UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Ancient Egypt : Predynastic Period : Early Naqada Culture Arbuckle, Caroline


The early Naqada culture of Upper Egypt (in the south), refers to the cultural assemblage found in this area of Egypt during the Predynastic Period. This is what Egyptologists refer to as Naqada I-IIIb, approximately 4000-2950 BCE (though these dates are somewhat debated). Most of this period is devoid of texts, with simple labels showing up right at the end. This means that our religious knowledge for this era is completely based on an interpretation of the material evidence. Many of these interpretations are built on the belief of continuity of practice between this early phase and later Egyptian religion. This is somewhat problematic, as the meaning of objects and practices may have changed over time. There is therefore disagreement on what religion was like in this prehistoric period, which should be kept in mind. As new evidence surfaces, these interpretations may change. For the moment, Egyptologists generally see the Naqada culture as the foundation of what we currently understand to be ancient Egyptian religion. Many of the iconic images of pharaonic power and religion are first seen at this time, and continue to be used for thousands of years. The practices of the Naqada culture people began in the south of Egypt, but during this period they spread north, and replace the Buto-Maadi culture. This is therefore a crucial period in the history of ancient Egyptian religion.

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