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Ancient Egyptian culture from the 1st Dynasty to the end of the 10th Dynasty



Egyptian Chronology


Egyptian Chronology
      Date          Culture          Duration     
11 000 BC Jebel Sahaba  
Before 8 000 BC - Palaeolithic in Europe and Northern Asia
8 000 BC - Nominal end of the Ice Age
8 600 - 4 400 BC Nabta Playa Neolithic 4 200 years
6 100 - 5 180 BC    Qarunian (formerly known as Fayum B)     920 years
5 200 - 4 200 BC Fayum A 1 000 years
4 800 - 4 200 BC Merimde 600 years
4 600 - 4 400 BC El Omari 200 years
4 400 - 4 000 BC Badarian 400 years
4 000 - 3 300 BC Maadi 700 years
4 000 - 3 500 BC Naqada I 500 years
3 500 - 3 200 BC Naqada II 300 years
3 200 - 3 100 BC Naqada III 100 years
3 100 - 2 670 BC Early Dynastic 586 years
2 670 - 2 181 BC Old Kingdom 505 years
2 181 - 2 025 BC First Intermediate Period 156 years
2 025 - 1 700 BC Middle Kingdom 325 years
1 700 - 1 550 BC Second Intermediate Period 150 years
1 550 - 1 077 BC New Kingdom 473 years
1 077 - 664 BC Third Intermediate Period 413 years
664 - 525 BC Late Period 139 years
525 - 404 BC First Persian Period 121 years
404 - 343 BC Late Dynastic Period 61 years
343 - 332 BC Second Persian Period 11 years
332 - 305 BC Macedonian Period 27 years
305 - 30 BC Ptolemaic Period 275 years
30 BC - 395 AD Roman Period 425 years
395 AD - 640 AD Byzantine Period 245 years
640 AD - 1517 AD Islamic Period 877 years
1517 AD - 1867 AD Ottoman Period
(French Occupation 1798-1801)
350 years
1867 AD - 1914 AD Khedival Period 47 years
1914 AD - 1922 AD Sultanate under Hussein Kamel,
as a British Protectorate
8 years
1922 AD - 1953 AD Monarchy 31 years
1953 AD - Present Day Republic  


Table of dates for the history of Egypt, adapted from various sources.



First to Twentieth Dynasties
Date Dynasty Period Duration
(years)
3 100 - 2 890 BC First Dynasty Archaic/Early Dynastic Period 214
2 890 - 2 670 BC Second Dynasty Archaic/Early Dynastic Period 220
2 670 - 2 613 BC Third Dynasty Old Kingdom 57
2 613 - 2 494 BC Fourth Dynasty Old Kingdom - Golden Age 119
2 494 - 2 345 BC Fifth Dynasty Old Kingdom 149
2 345 - 2 181 BC Sixth Dynasty Old Kingdom 164
2 181 - 2 160 BC Seventh and Eighth Dynasties First Intermediate Period 21
2 160 - 2 025 BC Ninth and Tenth Dynasties First Intermediate Period 135
2 025 - 1 991 BC Eleventh Dynasty Middle Kingdom 34
1 991 - 1 802 BC Twelfth Dynasty Middle Kingdom 189
1 802 - 1 649 BC Thirteenth Dynasty
From Memphis, over Middle and Upper Egypt
Middle Kingdom 153
1 805 - 1 650 BC Fourteenth Dynasty
From Avaris, Nile Delta, over Lower Egypt
Second Intermediate Period 155
1 650 - 1 550 BC Fifteenth Dynasty
First Hyksos dynasty, ruled from Avaris,
without control of the entire land
Second Intermediate Period 100
1 649 - 1 582 BC Sixteenth Dynasty
Ruled the Theban region in Upper Egypt
The Hyksos ruled the delta
The Kingdom of Kush ruled Upper Egypt
Second Intermediate Period 67
1 580 - 1 550 BC Seventeenth Dynasty
Ruled Thebes, Hyksos ruled the delta
Second Intermediate Period / New Kingdom 30
1 543 - 1 292 BC Eighteenth Dynasty
Egypt reaches the peak of its power
New Kingdom 251
1 292 - 1 187 BC Nineteenth Dynasty
Conquests in Canaan
New Kingdom 105
1 187 - 1 077 BC Twentieth Dynasty End of the New Kingdom 110


Table of dates for the First to Twentieth Dynasties, from various sources, mostly via Wikipedia


Early Egypt timeline

Timeline for early Egypt, from 11 000 BC to 2 500 BC.

Photo: Poster, British Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Rephotography: Don Hitchcock 2015



The First Dynasty

The First Dynasty of ancient Egypt covers the first series of Egyptian kings to rule over a unified Egypt. It immediately follows the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, possibly by Narmer, also known as Menes, and marks the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period, a time at which power was centred at Thinis.

The date of this period falls within the early Bronze Age. In a 2013 study based on radiocarbon dates, the beginning of the First Dynasty - the accession of Hor-Aha - was placed close to 3 100 BC.


First Dynasty
Name Dates (uncertain, gaps exist, some overlap)
Narmer/Menes circa 32nd century
Hor-Aha starting 3 080 ± 30 BC
Djer  3 073 BC – 3 036 BC
Djet  3 008 BC – 2 975 BC
Merneith (mother of Den)  2 946 BC – 2 916 BC
Den  2 975 BC – 2 935 BC – 2 911 BC or  2 928 BC – 2 911 BC
Anedjib  2 916 BC – 2 896 BC
Semerkhet  2 912 BC – 2 891 BC
Qa'a (Kaa)  2 906 BC – 2 890 BC


Table of First Dynasty Rulers, adapted from Wikipedia


first dynasty tomb arrangement





Cemetery B, Umm el-Qa'ab. Tombs of the pharaohs of the first and second dynasty of Egypt.

Photo: http://www.wikiwand.com/hr/Merneit
Text: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Merneith




Early Dynastic temples

First - Second Dynasty

3 100 - 2 670 BC


Temples in the Early Dynastic period seem to have been small places, accessible to all. There, people asked the gods for help, worshipped, and made gifts. Items they left ranged from interesting natural pebbles, to ornate palettes provided by kings. Because the offerings were carefully buried during rebuilding, deposits have been found at many sites. The objects on display are mainly from Abydos, and show the range of items used and donated in temples at this time.

Text above: Poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Burial in the First Dynasty

3 100 - 2 890 BC

First Dynasty kings were buried in large cedar shrines. Those of their subjects with sufficient means had small boxes made of native wood with just enough room to fit their contracted bodies. Most boxes were plain, like the one displayed here, but some were decorated to emulate shrines and became the prototypes for later coffins.

Grave goods now expressed status by their quantity, rather than their quality. In rich tombs numerous storage chambers were added both above and below ground to hold them all, The objects shown here are typical of the burial of a relatively wealthy person in the First Dynasty.

First Dynasty tomb
This is Walter Emery's reconstruction of the burial chamber of Saqqara 3503, a First Dynasty tomb of the highest elite. It may very well be a royal tomb belonging to Mer-Neith, who may have been the consort of Djer and could have even ruled Egypt for a short time. In this tomb, the substructure pit measures 1425 cm by 450 cm and was divided into five chambers. Again, the central one was the burial chamber, which measured 480 cm by 350 cm in size. When discovered, it contained fragments of a wooden sarcophagus and on its base was found a few human bones. Old (gold?) foil remains were found scattered about the chamber. The burial chamber also held the remains of a funerary meal, pottery vessels near the walls, traces of wooden and basketwork chests, and the fragments of wooden canopy poles.

The superstructure of this tomb contained nine niches on the longer side and three on the short ones, some of them still retaining traces of paint. Inside there were 21 magazines that were well preserved but plundered, though some were collapsed or had been set on fire soon after being plundered. Many of the stone vessels found in the tomb have been dated to the reign of Djer, and at least two seal impressions were found that alternated the serekh of Djer and a serekh-like device containing the name of Mer-Neith. This device was surmounted by a Neith standard rather than that of Horus.


This tomb was surrounded by an enclosure wall, and twenty to twenty-two subsidiary burials. Within the subsidiary burials, some boat models were found, and on the occupant of one was a copper blade that had apparently been strapped to the individual's ankle. Another subsidiary burial contained a wooden box that may have contained some sort of copper tool, perhaps for surgery. On the north side, a brickwork casing for a funerary boat was discovered beyond the subsidiary burials. Note that the boat containment was entirely above ground, rather than dug into a pit. The earliest burials of nobles can be traced back to the First Dynasty, at the north side of the Saqqara plateau. During this time, the royal burial ground was at Abydos. The first royal burials at Saqqara, comprising underground galleries, date to the Second Dynasty.

Photo: Poster, British Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society, London
Rephotography: Don Hitchcock 2015
Text: poster at the Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Additional text: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/firstdynastysaqqara.htm




First Dynasty saqqara plan
First Dynasty tombs at Saqqara

Photo: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/firstdynastysaqqara.htm




Early Egypt
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery in Room 64 of the British Museum illustrates the beginnings of ancient Egyptian civilisation among nomads in the Sahara desert and the distinctive agricultural communities along the Nile.

By 3100 BC these cultures merged, forming the basis for the world's earliest unified state. Unification brought rapid social and technological advances, leading to the creation of the monumental pyramid tombs in the Old Kingdom, 500 years later.

Photo: Poster, British Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Rephotography: Don Hitchcock 2015
Text: poster at the Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Early Egypt map






Map of the major sites and places in Early Egypt.

Photo: Poster, British Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Rephotography: Don Hitchcock 2015
Text: poster at the Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




The First Dynasty

3 100 2 890 BC


For the ancient Egyptians, human history began with the First Dynasty. This series of eight kings from Abydos ruled over a unified country. Much of what we know about them comes from their tombs at Abydos. These were situated in the desert near a wadi (valley) believed to give direct access to the afterlife.

Large mud brick enclosures at the desert's edge, about a mile away, served as funerary temples where rituals were enacted. These early kings ruled an increasingly urban society that was socially divided and spread over a large geographical area. Using a mixture of traditional and new ideology, effective management and brute force, they forged the world's first nation state. Their achievements in art, architecture, administration and religious doctrine formed the foundation for the future development of Egyptian civilisation.



label
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

The Kings of the First Dynasty

Seal of the Abydos royal necropolis listing the kings of the First Dynasty, courtesy of the German Archaeological Institute Cairo.

Photo: from the card at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Narmer: Egypt's first king

First Dynasty
3100 BC


Narmer inaugurated Egypt's First Dynasty by winning a battle in the western Delta and fully unifying the country.

Recording this victory on his magnificent palette, shown below, Naimer declared his control over all of Egypt by wearing the crowns of both Upper and Lower Egypt.

Then, turning his attention to Canaan, he made further conquests. Narmer's achievement in unifying the two lands brought prosperity to his subjects, and promoted the first great flowering of Egyptian civilisation.

Narmer Palette
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

The Narmer Palette

Cast of the palette of Narmer

Wearing Upper Egypt's White Crown, Narmer smites a ruler from the west Delta, sealing the final victory that unified Egypt. Narmer's patron god, Horus, presents him with a personification of the Delta lands, affirming his rule over the entire country.

This is a cast of the original which is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

It is a plaster cast in two halves of a ceremonial palette. The original, executed in grey mudstone, was discovered by Quibell in 1894 in Kom el-Ahmar (Hierokonpolis). The decoration shows mythological and real animals.


Photo: Public Domain public domain tag

Permission: This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less. This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights. Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Catalog: First Dynasty, EA 35715




Narmer Palette

Above, a detail from the palette's flip side, shown in full above, shows Narmer wearing Lower Egypt's Red Crown in a procession to view decapitated prisoners at Buto, in the western Delta.

Note the name of Narmer is shown as a catfish, his icon, along with the chisel, his other icon.

Photo: Public Domain public domain tag
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0



jar seal jar seal
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Jar sealing of Narmer

The name of Narmer, written as a catfish within a serekh (royal name box), has been impressed with a large cylinder seal several times onto this conical jar lid.

The chisel, the second element of Narmer's name and perhaps originally a title, appears as a decorative band between the two rows. The jar probably held wine, and three deep horizontal marks on one side of the lid may be an indication of its quality.

A conical jar-seal of brown clay with a red pottery lid adhering to the underside. The seal bears four impressed inscriptions, one of which is not very visible.


Four impressions, three of which show the repeated name of Narmer, whilst the fourth depicts a lion crouching before a shrine. The latter impression is very worn and only small parts can be distinguished. The lion motif is common on the Early Dynastic mud seal impressions.

Height 185 mm, width 230 mm.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Umm el-Qaab (Abydos), cemetery B, EA35522
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (left): Card at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




tags
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Narmer's ivory inlays and ebony label

Narmer was proud of his accomplishments and recorded them on many objects. Ivory inlays for a box depict bound prisoners and foreigners bearing tribute jars from Canaan. The same oil jar appears on the fragmentary ebony label. Above it is a representation of a walled town, which some believe housed Canaanite prisoners captured during Narmer's military campaigns.


tags

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Tomb of Narmer, EA35514, EA35515, EA35519
Photo (above): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (left): Card showing a line drawing of the ebony label, at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




stone jar fragment
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Narmer's stone jar fragment and ivory piece

Under Narmer the writing of the king's name became an art form. Depending on the available space, Narmer's name could be written with the catfish alone, as on the ivory carving, or in more detail with a catfish and a chisel, as on the jar fragment and his palette.

EA55587: Fragment of an ivory plaque with the name of Nar(mer) incised on one side. The inscription is well preserved, although the sides and back of the fragment are broken.

Length: 35 mm, width 18 mm.


EA32640: Part of a thick-walled cylinder jar of calcite. Bears the serekh of Narmer in low relief on the exterior surface. The bottom of the inscription is missing and the stone has been darkened by burning.

Length 90 mm, width 95 mm.

Catalog: Naqada, Tomb of Neith-hotep, First Dynasty. EA55587
Abydos, Tomb of Djet, First Dynasty, EA32640
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




jar seal jar seal
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Narmer's stone jar fragment and ivory piece

Part of a jar-seal of dark grey clay, bearing the repeated impression of the name of Aḥa, together with two signs. The clay is slightly cracked but the inscribed surface is well-preserved.

Length 85 mm, width 70 mm.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, tomb B19, EA35520
Photo (left): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




wooden coffin
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Wooden coffin of a commoner

This coffin contains the skeleton of a young woman, originally in a tightly flexed position. Traces of linen are probably remnants of a shroud and not wrappings. In the First Dynasty, the practice of wrapping the body in linen strips was reserved for kings and the highest elite.

It is from Tarkhan, an Ancient Egyptian necropolis, located around 50 km south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Tarkhan 1955, EA52888
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9401textdrillingsm
Naqada III - First Dynasty (onwards): 3 200 BC and later

Stone vessels manufacture

Armies of workers must have been needed to extract and transport the amount of stone used during the first two dynasties. Harder still was turning the stone block into a highly polished jar or bowl fit for a king. This job required special tools and training.

In recognition of this skill, the drill for stone vessels became the hieroglyph for the word 'craft worker'. This was composed of a stout wooden shaft, weighed down by stones held in nets. At the top was a crank for turning, at the bottom a fork for attaching specific drill bits for different tasks.

Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Card, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9402drilledjarsm
First Dynasty (?): 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Drilled Jar

Small pear-shaped limestone jar with flat base and narrow mouth, the drilling of the interior has only just begun.

In order to create a stone vessel, a stone block was first hammered and chiselled into a vessel shape. The interior was then bored out. For this a hollow copper tube was attached to the drill.

Using the crank to move the copper bit back and forth, a circular cutting was made in the centre with the aid of abrasive sand.

Height 56 mm, diameter 60 mm (max), 30 mm (min).

Catalog: First Dynasty (?), EA68940
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9402drillcoressm
First Dynasty (?): 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Drill cores

EA37258: Calcite drill-core, tapering.

Height 53 mm, diameter 10 mm.


EA68943: Section of a calcite drill-core, tapering towards one end.

Height 66 mm, diameter 10 mm.<


EA68944: Section of a calcite drill-core, tapering towards one end.

Height 59 mm, diameter 9 mm.

Catalog: First Dynasty (?), EA37258, EA68943, EA68944
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9402flintscrapersmallersm
Predynastic (before 3 100 BC, probably Naqada III, 3 200 - 3 100 BC)

Flint scraper

Crescent-shaped chert tool, used for the boring out of stone vessels.

Length 55 mm, width 44 mm, thickness 22 mm.

( note that although this is labelled as Predynastic by the BM catalog, it was probably Late Predynastic, since the skills and the required organisation of labour in Northern Egypt to make stone jars were not fully developed until the Naqada Period, although there are even a few examples from the Badarian Period - Don )


Catalog: Predynastic, Abydos, EA37266
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9402doublesidedfigure8drillbitsm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Figure-of-eight drill bit

Figure-of-eight drill bits of quartzite were needed for drilling harder stone and hollowing out the inside of stone vessels. Drilling with these bits left tell-tale grooves on the vessel walls and on the drill itself. Inhaling the fine dust produced during this process must have shortened many lives.

Drill-bit of hard crystalline sandstone with concave depressions on the sides for attachment to the shaft of the drill. Bears concentric circular marks from use, on both top and bottom, showing that the bit was used both ways up.

