"Gerzeh" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Gerzeh, Iran.
The Gerzeh culture, also called Naqada II, refers to the archaeological stage at Gerzeh (also Girza or Jirzah), a prehistoric Egyptian cemetery located along the west bank of the Nile. The necropolis is named after el-Girzeh, the nearby present day town in Egypt. Gerzeh is situated only several miles due east of the oasis of Faiyum.
The Gerzeh culture is a material culture identified by archaeologists. It is the second of three phases of the prehistoric Nagada cultures and so is also known as Naqada II. The Gerzeh culture was preceded by the Amratian culture ("Naqada I") and followed by the Naqada III ("protodynastic" or "Semainian culture").
Although varying dates have historically been assigned by sundry authorities, the Gerzean culture as used as follows, distinguishes itself from the Amratian and begins circa 3500 BC lasting through circa 3200 BC. Accordingly, some authorities place the onset of the Gerzeh coincident with the Amratian or Badari cultures, i.e. c.3800 BC to 3650 BC even though some Badarian artifacts, in fact, may date earlier. Nevertheless, because the Naqada sites were first divided by the British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1894, into Amratian (after the cemetery near el-Amrah) and "Gerzean" (after the cemetery near Gerzeh) sub-periods, the original convention is used in this text.
The primary distinguishing feature between the earlier Amratian and the Gerzeh is the extra decorative effort exhibited in the pottery of the period. Artwork on Gerzeh ceramics features stylised animals and environment to a greater degree than the earlier Amratian artwork. Further, images of ostriches on the pottery artwork possibly indicate an inclination these early peoples may have felt to explore the Sahara desert.
Main article: Egypt-Mesopotamia relations
Distinctly foreign objects and art forms entered Egypt during this period, indicating contacts with several parts of Asia. Scientifc analysis of ancient wine jars in Abydos has shown some there was some high-volume wine trade with the levant during this period. Objects such as the Gebel el-Arak knife handle, which has patently Mesopotamian relief carvings on it, have been found in Egypt, and the silver which appears in this period can only have been obtained from Asia Minor.
Burial sites in Gerzeh have uncovered artifacts, such as cosmetic palettes, a bone harpoon, an ivory pot, stone vessels, and several meteoritic iron beads, Technologies at Gerzeh also include fine ripple-flaked knives of exceptional workmanship. The meteoritic iron beads, discovered in two Gerzean graves by Egyptologist Wainwright in 1911, are the earliest artifacts of iron known, dating to around 3200 BC (see also Iron Age).
The end of the Gerzeh culture is generally regarded as coinciding with the unification of Egypt, the Naqada III period.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Naqada II.|