Den (pharaoh)

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Den, also known as Hor-Den, Dewen and Udimu, is the Horus name of a pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period who ruled during the First Dynasty of Egypt. He is the best archaeologically-attested ruler of this period. Den is said to have brought prosperity to his realm and numerous innovations are attributed to his reign. He was the first to use the title "King of Lower and Upper Egypt", and the first depicted as wearing the double crown (red and white). The floor of his tomb at Umm El Qa'ab near Abydos is made of red and black granite, the first time in Egypt this hard stone was used as a building material. During his long reign he established many of the patterns of court ritual and royalty used by later rulers and he was held in high regard by his immediate successors.

Horus name

The Horus name is the oldest known and used crest of Ancient Egyptian rulers. It belongs to the "Great five names" of an Egyptian pharaoh. However, modern Egyptologists and linguists are starting to prefer the more neutral term: the "serekh name". This is because not every pharaoh placed the falcon, which symbolizes the deity Horus, atop his serekh.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

Early Dynastic Period (Egypt) period of Ancient Egypt immediately follows the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt

The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt is the era immediately following the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the end of the Naqada III archaeological period until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom. With the First Dynasty, the capital moved from Thinis to Memphis with a unified Egypt ruled by an Egyptian god-king. Abydos remained the major holy land in the south. The hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization, such as art, architecture and many aspects of religion, took shape during the Early Dynastic period.

Contents

Length of reign

The Ancient Egyptian historian Manetho called him “Oúsaphaîdos” and credited him with a reign of 20 years, [1] whilst the Royal Canon of Turin is damaged and therefore unable to provide information about the duration of Den's reign. [2] Egyptologists and historians generally believe that Den had a reign of 42 years, based on inscriptions on the Palermo Stone. [3]

Manetho Egyptian historian and priest from Ancient Egypt

Manetho is believed to have been an Egyptian priest from Sebennytos who lived in the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the early third century BC, during the Hellenistic period. He authored the Aegyptiaca in Greek, a major chronological source for the reigns of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. It is unclear if he wrote his work during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter or Ptolemy II Philadelphos, but no later than that of Ptolemy III Euergetes.

Turin King List ancient Egyptian manuscript

The Turin King List, also known as the Turin Royal Canon, is an ancient Egyptian hieratic papyrus thought to date from the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II, now in the Museo Egizio in Turin. The papyrus is the most extensive list available of kings compiled by the ancient Egyptians, and is the basis for most chronology before the reign of Ramesses II.

Epigraphy Study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing

Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writing and the writers. Specifically excluded from epigraphy are the historical significance of an epigraph as a document and the artistic value of a literary composition.

Name sources

Sepati, cartouche name of Den in the Abydos king list. Abydos KL 01-05 n05.jpg
Sepati, cartouche name of Den in the Abydos king list.

Den's serekh name is well attested on earthen seal impressions, on ivory labels and in inscriptions on vessels made of schist, diorite and marble. The artifacts were found at Abydos, Saqqara and Abu Rawash. [4] Den's name is also attested in later documents. For example, the Medical Papyrus of Berlin (the Ramesside era) discusses several methods of treatment and therapies for a number of different diseases. Some of these methods are said to originate from the reign of Den, but this statement may merely be trying to make the medical advice sound traditional and authoritative. [5] Similarly, Den is mentioned in the Papyrus of Ani (also dated to Ramesside times) in chapter 64. [6]

Serekh

A serekh was a specific important type of heraldic crest used in ancient Egypt. Like the later cartouche, it contained a royal name.

Schist Medium grade metamorphic rock with lamellar grain

Schist is a medium-grade metamorphic rock. Schist has medium to large, flat, sheet-like grains in a preferred orientation. It is defined by having more than 50% platy and elongated minerals, often finely interleaved with quartz and feldspar. These lamellar minerals include micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is produced. Schist is often garnetiferous. Schist forms at a higher temperature and has larger grains than phyllite. Geological foliation with medium to large grained flakes in a preferred sheetlike orientation is called schistosity.

