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Naqada: Ancient Egyptian Elite’s Surprising Origins Exposed

In 1996, anthropologists Tracy L. Prowse and Nancy C. Lovell published a groundbreaking study on the ancient city of Naqada, offering new insights into the origins of the civilization that flourished there. Despite the significance of their findings, the study did not receive widespread media coverage at the time. Located in Upper Egypt the Naqada culture, named for the town of Naqada in Upper Egypt, played a crucial role in the emergence of ancient Egypt.

Dating back to around 4000-3000 BC, it is considered a precursor to the social inequality that characterized the later dynastic periods of ancient Egypt. The final phase of the Naqada culture is known as Naqada III, which coincides with the Protodynastic Period (3200-3000 BC) in ancient Egypt’s history.

Naqada culture mrimhotep.org
Extent of Naqada I culture

Many experts believe that the society in Naqada was one of the first examples of the kind of social inequality that later became common in ancient Egypt, with some people having more power and wealth than others. This is an important historical discovery that helps us understand more about how ancient Egypt came to be the way it was during the later dynastic periods

The study examined remains from three cemeteries at predynastic Naqada, dating back to approximately 3600 to 3000 BC, the founding years of the Egyptian civilization. The study found that the individuals buried in a cemetery characterized archaeologically as high status were significantly different from individuals buried in two other, non-elite cemeteries.

Naqada II lapis lazuli female figure pre dynastic pre-dynastic Nagada
Naqada II lapis lazuli female figure pre dynastic

Furthermore, a comparison with neighboring Nile Valley skeletal samples suggested that the high-status cemetery represented an endogamous, ruling or elite segment of the local population at Naqada, which was more closely related to populations in northern Nubia than to neighboring populations in southern Egypt.

This discovery challenges the traditional narrative of ancient Egypt’s origins and suggests that the elite population of Naqada, and possibly even the traditional ruling elite of ancient Egypt, had significant connections to Nubia. This is further supported by the fact that the Naqada samples were more similar to the Lower Nubian protodynastic sample than they were to the geographically more proximate Egyptian samples.

The study also suggests that the elite population at Naqada was likely formed through endogamy, which is the practice of marrying within a specific group or community and is often used to maintain power and status within a society. This is further supported by Egyptian literary texts which state that many pharaohs and elite families had direct Nubian ancestry.

Narmer's Palette

There are also numerous accounts from ancient Greeks suggesting that Egyptians were colonists sent out by the Ethiopians (Nubians or Black Africans), with Osiris as the leader of the colony. This theory is supported by the study’s findings and coincides with many details we have about that civilization, such as the appearance of the Sphinx, which bears resemblance to Black Africans, or the culture of the civilization which is clearly linked to Black Africa in all its aspects.

Great Sphinx Hollywood - Africa - Exodus - Prognathism South Sudan Mundari boy

Another piece of evidence supporting this narrative is Narmer’s Palette, which depicts the pharaoh leading his men and defeating a group of opponents represented in the traditional style of Asiatic tribes, with long straight hair, aquiline noses, and long beards. On the other hand, the Egyptian men are represented with what can be considered Black African or tropical features – Afro hair, broad noses, and thick lips.

Head of pharaoh Narmer

It is worth mentioning that Pharaoh Narmer, considered to be Kemet’s founding pharaoh, descended from the people of Naqada. This may explain the specificities appearing on his statue, as his tropical features are undisputable.

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