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124 Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials
designs superimposed. Next followed the decorated vases of
light ware, and the so-called red-polished ware was common
almost until the dynastic period. Basketry, already long known,
flourished, and bodies are sometimes found wrapped in matting
or buried completely in baskets. Flint-working during the
middle half of the pre-dynastic period reached a peak of excel-
lence never again seen in Egypt or elsewhere, knives being made
of this material, with hundreds of flakes struck off accurately,
herring-bone fashion, from the centre line; these flakes were
in turn divided again and again until the edge had the form of
a very fine saw (Fig. 2, i). Many have 'explained* how this
flaking was done but none, to my knowledge, has produced
even a small sample as proof. We may call this one of the lost
arts of Egypt. The predynastic races hunted and domesticated
animals. There is little reason to believe that they were in any
way war-like.
At some period the graves of the predynastic people of
Middle Egypt begin to reveal a proportion of skeletons with
skulls much larger than the average, which are remarkably
small. At or about this time inscriptions either incised or in ink,
begin to appear on pottery. These inscriptions, though crude
and brief, give proof of a long period of progress behind them.
Certain signs appear already to have been set aside as purely
alphabetic, while class-signs, or determinatives, are in use. The
origin of the 'writing people', who later developed into the
dynastic race, is still the subject of controversy. Some main-
tain that a Delta tribe, possessing the art of writing, con-
quered the other tribes. The main reason for the Delta being
chosen is that in reality practically nothing is known of its early
history, except that its large towns go back to the remotest
times. I can only suggest that, first, in a hot climate it is
unlikely that a single tribe inhabiting an over-rich river-bed
would develop war-like and energetic tendencies, yet the pro-
genitors of the, dynastic race were men of almost incredible