Diorite Intermediate intrusive igneous rock composed principally of plagioclase feldspar

Diorite is an intrusive igneous rock composed principally of the silicate minerals plagioclase feldspar, biotite, hornblende, and/or pyroxene. The chemical composition of diorite is intermediate, between that of mafic gabbro and felsic granite. Diorite is usually grey to dark-grey in colour, but it can also be black or bluish-grey, and frequently has a greenish cast. It is distinguished from gabbro on the basis of the composition of the plagioclase species; the plagioclase in diorite is richer in sodium and poorer in calcium. Diorite may contain small amounts of quartz, microcline, and olivine. Zircon, apatite, titanite, magnetite, ilmenite, and sulfides occur as accessory minerals. Minor amounts of muscovite may also be present. Varieties deficient in hornblende and other dark minerals are called leucodiorite. When olivine and more iron-rich augite are present, the rock grades into ferrodiorite, which is transitional to gabbro. The presence of significant quartz makes the rock type quartz-diorite or tonalite, and if orthoclase is present at greater than 10 percent, the rock type grades into monzodiorite or granodiorite. A dioritic rock containing feldspathoid mineral/s and no quartz is termed foid-bearing diorite or foid diorite according to content.

Identity

Fragment of an ivory label showing pharaoh Den wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Discovered in the tomb of Den, now in the Egyptian Museum. Den label.jpg
Fragment of an ivory label showing pharaoh Den wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Discovered in the tomb of Den, now in the Egyptian Museum.

Den's serekh name was "Den" or "Dewen", most likely meaning "he who brings the water". This is consistent with his birth name, which was “Khasty”, meaning “he of the two deserts”. Egyptologists such as Toby Wilkinson and Francesco Tiradritti think that the birth name refers to the eastern and the western desert – both surrounding Egypt like protective shields - or to Lower and Upper Egypt. This is in accord with the introduction of the Nisut-Bity-title by Den. This royal title was designed to legitimise the ruler's power over the whole of Egypt. [7] [8]

Toby Wilkinson English egyptologist

Toby A. H. Wilkinson is an English Egyptologist and academic. He is the Head of the International Strategy Office at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and was previously a research fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge and Durham University. He was awarded the 2011 Hessell-Tiltman Prize.

Lower Egypt northernmost region of Egypt

Lower Egypt is the northernmost region of Egypt, which consists of the fertile Nile Delta, between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea — from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historically, the Nile River split into seven branches of the delta in Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was divided into nomes and began to advance as a civilization after 3600 BC. Today, it contains two major channels that flow through the delta of the Nile River.

Upper Egypt strip of land on the Nile valley between Nubia and Lower Egypt

Upper Egypt is the strip of land on both sides of the Nile that extends between Nubia and downriver (northwards) to Lower Egypt.

Den's family has been the subject of significant research. His mother was queen Merneith; this conclusion is supported by contemporary seal impressions and by the inscription on the Palermo Stone. Den's wives were the queens Semat, Nakht-Neith and, possibly, Qaineit. He also had numerous sons and daughters; his possible successors could have been king Anedjib and king Semerkhet. [4] [9]

Merneith ancient Egyptian queen

Merneith was a consort and a regent of Ancient Egypt during the First Dynasty. She may have been a ruler of Egypt in her own right, based on several official records. If this was the case, she may have been the first female pharaoh and the earliest queen regnant in recorded history. Her rule occurred around 2950 BC for an undetermined period. Merneith’s name means "Beloved by Neith" and her stele contains symbols of that ancient Egyptian deity. She may have been Djer's daughter and was probably Djet's senior royal wife. The former meant that she would have been the great-granddaughter of unified Egypt's first pharaoh, Narmer. She was also the mother of Den, her successor.

