Vessel decorated with a rowing boat
Methods of communication are essential to the dialogue of cultures. And for the inhabitants of the Nile Valley, the sailing vessel, as can be seen by this vase; was one of the most effective and oldest methods. The vase is a typical example from the culture known as Naqada II (the period around 3500-3200 BC) which was one of the last phases of Egyptian Prehistory and whose epicentre was the Naqada site in Upper Egypt. This Naqada culture extended to the whole of the Nile Valley, towards the north up to the Delta and south beyond the First Cataract and it was marked by the movement of habitants towards the alluvial plain. They stressed hierarchical society which is witnessed by the accumulation of objects in certain tombs and their ostentatious features. Many vessels identical to the concerned artefact were found in the graves: ceramics shaped by hand, egg-shaped, with flat rim and fitted with two little punctured tubular handles on the shoulder of the vase. The red-brown paint decoration stands against a light background- and without any suggestion of perspective- depicts desert animals, large boats transporting worship construction and ensigns bearing religious meaning: wavy lines to evoke the presence of water.
The place of the find, the site of Dakka to the south of Aswan, illustrates the exchanges that existed between Egypt and Nubia in as early as Prehistory. If in the past, historians have mainly focused on the large flow of civilizations through the Middle East, today we can no longer overlook the role played by African civilizations. For example, it was to Eastern Sahara along the chain of oasis that spread along the Nile where various human groups relocated: groups who were forced to seek new ways of life due to the increasing aridity. It is in this region of Khartoum where the first pottery appeared.
During the period of Naqada II, there are many testimonies which attest to the mutual attraction between these two cultural poles: for instance, the presence of Nubian pottery (type N) in Egyptian tombs and the spread of Naqada II culture in Nubia. Numerous reasons can be ascribed to the peaceful, and also bellicose, dialogue between these two cultures during this historical period. Among the economic factors, the production of gold which was abundant in Nubia and its commercially privileged geographical position undoubtedly played a fundamental role. It is indeed true that valuable products passed through Nubia from the heart of Africa, such as ivory, leopard skins and exotic woods.