Length 80 mm, thickness 24 mm.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Temple of Osiris, EA37278
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Stone Jar
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

First Dynasty stone vessels

Stone Jar

Stone vessels became an important part of burial furnishing during the First Dynasty The strength and durability of stone containers lent permanence to the provisions provided for the tomb owner's afterlife. Bowls and jars carved from easily worked travertine and greywacke were widely available. Exotic varieties were reserved for royalty and the high elite.

Cylinder jar of calcite (travertine) with slightly concave sides and a rounded rim, below which there is a raised ridge of decoration. Interior completely hollowed. Restored from fragments.

Height 342 mm, diameter 164 mm (rim), 139 mm (base), weight 4250 grams.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Akhmim, EA20934
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Stone Jar
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Stone Jar

Tubular vase of calcite with thin lug-handles on the sides. The lip is rounded, below which the sides are concave down to the level of the handles, then they taper straight down to the flat base.

Height 210 mm, diameter 94 mm (rim), 55 mm (base).

Catalog: First Dynasty, EA32159
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Stone vessels
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Stone Jar

EA35308: Large bowl of grey schist with a flat base and incurving rim. The base is countersunk on the interior. The side of the bowl bears two small areas which have been greatly scratched, no doubt deliberately, perhaps in order to remove an incised inscription. Restored from fragments.

( note that the stone used for this bowl looks very much more like fossiliferous limestone than schist. See the white cross sections of what are likely to be brachiopods in a dark limestone matrix - Don )

Height 135 mm, diameter 350 mm (rim), 98 mm (base), weight 2990 grams.


EA36359: Bowl of white limestone with darker veining, with a flat base and convex sides. The rim is plain and the interior of the base is smoothly rounded.

Height 88 mm, diameter 129 mm (rim), 40 mm (base)

Height 210 mm, diameter 94 mm (rim), 55 mm (base).

Catalog: First Dynasty, EA35308, EA36359
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




pots
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Pottery and palette

In contrast to earlier times, pottery and palettes in the First Dynasty were drab and utilitarian.

Cylindrical vessels for fats and oils and tall storage jars for food and drink were common within burials.

The small bowls were for serving or could be used as lids. Most of these objects come from one tomb at Mostagedda.


Catalog:
Hu H101, B407, First Dynasty, EA 30904, 30879
Mahasna H121, First Dynasty, EA 49050
Abydos, First Dynasty, EA 49300-1
Mostagedda 1726, First Dynasty, EA 56571, 56588-9, 62433, 62402
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




jar seal
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Aha's faience jar fragment

Narmer's successor was Aha, the 'Fighter', written with a mace and shield. Peace and prosperity followed Narmer's unification of the country, allowing Aha to develop the political capital at Memphis, near modern day Cairo. From here the two lands of Egypt were more efficiently administered, while the religious capital remained at Abydos.

The image shows part of the side of a large globular vase of glazed composition, consisting of three joined fragments. A small portion of the neck of the vessel is preserved at the top edge. On the exterior is the serekh of Aḥa, inlaid in a darker glaze than that of the rest of the surface. The present colour of the inscription is a dull brownish yellow, and the background glaze is white, but the original colours were probably dark brown or black for the inscription and green for the rest of the vase. The edges of the fragment are very worn and the surface is rather friable.


In order to keep the gods happy and ensure the state of 'maat' (roughly speaking, universal order), Egypt's ancient kings gave gifts to deities at their temples or shrines. On the walls of every temple are depictions of pharaohs before the gods offering wine, cloth, or small statues. The vase's find spot in a deposit of votive offerings indicates that its original purpose was as a gift to the temple at Abydos.

From the shape of the fragment we can tell that it was originally part of a large globular vase with a neck. Unfortunately no portion of its rim survived. At this early date virtually all objects made from glazed composition were small - such as beads, tiles, and statuettes - so that a glazed composition piece of this scale is unexpected and must have been rare. It is thus not surprising to find that the jar bears a king's name, making it a royal donation, probably to Khentiamentiu, the local deity.

Length 140 mm, width 114 mm.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Osiris Temple, close to Chamber M69, EA38010
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




ivory box
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Aha's ivory box fragment

Aha built a large tomb complex for himself and his wives at Abydos. The name of one wife, Bener-ib meaning 'sweet heart', appears beside that of the king on this ivory box fragment.

His tomb complex also included graves for retainers (all young men) and one for seven lions possibly kept as pets.


A fragment of hippopotamus ivory, probably part of a box, bearing an incised inscription on one side giving the serekh of Aḥa and the name Ima-ib or Bener-ib. There are two holes through the fragment for fixing, as well as two holes in the bottom edge and one in each side, probably for dowels. The surface of the ivory is slightly cracked and the top right-hand corner is chipped.

Length 66 mm, width 31 mm, thickness 7 mm.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, cemetery B, Tomb of Aha, EA35513
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




ivory box
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Palette with ivory cover

This cosmetic palette set originally belonged to Aha's mother, Narmer's wife, Neith-hotep. Her name is etched on the cover's edge with her chief title as queen 'She who unites the two lords'.

Probably a royal gift, it was found with a female retainer buried within the tomb complex of King Djer, Neith-hotep's grandson.


EA35511: Rectangular mudstone palette: restored from two fragments, with a small amount lost from the edges of the break. One side is stained a dark violet colour from use. The surfaces have been carefully smoothed and the edges are rounded.

Length 89 mm, width 43 mm, thickness 8 mm.

This object bears an excavator's mark which was originally written as O .2 but altered to O .3. The same confusion applies to the ivory cover found with this palette, numbered 1901,1012.12. This type of well-finished rectangular palette is typical of the First Dynasty.

Catalog: Umm el-Qaab (Abydos), Tomb of Djer, tomb O .2 or O .3 subsidiary burial, EA35511


ivory box
EA35512: Rectangular cover for a mudstone palette, recessed on the underside. The top is very slightly convex and has a handle, now broken, in the approximate centre. On one end of the cover there is an incised inscription of Neitḥotep. Good condition.

Length 86 mm, width 40 mm, thickness 8 mm.
( note that I would have expected these dimensions to be reversed, that is that the cover would be longer and wider than the palette, particularly since the cover is recessed to accept the palette - Don )


Catalog: Umm el-Qaab (Abydos), Tomb of Djer, tomb O. 2 or O .3 subsidiary burial, EA35512
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9338tombofkingdjersm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Tomb of King Djer surrounded by retainer burials.


Photo: Courtesy of the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Poster, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




The King's retainers

First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

When a First Dynasty king died he took with him not only all the luxuries needed for a palace in the afterlife, but also the people to run it. Wives, officials, bodyguards and servants were interred around his tomb and funerary temple in long rows of connecting compartments, many sharing a common roof. This architecture, and the fact that most were adolescents or young adults, shows their deaths were not natural. Their sacrifice guaranteed the retainers their privileged positions in the afterlife, reaffirming the king's power for eternity.




img_9337stelessm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Tombstones of retainers


Selected individuals were honoured with tombstones, or stelae, to mark their burial place. The stelae here were made for lai Neith and Sesher-ka, female members of the court of King Djer. More than 300 retainers surrounded Djer's tomb. Only 73 had tombstones, and 60 of these bear feminine names. This indicates the importance of women at court. Whether they were wives, priestesses or servants remains uncertain.

EA35612 (at back): Limestone stela, rough with a rounded top, chipped at the edges and extensively pitted by weathering. The stela bears an inscription in low relief giving a name which may be intended to read Iaineit, followed by a figure of a seated woman.
Height 355 mm, width 260 mm.

EA35613 (at front): Limestone stela, roughly-shaped stela of poor-quality limestone, rounded at the top and extensively pitted by weathering. The stela bears an inscription in low relief giving the name Sesherka below which is a figure of a seated woman.
Height 385 mm, width 250 mm.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, around Tomb of Djer, EA35612, EA35613
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9340copperaxe
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Copper Axe


Axes of copper were status symbols in the First Dynasty. Several were found with retainers buried around the king's funerary temples, who may have served as special guards. On this axe an inscription includes a drawing of an elephant, probably giving the name of the owner, but the reading is uncertain.

Broad rectangular axe-head with concave butt and gently convex sides, which turn out slightly at the corners of the cutting edge. As one of the sides is more convex and shorter than the other, the cutting end, which is moderately convex, is a little lop-sided. The blade has been cleaned since its acquisition; previously it was thickly corroded on one face, where the surface is now pitted. The same face has a number of fine cracks, which are probably the result of the process of manufacture. Except for small surface imperfections and a gash on one side, the other face is in excellent condition.

Marks of the original hammering are plainly visible on the cutting edge, which is quite sharp and shows distinct signs of wear. The better-preserved face of the axe bears a motif or inscription in hieroglyphs, executed in a punched pointille technique, consisting of three separate elements.

Length 153 mm, width 108 mm, thickness 11 mm, weight 1243 grams.


Catalog: Abydos, First Dynasty, EA30065
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9341toolssm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Copper tools buried with a retainer of Djer

Skilled retainers accompanied the king in the afterlife to provide all the services required. One of Djer's retainers was probably a craftsman, since he was buried with a set of copper tools. These include two chisels and an adze, used in carpentry, and a long pointed tool possible for cutting leather. One chisel bears the owner's name, 'Hem', meaning 'servant'.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Djer, retainer burial O 31, First Dynasty, EA67564 - EA67567
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9319ea35530sm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Furniture leg from King Djer's tomb

Beds, stools and boxes with legs in the shape of bulls' feet were home furnishings for the king and the elite. The power of the bull conferred protection on the user. High quality carving marks this ivory leg as a product of the royal workshops. It was probably attached to a chest or coffer. Such fragments are all that remain of once rich funerary equipment in the royal tombs.

A hippopotamus ivory leg in the form of a bull's foot, standing on a cylindrical, grooved pedestal. The detail of the carving is very good, the veins being depicted and the surface carefully modelled. At the back of the upper surface are the remains of a small tenon, pierced by a single hole for attachment. The top of this tenon is broken but the remainder of the object is in a good state of preservation.

Height 76 mm, width 52 mm (top).


Catalog: Abydos, First Dynasty, Tomb of Djer, EA35530
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9315boardgamesm img_9313gamepiecessm


img_9314gamesillustrationsm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Board for the snake game.


Above left, the board for the snake game, and some of the pieces used.

The painting at left is of the playing pieces for the snake game depicted in the tomb of Hesy-ra, Saqqara, Third Dynasty.

Games were popular with the king and his court. This limestone board, carved in the shape of a coiled serpent, was for playing mehen, the snake game.


Two teams, with up to six players, raced marbles around the snake from tail to head and back again. From the tomb painting shown at the left, we know the game also involved ivory figurines of lions. Above right, these are probably some of the lion shaped pieces used in the game.

Many were found with retainers buried near the king, and might mark their owners as favoured gaming partners.

Playing mehen was not merely entertainment: victory at the game symbolised success in the afterlife.

Catalog: Possibly Abydos, Early Dynastic, EA66216
First Dynasty, EA65834, EA65835, EA66851, EA66852, EA30798, EA64093
Abydos, Merneith Enclosure, retainer burial S548, First Dynasty, EA52920
Abydos, Tomb of Djer, retainer burial O 29, First Dynasty, EA35529
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9320inlayssm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Furniture inlays from the royal tombs.

Inlays of ivory were originally attached to wooden chests or other objects of furniture with resin or small gold or copper nails. Incised geometric patterns, filled with black paste, imitate basketry.

Pieces shaped like bundled reeds adorned the edges of boxes or stools.


EA32652: A piece of ivory inlay decorated on the face with vertical ribbing, broken off at the base. The back is cut into a dovetail tenon for secure fixing. One edge is rebated so that the decorated face extends beyond the rear of the tile, and the opposite edge is cut in the reverse manner, with the carved face inset, probably to allow a series of such pieces to be fitted together with overlapped joints. Length 45 mm, width 42 mm, thickness 10 mm. First Dynasty, Tomb of Den.

EA32654: A small piece of ivory inlay: decorated with deeply incised grooves running diagonally across the face to form a diamond pattern. Traces of dark pigment remain in the grooves. At one end there is a circular hole, bored through the strip. The reverse side is flat and smooth. Good condition, broken off at each end. Length 57 mm, width 20 mm, diameter of hole 3 mm. First Dynasty, Tomb of Den

EA32655: Rectangular fragment of ivory inlay, broken at each end, decorated with a pattern of incised diagonal lines. The pattern forms a series of diamond-shaped lozenges along the length of the piece, each bounded by three parallel lines and having a circular depression in the centre. Many of the grooves are filled with dark pigment. Length 59 mm, width 17 mm. First Dynasty, Tomb of Den

EA32657: Rectangular piece of ivory inlay, unbroken, decorated with incised lines in a diamond pattern. The piece is slightly curved and is pierced by a single hole, in the middle of the width. The edges and back are flat and smooth. Good condition. Length 24 mm, width 9 mm, diameter of hole 2 mm. First Dynasty, Tomb of Den

EA32661: Rectangular fragment of ivory inlay decorated with deeply incised lines running vertically and diagonally across the face. One end is broken away but the other end is preserved and is bevelled for inlaying. The grooves on the face still contain a small amount of dark pigment. First Dynasty, Tomb of Anedjib, length 56 mm, width 23 mm.

EA32663: Rectangular strip of ivory inlay, broken off at one end, decorated with vertical incised lines. The strip is pierced by two holes, 3 mm in diameter, at an interval of 35 mm. The reverse side is flat and smooth. Length 80 mm, width 16 mm. First Dynasty, Tomb of Anedjib

Note that some of these numbers do not appear in the catalog:

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Den, First Dynasty, EA32552, EA32654, EA32655, EA32657
Abydos, Tomb of Anedjh, First Dynasty, EA32561, EA32562, EA32563
Abydos, Tomb of Queen Merneith, First Dynasty, EA32549
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9320towersm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Label for gaming pieces.

Gaming pieces in the shape of towers provide important information about architecture at this time. This ebony label was probably attached to a box containing such tower shaped playing pieces, possibly for use in the board game, Senet.

Rectangular ebony label, pierced in the top right-hand corner. The front surface is incised with a design showing a tower with a crenellated top, almost certainly a representation of a game-piece, with faint traces of black paint in the outlines and red paint in the carving of the internal details. The top right-hand corner of the label has been broken and repaired.

Length 41 mm, width 48 mm.


Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Tomb of Djer, EA35525
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9321cylindersm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Cylinder

Almost all of the furnishings from the royal tombs were broken and burnt by robbers. This cylindrical jar is one of the few stone vessels to survive in one piece. Although burnt, the contents are still intact. It was found beneath a stairway in the tomb of Djer. Nearby, the wrapped arm with bracelets, illustrated elsewhere, was also discovered.

Cylinder, calcite jar, with concave sides and a rounded rim, below which there is a band of cord decoration. The entire jar has been blackened by fire and it is filled to the top with the charred remains of the original contents.

Height 140 mm, diameter 84 mm (base), 93 mm (rim)

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Djer, First Dynasty, EA35546
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9323bead
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Ivory bead from a bracelet

Shaped like a falcon-topped serekh, the box for the king's name, this bead came from the tomb of King Djer. In the same tomb, a bracelet with identical beads made of turquoise and gold was found still in place on a linen wrapped arm, shown below. Whether it was the arm of the king or one of his queens is uncertain.

An ivory or bone bead in the form of a serekh, with the Horus falcon on the top, probably intended for use in a bracelet. The panels of the façade and the dots above are carved in sunken relief. The bead is pierced horizontally by two holes. The ivory is well preserved, although the object has been restored from three fragments, and the face of the hawk is missing.


A serekh was normally used as a royal crest, accentuating and honouring the name of the pharaoh. Its use can be dated back as early as the Gerzeh culture, circa 3 400 BC. The hieroglyphs forming the king's name were placed inside a rectangular extension atop the serekh, which represented the royal courtyard. Additionally, the falcon of the god Horus, or in a few cases the Set animal, topped the serekh, showing the celestial patron of the named king.

Height 16 mm, width 8 mm.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Djer, First Dynasty, EA35528
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Additional text: Wikipedia




falcon falcon


falcon falcon


falcon falcon


falcon
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Falcon figures as staff heads

Circa 3 100 - 3 000 BC.

Catalog: Alabaster, Serpentinite, ÄS 7174, ÄS 7175, ÄS 7184
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




jar
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Vessel with a frieze of birds, as well as depictions of bulls' heads and ships, symbolising the whole of the world.

Circa 3 000 BC.

Catalog: Alabaster, ÄS 7162
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




img_9290arrowheads
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Ivory and ebony arrowheads

As supreme hunter and warrior, the king maintained cosmic order. Befitting this role his arrows were made of precious ivory and exotic ebony. Fitted into reed shafts, these aerodynamic arrows did not need feathers to stabilise them. Red ochre applied to the tips of some may represent poison or the blood of the victim, magically guaranteeing victory.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Djer, First Dynasty, EA35535 - EA35542
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9289armjewellerysm

First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Arm with jewellery


Colourised black and white photograph of an arm from Djer's tomb, courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society, London, from a poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

There is an intriguing story to this photograph, which is all that now remains of the arm wrapped in linen, although the beads are preserved in the Cairo Museum.

