting the Red Crown of Lower Egypt had yet to be achieved.

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