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Examinations along the River Valley indicate that, even by 3,500 BC, Hierakonpolis (in Upper Egypt) was the most important settlement along the entire
river & had a large temple dedicated to the Falcon-god Horus. It wasn’t made of large worked-stone, by any means, but the pic below shows a graphic
reconstruction of what it most likely looked like (according to the archeological evidence).
First Temple, Hierakonpolois
Post-holes & trenches are really all that remains. Of the post-holes, the size & depth indicates that the largest poles shown in the pic above would
have been at least 12m tall. The temple’s centerpiece was a three-room shrine. The sidewalls were most likely made of colored woven mats, anchored
in place by wooden supports. On the makeshift platforms in the oval courtyard is most likely where the king (of Upper Egypt, anyway) would have
examined his tribute & made the sacrifices to the patron god, Horus. Around the courtyard, trained craftsmen collected raw materials from all over the
region & transformed them into finished goods for their princes & god; Ivory boxes, polished stone jars, jewelry & ceremonial weapons.
The north side of Predynastic Hierakonpolis was an area of large scale industry; Huge pottery jars for brewing wheat-beer (could produce about 300
gallons per day, enough to provide daily rations for over 200 people), potters & tool makers. With a centralized collection & redistribution system,
the king could stock up supplies for the lean years & during good years could become quite wealthy from trade.
So it appears that, at least in Upper Egypt where the desert nomads were most likely to have settled, the hard drive it took to survive in the desert
produced people who thrived best on innovation combined with the ability to command & organize large groups of people. They also had a strong belief
in the afterlife, based upon a Falcon-god that may have its origins in tribal totemism. These characteristics certainly served well in the much more
fertile river-valley region of Egypt, where by contrast, barely allowed them to survive in the desert.
Now, on to Buto, the primary settlement of Lower Egypt. The major problem that archeologists had with excavations in the Delta Region lie in the fact
that the climate is much more humid than Upper Egypt & eventually buries everything under large quantities of silt carried down-river by the yearly
innundation. Due to this, it was a long time before Buto was considered to be anything more than just a legend.
Using drill-coring methods, they’ve found what appears to be the earliest
version of Buto, unfortunately buried under several meters of sand
& even 3m lower than the current water table
What they determined about the Delta Region in general is that the Nile branches that cut through the area shift in their courses from time to time,
but it wasn’t always the well-watered place we see now; Somewhen during the fifth millennium BC, the Mediterranean Sea backed up the Nile & flooded
the banks. When this happened, the safest place for inhabitants was to escape to the higher sand dunes; It was on top of one of these dunes, covering
an area of 1 km square, that Buto was found...Still buried under 7m of accumulated sand. This was well below the water table & Buto couldn’t be
excavated until modern technology could provide for massive water pumps! Once the pumps were put to use, they uncovered quite a bit of evidence, even
under the threat of flooding should the pumps stop; The pumps had to be constantly working or the digs would flood within mere minutes. Even so, they
found that Buto was continuously occupied for over 500 years during the Predynastic times.
While Upper Egyptians came from the western deserts, the Lower Egyptians looked to the east; The indigenous religion was based upon a Jackal-headed
god (perhaps derived from totemic-symbolism to venerate various ancestors “homogenized” into a single deity; Ancestor worship was common in the
Delta Region). Pottery styles that bear the distinctive stamp of the cultures in the Negrev desert were found. But as soon as pottery from Upper Egypt
began to appear, the Lower Egyptians tried duplicating Upper Egyptian pottery without having the same materials, skills & techniques. Even though this
was not very successful for the Lower Egyptians, it wouldn’t matter less than a hundred years later; The changes were numerous & sudden.
The indigenous pottery in Lower Egypt was abruptly replaced by Upper Egyptian pottery (judging by materials & skills). Also, Lower Egyptian houses
were no longer made from bundled papyrus & woven mats, but from mud bricks, like those built in Upper Egypt. Even though no grave sites were uncovered
at Buto, other Delta sites confirm that burial practices also changed into the forms practiced by Upper Egypt.