The following is an extract from Cowie and Johnson (2001):

One early idea to preserve and mummify the body of the deceased was to wrap the body in cloth to protect it from the atmosphere and to coat the cloth with resin, which had two functions: as it dried it stiffened around the body, preserving its shape, and it also became airtight, like a shell.

One of the earliest attempts at mummification discovered to date was a First Dynasty King, discovered by Flinders Petrie at Abydos, some 150 km north of Thebes. Abydos was a sacred city, especially dedicated to the cult of Osiris. Petrie, with an assistant Mace, re-excavated the poorly performed first excavation of the site, at the tomb of King Zer (Djer), beginning in 1899.


Four workmen found a wrapped arm inside a small hole in the wall of the tomb, upon which they could see a gold bead, and it was brought to Mace and Petrie. When it was unwrapped, they found four bracelets of gold and faience.

Petrie records that when the arm, the oldest mummified piece known, and its marvellously fine tissue of linen, were delivered to what is now the Cairo Museum, the assistant curator, Brugsch, a German born Egyptologist, only cared for display, so from one bracelet he cut away the half that was of plaited gold wire, and threw away the arm and the linen.

Petrie commented 'A museum is a dangerous place.'

braceletsdjersm
The bracelets as they appear now, in the Cairo Museum.

Photo: http://www.touregypt.net/museum/braceletpage2.htm




gazelle gazelle


gazelle
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Handle of a vessel in the shape of a reclining gazelle

Circa 2 950 BC.

Catalog: Alabaster, Eastern Delta, ÄS 4200
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München, Wikipedia




frog
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Frog in Rock Crystal

Circa 2 950 BC.

Catalog: Rock Crystal, ÄS 5567
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




frog
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Small pot in the form of a frog.

Circa 2 950 BC.

Catalog: Either alabaster or feldspar, ÄS 1588 or ÄS 1588
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




img_9324goldbuttonandlidsm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Gold button and gold jar lid

The king had the monopoly on gold for his personal use and as gifts and payment. Gold was generally hammered into shape from sheets, as shown by this jar lid. The decoration was then punched into the soft metal. Once plentiful in the royal tombs, little gold survived the plundering. The small rounded knob of thin gold may have been used to decorate clothing or a shroud.

EA35553: A small rounded knob of thin gold, with a tubular stem of the same material projecting 2 mm from the back. This stem is pierced on each side to allow for attachment. Length 9 mm, diameter 12 mm.

EA32152b: Gold lid, diameter 45 mm. This lid of sheet gold, decorated with punch marks, was acquired with the limestone vessel below. However it is not known whether the lid and vase originally belonged together, especially as the lid is a poor fit.


Catalog: Gold button, Abydos, Tomb of Den, First Dynasty, EA35553
Gold lid, First - Second Dynasty, EA32152b
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9328jarswithgoldsm
First - Second Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 670 BC

Stone Jars decorated with gold

Gold was applied to the rims and handles to heighten the beauty of stone vessels from Predynastic times into the Second Dynasty. Such jars were probably common in the royal tombs. The handles of the squat jars shown here have sheets of gold with cut out designs. Gilded copper wire, in the handle of one vase, was used to hang or carry it.


EA32152a: Barrel-shaped vase of grey and white striped limestone, with a flat base and two small tubular handles. The angular rim has been plated with gold, one strip of the metal being folded over the lip and another wrapped around the neck. A lid of sheet gold, decorated with punch marks, shown above, was acquired with the vessel, but it is not known whether the lid and vase originally belonged together, especially as the lid is a poor fit.

Height 103 mm, diameter 59 mm (max), diameter 45 mm (max, lid), diameter 38 mm (rim), diameter 30 mm (base).

Catalog: First Dynasty (?), EA32152a


porphyrygoldhandledpotsm Spheroidal vase of black and white andesite porphyry, with a rounded base and two tubular handles. The rim is thin, flat-topped and sharp on the outer edge. Both handles are covered with rectangular plates of thin gold, cut out into an openwork cross. The interior is well-hollowed.

Height 59 mm, diameter 60 mm (rim), diameter 86 mm (max).

Catalog: First - Second Dynasty, EA56843

Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




EA64653: Spheroidal vase of variegated limestone, with pink, white and black veining. The rim is flat-topped with a sharp outer edge and the interior is fairly well hollowed. On the shoulder of the vase are two tubular handles, both covered by rectangular gold plates with an openwork cross cut in the middle. The handles still contain loops of copper wire, covered with gold foil. The base was drilled right through for ease of hollowing, and would have been plugged by a separate piece of stone, now missing.

Height 45 mm, diameter 63 mm (max), diameter 46 mm (rim), diameter 26 mm (base)

The gold detail, and the colour and size of the vessel, suggest that it may well be identical with the vase described in the 'Macgregor Sale Catalogue' (1922), 145, no. 1094, second example. If this identification is correct then the provenance of the vase is known to be Abydos.

Condition good (lacks half of one suspension loop)

Catalog: Abydos, First - Second Dynasty, EA64653


EA20270: I can find no description of this online. It is barrel shaped, a smaller but similar version of EA32152a, and has gold sheet on its rim and two small tubular handles. It is well proportioned, and appears to be in veined red limestone.


Catalog: Possibly Abydos, Late Predynastic - First Dynasty, EA20270, EA32152a
Possibly Abydos, First - Second Dynasty, EA56843, EA64653
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9325malachitejar
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Malachite jar with gold handles

This jar was precious not only because of the gold on its handles, but also because of the material it is made of: malachite. Only one other example is known. It came from the tomb of Djer, making it likely that this example also comes from a royal tomb.

Vase of green malachite with a rounded, lenticular body and two small handles, both pierced vertically and covered with a rectangular plate of gold. The narrow mouth is surrounded by a rounded rim. The interior is moderately well hollowed. Rim chipped in places.

Height 56 mm, width 50 mm, thickness 36 mm, diameter 28 mm (rim)

Catalog: Probably Abydos, First Dynasty, EA36356
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9326sphericalpot
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Amazonite jar

Deep green ammonite was one of the ancient Egyptians' six most precious stones, on a par with turquoise and lapis lazuli. Enhancing its value, this jar originally had a gilded rim. The roughened area on the neck shows where a gold covering was once present.

Vase of green feldspar with a rounded, flattened body and a narrow neck. The rim was originally covered with gold, a band of unpolished stone shows the original position of the metal. Interior only partially hollowed, showing clear drill-marks.

Height 73 mm, width 70 mm, diameter 32 mm (rim)

Catalog: Abydos, Early First Dynasty, EA4711
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9327smallbasaltjarsm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Miniature basalt jar

An unpolished area just below the rim of this jar shows where gold leaf was once applied. Originally, gold also adorned the handles and was fastened to them with fine wire laced through small holes. Such a tiny jar may have had a ritual function or held valuable oil.

( The roughness was only partly because it was going to be covered by gold, would not therefore be seen, and a little time was saved by not polishing it. A more important reason was that the roughness allowed the resin or glue used under the gold sheet to have good adhesion to the article - Don )

Miniature basalt vase with a small flat base and rounded rim, with wavy ledge-handles on sides, each pierced vertically by two holes. The area just below the rim exhibits a band of unpolished stone where a strip of gold-plating has been removed.

Height 56 mm, width 33 mm, depth 29 mm.

Catalog: Abydos, Royal Tomb (?), Early First Dynasty, EA36336
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9329flintknife
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Flint knife

As chief priest to all of the gods, in theory the king prepared their daily offerings. Animal sacrifices were traditionally made with flint knives. The quality of the workmanship here shows the importance of this object to its royal owner.


( note that the British Museum Catalog is not nearly so sanguine about the quality of the knife as the card on the display was - Don )

Complete bifacial knife of brown flint, roughly flaked but not finally sharpened. The blade has a convex cutting edge and a slightly concave back, and is equipped with the usual style of hook-shaped handle. Very thick and clumsy compared with the best First Dynasty work.

Width 52 mm, length 164 mm, thickness 14 mm.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Semerkhet, First Dynasty, EA68718
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9331arrowheads
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Arrowheads of flint and rock crystal

Finely crafted stone arrowheads were mass produced in the First Dynasty royal workshops. Some were made from special stones like rock crystal. After more than 3 000 years of use, the skill needed to make these carefully flaked stone arrowheads was beginning to die out.

Kings showed respect for the ancestors by preserving this ancient tradition.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Narmer, First Dynasty, EA68750, EA68751, EA68752.
Abydos, Tomb of Djer, First Dynasty, EA68755, EA68757, EA68758.
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9332scrapers
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Double ended scrapers

It is unlikely that the king did menial tasks using flint tools in real life, but all eventualities were covered for the afterlife. These broad rectangular blades were once called razors, due to their similarity to later metal tools. Now they are considered to be all-purpose implements for slicing and scraping, and have been described as the 'Swiss Army knives' of their time.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Djer, First Dynasty, EA68760
Abydos, Tomb of Den, First Dynasty, EA68703
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Sed festival: ruling forever

First - Second Dynasty

3 100 - 2 670 BC


During the First Dynasty, the ideology and duties of kingship were gradually defined in royal titles, regalia and rituals. These established the way kings presented themselves for the next 3000 years. After the coronation, the most important ceremony was the Sed festival, when the king renewed his relationship with the gods. He did this by proving his physical and spiritual ability to rule. Initially a Sed festival was held when rejuvenation was needed, even in the afterlife. Later it was celebrated 30 years into the reign, like a modern jubilee.

ivory box ivory box
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Statuette of a king and a label of Den

This ivory statuette shows a king in a short, patterned robe, the special garment worn during the Sed festival. At the top of the ebony label, King Den wears this same robe, as he undertakes one of the festival's most important activities: demonstrating his vitality by running around markers representing Egypt's borders. He was then re-crowned in a special pavilion, his rule and claim to the land reaffirmed.

On the upper middle left we can see the outline of a flying bee at an angle, which signifies the King of the North of Egypt, a symbol first used in this context by Den. Later versions of the bee symbol were more detailed, and horizontally oriented.

Abydos, Osiris Temple, Late Predynastic (Naqada III - First Dynasty, EA37996
Abydos, Tomb of Den, First Dynasty, EA32650


Catalog: Umm el-Qaab (Abydos), Tomb of Djer, tomb O. 2 or O .3 subsidiary burial, EA35512
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9312densm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Label of Den

One of the king's principal duties was to defend and expand the borders of Egypt.

This ivory label, once tied to a pair of sandals, depicts King Den smiting a foreigner from the east. Rock carvings of Den near the turquoise mines in Sinai show the same scene, proving this label celebrates an actual military and mining expedition.

Demonstrations of strength were required before a Sed festival.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9317tombofden
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Tomb of King Den

Courtesy of the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo.

Photo: Poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




dentombplansm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Floor plan of the tomb of King Den at Abydos.

Photo and text: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/dentomb.htm




img_2375motherandchildsm img_2375motherandchildsm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Two figures of a woman with her child.

Circa 3 000 BC.

Elephant Ivory

Catalog: ÄM 14441, ÄM 17600

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




top of jar top of jar
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Signs on Jar

Older ways of communicating continued to be used even after the invention of the hieroglyphic script since few people could read it.

The marks on the left side of this fragment of a First Dynasty jar are part of a separate system that involved about 100 basic signs written in specific combinations. Archaeologists are still trying to decipher their exact meaning.


top of jar
Part of the shoulder and rim of a tall jar of light brown pottery, with a red slip on the exterior and black in the centre of the section. The outer surface bears an incised inscription of two signs.

( note that there is a very similar sign on the large intact wine jar with mud stopper in the image below - Don )

Length: 145 mm, width 200 mm

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Den, First Dynasty, EA32687
Photo (top left and right): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (bottom left): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9334winejarssm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Wine jars of Den

Wine from the royal vineyards was bottled for distribution and storage in large tapered pottery vessels. Like modern wine labels, the conical mud stoppers used to close them were covered with the impressions from cylinder seals, naming the place of manufacture and the person responsible.

The fragment above the large wine jars names King Semerkhet's vineyard, written as a sloping trellis with wine jars below. Thousands of such jars were found in the royal tombs at Abydos. In Den's tomb alone there were more than 1 000 examples, containing nearly 250 000 litres of wine.

( note that the two jars on the right of this image are late predynastic, from the Tomb U-j at Abydos, the tomb of Scorpion I, the first of two rulers of Upper Egypt during the Naqada III period.  - Don )


EA27737: Tall jar of dull red pottery from the Tomb of Den with traces of a pale brown wash. The sides expand from the mouth to the shoulder, then converge to a narrow rounded base. Below the rim there is a raised ridge, close to which there are two incised marks.

The jar is sealed with a conical clay stopper, which bears the remains of four impressed inscriptions. Only one impression is now reasonably clear, the other three having disappeared except for slight traces.

Height 1000 mm, diameter 254 mm (max), height 310 mm (seal alone) diameter 240 mm (base of seal)

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Semerkhet, First Dynasty, EA32670
Abydos, Tomb of Den, First Dynasty EA27736, EA27737, EA27741
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Tomb of King Den

Jars with distinctive red painted decoration were imported from the northern Levant and may have been made specifically for export to Egypt. They probably contained oils that were coveted by the Egyptian elite.

Such pottery is often called Abydos ware because it was found in the First Dynasty royal tombs before its original source was determined.

img_9336topsm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Zigzag pattern fragment.


Fragment of a vase of pale brown pottery with decoration on the exterior in red paint, partly faded to orange. The paint has been applied over a smooth brown slip. Good condition.

Length 74 mm, width 41 mm.


Although registered as coming from the tomb of Semerkhet, this sherd bears the excavation mark T, probably indicating their true provenance as the tomb of Den.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Tomb of Den, EA68686
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


img_9336middlesm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Bands and dots pattern fragment.


Fragment of a vase of lightly-baked clay: the section is mostly black in colour. The exterior surface is decorated with purple and red painted designs over a pale grey slip. Slightly cracked.

Length 54 mm, width 50 mm.


Although registered as coming from the tomb of Semerkhet, this sherd bears the excavation mark T, probably indicating its true provenance as the tomb of Den.

Catalog: First Dynasty, Tomb of Den, EA68683
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


img_9336lowersm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Triangles, lines and points pattern fragment.


Fragment of a vase of pink pottery with painted decoration on the exterior in red. The designs include triangles, lines and points. There is a mark on the surface where a handle has been broken away. Good condition, decoration faded in places.

Length 87 mm, width 73 mm.

Although registered as coming from the tomb of Semerkhet, this sherd bears the excavation mark T, probably indicating their true provenance as the tomb of Den.


Catalog: First Dynasty, Tomb of Den, EA68684
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9333sealsm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Wine jar seal

By Predynastic times the elite had already developed a taste for wine. As grapes were not native to Egypt, wine had to be imported from the Levant, making it rare and costly. To secure a supply, kings of the First Dynasty introduced the vines, and made their own wine on royal estates. Wine drinking soon spread, and by the end of the Old Kingdom the ideal funerary offerings included five different types.

Part of a jar-seal, of pale brown clay, with an impressed inscription giving the name of Semerkhet and the name of a building, possibly a wine-cellar. Good condition.

Length 110 mm, width 110 mm.


Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Semerkhet, First Dynasty, EA32670
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




ritual knife ritual knife



First Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 890 BC

Ritual knife

It became traditional to use flint knives to sacrifice animals, even after copper became widely available. Functional knives with built-in handles were part of temple equipment. Other blades too large or delicate ever to have been used were dedicated probably by elite patrons.

(left, EA74721) Bifacial knife of brown flint, with a short, integral handle. The broad blade is curved, with a convex cutting edge and concave back, and a pointed tip. The back of the handle ends in a sharp point.

Length 245 mm, width 56 mm.

Height 45 mm, length 76 mm, width 22 mm.

EA30752, right, is not listed in the catalog of the British Museum.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Catalog: EA74721, EA30752
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




palette
First Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 890 BC

Greywacke cosmetic palette

While rulers and kings donated large decorated palettes to the temples, smaller ones were rare, since they fell out of private use during the First Dynasty.

Typically rectangular in shape at this time, carved decorations at the corners were unusual. This palette might have been a treasured possession when offered, or even an heirloom.


Rectangular mudstone ( ? ) palette with projections at the corners, broken away in two instances. The sides are slightly convex and they are bordered by two parallel incised lines on the upper surface.

Length 128 mm, width 90 mm.

Incised border lines are common on palettes at the very end of the Predynastic period. Compare W. M. F. Petrie, 'Tarkhan I and Memphis V' (London, 1913), pl.XXIX; W. M. F. Petrie, 'Tarkhan' II (London, 1914), pl.XXIV.

( note that this palette is reminiscent in shape and decoration of an object made of wood or other organic material, but copied here in stone - Don )

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Catalog: Abydos, Osiris Temple, First Dynasty EA37273
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




venus in lead venus in lead
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Lead figurine of a woman

Lead was a rare material, and this figurine was probably dedicated at a temple by an elite woman. It portrays a woman in the pose of supplication wearing the long skirt typical in the Early Dynastic period. Details of a fringed apron and zigzags accentuating her long wavy hair have been etched into the soft lead. Lead female figure, left arm across breast, right arm lost. Reportedly from Abydos, First Dynasty, EA 32138

Height 59 mm, width 24 mm, thickness 15 mm, weight 75 grams.

