Influence on Egypt


There are certain elements in Egypt's Early Dynastic Period which seem to betray unmistakable Sumerian influence. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing may be one. Another is the so-called 'paneled-facade' type of architecture found in Egyptian tombs from the First to the Third The most remarkable evidence of cultural connection is that shown in the architecture of the Early Dynastic tombs of Egypt and Mesopotamian seal-impressions showing almost exactly similar buildings.

For the Sumerian region "intelligible written records begin at about 3000 BC. From these, and from archaeological research, it is evident that even at this early period there were large cities with splendid temples and elaborately planned houses. Stone-carving was well-developed, also metal-working and the fashioning of jewelry. Extensive foreign trade contributed lapis-lazuli from Afghanistan, shells from the Persian Gulf and rare stones such as calcite, obsidian and diorite, none of which are found in southern Mesopotamia. But in the early Dynastic Period there was no unified state of Sumer, unlike Egypt that had become unified by 3200 BC."

- Leonard Cottrell, The Quest for Sumer




Egypt's culture is a product of its geography, its people, and at least to some degree by its links with its neighbors. Egyptian traveled to and traded with Palestine, where pottery and Egyptian-style buildings have been found, with Afghanistan and beyond to modern Pakistan, the source for lapis lazuli, documented to have been imported into Egypt from Predynastic time. They also traded with Elam and Sumer, from whence came elements shown on palettes and cylinder seals, and indicates contact between Egypt and other regions of the Near East. However, with all the similarities that can be noted, there are also significant differences between Near Eastern cultures and that which is undeniably Egyptian. The Egyptian cosmology, cosmogony, governmental hierarchy and administration, writing, dress, its concept of kingship - these were all things most definitely Egyptian, even if perhaps influenced by outside contacts.

- Marie Parsons Egypt Tour




In Sumer 'the crucial transition from village to city took place inthe Early and Middle Uruk periods which, according to radio carbondating, probably lasted between 700 and 1,000 years (about 4300-3450 BC).'

The ancient site of Uruk was occupied for 5,000 years from early in the Ubaid period until the 3rd century AD. In the fourth millennium BC Uruk was the most important city in Mesopotamia and included two major religious centers: Kullaba, where there was a temple of An, the god of the sky, and Eanna, where the Goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar) was worshipped.

The earliest known examples of writing are found on clay tablets from Uruk dating to about 3300 BC. Already it was a complete system with more than 700 different signs. The first tablets recorded the transfer of commodities such as grain, beer and livestock or were lists used by scribes learning how to write."

The influence of Uruk even reached as far west as Egypt in the Naqada II (or Gerzean) period contemporary with the Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods [about 3100-2900 BC]. Lugged and spouted jars were characteristic of Late Uruk pottery. Cylinder seals also first appeared in Egypt at that time. Some were imports from the east, but others had been made locally and used Mesopotamian or Iranian motifs. Late Pre-dynastic (before about 2920 BC) art from Egypt also showed some influence from Mesopotamia. In particular, carved ivory knife handles and slate palettes contained Mesopotamian motifs, even though the objects themselves were typically Egyptian.

- Michael Roaf Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia




During the fourth millennium there were major developments in metallurgy. Objects at Nahal Mishmar were an alloy of copper and arsenic, which was easier to cast and harder than pure copper and was often used before tin bronze in the second millennium BC.

The first use of the plow in the Near East also dates from the Urik period. Plows, wheels, boats and donkeys were almost certainly in use before the Uruk period" in Northern Europe.

At a period approximately 3,400 years before Christ, a great change took place in Egypt, and the country passed rapidly from a tate of Neolithic culture with a complex tribal character to [one of] will-organized monarchy.

At the same time the art of writing appears, monumental architecture and the arts and crafts develop to an astonishing degree, and all the evidence points to the existence of a luxurious civilization. All this was achieved within a comparatively short period of time, for there appears to be little or no background to these fundamental developments in writing and architecture.

The civilization of the Jemdet Nasr period of Mesopotamia and the archaic period of Egypt are apparently roughly contemporary, but the interesting point is that in Mesopotamia many of the features of civilization appear to have a background, whereas in Egypt they do not. It is on this basis that many authorities consider that Egypt owes her civilization to the people of the Euphrates. There is no doubt that there is a connection, but whether direct or indirect we do not know.

- Walter B. Emery Archaic Egypt




The inhabitants of Upper Egypt were on the whole a smaller, gracile type with long narrow skulls, compared with the taller and more heavily built mesocephalic Lower Egyptians. On monuments, all men have dark curly hair and their bodies are dark red to indicate the heavily sun burnt light-brown skin (brown was absent from the palette of the Egyptian artist). The conventional depiction of the lighter complexion of women was yellow. A similar picture of population stability of obtained from an analysis of the Egyptian language, even through the variety of current opinions is as great as in the case of physical anthropology. Connections exist with ancient and modern Semitic languages of western Asia, as well as Cushitic, Berber and Chado-Hamitic languages of Ethiopia, Libya and the western Sudan. These, however, suggest a common origin rather than a superimposition of one language upon another. The prehistoric inhabitants of Egypt and the historic Egyptians therefore spoke the same language in different stages of its development.

- Jaromir Malek In the Shadow of the Pyramids




More than two thousand years later, in 2,308 BCE, the Sumerians developed their equivalent of the 11:57pm July 3rd 14,000 BCE sky chart and Narmer Plate combined. It comes in the form of a royal cylinder-seal depicting "The Sun is Risen". The purpose of the seal is to celebrate the Dawn of the Age of Aries. Perhaps not surprisingly it comes complete with Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. In linking the seal with the Ancient Egyptian 11:57 pm July 3rd 14000BCE sky chart the following need to be accounted for: the Celestial Sphinx and the Rising Sun, together with the Constellations of Orion, Gemini, Phoenix, and Grus. There are two other constellations on the sky chart, those of Taurus and Piscis Austrinus.


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