Interregional trade, cultural exchange, and specialized production in the Late Predynastic: Archaeological analysis of el -Amra, Upper Egypt

Jane Ann Hill, University of Pennsylvania


Recent survey at the well known cemetery site of el-Amra in Upper Egypt has revealed surprising findings, including Late Predynastic settlement and production areas in the low desert near the cultivation. Analysis of surface finds in these areas suggests that the settlement was a focal point for both interregional trade and cultic activity spanning the Naqada IIc-d – to Naqada IIIb period. This study uses the information gathered through surface collection, geophysical survey and comparative analysis to determine el-Amra position within the settlement and production systems developing in the late Predynastic Period. Pottery analysis and comparisons to the assemblages at other Upper Egyptian settlements at Mahâsna, Naqada, Adaïma and Hierakonpolis provide the temporal and functional comparisons for the site's distinct areas. ^ El-Amra contains evidence of imported pottery from Lower Egypt and southern Palestine, including the first Upper Egyptian attestation of a locally made domestic ware of a type identified as a "hybrid" Egyptian/Palestinian corpus in EB Ibl period levels at southern Palestinian settlements such as Tel 'Erani. An identified production area shows evidence that Amratians were manufacturing foreign style pottery forms, possibly for use in the mortuary cult of the Abydos elites. Fragments of open D-Ware vessels found at the site further suggest ritual practice associated with the cemetery of that period. Evidence of sealing practice at the site indicates el-Amra was connected to the larger trading networks at work in the late Predynastic. ^ That the settlement is abandoned in the Naqada IIIb period is an indication that local distribution systems of the late Predynastic are replaced by a more restrictive and centralized control of trade and production under Egypt's first kings. That el-Amra, a site relatively close to the early royal center at Abydos is not immune to this restrictive control is a strong indication of the degree to which the First Dynasty rulers reserved all symbols of wealth and exotic foreign imports for themselves. It might also be an indication new settlement patterns inposed by the fledgling Egyptian state. ^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Archaeology|History, African|Near Eastern Studies|North African Studies

Recommended Citation

Hill, Jane Ann, "Interregional trade, cultural exchange, and specialized production in the Late Predynastic: Archaeological analysis of el -Amra, Upper Egypt" (2010). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3414196.