Catalog: Abydos, First Dynasty, EA 32138
Photo (left): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (right): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




hes jar
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Hes jar

Jars of this shape were used for pouring libations in purification rites, essential before approaching the gods' shrines.

The upper body was blackened in conscious imitation of pottery styles popular hundreds of years earlier. This showed respect for tradition and reverence of the ancestors.

Called hes by the ancient Egyptians, the jar's image also stood for the word 'honour' or 'praise' in the hieroglyphic script.

Tall pear-shaped red burnished necked vase with black top, flat base, and turned rim (chipped), exterior surface worn, slightly warped.

Height 359 mm, width 126 mm.

Catalog: Abydos, Osiris Temple, Chamber M69, First Dynasty, EA38065
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




faience models faience models faience models


First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Faience models

Models of the actual pottery used during rituals were probably donated when a temple was founded or refurbished.

They include model hes jars, which copy the blackened top of the original, and conical jar stands used to hold pots and trays during the daily feeding of the gods. Others depict sealed jars filled with provisions or objects in ritual use, like the model with two jars joined at the mouth.

Catalog: Abydos, Osiris Temple, Chamber M69, First Dynasty, EA38013 - EA38017
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




label label
Naqada III - Early First Dynasty: 3 200 - 2 890 BC

Labels with numeral and place name

Attached to commodities deposited in the kings tombs, these tiny ivory labels indicate quantity or place of origin. The spiral is the hieroglyph for the numeral 100, and may denote the length of a bolt of cloth. The falcon atop a rectangle refers to the place of manufacture or the institution providing the item. These labels may come from Abydos Tomb U-j, where identical labels were found.


label
EA35516: A small square label of pale ivory: pierced in one corner for attachment to some object. One side bears an incised spiral, the hieroglyph for the numeral 100, referring to the quantity of some item of burial equipment. Such labels are known to have been used to refer to quantities of oil or the number of beads on a necklace. Height 17 mm, width 17 mm

EA35517: A small ivory label with a hole in the top left-hand corner for attachment. The front surface bears an incised inscription. Good condition, repaired from two fragments. 1st Dynasty, Abydos, cemetery B. Length: 15 mm, width 13 mm. Incised. Consists of a figure of a bird above the hieroglyph for a canal.

Catalog: Naqada III - early First Dynasty, Abydos, B Cemetery, EA35516, EA35517
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




label label
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Labels of Queen Neith-hotep

These labels were attached to jewellery belonging to Neith-hotep, King Narmer's queen. The label on the left bears her name on one side and the numeral '135' on the other. This probably records the number of beads in a necklace. The label to the right includes a depiction of the beaded apron to which it was originally attached. According to the inscription, 1400 beads were used to make it.


label
Drawing of the symbols on the tags, including the reverse of the first tag with the queen's name on it.



Catalog: Naqada, Tomb of Neath-hotep. First Dynasty, EA55588, EA55589
Photo (upper left and right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (lower left): From the card at the museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




label label
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Ebony label of King Aha

Gradually more information was placed on labels. This one was attached to a shipment of high quality oil, and records the year in the king's reign that it was received. The year was identified by major events: in this instance, the founding of a temple for Neith by King Aha, the Anis bull festival and a boat journey. Duplicate labels allow us to restore the missing pieces.


Four fragments of an ebony label joining to form two larger pieces. One side of the label is inscribed, and there was a perforation at the top right-hand corner for attachment. The upper part bears the remains of the incised serekh of Aḥa, opposite a scene showing boats and a religious sanctuary, perhaps the Temple of Neith at Sais. On the lower fragments are traces of another religious building, a row of boats and place names and the name of the type of oil to which the label referred, together with its quantity.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Aha, First Dynasty, EA35518
Photo (left): From the card at the museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




label label
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Label of King Semerkhet

By the middle of the First Dynasty labels were standardised, maximising the information they contained. Along the right side is an arching palm stick, the hieroglyph for 'year'. The palm frames the year's main events: a boat trip to collect taxes and the festival of a baboon god.

The central column contains the king's names, and to the left are the name and titles of the high official responsible for the oil that the label accompanied.


Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Sametkhet, First Dynasty, EA32668
Photo (left): From the card at the museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9294tombphotosm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Tomb of King Qa'a

View of the tomb of King Qa'a at Abydos.

Courtesy of the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo.

Photo: Poster, British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9294tombplansm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Tomb of King Qa'a

Plan of the tomb of King Qa'a and the graves of his 23 retainers at Abydos.

Areas indicated include the main burial chamber, the area where model vessels were placed, and the area which held stone vessels.

Photo: Poster, British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Text: Poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




jar sealing
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Jar sealing of King Qa'a

Large jars were secured with clay stoppers often impressed with cylinder seals. This prevented theft or tampering since the marked clay would be broken if the jars were opened. This stopper bears two seal impressions. One shows that the jar came from an agricultural estate established to fund the king's funerary cult. The other seal records the high official responsible for the quality and security of the jar's contents.

Height 163 mm, diameter at base 265 mm.


jar sealing

Reconstruction of the seal of King Qa'a on the top register, reconstruction of the seal of the high official responsible for the quality and security of the jar's contents on the lower register.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Qa'a, First Dynasty, EA32671
Photo (upper): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (lower): card, British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9342modelssm


img_9343modelssm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Model vessels with retainer of Qa'a.


Qa'a was the last king to have retainers buried around him. One was interred with a wooden box containing these seven model vessels. All are solid, and the soft limestone has been painted to imitate harder stone. Reflecting the various types of vessels in use at the time, these small substitutes were believed to become full sized and useful in the afterlife.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Qa'a, retainer burial Q20, First Dynasty, EA32677 - EA32683
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9344basaltbowlandjarssm
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Stone vessels with retainer of Qa'a

The stone vessels below were found with a retainer buried around the tomb of Qa'a. the last king of the First Dynasty. Probably produced in the royal workshops, the vessels have an outward appearance of high quality. However, the hole in the base of the travertine bowl is a manufacturing fault caused by over-drilling. Originally, this was probably patched with plaster.

EA32674: Cylinder jar of calcite with concave sides and a rounded rim, below which there is a band of cord decoration. Interior completely hollowed.

Height 329 mm, diameter 147 mm (rim)

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Tomb of Qa'a, tomb Q.21 subsidiary burial, EA32674


EA32675: Veined calcite bowl with convex sides rising vertically to a plain rim. The base, although rather flattened, is still convex with ill-defined edges, and it is pierced by a hole caused by excessive hollowing in manufacture.

Height 74 mm, diameter 176 mm (rim)

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Tomb of Qa'a, tomb Q.21 subsidiary burial, EA32675


EA32676: Grey schist shallow bowl with flat base and incurving rim. The interior of the base is slightly countersunk. Height 51 mm, diameter 258 mm (rim), 76 mm (base).

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Tomb of Qa'a, tomb Q.21 subsidiary burial, EA32676

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Qa'a, retainer burial Q 21, First Dynasty, EA32674, EA32675, EA32676.
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


basaltplatebsm

First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Grey schist shallow bowl with flat base and incurving rim.

( note the markings on the bowl at the left of this image. Albeit accidental, and part of the original stone, it changes an object which is rather ordinary, though well made, into a work of art - Don )

Catalog: First Dynasty, Abydos, Tomb of Qa'a, tomb Q.21 subsidiary burial, EA32676
Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9322porphyryjar
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Stone jar

Enormous varieties of stone vessels filled the tombs of the First Dynasty kings, carved from the greatest variety of stone types ever used in Egypt. In the royal workshop, an army of skilled workers must have laboured for thousands of hours to create them. This andesite porphyry jar is lightly incised with the name of King Qa'a.

Spheroidal vase of porphyritic diorite with a flat base and two tubular handles. The vase has a high shoulder and a broad flat-topped rim, the latter being chipped around the outer edge. The upper surface of the rim slopes slightly towards the mouth. Interior completely hollowed. On the polished exterior of the vessel is the very lightly incised serekh of Qa'a, only visible under close examination.


Height 184 mm, diameter 310 mm.

Catalog: Possibly Abydos, First Dynasty, EA22556
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




cylinder seal
Naqada III - First Dynasty: 3 200 - 2 890 BC

Cylinder seal with animals

Invented in Mesopotamia, cylinder seals were quickly adopted by the Egyptians. Rolled over lumps of clay stuck to doors or containers, they marked ownership or responsibility, and prevented theft. Early cylinder seals were carved with symbols or animals, with meanings that are now difficult to understand. The ostriches and antelopes here might refer to a person or place.


Cylinder seal of black steatite. Perforated through the centre, bearing an incised design in two registers. The upper register contains six figures of birds and the lower register four figures of animals. The exact identity of the types of birds and animals represented is uncertain. Good condition.

Length 21 mm, diameter 10 mm.

Catalog: Naqada III - First Dynasty, EA65891
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


cylinder seal
First Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 890 BC

Cylinder seal with shrine

The image of the wooden shrine guarded by a lion represents a temple, and this seal marked temple property. Hieroglyphs might spell the name of the person responsible for sealing the goods and protecting and accounting for them. He was called Nehty.

Wooden cylinder seal. Perforated through the centre, bearing an incised inscription which shows a figure of a lion and a primitive shrine. The wood has slightly split and a small piece has broken from the inscribed surface.


Length 21 mm, diameter 13 mm.

Catalog: Possibly from Abydos. First Dynasty, EA49018
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


cylinder seal
First - Second Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 670 BC

Cylinder seals with personal names

Seals with the names of individuals labelled personal property in life, but after death they were used as protective amulets. Writing the name was believed to keep the identity of the person alive The top seal of black steatite spells out the name Meri-ka, meaning 'The beloved of my spirit', while the lower seal of green feldspar belonged to Senet-Neith, meaning 'Neith is my sister'.

EA58436: A small cylinder seal of black steatite: perforated through the centre and bearing an incised inscription. Good condition. Height 11 mm, diameter 9 mm

EA65880: A perforated cylinder seal of green feldspar bearing an incised inscription. Good condition. Height 19 mm, diameter 14 mm


Catalog: First - Second Dynasty, EA58436, EA65880
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


cylinder seal
First - Second Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 670 BC

Cylinder seal of person before a table

This seal shows a person wearing a heavy wig sitting in front of a table laden with food offerings. Hieroglyphs spell out the name Itet-Neith, meaning 'Neith is my ruler'. Such seals were buried with the deceased, magically renewing the offerings made in their name.

Cylinder seal of black steatite: perforated through the centre, bearing an incised inscription containing a personal name. Good condition. Length 15 mm, diameter 13 mm.


Catalog: First - Second Dynasty, EA65872
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


img_9319_ea29433sm
First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Leg for a stool in hippopotamus ivory.

Stools were the most common pieces of furniture used in ancient Egypt. This ivory leg was probably attached to a frame by means of a leather thong lashed through the holes.

From its slender shape, it was likely to have been the front leg of a low stool.

From the BM website: An ivory leg from a bed or chair carved in the form of a bull's foot. The top is marked with scratches where the ivory has been sawn and there is a hole in the middle of the top surface for attachment. Two more holes, each 7 mm in diameter, are pierced horizontally through the upper part of the leg, from one side to the other.

The surface of the piece has been carved with care, details of the veins being shown on one side, and it has been polished. At the base, the hoof rests on a low pedestal with decoration in the form of narrow horizontal grooves. There is a shallow depression cut into the underside of this pedestal.


Height 115 mm, width 50 mm (top), depth 27 mm, weight 125 g.

Catalog: First-Second Dynasty, EA29433
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


( note that the curious grooves in the feet of the legs above and below may have served as 'roughening' for good adhesion when the leg was glued into a wooden circular block of wood, possibly carved to look like a hoof, which would have protected the precious ivory from damage and wear when the object was moved across the floor - Don )

img_9319__ea30465__ea30466sm
First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Set of hippopotamus ivory furniture legs.

These small legs carved with bull's feet are a matched set. One dowel for affixing a cross bar between them is still preserved.

Probably fitted to a gaming table, the legs raised it to a comfortable height for players seated on the ground.

(left, EA30466) An ivory leg in the form of a bull's leg, possibly from a game-board, with a tenon projecting 14 mm from the top. This tenon is in the front left-hand corner of the upper surface, and is pierced by a single hole for fixing. In the left side of the leg is a small hole for a dowel. This leg belonged to the same object as 1899,0314.17, but was intended to be fixed on the opposite side, so that the positions of the tenon and dowel are reversed.

Height: 65 mm, width 29 mm, depth 14 mm, weight 18 g.


(right, EA30465) A small ivory leg in the form of a bull's foot, possibly from a game-board. At the top of the leg is a tenon, 13 mm high, pierced horizontally by two small holes for fixing. This tenon is situated in the front right-hand corner of the upper surface, and is marked with saw cuts at its base. Small traces of wood adhere to the tenon. The leg is well carved but not completely polished, and the marks made by the tools are still evident. In the right side there is a small wooden dowel, projecting from a hole in the ivory. Good condition.

Height: 64 mm, width 27 mm, depth 16 mm, weight 19 g.

Catalog: First-Second Dynasty, EA30465, EA30466
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




 Stone jars
First - Second Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 670 BC

Stone jars of limestone breccia and andesite porphyry

Producing stone vessels was a huge investment in manpower and resources. The tools and skills needed to produce them were perfected in the Late Predynastic period, and contributed to the growth of other technologies. From extraction and transport to carving the logistics of their production influenced Egyptian art and architecture. Large stone jars, like the examples shown here, are some of the most impressive creations of Early Egypt. Such jars were restricted to temples and royalty.


(left) EA35699: Red breccia spheroidal jar, high in form with a rounded base and two tubular handles. The handles are concave on their outer surfaces. The raised rim has a flat top and a sharp edge, slightly chipped in parts. Interior fairly well hollowed.

Height 332 mm, diameter 267 mm (rim)

(right) EA35698: Very large spheroidal vase of porphyritic diorite: with a rounded base and two tubular handles. The vessel has a distinct shoulder, on which the handles are set, and a broad rim around the contracted mouth. The outer edge of the rim is rounded, although partly broken, and the flat top slopes towards the mouth. Only a narrow groove separates the rim from the shoulder of the vessel. The outer surfaces are extremely well finished and the interior has been fairly completely hollowed.

Height 299 mm, diameter 466 mm (rim)

Catalog: First - Second Dynasty, EA35698, EA35699
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




baboon
First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Baboon figurine

Small figurines made of Egyptian faience (a blue- green glass paste) are common at all early temple sites. Baboons appear most frequently, especially at Abydos, where more than a hundred were found. They are believed to represent deceased ancestors who could intercede with the gods on behalf of their relatives. Quality and details vary: one holds a jar on his knees as if making an offering himself.

A figure of a squatting baboon cut out of a thin sheet of glazed composition. The legs and neck are indicated by incised lines and the snout has been rounded at the top. The green glaze has partly decayed to brown, and has been chipped at the feet.

Length 46 mm.


Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Catalog: Temple of Osiris, Abydos, EA38023
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




baboon baboon baboon


First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Baboon figurine

(left) A glazed composition figure of a squatting baboon, with the details of the eyes, brows and nostrils indicated in the face. The legs are delineated, the hind legs being drawn up with the forepaws resting on the knees. The glaze has decayed to white with brown patches.

Height 70 mm.

Catalog: Temple of Osiris Abydos, Chamber M69 Subsidiary Chamber Deposit, EA38021


(centre) A glazed composition figure of a squatting baboon with a fairly large well-formed face, including details of the eyes and brow-ridges. The mouth is indicated by an incised line. All the legs are delineated, the forepaws resting on the lower part of the bent hind legs. The figure is covered with a pale green glaze, some areas of which have turned white.

Height 86 mm.

Catalog: Temple of Osiris Abydos, EA37280

(right) A squatting figure of a baboon, not very well made. The facial detail is not clear and the mouth is not indicated. The hind legs are visible, but of the forelegs only that on the left of the figure is clearly shown. Good condition, with well-preserved pale green glaze.

Height 77 mm.

Catalog: Temple of Osiris Abydos, EA37281
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




baboon baboon baboon


First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Baboon figurine

(left) A green glazed composition figure of a squatting baboon, crudely made. The front of the body and top of the head are flat with almost angular edges, and the details of the face are summarily depicted by impressed points and incised lines. There has been little attempt to produce a lifelike form and only the hind legs are shown. Well-preserved pale green glaze.

Height 95 mm.

Catalog: Temple of Osiris Abydos, EA38019


(centre) A green glazed composition figure of a squatting baboon, from side on. The head is quite well done, but the rest of the figure is barely sketched in. The glaze has flaked off in parts. A small glazed composition figure of a squatting baboon without detailed modelling. The legs are not clearly shown, nor are the eyes, but the mouth and brows are indicated. Some of the pale green glaze has flaked off at the back of the figure.

Catalog: Temple of Osiris Abydos, EA38022

(right) A composition figure of a squatting baboon. It was originally glazed green, although this glaze has now decayed to white or brown. The figure is well modelled with the details of the legs and face clearly shown. The forelegs are extended to hold an object of uncertain nature on the knees, the top of the object reaching up to join the chin. Its conical shape suggests that it may represent a pot closed with a mud seal. Good condition, glaze slightly flaked in parts.

Height 102 mm.

