Fluctuations in Nile flood levels are proposed to have played a significant role in the development of Egypt's cultural elaborations. Nile flood levels played an increasingly important role in the availability of subsistence resources after 3800 B.C. when agriculture was the dominant subsistence system. A series of fluctuations in Nile flood levels are proposed to have constituted a temporally fluctuating environment consistent with Seger and Brockmann's (1987) bet-hedging model. Wasteful behavior, in the form of cultural elaborations, suggests an increased emphasis on nonsubsistence-oriented activities after 3300 B.C., indicating the population of Egypt was expending less energy on reproduction. Skeletal data are examined to determine whether the population appears to meet further expectations of the bet-hedging model in the form of decreased juvenile mortality and increased lifespans.
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