Various cultures existed along the Nile Valley before the development of writing, and we call this era Prehistoric Egypt.
The north-eastern corner of Africa wasn’t always as arid and inhospitable as it is now. There was once savannah where now there is desert. Around 7000 BCE (give or take a millennium or so) the climate began to become more arid and so the people who had once lived a pastoral nomadic lifestyle began to settle in the Nile Valley alongside hunter-gatherer communities who already lived there. New farming techniques (probably imported from the Middle East) began to replace both the pastoral and hunter-gatherer lifestyles of these people.
Archaeologists distinguish several cultures from around 6000 BCE to around 4000 BCE whose distribution overlaps in space and time. From around 4000 BCE Upper Egypt begins to show a more cohesive culture – the pottery styles and other archaeological material are similar from sites from Elephantine to Asyut. This culture is named after the town of Naqada, not very far north of later Thebes (modern Luxor). The Naqada period is divided into three phases, the last of which is better thought of as part of the Predynastic Period.