At the end of the 4th millennium BC, the first urban centres emerged in the Southern Levant, while at the same time the Egyptian state developed in the Nile Valley. The following period (Early Bronze Age or Old Kingdom) was characterised by close trade relations between the two regions until the first cities of the Southern Levant were abandoned again at the end of the Early Bronze Age III. This period is critically examined on the basis of new radiocarbon dates.



In the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, the first unified Egyptian state emerged in the Nile valley, reaching its preliminary apogee in the age of the pyramids of the Old Kingdom (3rd until 6th Dynasties, ca. 2650–2200 BC). During this period, in the Levant of the Early Bronze Age II and III, the first cities and complex societies were formed.

In the framework of an APART-fellowship at the OeAI, the development of the Egyptian-Levantine relationships, the rise and decline of the first cities, and the possible influence of climatic factors on social transformations will be studied for the first time on the basis of a scientific chronology.

Already in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, close connections between these two regions can be ascertained. Egyptian biographies of officials report about extensive far-reaching trading expeditions into the Levant, and imported pottery found in the Nile valley provides evidence of traded goods.

At the end of the 6th Dynasty (ca. 2200 BC), the Egyptian centralised state disintegrated into numerous competing territories. At the end of Early Bronze Age III, the first cities in the Levant collapsed and society reverted to a pastoral/nomadic way of life.

For a long time scholars associated this collapse with a sudden climatic decline in ca. 2200 BC. New radiocarbon data, however, indicate in contrast that the first cities in the Levant had already been abandoned significantly earlier, namely, at the latest around 2500 BC. This latest evidence necessitates a new evaluation of the Egyptian-Levantine relationships at this time.

Principal investigator




Apart-Stipendium der ÖAW