Qena Governorate

Naqada Town

Naqada is a town on the west bank of the Nile in Qena Governorate, Egypt, situated ca. 20 km north of Luxor. It includes the villages of Tukh, Khatara, Danfiq, and Zawayda. According to the 1960 census, it is one of the most uninhabited areas and had only 3,000 inhabitants, mainly of the Christian faith, who preserved elements of the Coptic language up until the 1930s.

Location of Naqada Town

Naqada is a small town located about 30km southward of Qena city, 25 km northward of Luxor, and 650 km away from Cairo.


Naqada stands near the site of a prehistoric Egyptian necropolis: The town was the centre of the cult of Set, and large tombs were built there in c. 3500 BCE.

The large number of remains from Naqada have enabled the dating of the entire archaeological period throughout Egypt and its environs; hence the town name Naqada is used for the predynastic Naqada culture c. 4400–3000 BCE. Other Naqada culture archaeological sites include el Badari, the Gerzeh culture, and Nekhen.

History of Research in the Naqada Region

The site of Nubt was first excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1894, along with James Quibell, although the latter was primarily based at Ballas just north of Nubt and opposite the modern town of Zawaydeh. At the time, Petrie was unaware that he was excavating one of the essential Predynastic sites in Upper Egypt, regarding the strange material he was excavating as belonging to invaders who had come into Egypt during the First Intermediate Period. However, work by Jacques de Morgan in the Naqada Region indicated an earlier date. Petrie subsequently revised his findings and worked out a relative dating system still at the core of our chronology for early Egypt. His Sequence Dating method ordered the various stages of development during the Fourth Millennium BC and into the Third Millennium BC.

The Naqada region, which equates to the Old Kingdom Coptite Nome, has several critical early sites where many famous researchers excavated from the early days of Egyptology. Gaston Maspero at Khozam; Jacques De Morgan at Nubt and Naqada; Ludwig Borchardt at Naqada; George Reisner at Ballas South, Deir el-Ballas and Naq el-Hai; John Garstang at Naqada. Later in the twentieth century, the region was visited by Werner Kaiser and Karl Butzer (at Nubt), Fred Wendorf (at Khattara) and Fekri A. Hassan (west bank survey).

After Petrie worked at Nubt and De Morgan’s work at the same site, the site lay dormant for half a century until Kaiser returned to Nubt in 1958, with more extensive research starting in the 1970s. Thomas Hays surveyed the site between 1975 and 1977, Fekri Hassan carried out excavations between 1978 and 1981, and Claudio Barocas between 1977 and 1986.

Whereas Nubt occupies an important place in the history of Egyptology, the site has in recent years been overshadowed by the extraordinary findings at Abydos and Hierakonpolis. The confusion resulting from the terminology has aggravated this. Petrie named the site ‘Naqada’ even though modern Naqada is located several kilometres to the south, and there are several archaeological sites in between and at modern Naqada. Here the ancient name of the dynastic part of the site is used: Nubt, ‘Gold Town’.

History of Nubt

The city of Nubt is most famous for the Predynastic settlement of South Town and its associated cemeteries, such as the sizeable communal cemetery N East and the elite cemetery N West and the smaller particular cemeteries N T, N G, and N South. The dates for these graves range from Naqada IA (ca. 3,900 BC) to Naqada IIIC1 (ca. 3.060 BC). Only a few Dynastic cemeteries range from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom and Ptolemaic to Roman. The city is spread over three spurs and the lower area in front of them. The earliest occupation was on Temple Spur, probably dating to Naqada I. Occupation on South Town Spur seems to begin early Naqada II. This area consists of a palace area, with indications for other activities (including storage facilities and workshops).

The temple area at Nubt has a large amount of research potential. Petrie found evidence of a 4th Dynasty temple, which is overlain by a 12th Dynasty temple and an 18th Dynasty temple (in which the names of Thutmose I, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II and Amenhotep III are mentioned). These kings probably enhanced and enlarged the Temple of Seth, Lord of Nubt, which appears to have later been appropriated by Ramesses II.

The largest-ever faience was-Sceptre, dating to the reign of Amenhotep II, discovered in the Temple of Seth. One of the latest objects is a vase with the name of Sheshonq, indicating that the temple continued to function into at least the Third Intermediate Period. However, there is no evidence for Ptolemaic or later use. Also on the Temple Spur is a sizeable multi-period settlement, which dates back to the earliest graves in the cemeteries. Old Kingdom beer jars can still be found on the surface, and New Kingdom pottery,

In the desert, to the west of the temple, four rock-cut tombs belonging to the priests from the Temple of Seth are located, dating to the 18th Dynasty. In front of these tombs is a lot of Roman and Late Antique pottery and a few Middle Palaeolithic stone tools.

Another vital area is the Pyramid Spur, which has the little step pyramid of Nubt (sometimes identified as Ombos, Tukh, Naqada). King Huni probably built this pyramid at the end of the 3rd Dynasty as part of such structures around Egypt. This structure desperately needs much conservation as well as protection.

The Local Workers

Petrie originally trained up the local workforce from Quft to work with him at Koptos. This Qufti workforce remained with Petrie throughout his archaeological work in Egypt, travelling with him up and down Egypt. The descendants of this original workforce are now highly-skilled—various missions sought after them to work with throughout Egypt. However, when working at Nubt, they came of age, excavating a vast site (including 3,000 graves). Today, the EES/University of Winchester Naqada Regional Archaeological Survey has Omar Farouk, whose great-great-grandfather Hussein worked with Petrie at Nubt.