Catalog: Temple of Osiris Abydos, EA38020
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




frog
First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Frog figurine

Objects donated at temples often expressed concerns over fertility and health. The frog was the symbol of the goddess Heket, who looked after women during childbirth. Made of red polished clay, this is an unusual frog figurine, as most were made of green faience simulating the colour of the animal.

A figure of a squatting frog in pale red-brown pottery, with remains of a polished red slip. All four feet have been broken, revealing that the pottery is black in the core owing to incomplete firing. The mouth and eyes are the only details shown.


Height 58 mm, length 105 mm, width 63 mm.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Catalog: Temple of Osiris, Abydos, EA38044
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




hippo hippo


hippo pig



First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Hippo and pig figurines

The pig and the hippopotamus were considered embodiments of evil. Such figurines might have accompanied requests to the gods for protection.

They could also be models of sacrificial animals. Bones from temple sites show that pigs and hippos were among the animals sacrificed in rites to maintain cosmic order.


EA38045: A dull brown pottery figure of a hippopotamus, repaired from two pieces with a large part of one side missing. The figure is crudely modelled with little detail, the eyes being shown by incised lines and the position of the ears being marked by two holes. Most of the mouth has been lost by the breaking away of the front of the face. The surviving parts of the figure are in good condition, and the missing portions have been restored in plaster.

Height 127 mm, length 245 mm, width 106 mm.

EA38018: A glazed composition figure of a pig, originally green, but now dull brown in colour because of the decay of the glaze. The modelling of the body and legs is rather summary, but a fair amount of detail is shown in the head, including the eyes, ears, mouth and nostrils.

Height 45 mm, length 76 mm, width 22 mm.

Photo (top left and right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (bottom left) © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (bottom right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Catalog: Early Dynastic, Temple of Osiris, Abydos, ?M64/M65/M69/M89?, EA38045
Catalog: Early Dynastic, Temple of Osiris, Abydos, Chamber M69, EA38018
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




 faience tiles
First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Faience Tiles

Blue-green glazed tiles may have decorated the temple's inner sanctum, where the god's statue resided. Piercings on the back allowed them to be wired together, imitating the reeds and matting used to build temples in the earlier, Predynastic, age. The palm-tree tile might have been a furniture inlay.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Catalog: Abydos, Osiris Temple, Early Dynastic. EA38025, EA37282, EA38011, EA38024
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




model boat
First - Second Dynasty: 3 100 - 2 670 BC

Model of a boat

Painted terracotta model boat.

This is a very rare example of a model boat from the time of the first Pharaohs.

Catalog: E 27136
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Musée du Louvre
Text: © Musée du Louvre




Twists of burnt clay
First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 670 BC

Twists of burnt clay

Hundreds of twisted strips of clay were recovered from a fire pit at the Abydos temple. They might be substitute food offerings thrown into the fire for cooking, or representations of enemies to be destroyed by burning. They are simple objects, but give insight into the types of rituals undertaken in early temples.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Catalog: Abydos, Osiris Temple, Early Dynastic. EA38055, EA38058, EA38059, EA38060, EA38063
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0






bracelets
First - Second Dynasty, 3 100 BC - 2 700 BC

Bracelets

13 to 17: Bracelets in shell.

18, 19: Bracelets in schist.


Catalog: Excavations at Maadi, E 13923 - E 13927, E 13921, E 13922
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Musée du Louvre




The Second Dynasty

2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

The seat of government was centred at Thinis.


Second Dynasty
Name Dates (very approximate)
Hotepsekhmwy 2 890 BC - 2 852 BC
Raneb/Nebra 2 852 BC - 2 840 BC
Nynetjer 2 840 BC - 2 800 BC
Senedj 2 800 BC - 2 730 BC
Peribsen/Seth-Peribsen 2 730 BC - 2 700 BC
Khasekhemwy 2 700 BC - 2 670 BC


Table of Second Dynasty Rulers, adapted from various sources.


Timeline

Timeline or chronology for various funerary practices

Rephotography: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Poster, British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0



img_9345bowlfragment1 img_9349bowlfragmenthetepsekhemwy
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Bowl fragment of Hetepsekhemwy

A small piece of the rim of a dolomite bowl, with an incised serekh on the exterior surface. Good condition.

Hetepsekhemwy was the first king of the Second Dynasty. He was buried at Saqqara, near the capital Memphis, in a huge tomb imitating a royal palace.

Sprawling tunnels and chambers were cut out of the limestone. One room even resembles a latrine. The tomb was found practically empty, so little more is known about this king.


( the fact that the fragment with the serekh of Hetepsekhemwy was found at the Tomb of Khasekhemwy is evidence that stone vessels were valuable, and were reused by later kings - Don )

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, second dynasty, EA35559
Photo (left): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9345fragment2sm iimg_9349number2locustsm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Bowl fragment naming Raneb and Ninetjer

Stone vessels were precious and often reused by later kings, shown by the two royal names incised on this fragment of a greywacke bowl. Raneb was the second king of the Second Dynasty. He was followed by Ninetjer. Both were buried at Saqqara. During the reign of Ninetjer Egypt became divided, with different kings ruling in the north and south.

( note the hieroglyph of a bee, which was used for both 'honey' and 'king of lower Egypt'. Beside it is a sedge symbol, which was the hieroglyph used for 'king of upper Egypt' - Don )


Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Peribsen, Second Dynasty, EA35556
Photo (left): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




 seal
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Sealing of two scribes

The hieroglyphic sign for 'scribe' depicts the equipment used for writing: a rectangular inkwell, a bag of pigments for making the ink and a cylindrical case for holding reed pens. Two scribes, Depeh and Herty-ha-f, are named on the original seal, which was repeatedly rolled over the clay. Impressions on the back show it was affixed to twine, which may have tied shut a box, a pot lid, or a document roll.

A seal of black clay from the cord binding of some object, with the seal-impression of two scribes. Good condition. Length 45 mm, width 33 mm, thickness 17 mm.


 seal
Catalog: Second Dynasty, EA63815
Photo (top): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (bottom): Card at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




jarsealingsethsm img_9349jarsealsm



Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Jar sealing of Peribsen

After the country split, Peribsen ruled Upper Egypt, in the south. To stress his claim, he took as his divine patron Seth, the local god of Nubt, or 'Gold Town' (modern day Naqada). Represented by a mythological dog-like creature, Seth appears at the top of Peribsen's serekh, or name box.

On this seal, the standing figure of the god Ash, the protector of royal estates, is also depicted with the Seth animal's head.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Peribsen, Second Dynasty, EA35595
Photo (left): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




jar sealing jar sealing
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Jar sealing of King Peribsen

Writing was invented for administrative purposes and entries were short. Continuous speech was not recorded until the Second Dynasty. The hieroglyphs impressed into this mud jar stopper are from a cylinder seal carved with the first complete sentence known from early Egypt.

It reads:

'Seal of all gold things. The golden one (the god Seth) has joined the two lands for his son, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Peribsen.

Length 90 mm, width 80 mm.


jar sealing

Reconstruction of Peribsen's seal.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Peribsen, Second Dynasty, EA35594
Photo (upper left): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (upper right): Udimu, Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Photo (lower left): card, British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




bowlfragmentsethperibsm img_9349jarsealingperibsensm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Jar fragments inscribed for Peribsen

On these stone jar fragments the god Seth is depicted with a human body and a dog-like face. He is offering strength and life to the king's name. Originally, Peribsen was called Sekhimib, a name which appears on the travertine fragment to the left. Why and when he changed his name is uncertain.


EA52862: A fragment of the side and part of the base of a travertine bowl, with the name Sekhemib-Perenmaat and a figure of a god incised on the exterior. The god holds a 'was' sceptre and an ankh. The upper part of the inscription is missing. Good condition.

Height 95 mm, width 94 mm.

Second Dynasty, probably from the Abydos Royal Tomb.


EA68689: Fragment of the body of a black-and-white mottled amphibolite bowl with an incised inscription on the exterior surface. On the right is a representation of a standing anthropomorphic deity, holding a 'was'-sceptre and ankh, probably Seth or Ash, with traces of other signs above.

To the left of the god is the lower portion of a serekh, accompanied by text. The word nbt, meaning Ombos, or, possibly, 'the Ombite' is possibly a name of Seth.

Height 79 mm.

Catalog: Second Dynasty, EA52862, EA68689
Photo (left): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photo (right): Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9350peribsenbanglesrockcrystalsm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Bangles and jar fragment of Peribsen

Peribsen was laid to rest at Abydos in a traditional mud brick tomb. Like other royal tombs, it was originally stocked with commodities and precious objects, such as greywacke bangle bracelets and rock crystal vessels. These were later broken, dispersed, or stolen by robbers.


EA32647: A small piece of a rock crystal vessel with an incised inscription of Peribsen. The text is cut on what is most probably the inner surface of the vase. Good condition.

Length 42 mm, width 23 mm


EA68620: Part of a bracelet of grey metasediment amounting to just under half the original circumference. The outer edge is rounded and the inner surface is flat, producing a semicircular section.

Length 63 mm, width 7 mm, bears the excavator's mark, P.

EA68621: Part of a bracelet of grey metasediment amounting to just under half the original circumference. The outer edge is rounded and the inner surface is flat, producing a semicircular section.

Length 67 mm, width 8 mm

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Peribsen, Second Dynasty, EA68620, EA68621

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Merneith, Excavator's mark Y. 19, Second Dynasty, EA32647
( note that this allocation to the Tomb of Merneith on the BM site appears to be in error. Merneith was the mother of Den, in the First Dynasty. It is difficult to work out how a Second Dynasty artefact could turn up in a First Dynasty tomb - Don )

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




khasekstatue
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Egypt's first great builder

Statue of the Egyptian king Khasekhemwy.

Rival kingdoms in the late Second Dynasty brought strife to Egypt's two lands. In the south, King Peribsen broke with tradition and adopted the god Seth as his patron, instead of Horus, the falcon god. Order and unity were finally restored by the dynasty's ultimate king, Khasekhemwy, who took both Horus and Seth as his patron deities.

Leading the country to new cultural heights, Khasekhemwy consolidated his power with an intensive campaign of construction. Technological developments in his reign led to the first extensive use of dressed stone in Egyptian history, preparing the way for the Pyramid Age that followed.

Photo: Udimu
Permission: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Original: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford




Monuments of King Khasekhemwy

Second Dynasty 2690 BC

King Khasekhemwy was Egypt's first great builder. From ancient records we know he was responsible for many structures in addition to his impressive tomb. Two of these still survive: his valley temple at Abydos where funerary rituals took place, and a ceremonial complex at Hierakonpolis. Today, these massive unroofed enclosures are the oldest full-standing mud brick buildings in the world. Lessons learned in the management of such projects, and experiments with stone construction, set the stage for the pyramid age that followed.
Text above: Poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

img_9365tomb1sm
Khasekhemwy's enormous 59 room tomb at Abydos had a stone-lined burial chamber. Above it was once a solid rectangular structure called a mastaba, also faced with dressed stone.

Courtesy of the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo.

Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Poster, British Museum
Text: Poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9366valleytemplesm
Khasekhemwy's massive valley temple at Abydos is nearly 134 metres long and 78 metres wide, covering the equivalent of one and a half football pitches. The niches on its walls copied palace architecture and symbolised royal power.

Photo: © Robert Fletcher for the Abydos Expedition of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Source: Poster, British Museum
Text: Poster at the British Museum, Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9367ceremonialenclosuresm
The ceremonial enclosure at Hierakonpolis has five-metre thick walls that are over nine metres high. Khasekhemwy may have staged ceremonies here celebrating the reunification of the country.

Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition.

Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Poster, British Museum
Text: Poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9355jarsealsm jarsealingk
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Jar sealing of Khasekhemwy

On this jar sealing, Khasekhemwy's name, meaning 'the two powers shine forth' is surmounted by both the falcon Horus and the god Seth, signifying a reunited Egypt. An additional epithet, reading 'the two lords are at peace with him' suggests that this union was achieved only through conflict.

Part of a jar-seal of grey clay, with an impressed inscription of the name of Khasekhem. This fragment is in good condition.

Length 100 mm, width 65 mm


Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA35590
Photo (left): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (right): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9351modeljarssm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Model stone jars of Khasekhemwy

King Khasekhemwy was buried in an enormous tomb at Abydos. It had over 40 storage rooms filled with objects that were used in life and many that were only relevant after death, like these model stone jars. They were shaped and smoothed on the exterior, but only a shallow depression was hollowed out inside.

Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA35569, EA35570.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9352copperbowlsm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Model dish of copper


This dish was hammered from a thin sheet of copper. It is a model for use in the afterlife, but gives some idea of the type of luxurious metal vessels enjoyed by Khasekhemwy and his court. Metal working advanced considerably during this king's reign, and he is remembered for fashioning a copper statue of himself called 'High is Khasekhemwy'.

A model of a circular dish irregularly cut out from thin sheet copper, with a shallow depression in the middle. The shape of the vessel has been distorted by crushing and the metal is corroded.


Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA35573
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9357modeltoolssm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Model tools from Khasekhemwy's tomb


Model tools of thin copper were numerous in Khasekhemwy's tomb, perhaps reflecting his prolific building interests.

These examples came from a deposit of 194 models found below a collapsed wall. Tool types included axes, harpoons, chisels, adzes, needles and a knife. Most occur in multiples of eight, which may relate to the Egyptian working week of eight days.


Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA35575 - EA35578, EA35580, EA35583, EA67571
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9358axesm

Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Arsenical Copper axe


Functional tools were also placed in Khasekhemwy's tomb. Among them were many axes with a hole near the centre. This innovation allowed the blade to be more securely tied onto the handle than previously possible. This system for attaching handles continued throughout the Old Kingdom. Axes were used in woodworking and were also the main hand weapons for soldiers.


Broad, squat axe-head with slightly concave butt and rounded sides converging to form a convex cutting end. In the centre near the butt is a large round hole, which was cast into the blade during the original manufacture. The cutting end, which was hammered to a sharp edge, is cracked on both faces and shows other signs of heavy wear. The axe was once covered by corrosion product but has now been completely cleaned. There is considerable surface pitting.

Length 102 mm, width 127 mm (butt), thickness 8 mm, weight 546 grams.

This axe-head belongs to a group of two full-size and 15 model axes discovered by Petrie in 1901 in the tomb of King Khasekhemwy at Abydos. The second functional specimen from the group is now in Chicago (0I, 6240) and the other models are widely distributed among various museums. A large quantity of the same type (18 full-size and at least 17 models) was previously (1896-7) found by Amelineau in the same tomb.

The earliest copper alloy of the Bronze Age is arsenical copper, a material relatively short-lived in the archaeological record when compared with the succeeding tin bronze, but of no little importance when tracing the stages and progress of prehistoric metal working. Like tin, arsenic functions as a mild deoxidant and confers the useful property of work-hardening upon the metal. Copper-arsenic alloys need to be strengthened by cold working, and it was probably this requirement as much as any other that would have led to their eventual disuse and replacement by cast tin bronzes. The normal source of arsenic for such alloys is generally agreed as a constituent of the copper ore actually smelted, usually the grey tetrahedrite tennantite mineral.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA35574
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Additional text: McKerrel and Tylecote (1972)




img_9359knifesm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Flint knife


Tools of flint continued to be used for ritual and functional purposes, and many were found in Khasekhemwy's tomb. This knife was used for making ritual sacrifices. It was provided in the belief that the king would tend to the gods in the afterlife.


Complete bifacial knife of pale brown flint, with a rounded tip and projecting handle. The surfaces have been worked by pressure flaking and the edges have been sharpened. There is a small trace of white crust at the tip.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA68775
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9353bronzeewersm img_9354bowlsm


bronzeewersm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Bronze ewer and basin

This ewer and basin were used as a set in hand washing. Analysis shows they are made of bronze, an amalgam of tin and copper, and are the earliest examples of this alloy known from ancient Egypt.

Adding tin to copper made tools harder and kept them sharper, qualities that were important to Khasekhemwy during his building activities.


EA35571: A vase of thin copper with a flat base and convex sides, which turn inwards at the top. The spout is rounded and set at a lower angle into the body of the vessel. Traces of linen adhere to the corroded exterior surfaces. One side of the vase has been split by a combination of pressure and corrosion.

The analysis of the metal shows that the vase was made of a fine bronze alloy, certainly the earliest example of the use of bronze in Egypt known so far. The spout, however, consists of arsenical copper.

Height 114 mm, width 21 mm (spout), length 41 mm (spout), diameter 77 mm (base), diameter 102 mm (rim).


EA35572: A deep bowl with flaring sides and a flat base. The top of the rim has been hammered to a flat surface with a sharp outer edge. Remains of linen adhere to the corroded exterior and interior of the vessel. There is a vertical split in the metal running the full height of one side.

Height 116 mm, diameter 125 mm (base), 244 mm (rim).

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA35571, EA35572
Photo (above): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (below): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9362ovoidsm
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Ovoid stone jar


Ovoid vessels are rare and were difficult to make. The rim of this dolomite jar had been broken off before it was deposited in Khasekhemwy's tomb, showing it had value even in an imperfect state. It was found hidden beneath a fallen wall with the metal dishes above.

An oval flat-bodied vase with lug-handles set high on the shoulders. The rim has been broken away. Interior well hollowed. Height 93 mm, width 84 mm.

