A Presentation by Janet Diamond
We have long been fascinated by the wondrous civilisation developed in the Nile valley which endured for 3000 years. How did it begin and grow from scattered groups of hunter-gatherers into a rich and skilful economy subsequently becoming the first nation state?
Janet Diamond used her extensive knowledge to illustrate the reasons why the early Egyptians had to move from their grassland homes. At the end of the last ice age (10,000 years ago) climate change began the process of desertification and forced the nomads to move into the Nile valley which would henceforth supply the natural resources they could exploit. The annual inundation of the valley by water carried by the Blue Nile from the Ethiopian highlands guaranteed the continuing fertility of the soil and a rich agrarian society. The Nile Valley, the Delta and the Fayum oasis provided natural wealth in wildfowl, fish and papyrus for flax and for paper.
The early Egyptians became self-sufficient in most of the resources they needed which over time encouraged an insEgypt from Nomads to Nationular society. They had food, a rich diet and the wherewithal and skills to make pottery. They had gold, semi-precious stones and nascent skills in the working of stone. They were dependent upon the river for trade and communication since they had not then discovered horses, camels or the use of the wheel.
A system of control promoted the power of the pharaoh whose divinity was a tenet of Egyptian religious belief. The unification of the Two Lands (upper and lower Egypt) occurred under the Pharaoh Narmer (c.3500 BCE) who is shown on the famous Palette wearing the two crowns. The nation state grew in wealth and power during the First and Second Dynasties confirming the king’s divine status and developing the stone culture for the beginning of the pyramid age initiated by the Pharaoh Djoser (c.2650 BCE) with the Step Pyramid at Sakkara.
Janet gave us a delightful and informative summary of early Egypt and we look forward to hearing further chapters of the story.