The Neolithic is thought to have arrived in Egypt via diffusion from an origin in southwest Asia, relatively late compared to neighboring locations. The authors suggest an alternative approach to understanding the development of food production in Egypt based on the results of new fieldwork in the Fayum. They provide the results of a detailed study of the Fayum archaeological landscape interpretable at different temporal and spatial scales, using an expanded version of low-level food production to organize observations concerning paleoenvironment, socioeconomy, settlement, and mobility. While domestic plants and animals were indeed introduced from elsewhere, when a number of aspects of the archaeological record are compared, a settlement system is suggested that has no obvious analogues with the Neolithic in southwest Asia. The results obtained from the Fayum are used to assess other contemporary sites in Egypt.
Simon J. Holdaway is a professor of archaeology and the head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He holds honorary chairs at Macquarie University, the University of Queensland (Australia), and the University of York (United Kingdom).
Willeke Wendrich holds the Joan Silsbee Chair in African Cultural Archaeology and is a professor of Egyptian archaeology and digital humanities in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.