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynasty, EA35566
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9347textplantombsm

Plan of Khasekhemwy's tomb showing the find spots of objects on display.

Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Card, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9363goldlids
Second Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 670 BC

Stone vases with gold lids


These dolomite vases are two from a group of six that were found beneath a collapsed wall in Khasekhemwy's tomb. The same rubble concealed from robbers the model tools above and the metal dishes. All six of the dolomite vases had lids of sheet gold tied on with fine gold wire and secured with small clay seals. A punched design decorates the lids.


EA35567: Squat magnesite jar with flat base and raised external rim. The mouth is covered with a thin gold cap, secured by a fine gold wire. The wire encircles the rim twice and is fastened with a small clay seal. The gold cover is decorated with punch-marks, made from the underside, and with impressed radial lines around the edge.

Height 50 mm, diameter 47 mm (rim).


EA35568: Squat vase of the higher type, made of magnesite. The mouth is very narrow and it has a raised external rim. It is closed by a thin gold cover, secured by two turns of gold wire, twisted together at the ends. The cover is decorated with punch-marks, made from the underside. The base has been drilled right through to facilitate the hollowing of the interior, and would originally have been closed by a separate piece of stone, now missing.

Height 57 mm, diameter 22 mm (base), 31 mm (rim).

Catalog: Abydos, Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Second Dynaasty, EA35567, EA35568
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9403splitjarsm stonejarcutintwosm
Second - Third Dynasty: 2 890 BC - 2 613 BC

Sawn Jars


To hollow out jars with small mouths and wide shoulders it was easier to make them in two parts. After initial shaping, the stone was sawn in half and then drilled. The two pieces were later glued together.

Squat calcite jar with a flat base and sharp-edged external rim. The vessel has been made in two sections, the division running horizontally just below the level of the shoulder.


Height 71 mm, diameter 60 mm (rim), 48 mm (base).

Catalog: Second - Third Dynasty, EA36353
Photo (left): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (right): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_2330tombreliefsm
Old Kingdom, 2 700 - 2 170 BC

Ankhirptah

Tomb relief depicting the scribe and judge Ankhirptah.

Catalog: Painted limestone, ÄM 7336
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)








The Third Dynasty

2 670 BC - 2 613 BC

The Third Dynasty is the first dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The capital city during the period of the Old Kingdom was at Memphis.


Third Dynasty
Name Personal Name Consort Burial Years Dates
Netjerikhet Djoser Hetephernebti Saqqara 19 2 670 BC - 2 651 BC
Sekhemkhet Djoserty Djeseretnebti Saqqara: Buried Pyramid 6 2 651 BC - 2 645 BC
Zanakht Nebka   Abydos? 9 2 645 BC - 2 636 BC
Khaba Teti   Zawyet el'Aryan: Layer Pyramid 6 2 636 BC - 2 630 BC
Qahedjet? Huni Djefatnebti - Meresankh I Meidum 17 2 630 BC - 2 613 BC


Table of Third Dynasty Rulers, adapted from various sources, including Wikipedia.


steppyramidsaqqaradjersm
Third Dynasty: 2 670 BC - 2 613 BC

The Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, Egypt.

This first Egyptian pyramid consisted of six mastabas (of decreasing size) built one on top of the another with what were clearly revisions and developments of the original plan. The pyramid originally stood 62 metres (203 ft) tall, with a base of 109 m × 125 m (358 ft × 410 ft) and was clad in polished white limestone. This step pyramid (or proto-pyramid) is considered to be the earliest large-scale cut stone construction.


Photo: Wknight94
Permission: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Catalog: Abydos, Step Pyramid of Djoser, Third Dynasty, EA2440, EA66826-EA66832
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9361tilessm
Third Dynasty: 2 670 BC - 2 613 BC

Faience tiles from the Step Pyramid


Khasekhemwy's successor, and probably step-son, was King Djoser, founder of the Third Dynasty. Benefiting from Khasekhemwy's advances in metallurgy and stone working, and the lessons learned in managing vast building projects, Djoser went on to build Egypt's first pyramid - the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. These tiles are from the underground corridors beneath that pyramid, where they were arranged on the walls to imitate matting.

Catalog: Abydos, Step Pyramid of Djoser, Third Dynasty, EA2440, EA66826-EA66832
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0






Technology and innovation

Predynastic - Third Dynasty


Technology played a key role in the development of Egyptian culture. From Early Predynastic times, artisans used hard stones to produce prestigious objects. Later advances in metallurgy turned stone vessel making into a major industry, supported by early kings. The techniques required were continually refined, and influenced the evolution of Egyptian architecture and statuary.

Text above: Poster at the British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

img_9361tilessm
Third Dynasty: 2 670 BC - 2 613 BC

Statue of Ankhwa

The skills and status of early Egyptian artisan are epitomised in this statue of the shipwright and metal worker, Ankhwa. He proudly holds a copper adze, which was both a symbol and a product of his professions.

One of the earliest statues of a private person, this red granite sculpture is the result of progressive innovations in stone and metal working within the royal workshops. This gift from the king assured Ankhwa's immortality, since both the statue and its inscription could serve as homes for his spirit, should his body be lost.

A red granite statue of an official, shown seated upon a cubical stool with hollowed sides and back. He holds an adze in the left hand; the right hand rests, palm downwards, on the lap. The figure wears a short kilt and a full wig, upon which the details of the curls are indicated. The face is full and heavy, but skilfully carved.

The broad mouth, with its rounded corners, dominates the frontal view of the face. The crisp carving of the lips contrasts with the modelling of the eyes, which lack any indication of the lower lids. On the kilt above the left knee is a vertical line of inscription in low relief.

The striations of Ankhwa's flaring coiffure undulate near the crown of his head; two ridges at the lower ends suggest crimping. The boat-hieroglyph has an animal head at the prow, possibly that of a bull.

Height 655 mm, length 390 mm (base), width 295 mm (base), height 134 mm (Top of head to base of wig (front)), height 150 mm (top of head to base of wig (back))

Catalog: Probably Saqqara, Third Dynasty, EA171
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




img_9402twodrillbitssm
Third Dynasty: 2 670 BC - 2 613 BC

Flint scrapers

To widen the interior space when making stone vessels, stone drill bits were attached to the drill. Rotary action with crescent drills of flint was used to hollow out soft stones like travertine (calcite).

(above) EA67626: Flint scraper, hollow, crescent-shaped, worked both sides.

Width 90 mm, length 52 mm.


(below) EA67627: Flint scraper, hollow and crescent-shaped, worked both sides.

Width: 90 mm length 55 mm

Catalog: Third Dynasty, Beit Khallaf, Tomb of Netjerkhet, EA67626, EA67627
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




kingrulingsm
Third Dynasty: 2 670 BC - 2 613 BC

Rock inscription of King Zanakht

This relief was originally carved into the cliffs at Wadi Magyar in Sinai.

It commemorates an expedition to the turquoise mines there by King Zanakht of the Third Dynasty. Emulating his royal ancestor Den, Zanakht smites an eastern tribesman, preserved here only by the lock of hair in the kings hand. To the right, hieroglyphs spell out one of the earliest examples of the word for turquoise, mefkat.

Catalog: Sinai, Wadi Maghara, Third Dynasty, circa 2 650 BC, EA691
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




kingrulingsm
Third Dynasty: 2 670 - 2 613 BC

Rock inscription of King Zanakht

Pink sandstone stele of Zanakht. King Zanakht is smiting a foreigner (no longer visible) who personified the tribes of the Eastern Desert. The sovereign, whose name is inscribed in a serekh surmounted by the falcon god Horus, is wearing the red crown, symbol of his power over Lower Egypt. In front of him on a pole was the emblem of the god Wepwawet, now lost. The few hieroglyphs surviving in the right corner of the fragment signify 'turquoise', a highly prized stone, which the Egyptians went to the mountains of the Sinai peninsula to extract.


Length 350 mm, width 47 mm, depth 210 mm, weight 75 kg.

Cut in low relief. This relief, a large stele, was executed in the cliff itself under difficult conditions, and exposed to the elements for more than four millennia. It does not display the same sculptural qualities as reliefs almost as old from Saqqara or Heliopolis. It belongs to a series of inscriptions with the names of kings Djoser, Sekhemkhet, and Sanakht that commemorate the first expeditions launched by the pharaohs to the so-called turquoise terraces. Distinguished from non royal inscriptions by their bellicose iconography, they magically mark the limits of the pharaoh's domain and immortalise his appropriation of the world. A text from the time of Djedkare-Isesi, a Fifth Dynasty pharaoh, reveals that royal troops also came to Wadi Magyar to seek another very precious resource, copper.

Catalog: Sinai, Wadi Maghara, Third Dynasty, circa 2 650 BC, EA691
Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




kingrulingsm

Turquoise mines at Wadi Maghara in Sinai.

Photo: © James A. Harrell, University of Toledo, USA
Source: Poster, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hezi
Limestone panel of Hezi

Third - Fourth Dynasty: 2 670 - 2 494 BC

The ancient Egyptians fully recognised the beauty of their writing system. On this panel from a tomb, each hieroglyph is a work of art in its own right. The signs are arranged in eight columns, giving a funerary offering formula for a man called Hezi. By writing his name, the ancient Egyptians believed Hezi's immortality was secured, while the offering formula insured his provisions for eternity.

This is a rectangular slab of limestone bearing a standard offering-text for Ḥezi, arranged in eight vertical columns. The signs are cut in low relief with a considerable amount of detail. No colour survives.


Length 445 mm, width 280 mm, thickness 75 mm.

Catalog: Probably Saqqara, Third - Fourth Dynasty, EA1212
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0








The Fourth Dynasty

2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

The Fourth Dynasty is the second dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The capital city during the period of the Old Kingdom was at Memphis.

The Fourth Dynasty heralded the height of the pyramid-building age. The relative peace of the Third Dynasty allowed the Fourth Dynasty rulers the leisure to explore more artistic and cultural pursuits. Sneferu's building experiments led to the evolution from the mastaba styled step pyramids to the smooth sided 'true' pyramids, such as those on the Giza plateau. No other period in Egypt’s history equaled the Fourth Dynasty's architectural accomplishments. Most of the rulers of this dynasty commissioned at least one pyramid to serve as a tomb or cenotaph.

The pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty ruled for approximately 120 years, from  2 613 BC to 2 494 BC. The names in the table are taken from Dodson and Hilton (2004).


Fourth Dynasty
Name Personal Name Consort Pyramid Years Dates
Sneferu   Hetepheres I Red Pyramid 24 2 613 BC - 2 589 BC
Khufu Medjedu Meritites I, Henutsen Great Pyramid of Giza 23 2 589 BC - 2 566 BC
Djedefre Kheper Hetepheres II, Khenetka Pyramid of Djedefre 8 2 566 BC - 2 558 BC
Khafra / Khafre Userib Meresankh III, Khamerernebty,
Hekenuhedjet, Persenet
Pyramid of Khafre 26 2 558 BC - 2 532 BC
Baka       1 2 532 BC
Menkaure Kakhet Khamerernebty II Pyramid of Menkaure 29 2 532 BC - 2 503 BC
Shepseskaf Shepseskhet Bunefer Mastabet el-Fara'un 4 2 503 BC - 2 499 BC
Djedefptah       5 2 499 BC - 2 494 BC


This period was marked by profound economic and social transformations. This is shown by an inscription from the tomb of the great magnate Metjen. It contains information about Metjen's career as an official and his social standing, and also about his property holdings - fields, gardens, vineyards, and fig groves. He inherited part of his property from his father and purchased another part. Ultimately he owned some sixty hectares of land. At the beginning of the Egyptian state the pharaoh was still the sole legal owner of everything - land, stone quarries, water, livestock, and, when he needed it, human labour. The inscriptions from Metjen's tomb show that as early as the end of the Third Dynasty, even a man who was not descended from the royal family could own property, including agricultural land.

Text above: Verner (2014)





akhtihotep
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Akhtihotep


Fragment of a relief with offering scene from the tomb of Akhtihotep, Reign of Sneferu.

Limestone

Catalog: Sakkara, Mastabe of Akhtihotep, ÄS 4854
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München
Additional text: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/543912




img_5251doorsm img_5252doorsm img_5255doorsm


img_5254doorsm
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Rahotep


Fragments of a false-door stela from the tomb of Rahotep.

Prince Rahotep was probably a son of Pharaoh Sneferu and his first wife.

Limestone, circa 2 600 BC


Catalog: Fourth Dynasty, Meidum, mastaba of Rahotep, GL 102 a-d
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München
Additional text: Wikipedia




khafra statue
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Standing - striding figure of the Court Musician Ipi.


Limestone, circa 2 600 BC.

Catalog: Dashur, ÄS 1600
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München
Additional text: Wikipedia




portrait portrait
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Portrait head of a man, circa 2 550 BC

Catalog: Granodiorite, Assuan, ÄS 6932
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München, Wikipedia




img_2326metjen statue
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Statue of Methen / Metjen

This portrait of Metjen, 470 mm high, in pink granite, was found by Karl Richard Lepsius in his tomb in Saqqara and brought to Berlin in 1845. It had been placed in a small, inaccessible room, the so-called Serdab, next to the cult chamber and connected to it only by a slit in the masonry. Thus, according to ancient Egyptian ideas, Metjen was involved in the sacrifices.

The figure was created around the turn of the 3rd to 4th dynasties. At that time, Metjen under King Snofru was a senior administrator (domain administrator). Metjen sits on a cubic seat. He wears a short wig and a kilt. Further iconographic details are missing. On the sides of the seat stands its name and its title.

Catalog: Abusir, Metjen (tomb) AM 1105
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




img_2328mentjentombchambersm statue
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Sacrificial Chamber from the tomb of Metjen


The limestone burial chamber of Metjen, built around 2 600 BC, contains in its hieroglyphic inscriptions the oldest biography of Egypt. In the reliefs the animal world of the Nile Valley is presented as in a zoological manual.

Metjens' titles are varied and are listed on the walls, for example, he calls himself the administrator of several provinces, and of high priests. As the king's chief huntsman, he supervises hunting in the desert.


img_2354_2355_2356metjentombsm statue
The walls include depictions of a garden with figs and grape vines. Important sacrifices with differently dressed servants and sacrificer offer the deceased many  goods and sacrifices, which address the comforts needed in the underworld, including household articles, vestments, the equipment of the grave and animals for hunting.

Length x width x height, passage: 215 x 67 x 252 cm

Length x width x height, chamber: 75 x 265 x 325 cm

Catalog: Abusir, Metjen (tomb) AM 1105
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




img_2353wallsm  img_2357_2358sm
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Offering Chapel of Metjen


This wall is part of Metjen's tomb, called the Offering Chapel.

On the right hand image we can see some of the animals of the hunt - the Nubian ibex, Capra nubiana, the Dorcas gazelle, Gazella dorcas, and the Desert hare, Lepus capensis.

Catalog: Abusir, Metjen (tomb) AM 1105
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




Egypt
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Pyramid of Giza / Khufu / Cheops


The pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.


Based on a mark in an interior chamber naming the work gang and a reference to fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, Egyptologists believe that the pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10 to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. Initially at 146.5 metres (481 feet), the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface; what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base.

There have been varying scientific and alternative theories about the Great Pyramid's construction techniques. Most accepted construction hypotheses are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.

There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure. The main part of the Giza complex is a setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honour of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives, an even smaller 'satellite' pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles.

Photo: Nina-no, Nina Aldin Thune
Permission: GNU Free Documentation License
Text: Wikipedia




Giza
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Pyramid of Giza / Khufu / Cheops


Transparent view of Khufu's pyramid from the South East.

Photo: R.F.Morgan
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Text: Wikipedia




khafra statue
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Statue of Khafra


Photo: Einsamer Schütze
Permission: GNU Free Documentation License




img_2294meribentrancemeribsm Egypt
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Entrance to the Burial Chamber of Merib, circa 2 500 BC.

The Egyptian Museum in Berlin reopened the New Museum in 2009 with the offering chambers of Metjen (Abusir, Dynasties 3 to 4) and of Merib (Giza, Dynasty 4) displayed in a new and unique fashion. Rather than rebuilding the small chambers on their original floor plan, their walls are displayed at a distance, in an 'exploded' fashion. The blocks appear to rest on each other, while missing sections on their back sides were filled with cast modern blocks, into which the ancient fragments were set to supply structural support.

Extensive three-dimensional modelling was used in the process of developing the current display. Exhibited in a large gallery, the walls stand freely and visitors are able to view the blocks in the round and walk behind the original walls. This display offers a rare insight into the materiality of Egyptian architecture in a manner that was never anticipated in the ancient context, where only flat interior surfaces would have been visible.


Catalog: Giza, Ostfriedhof, Grab Nr 70 limestone, AM 1107
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: Hartwig (2006)




img_2296othersideof2295sm
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Burial Chamber of Merib, circa 2 500 BC.

This is the other side of the wall to the images above, with the other side of the entrance shown above on the left of this photograph.

Catalog: Giza, Ostfriedhof, Grab Nr 70 limestone, AM 1107
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany




img_2298meribsm img_2299meribothersideof2295meribsm img_2300meribsm


img_2301meribsm
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Burial Chamber of Merib, circa 2 500 BC.

Closeups of each of the panels on the other side of the main door.

