For almost 30 centuries—from its unification around B. The main sources of information about ancient Egypt are the many monuments, objects and artifacts that have been recovered from archaeological sites, covered with hieroglyphs that have only recently been deciphered. The picture that emerges is of a culture with few equals in the beauty of its art, the accomplishment of its architecture or the richness of its religious traditions. Few written records or artifacts have been found from the Predynastic Period, which encompassed at least 2, years of gradual development of the Egyptian civilization. Neolithic late Stone Age communities in northeastern Africa exchanged hunting for agriculture and made early advances that paved the way for the later development of Egyptian arts and crafts, technology, politics and religion including a great reverence for the dead and possibly a belief in life after death. Around B. A southern king, Scorpion, made the first attempts to conquer the northern kingdom around B.
Predynastic Period (c. 5000-3100 B.C.)
Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population is concentrated in the Nile Valley , a small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to the Mediterranean and enclosed by desert both to the east and to the west. This unique geography has been the basis of the development of Egyptian society since antiquity. The daily language of the Egyptians is a continuum of the local varieties of Arabic ; the most famous dialect is known as Egyptian Arabic or Masri. Egyptians are predominantly adherents of Sunni Islam with a Shia minority and a significant proportion who follow native Sufi orders. There are an estimated
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Its earliest known complete written sentence has been dated to about BC, which makes it one of the oldest recorded languages known, along with Sumerian. Its classical form is known as Middle Egyptian , the vernacular of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt which remained the literary language of Egypt until the Roman period. The spoken language had evolved into Demotic by the time of Classical Antiquity , and finally into Coptic by the time of Christianisation. Spoken Coptic was almost extinct by the 17th century, but it remains in use as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The Egyptian language belongs to the Afroasiatic language family. The Egyptian language has many biradical and perhaps monoradical roots, in contrast to the Semitic preference for triradical roots. Egyptian is probably more conservative, and Semitic likely underwent later regularizations converting roots into the triradical pattern. Although Egyptian is the oldest Afroasiatic language documented in written form, its morphological repertoire is very different from that of the rest of the Afroasiatic languages in general, and Semitic languages in particular. There are multiple possibilities: Egyptian had already undergone radical changes from Proto-Afroasiatic before it was recorded; the Afroasiatic family has so far been studied with an excessively Semito-centric approach; or, as G. Tsereteli suggests, Afroasiatic is an allogenetic rather than a genetic group of languages.