The Early Dynastic Period is a period of some 500 years or more at the beginning of what is conventionally considered as the history of Ancient Egypt. It was the culmination of the formative stage of the Ancient Egyptian culture that began centuries before during the Prehistory.

It was during this period that the divine kingship became well established as Egypt's form of government, and with it, an entire culture that would remain virtually unchanged for the next 3000 or more years. Writing evolved from a few simple signs mainly used to denote quantities of substances and their provenance, to a complex system of several hundreds of signs with both phonetic and ideographic values.

Early Dynastic Period

Before the unification of Egypt, the land was settled with autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for much of Egypt's history thereafter, the country came to be known as the Two Lands. The rulers established a national administration and appointed royal governors. The buildings of the central government were typically open-air temples constructed of wood or sandstone. The earliest hieroglyphs appear just before this period, though nothing is certain about the spoken language represented by the writing at the time.

In about 3600 BC, Egyptian society along the Nile River began to grow and advance rapidly toward civilization. A new and distinctive pottery, which was related to the pottery of Palestine, appeared during this time. Extensive use of copper became common during this time. The Mesopotamian process of sun-dried bricks, and architectural building principles--including the use of arch and of recessed walls for decorative effect--became popular during this time.

Concurrent with these cultural advances, a process of unification of the societies and towns of the upper Nile River, or Upper Egypt, occurred. Upper Egypt was symbolized by the lotus flower. At the same time the societies of the Nile Delta, or Lower Egypt also under went a unification process. The symbol of Lower Egypt was the papyrus reed. Warfare between Upper and Lower Egypt occurred often. During his reign in Upper Egypt, King Narmer defeated his enemies on the Delta and merged both the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt under his single rule. Narmar is shown on palettes a wearing the double crown, composed of the lotus flower and the papyrus reed--a sign of the unified rule of both parts of Egypt which was followed by all succeeding rulers.