Catalog: Giza, Ostfriedhof, Grab Nr 70 limestone, AM 1107
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany




img_2297meribsm
Fourth Dynasty: 2 613 BC - 2 494 BC

Burial Chamber of Merib, circa 2 500 BC.

This part of the complex was off by itself. It is probably the rear wall of the chamber, and has two false doors.

The 'exploded' arrangement means that there is less pressure on the exhibits in terms of touching and damage, and there is more room for visitors to move around, and view the display from a comfortable distance, and more can view the exhibits at any given time.

Catalog: Giza, Ostfriedhof, Grab Nr 70 limestone, AM 1107
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany








The Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

The Fifth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty V) is combined with Dynasties III, IV and VI under the group title the Old Kingdom.

The names in the table are taken from Dodson and Hilton (2004).


Fifth Dynasty
Name Personal Name& Consort Pyramid Years Dates
Userkaf Irimaat Khenkaus I, Neferhetepes Pyramid in Saqqara 7 2 494 BC - 2 487 BC
Sahure Nebkhau Neferetnebty Pyramid in Abusir 12 2 487 BC - 2 475 BC
Neferirkare Kakai Neferirkare Khentaus II Pyramid in Abusir 20 2 475 BC - 2 455 BC
Neferefre Neferkau Khentakawess III Unfinished Pyramid of Neferefre in Abusir 3 2 455 BC - 2 452 BC
Shepseskare Shepseskare   Possibly in Abusir 8 2 452 BC - 2 444 BC
Nyusserre Ini Nyusserre Reptynub Pyramid in Abusir 24 2 445 BC - 2 421 BC
Menkauhor Kaiu Menkauhor Meresankh IV 'Headless Pyramid' in Saqqara 7 2 421 BC - 2 414 BC
Djedkare Isesi Djedkare   Pyramid in Saqqara 39 2 414 BC - 2 375 BC
Unas Wadjtawy Nebet, Khenut Pyramid in Saqqara 30 2 375 BC - 2 345 BC


Table of Fifth Dynasty Rulers, adapted from various sources, including Wikipedia.




Egypt
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Sarcophagus

Sarcophagus of Minnofer. Granite, location Saqqara circa 2416 BC - 2356 BC, Nioesserre-Djedkare, (Niuserre-Djedkare/Isesi), 5th Dynasty.

Minnofer was vizier (viceroy) in Egypt's capital Memphis. The walls of his sarcophagus show a palace facade with many windows and doors. The domed lid symbolises heaven.

The sarcophagus was in Minnofer's huge mastaba or tomb-house, but was removed around 1825. Then the tomb became covered again under shifting sands. Because the place where the finds were made was not recorded at the time, Minnofer's grave was found again only in 1987.


A mastaba (meaning 'house for eternity' or 'eternal house'), is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with outward sloping sides, constructed out of mud-bricks (from the Nile River) or stone. Mastabas marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt's Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. During the Old Kingdom, kings began to be buried in pyramids instead of mastabas, although non-royal use of mastabas continued for more than a thousand years.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden.




neferbauptah
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Nefer-bau-Ptah

Piers with architrave from the entrance of the sacrificial chamber of the Nefer-bau-Ptah

Circa 2504-2037 BC.

Nefer-bau-Ptah (also Nefer-baw-Ptah) is called in his inscriptions:

The kinsman of the king, prince of the estates of the palace, priest of the king... The honorable.


The pillars of the tomb of Nefer-bau-Ptah are built in the likeness of the loggia on the facade of a noble house. The tomb is the dwelling of the deceased and the murals represent an ideal world incorporating aspects of the reality of the here and now.

Catalog: Painted limestone, Giza, ÄM 1114
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://www.aegyptisches-museum-berlin-verein.de/c41.php




Henka
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Henka

Scribe statue of Henka, chief of the two pyramids of Snofru in limestone, circa 2 450 BC.

Henka, a high official and head of the pyramids of King Snofru, who had died more than a hundred years before, sits with his legs crossed, and has on his knees the unrolled part of a papyrus. The left hand holds the blank part of the roll, the right hand holds the papyrus between the thumb and the index finger.

It is in some respects a portrait rather than a portrayal of a scribe at work, since Henka looks straight ahead, as we would now for a photograph.

Height x Width x Depth: 400 x 320 x 290 mm.


Catalog: Memphis, Meidum, AM 7334
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




img_2378headsm
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Head of a statue of a man.

Circa 2 500 BC

Catalog: Basalt, ÄM not listed
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




img_2380sm
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Kahotep

Portrait head (so-called reserve head) of Kahotep.

5th Dynasty, circa 2450 BC

300 x 180 x 320 mm

The so-called 'replacement heads', which mainly come from the Western Cemetery in Giza, belong to the 'in the round' works of the Old Kingdom. The heads were discovered in discarded positions in the shafts leading to the underground burial chambers. They were found in both male and female graves. They all have a smooth surface. Thus, it is certain that they are not statues or separate parts of figures, but are independent objects. Probably the heads were seen as a sufficient equivalent for the grave, which was generally placed as a substitute body in the tomb.

This replacement head of Kahotep was found in Abusir. It has some damage on the face. The portrayed facial expression is self-confident and proud, and the head rests on a strong neck. It is striking that the head hair of all replacement heads is modelled as a smooth cap and that the ears often seem to be missing or never shown from the start. It is interesting to note that the Berlin head has a limestone core, over which a plaster layer was modelled.

Catalog: Abusir, plaster over limestone, ÄM 16455
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ , (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




img_2382headofprincesm
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

King or Prince

Head of a statue of a king or prince.

Circa 2450 BC

Head of a royal statue wearing a round wig with circlet and uraeus. Bought at Gîza in 1899.

Catalog: Breccia, Giza (?), ÄM 14396
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/3pm8sta1.pdf




img_2384officialsm
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Standing-striding figure of a high official

From the reign of Neferirkare.

Dimensions 385 x 155 x 140 mm

At the latest since the beginning of the historical period (about 3 000 BC), statues have been an integral part of the grave, for a future existence in the hereafter required the preservation of the body or its image according to the ideas of the Egyptians. The statue was one of the classical forms of the grave. Through the upright posture, the stride of the left leg, and the clenched fists this statue embodies an active man. The axial structure supported by the backpost emphasises the frontal alignment of the figure. The face, encircled by an ear-covering wig, has been created as an ideal image, as well as the physique, without any individual features. However, the outstanding modeling of the human body is impressive, which without an excessive emphasis on body parts, demonstrates a sovereign knowledge of the human anatomy.

The figure depicted is clothed with a short skirt. The use of gneiss for non-royal statues is unusual.

Catalog: Gneiss, Memphis, ÄM 1122
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, K. Finneiser at http://www.smb-digital.de/, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




Sabu family Sabu family


Sabu family
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Sabu and Family

Family group of Sabu, his wife Meritites, and their son Iseb. Meritites has her arm around the chest of her husband. Only the lower legs of their son remain.

Limestone, circa 2 400 BC.

Catalog: ÄS 7146
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




Standing - striding figure of Perhernefret
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Perhernefret

Standing - striding figure of Perhernefret.

Wood, circa 2 400 BC.

Son of Renpetnefret. Mentioned on his mother's offering basin, identified as a carpenter.

Size: 1130 x 205 x 560 mm.

Catalog: (Tarkhan) Kafr Ammar, AM 10858
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://www.gizapyramids.org/




Standing - striding figure of Perhernefret
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Hesy

Standing - striding figure of Hesy.

Overseer of officials, face partly restored.

Limestone, circa 2 400 BC.

Catalog: AM 7766
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/3berlin.pdf




family group family group
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Family Group

Painted limestone, circa 2 400 BC.

610 x 270 x 355 mm

The common burial of husband and wife, as well as of mother and son, is extremely frequently documented. In the reliefs of the cult chambers of the tombs of the Old Kingdom there are numerous representations confirming this. Usually the parents, surrounded by the children, or only the man, on whose side his wife, sons and daughters can be found, are depicted.

But group sculpture as a long lasting image of the family has also been very popular since the Old Kingdom.


The partial family group shown here is dominated by the figure of the man. He is clothed only with a knee length kilt and a short wig, and sits erect on a stool. Beside his legs there is a crouching female figure on his right side. She wears an ankle-length garment and with her left arm she clasps the man's lower leg. Probably it is his wife, but it could also be his daughter. On the left is a son, who, as is the case with children and young people, is depicted naked and with the so-called 'Jugendlocke', the braided hairstyle for young people who were descendants of the king, and the hairstyle also marked connection to the young Horus. He also clasps the calf of his father.

The facial features of man and woman are typical for the 5th dynasty and without any attempt at any more detailed physiognomic formation and differentiation. The man's eyelids are of copper, the eyes of black and white stone. The painting on the statue is partly preserved.

Due to the lack of an inscription, the identity and the rank of the depicted persons can not be determined. Comparable pieces were found in mastaba graves at the official cemeteries in Giza and Saqqara.
(K. Finneiser)

Catalog: Saqqara, AM 10123
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: Wikipedia




Scribe statues

The scribe sits cross-legged on the floor with his papyrus scroll open on his lap. He is one of the elite members of ancient Egyptian society. Historic figures who have made a name for themselves through their cultural achievements as poets, architects and artists are still venerated centuries on in the form of scribe statues which are publicly displayed on temple gates. This is also borne out by the portrayal of the signs of age in the corpulence of the upper body - a clear contrast to the otherwise prevailing ideal of eternal youth.

Text above: http://www.egyptian-museum-berlin.com/c51.php

Dersenedj and his wife Nefretka Dersenedj
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Dersenedj and his wife Nefretka

(left) Dersenedj and his wife Nefretka.

(right) Dersenedj in his role as scribe.

Pink granite, circa 2 400 BC.

Dersenedj was a scribe of the granaries and an administrator. Such people had high status, and were learned people.


Writers' statues have been documented since the fourth dynasty. In them, the person presented is portrayed as a civil servant and at the same time a literary man. Dersenedj sits with his legs crossed, holding with his left hand the papyrus leaf, which is spread on the scarf, on which he has placed his right hand, with the finger holding the writing pen (not shown) over the sheet. The upper body is muscular, the head sits directly on the wide shoulders and is surrounded by a shoulder-length wig. The oval, large-area face is left without any attempt at characterisation or individualisation. The titles and names of the 'granaries recorder and domain administrator' have been placed on the papyrus sheet in such a way that the person in front can read them.

The scribe of the granaries Dersenedj is seated, cross-legged, on the floor with an unrolled papyrus on his lap. His right hand is holding an imaginary reed pen. This statue type - the scribe - is known since circa 2 600 BC and represents an official of the Egyptian state with the ability to read and write.

Characteristic for the Old Kingdom is the muscular compressed body, the roundish face without wrinkles and the striated wig. This statue which was created for the grave of Dersenedj is not a portrait but instead presents an ideal 'type' which will continue to live in the netherworld.

Height x Width x Depth: 682 x 510 x 460 mm.

Catalog: ÄM 23720, ÄM 15701
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/(CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://www.egyptian-museum-berlin.com/c51.php




img_2334


Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Tomb relief


Tomb relief depicting gardening and offering-bearers.

Circa 2 400 BC

Catalog: Painted limestone, Saqqâra, ÄM 31198
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/3berlin.pdf


img_2336canoesm


Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Tomb relief

Tomb relief showing offering-bearers in a papyrus boat.

Circa 2 400 BC

Catalog: Painted limestone, Saqqâra, ÄM 31294
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/3berlin.pdf




img_2338tombreliefsmimg_2339tombreliefsm.jpg


Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Tomb relief

Tomb relief depicting offering-bearers in front of the tomb owner (large feet, right).

Circa 2 400 BC

Catalog: Painted limestone, Saqqâra, ÄM 31012, ÄM 31011
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)


Sarcophagus
Fifth Dynasty: 2 494 BC - 2 345 BC.

Sarcophagus

Sarcophagi (stone coffins) were reserved for royalty and the elite. The panel design depicts a palace facade. The side that faced east includes two false doors.

Red granite sarcophagus, circa 2 400 BC, decorated with palace-facade panelling. Slightly vaulted lid retains handling-bosses at either end.

Length 225 cm, height 105 cm, width 88 cm.


Sarcophagus
Most Egyptian tombs lie on the edge of the western desert, so the dead were buried facing east, towards the living — who brought them offerings.

An inscription on the same side, near the top, named the owner but was erased, perhaps to curse him. The bosses on the lid served to manoeuvre It into place.

Catalog: From Giza, tomb LG 98, Granite, EA71620
Photo (upper): Don Hitchcock 2015
Photo (lower): © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Unas column
Fifth Dynasty: Reign of Unas (about 2 375 - 2 345 BC)

Column of King Unas

This red granite column, 564 cm high, graced a colonnaded court in the mortuary temple at the foot of Unas' pyramid at Saqqara. The top is carved in the shape of palm leaves.

Many elements of Egyptian temples evoked the natural world and symbolised divine creation. Floors and painted ceilings replicated the earth and sky, while the columns and wall decoration represented vegetation. Some stone elements might mimic lighter building materials such as wood and matting.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Unas pyramid
Fifth Dynasty: Reign of Unas (about 2 375 - 2 345 BC)

Pyramid of King Unas

Each column in the Unas pyramid complex was carved from a single piece of granite, which was quarried at Aswan, near Egypt's southern border. In a rough hewn state, the columns were transported 800 kilometres down the Nile on special boats, only to be finished once they had been erected.

Photo: Poster, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Text: Poster at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Unas pyramid
Fifth Dynasty: Reign of Unas (about 2 375 - 2 345 BC)

Pyramid of King Unas

This wall scene from the causeway leading up to his mortuary temple shows the shipping of the granite columns for the pyramid complex.

Photo: Poster, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Text: Poster at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0








The Sixth Dynasty

2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

The Sixth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty VI) is combined with Dynasties III, IV and V under the group title the Old Kingdom.

The pharaohs of this dynasty ruled for approximately 164 years. These kings ruled from Memphis, since their pyramids were built at Saqqara, close by, which served as the necropolis for Memphis.

The names in the table are taken from Dodson and Hilton (2004).


Sixth Dynasty
Name Personal Name Consort Pyramid Years Dates
Teti Seheteptawy Khent(kaus III), Iput I, Khuit Pyramid of Teti in Saqqara 12 2 345 BC - 2 333 BC
Userkare       2 2 333 BC - 2 331 BC
Pepi I Nefersahor/Merenre Ankhesenpepi I, Ankhesenpepi II,
Nubwenet, Meritites IV, Inenek-Inti,
Mehaa, Nedjeftet
Pyramid of Pepi in South Saqqara 44 2 331 BC - 2 287 BC
Merenre I Merenre Ankhesenpepi II Pyramid of Merenre in South Saqqara 9 2 287 BC - 2 278 BC
Pepi II Neferkare Neith, Iput II, Ankhesenpepi III,
Ankhesenpepi IV, Udjebten
Pyramid of Merenre in South Saqqara 94
(aged 6 to 100)
2 278 BC - 2 184 BC
Merenre II Merenre     1 2 184 BC
Netjerkare Siptah       3 2 184 BC- 2 181 BC


Table of Sixth Dynasty Rulers, adapted from various sources, including Wikipedia.


Life after death
The ancient Egyptians did not believe that life ended at death. The souls, the Ka and the Ba, went on living, but would die if the body disappeared. So around 2700 BC the Egyptians began embalming their dead. The technique was continuously improved, reaching its peak around 800 BC.

The internal organs were removed through an incision in the left flank, but the heart had to remain in position. Sometimes the brain was also extracted. Then the body was covered with natron, a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate and bicarbonate, which dried it out. One month later the bone-dry body was covered in resin, and resin was poured into the body. The interior organs were dried and put back into the body, or separated into four Canopic jars, the lids of which were decorated with specific heads of gods.

The wrapping up of the mummy in linen lasted another month. Worn textiles were reused. Amulets were occasionally placed inside the linen bandages. The most important of these was the dung beetle, the so-called heart-scarab, which was supposed to protect the dead at the tribunal of Osiris. Finally the mummy was placed in one or more coffins, placed one inside the other, according to the means of the family.

Text above adapted from a display at the Københavns (Copenhagen) Museum, National Museum of Denmark

Tjeti
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC

Tjeti


Fragment of a tomb wall.

Tjeti, the tomb owner, with insignia of rank.

Limestone, circa 2 321 BC - 2 184 BC

Catalog: Sakkara, Mastaba of Tjeti, GL 13
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




img_2343_2344wallsm statue Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC

The door of the sacrificial chamber and the wall in the tomb of Manufer, circa 2 335 BC


Facing the entrance gate, a false door, approximately two metres high, stands at the top of a flight of three steps; it is part of the sacrificial chamber of Manufer, chief wig-maker to the king.

The two sacrificial chambers of Metjen and Manufer shown on this page were removed from the Neues Museum during WWII and were carried off to the Soviet Union at the beginning of summer 1945. In 1956 they were returned to the German Democratic Republic.

Catalog: Abusir, Manufer (tomb) AM 1108
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)


img_2344_2345sm statue
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC

Burial Chamber of Manufer, circa 2 335 BC


The chamber was never completed, so it gives a good idea of the process of creating such a tomb.

During restoration, dirt was removed with a laser device. Much meaning was revealed during the restoration when the tomb was cleaned and closely examined.

