Merimde culture

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The Merimde culture (also Merimde Beni-Salame)(Arabic:مرمدة بني سلامة) was a Neolithic culture which corresponds in its later phase to the Faiyum A culture and the Badari cultures in Predynastic Egypt. It is estimated that the culture evolved between 4800 and 4300 BC.[1] Merimde also refers to the archaeological site of the same name.

Archaeological work[edit]

The culture was concentrated around the main settlement site of 25 hectares in the West delta of the Nile in Lower Egypt 45 km northwest of Cairo. The site was discovered by a former German priest named Hermann Junker —who excavated 6,400 m² of the site— during his West Delta expedition in 1928. The expedition was financed by Albert Rothbart from New York for the account of the Vienna Academy.[2]

Later excavations in the 1970s —performed by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the German Institute of Archaeology— led to the establishment of the stratigraphic sequence.[3]


Merimde shows a sequence of occupations which lasted almost a millennium according to some estimates. While Junker identified three sequences, others such as Joseph Eiwanger established in 1977 that there are five with significantly different levels of development. Artifacts such as ceramics were quite primitive during phase I —a phase characterized by a light occupation. Eiwanger documented that storage areas appeared during phase II when the intensity of the occupation increased.[4]


Archaeological evidence suggests that the Merimde economy was dominated by agriculture although some fishing and hunting were practiced to a lesser degree. The settlement consisted of small huts made of wattle and reed with a round or elliptical ground plan. Merimde pottery lacked rippled marks.[5]


Burials had unique characteristics, different from those practiced in Upper Egyptian Predynastic Egypt and later Dynastic Egypt. There were no separate areas for cemeteries and the dead were buried within the settlement in a contracted position in oval pits without grave goods and offerings.[6]

In the time of the Maadi culture, the place was used as a cemetery.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bogucki, Peter I. (1999). The origins of human society. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 355. ISBN 1-57718-112-3. 
  2. ^ Hoffman, Michael A. (1980). Egypt before the pharaohs. Taylor & Francis. p. 168. ISBN 0-7100-0495-8. 
  3. ^ Bard, Kathryn; Steven Blake Shubert (1999). Encyclopedia of the archaeology of ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 501. ISBN 0-415-18589-0. 
  4. ^ Shaw, Thurstan (1995). The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns. Routledge. p. 212. ISBN 0-415-11585-X. 
  5. ^ Brewer, Douglas J.; Emily Teeter (2007). Egypt and the Egyptians. Cambridge University Press. p. 35. ISBN 0-521-85150-5. 
  6. ^ Hoffman - pp. 174.