The following tables present a timeline of the periods, dynasty's, and some significant people associated with those timeframes.
Ancient Egypt’s Origins Lie in Savannah
DISCOVERIES THAT open a new window on the prehistory of ancient Egypt have been made by British archaeologists who have found 30 sites rich in art chiseled into rocks up to 6,000 years ago in the desert east of the Nile. The rock drawings show cattle, boats, ostriches, giraffes, hippos and the people who lived in the area in 4000 BC, long before the pharaohs or the pyramids.
"It's the Sistine Chapel of predynastic Egypt. It's amazing," said Toby Wilkinson of Cambridge, who led the Eastern Desert Survey this month. "What this does is open up a completely new chapter in the study of Egyptian civilization and its origins."
Ancient Egypt was always a puzzle. The civilization appeared to archaeologists to have sprung up along a ribbon of fertile land on either side of the Nile.
Even to the ancient Greeks, the Sphinx and the pyramids seemed to have always been there. The challenge has been to identify the origins of settlement on the Nile. Egyptologists now think the forefathers of the pyramid builders could be the people who left their signatures on stones in the desert 6,000 years ago.
"Some of it is quite breathtaking," Dr Wilkinson said. "It is very difficult to date precisely, but looking at the stylistic parallels, a lot of this art has got to be from around 4,000 BC. That is pretty old — and some of it is even older. "Looking at the similarities between the rock art pictures and the painted pottery from the same period in the Nile, it is pretty clear that the same people were producing both."
Egypt began to turn to desert in about 3,500BC. Until then, the landscape would have been much like the present east African Savannah, with waterholes and seasonal rivers.
Dr Wilkinson said, "We think of Egypt today as just a narrow strip on either side of the Nile valley. We are going to have to rethink our idea of the extent of Egypt, 7,000 or 6,000 years ago. It wasn't just the Nile valley, it was this vast area on either side which was able to support life. These people moved out of the Savannah's into the Nile valley and settled there, and this is what kick started Egyptian civilization." (GNS)