Anedjib Egyptian pharaoh

Anedjib, more correctly Adjib and also known as Hor-Anedjib, Hor-Adjib and Enezib, is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the 1st dynasty. The Egyptian historian Manetho named him "Miebîdós" and credited him with a reign of 26 years, whilst the Royal Canon of Turin credited him with an implausible reign of 74 years. Egyptologists and historians now consider both records to be exaggerations and generally credit Adjib with a reign of 8–10 years.

Semerkhet Egyptian pharaoh

Semerkhet is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the first dynasty. This ruler became known through a tragic legend handed down by the ancient Greek historian, Manetho, who reported that a calamity of some sort occurred during Semerkhet's reign. The archaeological records seem to support the view that Semerkhet had a difficult time as king and some early archaeologists even questioned the legitimacy of Semerkhet's succession to the Egyptian throne.

Den's Royal Household is also well researched. Subsidiary tombs and palatial mastabas at Sakkara belonged to high officials such as Ipka, Ankh-ka, Hemaka, Nebitka, Amka, Iny-ka and Ka-Za. In a subsidiary tomb at Den's necropolis, the rare stela of a dwarf named Ser-Inpu was found. [3]

Mastaba type of ancient Egyptian tomb

A mastaba or pr-djt is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mud-bricks. These edifices marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt's Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. In the Old Kingdom epoch, local kings began to be buried in pyramids instead of in mastabas, although non-royal use of mastabas continued for over a thousand years. Egyptologists call these tombs mastaba, from the Arabic word مصطبة "stone bench".

Necropolis large ancient cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments

A necropolis is a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments. The name stems from the Ancient Greek νεκρόπολις nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead".

The birth name of Den was misread in Ramesside times. The Abydos King List has “Sepatju” written with two symbols for “district”. This derives from the two desert symbols Den originally had used. The Turin King List refers to “Qenentj”, which is quite difficult to translate. The origin of the hieroglyphs used the Royal Canon of Turin remains unknown. The Saqqara Tablet mysteriously omits Den completely. [10]

Reign

Ebony label EA 32650 from Den's tomb. The upper right register depicts king Den twice: at the left he is sitting in his Hebsed pavilion, at the right he is running a symbolic race around D-shaped markings. This ceremony is connected to the so-called "race of the Apis bull". The middle right section reports about the raid of the city "beautiful door" and about a daughter of Den suffering from an unknown disease. The lower right section reports about the visitation of the "souls of Peh" at the royal domain "Wenet". The left part of the label describes the content of the vessel that once belonged to the label and mentions the high official Hemaka, who was obviously responsible for the delivery of the labeled jar. EbonyLabelOfDen-BritishMuseum-August19-08.jpg
Ebony label EA 32650 from Den's tomb. The upper right register depicts king Den twice: at the left he is sitting in his Hebsed pavilion, at the right he is running a symbolic race around D-shaped markings. This ceremony is connected to the so-called "race of the Apis bull". The middle right section reports about the raid of the city "beautiful door" and about a daughter of Den suffering from an unknown disease. The lower right section reports about the visitation of the "souls of Peh" at the royal domain "Wenet". The left part of the label describes the content of the vessel that once belonged to the label and mentions the high official Hemaka , who was obviously responsible for the delivery of the labeled jar.

Beginning

According to archaeological records, at the very beginning of his reign, Den had to share the throne with his mother Meritneith for several years. It seems that he was too young to rule himself. Therefore, Meritneith reigned as a regent or de facto pharaoh for some time. Such a course of action was not unusual in ancient Egyptian history. Queen Neithhotep may have taken on a similar role before Meritneith, while queens such as Sobekneferu and Hatshepsut were later female Egyptian rulers. Den's mother was rewarded with her own tomb of royal dimensions and with her own mortuary cult. [4] [9]