Catalog: Abusir, Manufer (tomb) AM 1108
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
Additional text: http://revistaryr.webs.upv.es/pdf/RyR_112_124-125.pdf, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSCKS2du2Sw




img_2344_2345sm statue
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC

Burial Chamber of Manufer, circa 2 335 BC


In this image from the walls of the tomb, we can see the technique for milking a cow. The front and back legs were bound together first, then the cow was milked.

This method would have been used for a cow milked in the fields, rather than in a central milking shed.


Catalog: Abusir, Manufer (tomb) AM 1108
Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSCKS2du2Sw
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany




img_2344_2345sm statue
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC

The tomb of Manufer, circa 2 335 BC


The tomb is an authentic look at the lifestyle of ordinary ancient Egyptians 4 500 years ago. Animal slaughtering as an offering for the afterlife is depicted. It is a hand book of the old stone carving techniques.

The relief on the walls of the burial chambers of Manufer and Merib are so graphic that they need no detailed description. They serve to offer the prospect of an ideal world in the hereafter for the deceased and their families.


The images do not aim to make direct biographical references to the deceased- with the exception of the titles and names in the hieroglyphic writings. Some of the murals in Manuferts tomb remained unfinished and show the various stages involved in creating a relief.

The most important motif in the tomb reliefs is the sacrificial offering to the deceased, including the scenes of husbandry and slaughter They are substitutes of the actual sacrificial offering performed by the descendants. This theme also runs through the reliefs and stelae from the necropolises of Memphis, Abydos and Thebes covering the epochs from the old kingdom to the New Kingdom.

Catalog: Abusir, Manufer (tomb) AM 1108
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSCKS2du2Sw Additional text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




img_2349closeupsm
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC

The tomb of Manufer, circa 2 335 BC


In this closeup of part of the tomb wall above, we can see both the methods used for the initial mapping out of the images, never actually completed in this case, but with the dark lines used to show the basics of the final carving still visible on the left, as well as the finished carving on the right, showing a cow being cut up ready for sacrifice to the gods.


Above the man on the right holding up what may be a sacrificial knife, we see first a hand, a common icon, but above that is a rod with a curve or hook on each end. This is identical to a tool called a gambrel used in rural Australia when a lamb is prepared for the table. The legs of the beast are slit between the two lower bones, the tool is inserted, attached to a rope, and the animal is then suspended from a convenient tree branch or the rafters of a shed, to make 'dressing' (the removal of the internal organs) and skinning very much easier. These workers, however, seem to be completing the whole task on the abattoir floor.

Catalog: Abusir, Manufer (tomb) AM 1108
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany




img_2350_2351_2352wall
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC

The tomb of Manufer, circa 2 335 BC


Panorama of part of the wall of the Manufer tomb.

Waterfowl and cattle feature prominently in this section, and were both obviously of great importance to the people.

Catalog: Abusir, Manufer (tomb) AM 1108
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany



qubbet el hawa
Qubbet el-Hawa is a site of a group of Rock-cut tombs known as the Princes' Tomb on the west side of the Nile, opposite Aswan. The Princes' Tombs date mainly from the Old Kingdom which provide important details of the lives of officials at this time - including the tomb of Harkhuf, a governor of Upper Egypt under the pharaoh Merenre I, third king of the 6th Dynasty. There are a few later tombs, from the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom.

Between 1959 and 1984, Investigation and excavations at Qubbet el-Hawa were conducted by the Egyptological Seminar of the University of Bonn under the direction of Professor Elmar Edel (1914-1997) in more than 20 campaigns. The finds were given the abbreviation QH for Qubbet el-Hawa and numbered consecutively. The finds of more than 1000 artefacts from a total of 25 graves were shipped to Bonn. Today, the Ägyptische Museum der Universität Bonn has the world's biggest collection of objects from this necropolis outside Egypt.

Photo: Karen Green
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
Text: Ägyptische Museum der Universität Bonn, Wikipedia




qubbet el hawa




Plan of the Qubbet el-Hawa site.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Ägyptische Museum der Universität Bonn




qubbet el hawa



Plan of a gravesite at Qubbet el-Hawa.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Ägyptische Museum der Universität Bonn




beads
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

Beads


Qubbet el-Hawa, QH 25, Shaft III, Coffin Chamber ß: Burial of a 7-year-old boy.

Painted clay, Faience.

Old Kingdom, Sixth Dynasty, circa 2 300 BC

Catalog: 'Various numbers', (not detailed on the display)
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Ägyptische Museum der Universität Bonn







Jujubier
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

Statuette of a man


Statuette of a man in Jujubier wood, Ziziphus jujuba

Circa 2 300 BC.

Catalog: E 10484
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Musée du Louvre
Text: © Musée du Louvre




Seated figure of Hetepne Seated figure of Hetepne
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

Hetepni


Seated statue of the chamberlain of the king, Hetepni.

Painted limestone, circa 2 200 BC.

Catalog: AM 34428
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




img_2316sm
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

Satintef



False door of the tomb of the mistress Satintef.

Circa 2200 BC.

Catalog: Limestone, ÄM 7718
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)




Bead Necklace
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

Bead Necklace

Necklace of beads of carnelian, circa 2 200 BC

Catalog: Excavations at Dara, E 25216
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Musée du Louvre




Bead Necklace
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

Bead Necklace

Necklace of faience, circa 2 200 BC

Catalog: Excavations at Dara, E 17284 - E 17290
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Musée du Louvre




False-Door Stelae of the Old Kingdom

Towards the end of the Old Kingdom, the decoration of the tombs, more and more often made of mudbrick, was slowly reduced to a very few stone elements. Both of these reliefs (1) were originally inserted into narrow door niches in the eastern exterior wall of the tomb building of Eldest of the House Meni; the round beam just over the 'door' has survived. In a cramped space, small-scale scenes show Meni enjoying a boat trip with his family, with offering-bearers and the grinding of grain. The inscription on the left-hand relief incorporates a formula to repel tomb desecrators.

stela stela


Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

Stela of Meni


Fragments from the false-door stela of Meni.

Circa 2 200 BC.

Catalog: limestone, Gizeh, GL 24a - 24b
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




stela
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.

False-door stela of Merit-itet-Teti

Equally characteristic for the late Old Kingdom is an extremely narrow door with multiple nested embrasures shown here, circa 2 340 BC.

Catalog: limestone, Sakkara, GL 108
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Ägyptischen Museum München
Text: © Ägyptischen Museum München




img_2332ankhaefsm
Sixth Dynasty: 2 345 BC - 2 181 BC.


Ankh-haef


Relief of the tomb of Ankh-haef. 6th Dynasty, circa 2300 BC

( note that these dates are consistent, but there is another figure called Ankhhaf who lived in the fourth dynasty, and was a son of pharaoh Sneferu and an unknown wife - Don )

Catalog: Limestone, ÄM 15321
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)








The Seventh and Eighth Dynasties

2 181 BC - 2 160 BC

The Seventh and Eighth Dynasties of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasties VII and VIII) are often combined together and regroup a line of poorly known short-lived pharaohs reigning in the early 22nd century BC, a troubled time referred to as the very end of the Old Kingdom or the beginning of the First Intermediate Period, depending on the scholar.

An important resource for dating the Dynasties of Egypt is what is known as the 'Turin Canon'. The Turin Canon is a list of kings written in hieratic script on a papyrus which dates to the reign of Ramesses II (1 290 - 1 224 BC. It is now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy. It contains some information which is also found in Manetho, giving the name of Menes as the first king of Egypt, and listing the gods and demigods as the rulers of the Predynastic Period. It supplies the complete years of each king's reign and any additional months and days, but since only fragments of the papyrus have survived, only 80 - 90 of the total of royal names are preserved.

Text above: David (2002)

Seventh and Eighth Dynasties
Name Other names
or Identities
Attested by Burial Years Dates
Menkare   Possibly attested by a relief
from the tomb of Queen Neit
     
Neferkare II          
Neferkare Neby     Planned or started a pyramid
'Neferkare Neby is Enduring of Life',
possibly at Saqqara
   
Djedkare Shemai          
Neferkare Khendu          
Merenhor          
Neferkamin          
Nikare   Attested by the Abydos King List
and possibly by a cylinder seal
     
Neferkare Tereru          
Neferkahor   Attested by a cylinder seal      
Neferkare Pepiseneb       ≥1 (Turin Canon)  
Neferkamin Anu         - 2 170 BC
Qakare Ibi     Pyramid at Saqqara Two years,
one month,
one day
2 169 BC - 2 168 BC
Neferkaure   Date attested by a decree
concerning the temple of Min
  four years,
two months
2 167 BC - 2 164 BC
Khwiwihepu Neferkauhor   Date attested by 8 decrees
re the temple of Min, and
an inscription in the tomb
of the vizier Shemay
  two years,
one month,
one day
2 163 BC - 2 162 BC
Neferirkare   Date attested by a decree
re temple of Min, if he is identical
to either or both Horus
Demedjibtawy or Wadjkare
  one and
a half years
2 161 BC - 2 160 BC


Table of Seventh/Eighth Dynasty Rulers, adapted from various sources, including Wikipedia.


 Kedes and his mother Jbeb
First Intermediate Period: 2 170 BC - 2 025 BC

Tomb Relief of Kedes and his mother Jbeb.


460 x 495 x 100 mm

Kedes is shown, together with his wife and his son, receiving sacrifices. He was active in military service in Gebelein, south of Luxor. He self-confidently reports on his achievements and abilities by saying, amongst other things, that he was a faster runner than the Nubian and Egyptian soldiers in his squad.

Catalog: Gebelein; Limestone, ÄM 24032
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Neues Museum, Germany
Text: © Card at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, http://www.smb-digital.de/ (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)








The Ninth Dynasty

2 160 BC - 2 130 BC

The Ninth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (sometimes notated Dynasty IX) is often combined with 7th, 8th, 10th and early 11th Dynasties under the group title First Intermediate Period. The dynasty that seems to have supplanted the 8th Dynasty is extremely obscure. The takeover by the rulers of Herakleopolis was violent and is reflected in Manetho's description of Achthoes, the founder of the dynasty, as 'more terrible than his predecessors', who 'wrought evil things for those in all Egypt'.

The 9th Dynasty was founded at Herakleopolis Magna, and the 10th Dynasty continued there. At this time Egypt was not unified, and there is some overlap between these and other local dynasties. The Turin Canon lists eighteen kings for this royal line, but their names are damaged, unidentifiable, or lost.



Above text: Wikipedia

Note that in the table below, a nomarch is the governor of an Ancient Egyptian nome, or a subnational administrative division of ancient Egypt. This is the Greek term, the Ancient Egyptian term was sepat.

Manetho was an historian of Egypt. Manetho is believed to have authored the Aegyptiaca of Manetho, or Manetho's Egyptian History, at the request of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The work is of great interest to Egyptologists for evidence of the chronology of the reigns of the ancient pharaohs.


Ninth Dynasty
Name Comments
Meryibre Khety Horus name Meryibtawy, and Manetho's Achthoes,
a nomarch who proclaimed himself pharaoh
Name lost  
Neferkare VII Might be the Kaneferre mentioned in
the tomb of the nomarch Ankhtifi
Setut  
Name lost  
Mery(...)  
Shed(...)  
H(...)  
(three names lost)  
User(...)  


Table of Ninth Dynasty Rulers, adapted from various sources, including Wikipedia.


copper container copper brazier



Ninth Dynasty: 2 160 BC - 2 130 BC

Copper Container

Copper container with Meryibre Khety's royal titulary. Paris, Louvre. Some sources identify this as a brazier.

Height 5 cm, length 16 cm, depth 13 cm.

Catalog: E 10501
Photo (left): Guillaume Blanchard
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Photo (right): © Musée du Louvre
Source: Original, Musée du Louvre
Text: © Musée du Louvre, Wikipedia








The Tenth Dynasty

2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

The 9th Dynasty was founded at Herakleopolis Magna, and the 10th Dynasty continued there. At this time Egypt was not unified, and there is some overlap between these and other local dynasties. The Turin Canon lists eighteen kings for this royal line, but their names are damaged, unidentifiable, or lost.


Tenth Dynasty
Name Comments
Meryhathor Existence doubtful, known from a damaged graffito at Hatnub
Neferkare VIII Might be the Kaneferre mentioned in the tomb of the nomarch Ankhtifi
Wahkare Khety III May be the author of the famous Teaching for King Merikare.
The cartouches of Wahkare Khety were found on the outer coffin
of the steward Nefri, (Cairo CG 28088)
Merykare Main opponent of the Theban pharaoh Mentuhotep II
(name lost) Successor of Merykare, lasted only a few months


Table of Tenth Dynasty Rulers, adapted from various sources, including Wikipedia.


The burial of Hetepnebi

Tomb 56 at Asyut

Hetepnebi was a local official, whose titles included those of Sole Companion, and Inspector of the priests of the ka-chapel of one of the two kings of the 6th Dynasty named Pepy. Ka-chapels, established at important towns, contained statues which acted as the focus for the mortuary cults of rulers. The forms of the pottery vessels from his tomb suggest that Hetepnebi was buried around 2090 BC, approximately a century after the death of Pepy II.

The rock-cut tomb of Hetepnebi was excavated in 1907. It was one of a group of tombs dating to the end of the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period, situated at the eastern end of the Asyut cemetery. It comprised a vertical shaft leading to a small burial chamber closed with wooden planks. The coffin, aligned north-south, contained the mummy lying on its left side. Pottery jars, statues and models lay on the floor next to the coffin. Although the tomb had not been entered since the burial, the body had been partially stripped in the search for valuables, perhaps by those responsible for closing the tomb.

Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi


Plan of the cemetery showing the approximate location of tomb 56, and the tombs of the governors at Asyut.

Photo: Poster, British Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Rephotography: Don Hitchcock 2015
Text: Poster at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi


The coffin from Tomb 56 at Asyut is made from small pieces of tamarisk wood, joined together with wooden dowels, and originally secured at the corners by means of leather thongs. The slots to accommodate these can still be seen. The simple decoration of the coffin consists of a pair of eyes located at the head end on the east facing side, and brief inscriptions requesting offerings from the gods Anubis and Khenyamentiu. The inscriptions are incised. The order of the hieroglyphic signs used to spell the owner's name was altered in antiquity.


Catalog: EA46629
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi Head rest


This headrest was found inside the coffin, where it had been placed to support the head of the corpse. It consists of three sections jointed together. The upper and central elements are made of sycomore fig, the base of an unidentified timber.

Catalog: EA45122
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi Sandals


These funerary sandals, made of tamarisk wood, were found still in position on the feet of the corpse.

Catalog: EA47563
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi Hetepnebi Hetepnebi



Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi Brewer Models


These two painted wooden figures of male brewers are represented in the act of straining mash through a cloth into vats in order to brew beer.

Catalog: EA45164, EA45165
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi Beer Vats


These painted wooden models of beer vats represent the vats used by the ancient Egyptians in the production of beer, and were produced as large pottery vessels.

They belong with the brewer models above.

The smaller vat has lost its lid, evidenced by the dowel which once held it in place.

Catalog: EA47555, EA47556
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi boat


Model boat with crew of paddlers.

The shape of this model boat with a crew of paddlers in modelled on that of a papyrus boat. The craft was propelled by paddles, and the crew, unlike oarsmen, faced forwards.

A cavity at the stern may have held a figure of the owner, such as the statuette EA45091 shown below, and a pilot originally stood at the prow.


Catalog: EA45089
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi boat owner


This seated wooden figure of a man probably represents the tomb occupant, and may have been attached to one of the model boats in the cavity to be seen in the stern, secured by a wooden dowel.

Catalog: EA45091
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi Pilots


These painted wooden figures are perhaps the pilots from each of the two wooden boats found in the tomb, and would have been placed at the front of the boat to call directions to the paddlers.

Catalog: EA45155, EA45156
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




Hetepnebi
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Hetepnebi Bead


Blue-glazed faience spiral bead.

This single bead was found inside the coffin and had probably formed part of the trappings of the corpse. Since the body had been rifled, it is possible that other items of jewellery had been stolen in antiquity.

Green glazed composition long, narrow conical bead with moulded spiral decoration.

Length 48 mm, diameter 9 mm (max)

Catalog: EA47463
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0




nefri steward
Tenth Dynasty: 2 130 BC - 2 040 BC

Outer coffin of the steward Nefri


Wooden coffin of the ancient Egyptian steward Nefri. For unknown reasons, the cartouches of the earlier pharaoh Wahkare Khety of the 9th-10th Dynasty were painted on it in place of Nefri's name. From Deir el-Bersha, 12th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom, now in Cairo (CG 28088).


Catalog: Cairo CG 28088
Photo: Pierre Lacau
Permission: Public Domain
Source: Original, Musée du Louvre
Text: Wikipedia




green hippo
Glazed composition hippopotamus, provenance unrecorded.

Middle Kingdom, about 2055 BC - 1650 BC.

The destructive character of the hippopotamus led it to be regarded as a hostile force by the Egyptians. This model, decorated with marsh plants, including lotus patterns in black, evokes the pleasures and dangers of the marshland. It was probably placed in a tomb, its legs (now restored) possibly deliberately broken off to render it harmless to the deceased person.

Catalog: EA 35004
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Original, British Museum
Text: Card at museum display, © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0









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