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Egypt in the period prior to the onset of the third dynasty is shrouded in mythology. Archaeological findings place the first indigenous civilization in the south of the country. This was the Badarian culture which was based on a livelihood of hunting, farming and mining. Among the archeological findings of this culture denote objects produced by carving and fine pottery as well as wood and turquoise which were acquired through trading as it did not grow in the region (Simpson 2003).

About 4,000 BC the Naqada occupied Egypt in larger settlements and produced decorated figurines and pottery that were made from either clay or ivory; this indicated that they had a war-like nature. There is archeological evidence of canal irrigation systems as well as burial sites that are advanced. Other archeological findings include implements used in agriculture such as hoes, seed baskets, and sickles. Presence of alien materials to this region such as lapis lazuli would indicate that they practiced external trade and were culturally diverse (Simpson 2003).

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Texts found on ancient Egypt include descriptions of such diverse occupations ranging from trial of thieves and lawsuits to veterinary and medical manuals as well as magical spells that were cast against creatures such as scorpions.  The literature described by Simpson can be quoted as supporting the livelihood of the Egyptian peasant as a farmer in that there are descriptions that a peasant would plough his field when the sun rose. There is also mention of cattle rising in the period before the third dynasty in particular in the Delta region which was comprised of mostly marshy land (Simpson 2003).

Most of the knowledge on the livelihood of peasants in Egyptians comes from epigraphic sources, nonliterary and literary writings as well as archeological findings. Epigraphic documentation consists of inscriptional and iconographic records such as texts, reliefs and paintings that were found preserved in their masters tombs. Nonliterary writing on papyrus is also another significant source of the information described above. This includes the Greek Papyri and the Demotic which cover the events of the Ptolemies and Romans reign. They have however been authenticated as also describing the remote past of Egypt and as such the period before the third dynasty (Simpson 2003).

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