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Gallery 19: Case 24

Early burial practices

The last prehistoric period in Egypt is usually called the Predynastic period, and it lasted from about 6000 to 3000 BC. At this time, when people died they were generally buried in simple pits, laid in a crouched position on their side. The effect of burying a body in the hot, dry sand in Egypt was to dry it out very rapidly. It is not clear whether this drying effect was intentional or achieved by chance, but bodies found in such burials are often well preserved.

Burials of this period usually contained objects, such as pots, jewellery and stone palettes. This suggests that there was at this period some belief in a continued existence after death.

The stone palettes are a very distinctive feature of the period and were associated with grinding up powder for eye makeup. They were made from a specially selected type of stone and take the form of animals, birds and especially fish.

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