Events

An important innovation during Den's reign was the introduction of numbering using hieroglyphs. Prior to this, important year events were merely depicted in signs and miniatures, sometimes guided by the hieroglyphic sign rnpt "bald palm panicle", meaning “year”. From Den's reign onwards, the Egyptians used numbering hieroglyphs for a range of purposes including calculating tax collections and for annotating their year events. [11]

Den is the first Egyptian king attested with rock reliefs in the Sinai Peninsula. Two or perhaps even three reliefs are showing the standing king and some of his officials. [12]

Most religious and political happenings from Den's reign are recorded in the numerous ivory tags and from the Palermo Stone inscription. The tags show important developments in typography and arts. The surface is artistically parted into sections, each of them showing individual events. For example, one of these tags reports on an epidemic then affecting Egypt. The inscription shows the figure of a shaman with an undefined vessel or urn at his feet. A nearby inscription begins with “Henu...” but it is unclear, if that means “provision” or if it is the first syllable of the name “Henu-Ka” (a high official). [3]

Another tag, known as the “MacGregor Label”, shows the first complete depiction of an Egyptian king with the so-called nemes headdress. The picture shows Den in a gesture known as "smiting the enemy". In one hand Den holds a mace, in the other hand he grabs a foe by his hair. Thanks to the braids and the conic beard the foe has been identified as of Asian origin. The hieroglyphs at the right side say "first smiting of the east". At the left side the name of the high official Iny-Ka is inscribed. It seems that Den sent troops to the Sinai Peninsula and the eastern desert a number of times. Plundering nomads, known by the early Egyptians as jwntj.w "people with hunting bows”, were regular foes of Egypt, often causing trouble. They are again mentioned in a rock inscription in the Sinai Peninsula under Semerkhet, one of Den's successors. [3] [13] [14]

year 18-22 at the recto of the Cairostone fragment C5 Den-Palermo.png
year 18–22 at the recto of the Cairostone fragment C5

More events are reported on the Palermo Stone fragments. The Oxford fragment records the following events:

The Cairo-Stone fragment C5 reports:

The Palermo Stone main fragment reports:

The second celebration of the Hebsed (a throne jubilee) is affirmed by several stone vessel inscriptions from Den's necropolis. [19]

Tomb

The reconstructed entrance to "Tomb T" at Umm el-Qa'ab in Abydos, the tomb of Den Tomb of Den 1.jpg
The reconstructed entrance to "Tomb T" at Umm el-Qa'ab in Abydos, the tomb of Den

Den was interred within a tomb ("Tomb T") in the Umm El Qa'ab area of Abydos, which is associated with other First Dynasty kings. [20] Tomb T is among the largest and most finely-built of the tombs in this area, and is the first to feature a staircase and a floor made of granite. [21]

His was the first tomb to have a flight of stairs leading to it, those of earlier kings being filled directly above from their roofs. It is possible the tomb was used as a storehouse for surplus produce during the king's lifetime, while also making it easier to add grave goods for later use in the afterlife by Den. [22]

Tomb T is also the first tomb to include architectural elements made of stone rather than mud-brick. [22] In the original layout for the tomb, a wooden door was located about halfway up the staircase, and a portcullis placed in front of the burial chamber, designed to keep out tomb robbers. [23] The floor of the tomb was paved in red and black granite from Aswan, the first architectural use of such hard stone on a large scale.

Twenty labels made of ivory and ebony were found in his tomb, 18 by Flinders Petrie in the spoil heaps left by the less thorough Émile Amélineau [22] Among these labels are the earliest known depictions of a pharaoh wearing the double-crown of Egypt (see above), as well as running between ritual stele as part of the Sed festival. [22] Also found are seal impressions that provide the earliest confirmed king list.

