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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 277–295 | Cite as

Variability in the Neolithic Settlement Patterns of the Egyptian Nile Valley

  • Rebecca Phillipps
  • Simon Holdaway
  • Joshua Emmitt
  • Willeke Wendrich
Original Article

Abstract

Egypt is considered a Neolithic without villages, yet despite this characterisation, settlement pattern remains one of the more uncertain aspects of prehistoric lifeways. Reconstruction of settlement pattern often relies on environmental factors, subsistence strategies or typo-chronological associations to dictate likely modes of human settlement. Here, we examine the period from around 6,500 cal. bp to the late Neolithic in the Egyptian Nile Valley compared to selected examples from the Western Desert. Descriptions of regional settlement patterns have largely focused on divisions between Upper and Lower Egypt and the Western Desert based on a difference in subsistence strategies. We consider the features of the archaeological record in both these regions to determine whether such a dichotomy is warranted, and what this might mean in terms of the relationship between environment and socio-economic change. We suggest an alternative approach to the archaeological record to better understand the nature of Neolithic settlement pattern.

Keywords

Neolithic Settlement pattern Fayum Egypt 

Résumé

L'Egypte est considéré comme un néolithique sans villages pourtant, malgré cette caractérisation, le modèle d'établissement est l'un des aspects les plus incertaines de modes de vie préhistoriques. Reconstruction du modèle d'établissement repose souvent sur les facteurs environnementaux, les stratégies de subsistance, ou les associations de typo-chronologique de dicter le modèle d'établissement de peuplement humain. Ici, nous examinons la période d'environ 6500 cal. BP à la fin du Néolithique dans la vallée du Nil Égyptien par rapport à des exemples choisis former le Désert Occidental. Les descriptions des modèles d'établissement régionaux ont principalement porté sur les divisions entre Haute et Basse Égypte, et le Désert Occidental basé sur une différence dans les stratégies de subsistance. Nous considérons les caractéristiques de l'enregistrement archéologique dans ces deux régions afin de déterminer si une telle dichotomie est justifiée et ce que cela signifie en termes de la relation entre l'environnement et le changement socio-économique. Nous proposons une approche alternative à l'enregistrement archéologique de mieux comprendre la nature du modèle d'établissement de l'habitat néolithique.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Permission to work on the Fayum material was provided by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) to the UCLA, Groningen University, University of Auckland Fayum Project (URU).

The field work reported in this study was funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand through a Marsden grant (UOA1106), by the National Geographic Society (8293-07, 8295-07, 8413-08) and by the University of Auckland.

The authors wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments on this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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