The Aswan area at the dawn of Egyptian history
Maria Carmela Gatto
With maps and photos.
Among recent discoveries made by the Aswan-Kom Ombo Archaeological Project those dated to the Predynastic and Early Dynastic Periods are particularly intriguing, revealing insights on the complexity of the rising Egyptian society at its southern frontier, as Maria Carmela Gatto reports.
The First Cataract is the borderland between Egypt and Nubia. As might have been expected, and contrary to what the ancient Egyptians always wanted to show, the archaeological record found in the region highlights a stable and long-term presence of Nubian people. In the Predynastic Period Egyptians and Nubians were highly integrated and might even have created a sort of mixed culture, where the Nubian element was, however, less prominent than the Egyptian one.
A rescue excavation (due to pressure from modern overbuilding) of a Predynastic settlement and associated cemetery in Nag el-Qarmila, just north of Wadi Kubbaniya, is revealing this mixed cultural evidence (see also EA 30, pp.6-9). The settlement consists of a relatively small village heavily damaged by sebakhin activities and modern structures. It is located on the northern side of a small valley, partly placed on top of the Late Pleistocene Wild Nile deposit, and partly on sand connected with a sort of bay, which was formed by the summer Nile flooding in the inner part of the valley. The archaeological deposit found in situ is dated to N(aqada)IC-IIA (c.3700 BC) while a younger phase, dated to NIIC-IIIA2 (c.3600-3200), is found on the surface. The stratigraphy consists of superimposed seasonal occupation layers with hearths, postholes, in-situ pots, and plastered pits. For the NIC-IIA phase C14 dates (3800-3700 BC) fit perfectly with the pottery chronology. At the periphery of the village, towards the bay, the burial of an infant was found on the sand. Similar evidence was a common feature at other Predynastic sites, such as Adaima.