Monday, August 06, 2007

The Black Mummy Part II

From reading Dr. Hoffman's book, Egypt Before The Pharaohs, I stumbled across this interesting paragraph that could sink which culture beget which culture that this show on the Science Channel is based around.

The site they are talking about is called BS-14 located in the Libyan Desert. Now before someone goes 'a-ha!' about this Libyan Desert, Dr. Hoffman is using the accepted nomenclature that calls the desert[Sahara] to the west of the Nile the Libyan Desert.
... ostrich eggshell and the bones of a horselike creature (possibly Equus asinus - the wild ass) make it, along with Arkin 8, one of the few and most important Lower Paleolithic sites in Egypt. The presence of ostrich eggshell recalls a custom employed by the contemporary bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, who use these objects as water canteens on hunting trips into the desert, while the equid bones may suggest the late Acheuleans had migrated out onto the grassy plains of the Sahara during the Abbassia Pluvial, or rainy period. This pluvial, which prevailed for nearly 30,000 years between about 120,000 and 90,000 years ago, succeeded a 400,000 year drought and in its wake sent late Acheulean peoples out onto the former wastes in search of large grazing animals. - page 57.
Of course the type of humanity at the time of the Abbassia Pluvial was transitioning from Homo Erectus and that of Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis. What is also established though is a cycle of lush pastureland and barren wastes with humans going with the flow.

For foreign cultural contamination, there are other places to think about besides the central Sahara. Like the delta city of Maadi was a major crossroads for trade and ideas between 3600BC and 3000BC. Like several houses built in a style seen in Palestine, underground houses. - page 201.

In Lower Egypt, trade and metallurgy set the tone at strategically located sites like Maadi, while in Upper Egypt social status, burial, public ritual, and display dominated the Naqadan world view. - page 212.

Upper Egypt is where the scientists in the show about the Black Mummy suggest the Saharan culture first impacted Nile culture. But is it the Saharan's who professionally mummify a child of seemingly no social import while the Naqadan's seem to go in the opposite direction.

On page 218 we see Dr. Hoffman offering support for at least some of the scientists surmises of Saharan culture impacting Egyptian culture. Namely it is from the sand dwellers of the Libyan Desert that the dwellers of the Nile River learned farming, cattle pastoralism, and long distance trade.

As for the pottery this show is all agog over and it seems to show these archaeologists as the ones who did 'discover' the link. Alas Dr. Hoffman scuttles this by recounting the excavations at the VIth Dynasty site of Armant by Oliver Myers in 1935 who found Saharan pottery at this Nile site and identified it as Saharan pottery. - page 229.

Still Dr. Hoffman's book offers a cautionary note least we truly jump on this bandwagon.
..our best evidence for the cultural changes that took place on the deserts of northern Africa between about 7000 and 4000 B.C. are not provided by stone tools and potshards but by the spectacular rock art of the Sahara which suggests a slow transition from hunting to cattle pastoralism between 7000 and 6000 B.C. - page 233.
I am still reading through this book gleaming more information. I think I will end with this part since it bears on the Sahara witnessed by the child who became the Black Mummy.

Even if the impetus for the new pastoral way of life came from the Middle East, it soon caught on throughout North Africa, moving swiftly across the grassy savannas, and being adopted by native peoples, who only a few centuries before, had wandered as hunters into this land. - page 237.

I think when it comes to the Nile Valley and the influence of the Libyan Desert is still open to debate and interpretation. Just as how much influence the Sinai and Palestinian cultures also impacted Egypt in its early formative days is also open to debate.

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