In this authoritative and compelling 2006 survey of the archaeology of early Egypt, David Wengrow offers an interpretation of the emergence of farming economies and the dynastic state, c.10,000 to 2,650 BC. Exploring key themes such as the nature of state power, kingship and the inception of writing, Wengrow illuminates prehistoric social development along the Nile through comparison with neighbouring regions. Detailed analysis of the archaeological record reveals the interplay between large-scale processes of economic and political change and intimate material practices through which social identities were transformed, focussing upon ritual treatments of the dead. Employing rich empirical data and engaging critically with anthropological theory and the history of archaeological thought, Wengrow's work challenges the theoretical isolation of Egyptian prehistory and breaches the methodological boundaries that separate prehistory from Egyptology. It is essential reading for anybody with an interest in ancient Egyptian civilisation or early state formation.
• Broader geographical and chronological scope than any comparable archaeological survey of Ancient Egypt • Presents an engaging narrative history • Reinterprets the significance of Egypt in the history of archaeological thought
Introduction: the idea of prehistory in the Middle East and North East Africa; Part I. Transformations in Prehistory: 1. Egypt and the outside world I, c.10,000–3300 BC; 2. Neolithic economy and society; 3. Domestication and embodiment in the Nile valley; 4. The urbanisation of the dead: Naqada I-II; 5. Image, ritual and the construction of identity in late prehistory; Part II. The Making of Kingship: 6. Opening considerations: la mémoire monarchique; 7. Egypt and the outside world II, c.3300–2500 BC; 8. The evolution of simplicity: Naqada III; 9. Extraordinary bodies and binding truths: early writing in context; 10. Theatres of sacrifice: dynastic constructions of death; Conclusion: subterranean histories of power.
'The Archaeology of Early Egypt marks a great advance in publications in this area. It is a remarkable achievement.' Professor John Baines, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford
'… ground-breaking book, which consolidates ideas developed in several articles … an engaging and multi-faceted account that is sue to provoke discussion and debate … for its refreshing and innovative approach, Wengrow's account deserves to become a classic interpretation of the archaeology of early Egypt.' Liam McNamara, St John's College, Oxford
'… a detailed and an insightful look into the formation of early Egyptian civilization. … essential reading for anyone trying to understand the formation of early Egyptian burial practices, social customs, and cultural traditions and how they impacted later Egyptian history.' Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin