Predynastic – Early Dynastic Period
During the Predynastic Period (circa 5400-3000 BC), before the establishment of the first dynasties, various independent kingdoms, with different deities and symbols, yet sharing the basic hieroglyphs and the belief in the afterlife, developed in the southern and the northern part of Egypt. Their most characteristic creations included vases made of stone, palettes (vessels originally intended for personal adornment), mace heads and ritual knives which encompassed the core elements of the Pharaonic culture that followed.
In around 3000 BC the unification of Egypt was completed by Pharaoh Narmer or Aha who, according to Manetho, was possibly identified with the mythical king Menes. Then followed the Early Dynastic Period (circa 3000-2575 BC, 1st-3rd Dynasties) that was distinguished by the establishment of theocratic monarchy in which the Pharaoh, an absolute monarch, was identified with the god Horus and was regarded as the reincarnation of the god on earth. Simultaneously, the nobility was consolidated and the hieroglyphic script evolved. The statues and the figurines of Pharaohs, commoners and sacred animals were characterized by frontality, monumental character and naturalism, whereas the reliefs were marked by the close interaction between text (hieroglyphs) and image.