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Survey and Test Excavations in the Badari Region, Egypt

  • D. L. Holmes (a1) and R. F. Friedman (a2)
Abstract

More than 70 years ago an early Predynastic culture was discovered in the Badari region near Asyut. It was named the Badarian and it represents the oldest known agricultural tradition in the Nile Valley of Upper Egypt. However, much remains to be learned about the Badarian as well as subsequent Predynastic developments in the region which may be expected to throw light on the adoption of agriculture in the Nile Valley and the rise of the Egyptian state. Consequently, new field investigations were initiated in 1989. A large part of the area was field surveyed and test excavations were carried out at the site of Hemamieh, originally excavated by Gertrude Caton-Thompson in the 1920s and famous for its stratified sequence of Predynastic levels.

During the 1989 season, the authors visited 42 sites, the majority of which have Predynastic remains. Most of the Predynastic occurrences date to the Badarian or Gerzean phases. Very little material was seen that could be assigned to the intervening Amratian phase, raising the possibility that elements of the Badarian culture remained prevalent in the Badari region at a time when only the Amratian was represented elsewhere in Upper Egypt. Our test excavations at Hemamieh revealed a stratigraphy similar to that described by Caton-Thompson with cultural deposits sandwiched between a surface scree layer and a cemented Limestone gravel deposit or ‘breccia’. The pottery recovered shows a continuous sequence beginning with the Badarian and ending with the Gerzean. Four radiocarbon dates were also obtained. Two of these are on samples from levels with Badarian ceramics and provide calibrated age estimates spanning c. 4400–4000 BC.

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References
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