Phase 5 (Naqada IIIb–IIIc1) in Tell El-Farkha. The Peak of Development or the Beginning of Decline?


  • Krzysztof M. Ciałowicz Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Institute of Archaeology image/svg+xml



Egypt, Tell el-Farkha, Naqada, Protodynastic, Iry-Hor, Narmer


The research at Tell el-Farkha provides new opportunities to reconstruct the processes of Egyptian state formation. Seven main chronological phases are distinguished. One of the most important periods in the city’s history is phase 4 (Naqada IIIA–Naqada IIIB; ca. 3350–3200 BC). An administrative-cultic centre, a monumental warehouse, and the oldest Egyptian mastaba were created during this time. The inhabitants of Tell el- Farkha owed their prosperity to the trade with the Southern Levant. During phase 5 (Naqada IIIB to Naqada IIIC1; ca. 3200–3000 BC) several phenomena are evident that portended the gradual decline of the city, eventually leading to its abandonment. No evidence of major storage facilities has so far been discovered at Tell el-Farkha from phase 5, and imported pottery is also absent in this period. It seems that at the beginning of the Protodynastic period the Egyptians gradually abandoned the trade routes running through the eastern Delta and used new ones leading via Wadi Tumilat or across the Red Sea. The engravings in Wadi Ameyra (Sinai) with the names of Iry-Hor, Ka, and Narmer suggest that exploration of the natural resources of the Sinai and the maritime routes to Egypt were highly important. In this situation only a few imported products would have reached cities like Tell el-Farkha, which may explain the lack of both central warehouses and imported ceramics. Natural disasters also contributed significantly to the decline of Tell el-Farkha. The abandonment of the Western Kom, at the end of phase 5, clearly followed a major catastrophe caused by natural forces. The collapsed walls may be the result of this cataclysm. Evidence of a natural catastrophe that struck the settlement at the turn of our phases 5 and 6 can be found at the Eastern Kom as well.


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How to Cite

Ciałowicz, Krzysztof M. 2022. “Phase 5 (Naqada IIIb–IIIc1) in Tell El-Farkha. The Peak of Development or the Beginning of Decline?”. Studies in Ancient Art and Civilisation 26 (December):7-23.




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