The long history of human occupation in the Nile valley and nearby deserts is often best documented by the tools left behind when sites were abandoned. In recent years, scholars have become increasingly interested in the early periods of Egyptian settlement, and consequently much more is now known about them. The tools of the early Paleolithic period were often hand axes, but in later periods the tool kits became highly varied, with small stone blades becoming very common items. The variety within and between tool kits was due to differences in the environmental zones people occupied and the types of resources they exploited.
During the Epipaleolithic period (ca. 10,000–7000 B.C.), tools that we call arrowheads appear for the first time. The hollow-base arrowhead illustrated here was a common type in the Neolithic period (ca. 7000–4500 B.C.), when the habitation of the Nile valley itself was underway. These projectile points were most often made from chert, often called flint, which was found in the form of cobbles lying on the high desert's surface. Whether the arrowheads were attached to wooden shafts or used in spears is difficult to confirm, but representations of men drawing bows can be seen on jars from the early Predynastic Period (ca. 3600 B.C.).