Egypt History – Predynastic Period (c. 5000 – 3100 BC)

ancient egypt

Photo by Alex Holyoake

The Egyptian Predynastic Period saw great cultural and social changes to the Egyptian people during the Stone Age as we know it today. During this stage, the Egyptians managed to create and develop a written language and a religion as well as settle along the fertile lands of the Nile.

An alternative view is that there are 4 phases of the Predynastic Period:

  • Early Predynastic ( 5000 – 4000 BC)
  • Old Predynastic ( 4500 – 3500 BC)
  • Middle Predynastic ( 3500 – 3200 BC)
  • Late Predynastic (up until 3100 BC)

Early Predynastic

A major focal point of this phase was the making of highly sophisticated pottery, with intricate designs and great attention to detail, mainly being finely polished red pottery with black tops. At this stage of the Egyptian culture, corpses were wrapped in only animal hides and mummification was nowhere to be seen. One of Egypt’s main regions at this time was the El-Badari region and hence why this phase of Egyptian history is also known as the Badrian Phase which is thought to have been one of the areas where agricultural settlements were first erected.

Old Predynastic

The Egyptians’ cultural and social development continued in this phase with further examples of clay pottery existing, specifically terracotta scupltures, a step on from the smaller pots that were in existence during the Early Predynastic period. Cemetaries were discovered in Upper and Lower Egypt, showing that change was occuring in both areas at the time. The Old Predynastic period can also be called the Naqada I period thanks to the  Naqada site that was discovered towards the centre of the large Nile bend.

Middle Predynastic

More sites were found around Neqada and so this period is also known as the Naqada II period, as well as the Gerzean period, both due to sites found at Naqada and El-Gerza respectively. Egyptian Pottery had come on leaps and bounds during this period, with depictions of animals being prevelant as well as abstract symbols of gods. A Gerzean temple found at Hierakonpolis showed early signs of tomb painting with several chambers created out of mud bricks.

Late Predynastic

This period is also known as the Protodynistic period and Egypt’s population was now considerably higher than the previous periods, with further agricultural communities having been developed along the Nile, all conversing in a common language with trading and political decisions being made on a regular basis. This became the precursor for the development and separation of Egypt into 4 distinct areas; the NileValley, Nile Delta, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Upper and Lower Egypt had distinctly different cultural systems. Upper Egypt saw multiple kings rising to power with their inherent nature being more aggressive than Lower Egypt, which had a more bureaucratic culture – important families ruled certain areas of the land without a rigid hierarchy existing.

This is also the period that we can see for the first time that the common language of hieroglyphs being used as well as evidence of a domination of Upper Egypt over Lower Egypt, with most of the pottery discovered in Lower Egypt originated from Upper Egypt.


Share with your friends
To report this post you need to login first.


  1. magdalenesunrise
  2. Tony H Leather

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *