Lulav is a closed frond of the date palm tree. It is one of the Four Species used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot; the other Species are the hadass and etrog. When bound together, the lulav and aravah are referred to as "the lulav"; the Torah mentions the commandments to obtain a lulav for the Sukkot holiday once in Leviticus:Leviticus 23:40 ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון פרי עץ הדר כפת תמרים וענף עץ עבת וערבי נחל ושמחתם לפני ה׳ אלקיכם שבעת ימים "And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, boughs of thick trees, willows of the brook, ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days."In the Oral Torah, the Mishnah comments that the biblical commandment to take the lulav, along with the other four species, is for all seven days of Sukkot only in and around the Temple Mount when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem is extant, as indicated by the verse as "in the presence of Hashem, your God, for seven days." In the rest of the Land of Israel, as well as in the Diaspora, the four species are biblically mandated only on the first day of Sukkot.
After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai legislated a rabbinical enactment to take the four species for the entire seven days of the holiday in all locations as a commemoration of what was done in the Temple. As with all Biblical verses, Jewish law derives numerous details and specifications relating to the commandments by interpreting the manner in which words are utilized and juxtaposed in the verses of the Torah. Rashi, the foremost rabbinical Biblical commentator, explains the pertinent verse in the Bible based on the Talmud's erudition. Which focuses on the spelling of the words in the verse that refer to the lulav: kapot t'marim; the first word refers to date stalks and is written in plural form instead of singular form, in order to indicate that the commandment is not to take a single leaf of the entire palm. However the word is written in a deficient manner, without the letter vav, as the plural word would contain. Rashi further elucidates based on the Talmud's erudition, that the missing letter vav is to indicate that only a single palm is to be taken.
The Talmud uses this spelling irregularity to suggest according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah in the name of Rabbi Tarfon, that the lulav must be bound if its leaves spread away from the spine of the palm. This teaching is derived from the similarity between the spelling of the Hebrew words for "palm" and "binding", which would not be a viable teaching had the word for palm been written in its singular form of kaf; the Keli Yakar comments that the words verse in Psalms 96:12 az yiraninu kol atzei ya'ar, is not only a reference to the shaking of the four species but a hint to this Biblical specification: the Hebrew word az is composed of two letters, an aleph, with a numerical value of 1, a zayin, with a numerical value of 7, hinting that the four species are to be taken 1 day outside of the Temple area and seven days in the Temple. A lulav, as with all mitzvah articles, must meet certain specifications in order to be kosher and permissible to be used to fulfill the commandment of the four species.
Ideally, a lulav consists of a closed frond of the date palm tree. To qualify, the lulav must be straight, with whole leaves that lie together, not be bent or broken at the top; the twin middle-most leaves, which grow together and are known as the tiyomet, should ideally not be split at all. This rule applies on the first day of Sukkot in the Land of Israel, on the first two days elsewhere. On Chol HaMoed, the disqualifications arising from using a lulav with a split middle leaf do not apply; the term lulav refers to the lulav in combination with two of the other species—the aravah and the hadass—that are bound together to perform the mitzvah of waving the lulav. These three species are held in one hand; the user brings his or her hands together and waves the species in all four directions, plus up and down, to attest to God's mastery over all of creation. This ritual symbolically voices a prayer for adequate rainfall over all the Earth's vegetation in the coming year. Although Jews are commanded to take the four species together, the rabbinically ordained blessing mentions only the lulav because it is the largest and most evident of the four species.
The biblical reference to the four species in Sukkot can be found in Leviticus Chapter 23, verse 40. The etrog is referred to as "Citrus fruit", the Lulav is referred to as "Palm branches"; each species is said to kabbalistically represent an aspect of the user's body. Media related to Lulav at Wikimedia Commons The Symbolism of the Lulav and Esrog
The Exodus is the founding myth of the Israelites. Spread over the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it tells of the enslavement that befell the children of Israel in Egypt, their liberation through the hand of Yahweh and the revelations at Sinai, their wanderings in the wilderness up to borders of Canaan, the land their God has given them, its message is that Israel was delivered from slavery by Yahweh and therefore belongs to him through the Mosaic covenant, the terms of which are that Yahweh will protect his chosen people for all time, so long as they will keep his laws and worship only him. The narrative and its laws remain central to Judaism, recounted daily in Jewish prayers and celebrated in festivals such as Passover, as well as serving as an inspiration and model for non-Jewish groups from early Protestants fleeing persecution in Europe to African-Americans striving for freedom and civil rights. Scholars are broadly agreed that the Exodus story was composed in the 5th century BCE.
The traditions behind it can be traced in the writings of the 8th-century BCE prophets, but it has no historical basis. Instead, archaeology suggests a native Canaanite origin for ancient Israel; the story of the Exodus is told in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the last four of the five books of the Torah. It begins with the Israelites in slavery, their prophet Moses leads them out of Egypt and through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where Yahweh reveals himself to his people and establishes the Mosaic covenant: they are to keep his torah, in return he will give them the land of Canaan. The Israelites accept the covenant and receive their laws, with Yahweh now present in their midst, journey on from Sinai, towards the promised land, but when told that the land is filled with giants they refuse to go on, Yahweh condemns them to remain in the desert until the generation that left Egypt passes away. After thirty-eight years at the oasis of Kadesh Barnea the next generation travel on to the borders of Canaan, where Moses addresses them for the final time, reviewing their travels and giving them further laws.
The Exodus ends with the death of Moses on Mount Nebo and his burial by Yahweh, while the Israelites prepare for the conquest of the land. The climax of the Exodus is the covenant between God and Israel mediated by Moses at Sinai: Yahweh will protect Israel as his chosen people for all time, Israel will keep Yahweh's laws and worship only him; the covenant is described in stages: at Exodus 24:3–8 the Israelites agree to abide by the "book of the covenant" that Moses has just read to them. The laws are set out in a number of codes: Ethical Decalogue, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Scholars are broadly agreed that the publication of the Torah took place in the mid-Persian period, echoing a traditional Jewish view which gives Ezra, the leader of the Jewish community on its return from Babylon, a pivotal role in its promulgation; the first trace of the traditions behind it appears in the northern prophets Amos and Hosea, both active in the 8th century BCE in northern Israel, but their southern contemporaries Isaiah and Micah show no knowledge of an exodus.
The story may, have originated a few centuries earlier the 9th or 10th BCE, there are signs that it took different forms in Israel, in the Transjordan region, in the southern Kingdom of Judah before being unified in the Persian era. Many theories have been advanced to explain the composition of the Torah, but two have been influential; the first of these, Persian Imperial authorisation, advanced by Peter Frei in 1985, holds that the Persian authorities required the Jews of Jerusalem to present a single body of law as the price of local autonomy. Frei's theory was demolished at an interdisciplinary symposium held in 2000, but the relationship between the Persian authorities and Jerusalem remains a crucial question; the second theory, associated with Joel P. Weinberg and called the "Citizen-Temple Community", proposes that the Exodus story was composed to serve the needs of a post-exilic Jewish community organised around the Temple, which acted in effect as a bank for those who belonged to it.
The Torah served as an "identity card" defining who belonged to this community, thus reinforcing Israel's unity through its new institutions. The Exodus is at the centre of Jewish identity, it is remembered daily in Jewish prayers and celebrated each year at the feasts of Pesach and Shavuot, the two being known as "the time of our freedom" and "the time our Torah was given". The two are linked, with Pesach announcing that the freedom it introduces is only realised with the giving of the law. A third Jewish festival, the Festival of Booths, commemorates how the Israelites lived in booths following the exodus from their previous homes in Egypt; the Exodus roots Jewish religion in history, in contrast to pagan religions which are oriented towards nature. The festivals now associated with the exodus (Passove
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme
The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme or mahJ is the largest French museum of Jewish art and history. It is located in the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan in the Marais district in Paris; the museum conveys the rich history and culture of Jews in Europe and North Africa from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Its fine collection of religious objects, archives and works of art promotes the contributions of Jews to France and to the world in the arts; the museum's impressive collections include works of art from Amedeo Modigliani. The museum has a bookshop selling books on Jewish art and history and Judaica, a media library with an online catalogue accessible to the public, an auditorium which offers conferences, concerts and seminars, it provides guided weekly visits in English during the tourist season for individuals as well as students and teachers, workshops for children and adults. In 1985 Claude-Gérard Marcus, Victor Klagsbald, Alain Erlande-Brandenburg launched a project to create a museum of Jewish art and history in Paris, backed by the City of Paris and the ministry of Culture, represented by Jack Lang, Minister of Culture.
The project had two goals: first, to provide Paris with an ambitious museum dedicated to Judaism and second, to present national collections acquired from the reserves of the national museum of the Middle Ages. At the time, only a modest museum devoted to Judaism existed on the rue des Saules; the project was led by Laurence Sigal starting in 1988. The mayor of Paris at the time, Jacques Chirac, provided the Hotel de Saint-Aignan in the Marais as a site for the future museum; the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme opened in 1998. The decision to set up the museum in the Marais was a conscious one. Since the end of the 18th century, a large population of Jews has lived in the Marais. At first, these were immigrants from Eastern Europe, from North Africa during decolonization. Today, the Marais has been profoundly transformed: traditional shops have been replaced by trendy designer boutiques. However, the neighborhood is a cultural center for museums such as the musée Carnavalet, the musée Picasso, the Mémorial de la Shoah.
The two architects in charge of redesigning the interior of the building, Catherine Bizouard and Francois Pin, not only crafted the areas for the permanent collections but created a media library, an auditorium, a bookshop, an area dedicated to educational workshops. The museum provides areas for temporary exhibitions, educational activities, research, making it a dynamic and innovative cultural venue; the museum's permanent collection was assembled from three main sources. The first is the Musée d’art juif de Paris, whose collection was given to the mahJ, it consisted of European religious objects, graphic works by Russian and German Jewish artists and artists from the School of Paris, architectural models of European synagogues destroyed by the Nazis. The second source is the Musée national du Moyen-Age in Paris, known as the musée Cluny; this collection was built up by a French Jew from the 19th century. He collected 149 religious objects during his travels throughout Europe, including furniture, ceremonial objects, Hebrew manuscripts.
A Holy Arch from Italy from the 15th century, wedding rings, illuminated ketubbot are examples of artefacts in his collection. Strauss in regarded as the first collector of Jewish objects. Part of his collection was displayed during the 1878 Exposition Universelle, provoking a strong interest. After his death, his collection was acquired by Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1890, she gave it to the State to be donated to the Musée Cluny. Sixty six rare medieval funeral steles, discovered in 1894 rue Pierre-Sarrazin, are on a long-term loan from the musée Cluny; the third source is a set of long-term loans from museums such as le Centre Pompidou, the Musée d'Orsay, the Musée du Louvre, the Musée national des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie. The museum's collection was enriched by loans from the Consistory of Paris, the Jewish Museum in Prague and donations from the Fondation du Judaïsme français; the museum acquired a large photography collection. The collection has over 1500 photographs of Jewish communities from the past and present, of historical events, of Jewish architectural heritage.
At its creation, the museum outlined five missions that it seeks to fulfill: Present two thousand years of history of Jewish communities in France and contextualize them in the overall history of Judaism. Conserve, study and promote the museum's collection and documents relating to Jewish history and art. Make the collection as accessible as possible to a large public. Organize the diffusion of all forms of artistic expressions relating to Jewish culture in all its diversity. Create and execute educational operations and enterprises to promote Jewish culture; the mahJ chose a time period covering Jewish history from its beginnings in France until the birth of the State of Israel, without including the Holocaust. The project for the Mémorial de la Shoah, now located 800 yards from the museum existed when the mahJ was created, with the goal of commemorating the Holocaust; the mahJ and the Memorial complement each other. The museum explores Jewish history and identity without the memory of the Holocaust being the main element.
The Holocaust is such a singular and momentous event that it can overshadow the rich heritage of Judaism outside of it, deserves its own focused space. Furthermore, the museum favors a historical approach to Judaism
Simchat Torah or Simhat Torah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, the beginning of a new cycle. Simchat Torah is a component of the Biblical Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret, which follows after the festival of Sukkot in the month of Tishrei; the main celebrations of Simchat Torah take place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. In Orthodox as well as many Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year on which the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read at night. In the morning, the last parashah of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that can last for several hours; the morning service is uniquely characterized by the calling up of each member of the congregation for an aliyah. There is a special aliyah for all the children.
On the Hebrew calendar, the seven-day holiday of Sukkot in the autumn is followed by the holiday of Shemini Atzeret. In Orthodox and Conservative communities outside Israel, Shemini Atzeret is a two-day holiday and the Simchat Torah festivities are observed on the second day; the first day is referred to as "Shemini Atzeret" and the second day as "Simchat Torah", although both days are Shemini Atzeret according to Halakha, this is reflected in the liturgy. Many Hasidic communities have Hakafot on the eve of the first day of Shemini Atzeret as well. In Israel, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are celebrated on the same day. Reform congregations outside Israel, may do likewise. Many communities in Israel have Hakafot Shniyot on the evening following the holiday, the same day as Simchat Torah evening in the diaspora; the custom was started by the former Chief Rabbi of Rabbi Yedidya Frankel. The Simhat Torah festivities begin with the evening service. All the synagogue's Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and are carried around the sanctuary in a series of seven hakafot.
Although each hakafa need only encompass one circuit around the synagogue, the dancing and singing with the Torah continues much longer, may overflow from the synagogue onto the streets. In Orthodox and Conservative Jewish synagogues, each circuit is announced by a few melodious invocations imploring God to Hoshiah Na and ending with the refrain, Aneinu B'yom Koreinu. In Orthodox and Conservative synagogues, the hakafot are accompanied by traditional chants, including biblical and liturgical verses and songs about the Torah, the goodness of God, Messianic yearnings, prayers for the restoration of the House of David and the Temple in Jerusalem. Congregations may sing other, popular songs during the dancing. Children are given flags and other treats; the vigour of the dancing and degree of festive merriment varies with congregational temperament. In Orthodox synagogues, the dancing is carried out by men and boys. Women and older girls have their own dancing circles sometimes with the Torah scrolls, or look on from the other side of a mechitza, in accordance with the value of tzniut.
In Conservative and progressive congregations and women dance together. In some congregations, the Torah scrolls are carried out into the streets and the dancing may continue far into the evening. After the hakafot, many congregations recite a portion of the last parashah of the Torah, V'Zot HaBerachah in Deuteronomy; the part read is 33:1–34:12, but may vary by synagogue custom, although Deuteronomy is never read to the end in the evening. The morning service, like that of other Jewish holidays, includes a special holiday Amidah, the saying of Hallel, a holiday Mussaf service; when the ark is opened to take out the Torah for the Torah reading, all the scrolls are again removed from the ark and the congregation again starts the seven hakafot just like in the evening. In many congregations, one deviation from an otherwise ordinary holiday morning service is the performance of the Priestly Blessing as part of the Shacharit service, before the celebrations connected with the Torah reading begin, rather than as part of the Musaf service that follows.
This practice hearkens back to an old custom for the kiddush sponsored by the Hatan Torah to be held during the Simhat Torah service itself where hard liquor may be served. Since the Bible prohibits Kohanim from performing the priestly blessing while intoxicated, there is concern that Kohanim may imbibe alcoholic beverages during the Simhat Torah festivities, the blessing was moved to before the time when alcohol would be served. In some congregations, the Kohanim deliver their blessing as usual during the Musaf service of Simhat Torah. After the hakafot and the dancing, three scrolls of the Torah are read; the last parashah of the Torah, V'Zot HaBerachah, at the end of Deuteronomy, is read from the first scroll, followed by the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, read from the second scroll. It is a Jewish custom that a new beginning must follow a c
A drought or drouth is a natural disaster of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric, surface water or ground water. A drought may be declared after as few as 15 days, it can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region and harm to the local economy. Annual dry seasons in the tropics increase the chances of a drought developing and subsequent bush fires. Periods of heat can worsen drought conditions by hastening evaporation of water vapour. Many plant species, such as those in the family Cactaceae, have drought tolerance adaptations like reduced leaf area and waxy cuticles to enhance their ability to tolerate drought; some others survive dry periods as buried seeds. Semi-permanent drought produces arid biomes such as grasslands. Prolonged droughts have caused humanitarian crisis. Most arid ecosystems have inherently low productivity; the most prolonged drought in the world in recorded history occurred in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Mechanisms of producing precipitation include convective and orographic rainfall. Convective processes involve strong vertical motions that can cause the overturning of the atmosphere in that location within an hour and cause heavy precipitation, while stratiform processes involve weaker upward motions and less intense precipitation over a longer duration. Precipitation can be divided into three categories, based on whether it falls as liquid water, liquid water that freezes on contact with the surface, or ice. Droughts occur in areas where normal levels of rainfall are, in themselves, low. If these factors do not support precipitation volumes sufficiently to reach the surface over a sufficient time, the result is a drought. Drought can be triggered by a high level of reflected sunlight and above average prevalence of high pressure systems, winds carrying continental, rather than oceanic air masses, ridges of high pressure areas aloft can prevent or restrict the developing of thunderstorm activity or rainfall over one certain region.
Once a region is within drought, feedback mechanisms such as local arid air, hot conditions which can promote warm core ridging, minimal evapotranspiration can worsen drought conditions. Within the tropics, distinct and dry seasons emerge due to the movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone or Monsoon trough; the dry season increases drought occurrence, is characterized by its low humidity, with watering holes and rivers drying up. Because of the lack of these watering holes, many grazing animals are forced to migrate due to the lack of water in search of more fertile lands. Examples of such animals are zebras and wildebeest; because of the lack of water in the plants, bushfires are common. Since water vapor becomes more energetic with increasing temperature, more water vapor is required to increase relative humidity values to 100% at higher temperatures. Periods of warmth quicken the pace of fruit and vegetable production, increase evaporation and transpiration from plants, worsen drought conditions.
Drier and hotter weather occurs in parts of the Amazon River Basin and Central America during El Niño events. Winters during the El Niño are warmer and drier than average conditions in the Northwest, northern Midwest, northern Mideast United States, so those regions experience reduced snowfalls. Conditions are drier than normal from December to February in south-central Africa in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Direct effects of El Niño resulting in drier conditions occur in parts of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, increasing bush fires, worsening haze, decreasing air quality dramatically. Drier-than-normal conditions are in general observed in Queensland, inland Victoria, inland New South Wales, eastern Tasmania from June to August; as warm water spreads from the west Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the east Pacific, it causes extensive drought in the western Pacific. Singapore experienced the driest February in 2014 since records began in 1869, with only 6.3 mm of rain falling in the month and temperatures hitting as high as 35 °C on 26 February.
The years 2005 had the next driest Februaries, when 8.4 mm of rain fell. Human activity can directly trigger exacerbating factors such as over farming, excessive irrigation and erosion adversely impact the ability of the land to capture and hold water. In arid climates, the main source of erosion is wind. Erosion can be the result of material movement by the wind; the wind can cause small particles to be therefore moved to another region. Suspended particles within the wind may impact on solid objects causing erosion by abrasion. Wind erosion occurs in areas with little or no vegetation in areas where there is insufficient rainfall to support vegetation. Loess is a homogeneous nonstratified, friable coherent calcareous, fine-grained, pale yellow or buff, windblown sediment, it occurs as a widespread blanket deposit that covers areas of hundreds of square kilometers and tens of meters thick. Loess stands in either steep or vertical faces. Loess tends to develop into rich soils. Under appropriate climatic conditions, areas with loess are among the most agriculturally productive in the world.
Loess deposits are geologically unstable by nature, will erode readily. Therefore, windbreaks are planted by farmers to reduce the wind erosion of loess. Wind erosion
Three Pilgrimage Festivals
The Three Pilgrimage Festivals, in Hebrew Shalosh Regalim, are three major festivals in Judaism—Pesach and Sukkot —when the ancient Israelites living in the Kingdom of Judah would make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem, as commanded by the Torah. In Jerusalem, they would participate in festivities and ritual worship in conjunction with the services of the kohanim at the Temple. After the destruction of the Second Temple and until the building of the Third Temple, the actual pilgrimages are no longer obligatory upon Jews, no longer take place on a national scale. During synagogue services the related passages describing the holiday being observed are read aloud from a Torah scroll on the bimah used at the center of the synagogue services. During the Jewish holidays in modern-day Israel, many Jews living in or near Jerusalem make an effort to attend prayer services at the Western Wall emulating the ancient pilgrimages in some small fashion. Samaritans make pilgrimages to Mount Gerizim three times a year to this day.
Book of Exodus: "Offer a sacrifice to Me three times each year. Keep the festival of matzos... the reaping festival... the harvest festival.... Three times each year, every male among you must appear before God the Lord...." and "Keep the Festival of Matzahs.... Keep the Festival of Shavuot through the first fruits of your wheat harvest. Keep the harvest festival soon after the year changes. Three times each year, all your males shall thus present themselves before God the Master, Lord of Israel." Book of Deuteronomy: "Safeguard the month of standing grain so that you will be able to keep the Passover to God your Lord, since it was in the month of standing grain that God your Lord brought you out of Egypt at night.... Count seven weeks for yourself. From the time that you first put the sickle to the standing grain, you must count seven weeks. You shall celebrate the festival of Shavuot to God your Lord, presenting a hand-delivered offering according to the extent of the blessing that God your Lord has granted you....
When you bring in the products of your threshing floor and wine vat, you shall celebrate the festival of Sukkot for seven days.... Three times each year, all your males shall thus be seen in the presence of God your Lord in the place that He will choose: on the festival of matzahs, on the festival of Shavuot, on the festival of Sukkot. You shall not appear before God empty-handed." In his vision of a restored Jerusalem, the prophet Isaiah refers to Zion as "the city of our appointed feasts". The Songs of Ascent or pilgrim psalms are associated with the pilgrims' journey to Jerusalem. Jewish holidays
Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place, now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes; the history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age. Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Near East, after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, the Macedonians under the command of Alexander the Great; the Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander's death, ruled Egypt until 30 BC, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.
The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, a military intended to assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, administrators under the control of a pharaoh, who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs; the many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental pyramids and obelisks.
Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its art and architecture were copied, its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world, its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of writers for centuries. A new-found respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy; the Nile has been the lifeline of its region for much of human history. The fertile floodplain of the Nile gave humans the opportunity to develop a settled agricultural economy and a more sophisticated, centralized society that became a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. Nomadic modern human hunter-gatherers began living in the Nile valley through the end of the Middle Pleistocene some 120,000 years ago. By the late Paleolithic period, the arid climate of Northern Africa became hot and dry, forcing the populations of the area to concentrate along the river region.
In Predynastic and Early Dynastic times, the Egyptian climate was much less arid. Large regions of Egypt were traversed by herds of grazing ungulates. Foliage and fauna were far more prolific in all environs and the Nile region supported large populations of waterfowl. Hunting would have been common for Egyptians, this is the period when many animals were first domesticated. By about 5500 BC, small tribes living in the Nile valley had developed into a series of cultures demonstrating firm control of agriculture and animal husbandry, identifiable by their pottery and personal items, such as combs and beads; the largest of these early cultures in upper Egypt was the Badari, which originated in the Western Desert. The Badari was followed by the Amratian and Gerzeh cultures, which brought a number of technological improvements; as early as the Naqada I Period, predynastic Egyptians imported obsidian from Ethiopia, used to shape blades and other objects from flakes. In Naqada II times, early evidence exists of contact with the Near East Canaan and the Byblos coast.
Over a period of about 1,000 years, the Naqada culture developed from a few small farming communities into a powerful civilization whose leaders were in complete control of the people and resources of the Nile valley. Establishing a power center at Nekhen, at Abydos, Naqada III leaders expanded their control of Egypt northwards along the Nile, they traded with Nubia to the south, the oases of the western desert to the west, the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East to the east, initiating a period of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations. The Naqada culture manufactured a diverse selection of material goods, reflective of the increasing power and wealth of the elite, as well as societal personal-use items, which included combs, small statuary, painted pottery, high quality decorative stone vases, cosmetic palettes, jewelry made of gold and ivory, they developed a ceramic glaze known as faience, used well into the Roman Per