Egypt's Faiyum region, shown in a file photo, is home to some of the earliest agricultural settlements in the Nile Valley.
About 8,000 years ago the level of a nearby lake fell, prompting hunter-gatherers who lived in the area to abandon it.
The lake level later rose again, and farming settlements were established along the shores.
The earliest known farm settlement in the area was unearthed recently by a U.S.-Dutch team of archaeologists working in Faiyum, who announced the discovery on February 12, 2008.
The discovery could alter the prevailing notion that the late Stone Age was a primitive period disconnected from later and more sophisticated stages of ancient Egypt, said Willeke Wendrich, an associate professor of Egyptian archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-director of the new dig.
"The most important thing is that we don't look at this very early period of Egyptian history as something foreign to what happens later in the pharaonic period," she said.
"It's clear that this was not a bare existence that people had here. They made a pretty good life for themselves."
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Photograph by George F. Mobley