Up until the successful excavations around the Delta region, many archeologists believed that the “Two Lands” was a myth, with the only known
indication being the singular artifact of the Narmer Palette. However, excavations at Buto & the rest of the Delta region confirm the most
rarely-found occurrence; Archeological evidence of a political
event. The unification of Egypt (Attributed to King Menes, aka: Narmer) around
Now a bit about the distinctive style of Egyptian Hieroglyphs. According to the archeological finds at Abydos, there was a tomb (actually, it was more
like an underground twelve-room “palace”) uncovered that dates to Dynasty 0 (c. 3,250 BC). This “Tomb U-J”, as they named it, seems to be the
forerunner of the concept of building a “house for eternity”, which has precedents throughout the rest of Egyptian history. Within this tomb, the
burial goods themselves were tagged with hieroglyphs on pottery sherds that denoted the place of origin for the goods. Of the two pics below, the
first is the excavated tomb itself & the second are some of the tags found on the burial goods.
Tomb U-J Labels
Of the hieroglyphs found on the tags, many of them were noted to have the names of certain animals on them; In the earliest excavations, they indicate
that at least some of the Kings did use animal-symbols to write their names...”Nar” (the first part of the name Narmer, for example) means
“catfish”. The Tomb U-J was no exception, having tags that denoted many animals, but the greatest number of tags with animals represented was of a
scorpion; Could this have been the “Scorpion King” of Dynasty 0? No solid
evidence has been found, other than this general indication.
The excavation was dated 150 years before
Narmer, at 3,250 BC; This indicates that Egyptians had an advanced form of writing before
Mesopotamians! There are so far no indications that Egyptians hieroglyphs developed from an earlier pictographic stage; The hieroglyphs have denoted
not only places & objects, but they also represented vocal sounds, even with the first findings. For example, the Tomb UJ label at the bottom-left
corner in the picture (just above) actually spells out the name Per-Bast (Greek version, Bubastis). Another example is that many of the tags found on
wine vases in the tomb indicate that the wine came from Mesopotamia! Even that long ago (3,250 BC), Egypt was already trading with Mesopotamia!
There are modern precedents for languages to have developed full-blown without any historical stages of development; 1444 AD saw the invention of the
modern form of written Korean script, invented by a group of scholars commissioned by the Korean king of the time; Even more modern, linguistic
scholars were commissioned to create the Klingon language for the Star Trek movies! So, it’s possible to think that the Egyptians could have &
create their hieroglyphs from scratch; This would merely indicate that they were the first to do so
. This is merely one
indicator of how innovative the Egyptians could be, even so early in history.
Once unification was complete, Pharaoh moved the capital to Memphis, ideally located at the crux between the Two Lands; Just south of the Delta
region, just north of the lower end of the River Valley.
By now, you may see the pattern of thought held by the Egyptians: Universal Dualism. The Two Lands (in two different respects! The Red & Black Lands /
Upper & Lower Egypt), the two gods (falcon & jackal), the two cultures united, the Red Lands (eastern & western deserts) & the Black Lands (the silted
areas of cultivation), the waters of Nun & the Primal Mound that emerged during the initial Creation, hieroglyphs representing objects/places & vocal
sounds, the Order of settled Egypt vs. Chaos (the rest of the world outside
of Egypt), etc. This concept was personified by the goddess Maat
(the balance between Order & Chaos); It was the primary duty of Pharaoh to uphold the rituals that ensured that balance was maintained. The rituals
were never static, but kept evolving throughout Egypt’s long history.
They also believed in a perpetually reoccurring Creation (the rising & setting sun, the yearly innundation that fertilized the fields, etc) as opposed
to a single Creation. This is how the Pharaohs saw the afterlife...To ensure eternal
existence after mortal death, they ritually linked
themselves with the gods that perpetually renewed themselves. Their burial rituals & the construction of their tombs reinforced their link to an
eternal afterlife. Another way to link with afterlife everlasting was to associate with things that seemed to never change. Hence the entrance
corridors of the pyramids being aligned north, toward the circumpolar star; The Egyptians called it, “the everlasting” or “the undying”.