The Neolithic in the Nile Delta
AbstractIn Egypt the earliest evidence of mixed farming practices are at present found in Merimde Beni Salama on the Western Delta edge ca. 7,000 cal BP (5,000 cal BC) and the Faiyum 6,650 cal BP (4,650 cal BC), some 3,000 years after the beginning of agricultural practices in the Levantine Middle PPNB. The research project (A-2-4) The Neolithic in the Nile Delta focuses on the Neolithic site of Merimde Beni Salama and the region along the Western Delta edge from the modern town of El-Qata in the south to Khatatbah in the north. This area was first surveyed in 1927/8 by Hermann Junker and his team as part of the Austrian West Delta Expedition, which led to the finding of the first Neolithic site in the Nile Delta (Merimde Beni Salama), and its subsequent excavations. Since the most recent investigations in the region (in the late 1970s to early 1980s), significant new findings have come to light, notably the discovery of a Neolithic to Late Predynastic sequence (6th millennium to late 4th millennium BC) at the site of Sais (western Delta) and new discoveries along the northern shore of Lake Qarun in the Faiyum. Many more Early and Mid-Holocene sites in the Western Desert, Eastern Desert and Sinai have also been discovered in the last few decades. Research on the material from these sites allows us to think about the dispersal of technology in a new way, and more available data help us investigate the directionality of influence as we consider the production of lithics, ceramics and other examples of material culture.
The current project has two main sources of data: those from the new fieldwork (begun in 2013, supported by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, the American Research Center in Egypt, the National Geographic Society (GEFNE 165-16), Egypt Exploration Society, and Topoi) and a re-examination and recording of data collected by previous investigations, primarily that of Hermann Junker, Hjalmar Larsen and Pehr Lugn in the 1930s. Both sources of data are examined within an inter-disciplinary framework which aims to situate the Neolithic evidence from the western Nile Delta within its wider environmental and social contexts. This examination brings new interpretations as to the lines of communication evident between sites in the western, and wider Delta, as well as between regions as far afield as Libya and the Levant, and helps to shed light on the reasons for choosing certain settlement locations over others, and the extent to which these choices were determined by the regional environment and changing climate. The re-assessment of the chronology of the Neolithic-Predynastic is also of importance within the longer term research, so that dating of environmental as well as cultural events can be achieved.
InstitutionsFreie Universität Berlin, Excellence Cluster Topoi EXC 264, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
KeywordsMerimde Beni Salama, Neolithic, Egypt, West Nile Delta, Hermann Junker, food production, lithics, pottery, bifacial, bone tools, grinding stones, museums
CitationThe Neolithic in the Nile Delta, 2017, Topoi A-2-4, Edition Topoi, DOI: 10.17171/1-9
See all the Edition Topoi Collections