Tomb T is surrounded by the burial sites of 136 men and women [21] who were buried at the same time as the king. Thought to be the king's retainers, an examination of some of the skeletons suggests they were strangled, making this an example of human sacrifice which is considered to be common with the pharaohs of the First Dynasty. This practice seems to have ceased by the end of the dynasty, with ushabtis taking the place of the bodies of actual people to aid the pharaohs with the work expected of them in the afterlife. [23]

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References

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  2. Alan H. Gardiner: The Royal Canon of Turin. Griffith Institute of Oxford, Oxford (UK) 1997, ISBN   0-900416-48-3; page 15 & Table I.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit. (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Volume 45), Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN   3-447-02677-4, page 124, 160 - 162 & 212 - 214.
  4. 1 2 3 Toby Wilkinson: Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge, London/New York 1999, ISBN   0-415-18633-1. page 74-75.
  5. Dietrich Wildung: Die Rolle ägyptischer Könige im Bewusstsein ihrer Nachwelt; page 22-31.
  6. Walter Bryan Emery: Ägypten, Geschichte und Kultur der Frühzeit 3200-2800 v. Chr. Fourier, München 1964, page 90.
  7. Alan Henderson Gardiner: Egypt of the Pharaohs. Oxford University Press, Oxford (UK) 1980, ISBN   0-19-500267-9, page 401-402
  8. Nicolas Grimal: A History of Ancient Egypt. Wiley-Blackwell, Weinheim 1994, ISBN   978-0-631-19396-8, page 53 & 54.
  9. 1 2 Silke Roth: Die Königsmütter des Alten Ägypten. Wiesbaden 2001, ISBN   3-447-04368-7, page 18–23.
  10. Dietrich Wildung: Die Rolle ägyptischer Könige im Bewußtsein ihrer Nachwelt; Volume 1 (Münchener Ägytologische Studien 17). Dt. Kunstverlag, Munich-Berlin 1969, page 22–31.
  11. 1 2 Siegfried Schott: Altägyptische Festdaten. Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz 1950, (Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz - Abhandlungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse 1950, Vol. 10, ISSN 0002-2977
  12. Pierre Tallet: Zone Miniere Pharaonique du Sud Sinai, I, Catalogue complémentaire des inscriptions du Sinaï, Kairo 2012, ISBN   978-2724706291, p. 16-18, no. 1-3
  13. R. B. Parkinson, Whitfield Diffie, Mary Fischer, R. S. Simpson: Cracking Codes: the Rosetta Stone and Decipherment; Band 2. California Press, New York 1999, ISBN   0-520-22248-2, page 74.
  14. A. J. Spencer: Early Dynastic Objects, Catalogue of the Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum, London 1980, ISBN   0-7141-0927-4, page 65, obj. No. 460.
  15. Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt: The Palermo Stone and its Associated Fragments. Taylor and Francis, London 2000, ISBN   978-0-7103-0667-8, page 248-252.
  16. Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt: The Palermo Stone and its Associated Fragments. Taylor and Francis, London 2000, ISBN   978-0-7103-0667-8, page 202&203.
  17. after Siegfried Schott: Altägyptische Festdaten. Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz/Wiesbaden 1950, page 59–67.
  18. Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt: The Palermo Stone and its Associated Fragments. Taylor and Francis, London 2000, ISBN   978-0-7103-0667-8, page 108–176.
  19. Günther Dreyer: Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Kairo (MDAIK), Vol. 46 (1990); page 80; Obj. 9.
  20. Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. p. 24. Thames & Hudson. 2006. ISBN   0-500-28628-0
  21. 1 2 Adams, Barbara and Ciałowicz, Krzysztof M. Protodynastic Egypt. p. 65. Shire Egyptology. 1988. ISBN   0-7478-0357-9
  22. 1 2 3 4 Shaw, Ian and Nicholson, Paul. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. p. 84. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1995. ISBN   0-8109-9096-2
  23. 1 2 Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. p. 68. Oxford University Press. 2000. ISBN   0-19-280458-8
Preceded by
Djet
Pharaoh of Egypt Succeeded by
Anedjib