Seth-Peribsen

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Seth-Peribsen (also known as Ash-Peribsen, Peribsen and Perabsen) is the serekh name of an early Egyptian monarch (pharaoh), who ruled during the Second Dynasty of Egypt (c. 2890 c. 2686 BC). [1] His chronological position within this dynasty is unknown and it is disputed who ruled both before and after him. The duration of his reign is also unknown. [2]

Serekh

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

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.

Contents

Peribsen's name is unusual, in that Set, not Horus, was his patron deity. This goes against the Egyptian tradition of a king choosing the falcon-shaped deity Horus as his royal patron.

Set (deity) Ancient Egyptian god of the desert, storms, chaos, and foreigners

Set or Seth is a god of chaos, fire, deserts, trickery, storms, envy, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. In Ancient Greek, the god's name is given as Sēth (Σήθ). Set had a positive role where he accompanies Ra on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land, where he was the balance to Horus' role as lord of the black (soil) land.

Horus Egyptian war deity

Horus or Her, Heru, Hor in Ancient Egyptian, is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities who served many functions, most notably god of kingship and the sky. He was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists. These various forms may possibly be different manifestations of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner falcon or peregrine falcon, or as a man with a falcon head.

Falcon genus of birds

Falcons are birds of prey in the genus Falco, which includes about 40 species. Falcons are widely distributed on all continents of the world except Antarctica, though closely-related raptors did occur there in the Eocene.

Peribsen's tomb was discovered in 1898 at Abydos. It was well preserved and showed traces of restoration undertaken during later dynastic periods. [3]

Abydos, Egypt City in ancient Egypt

Abydos is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, and also of the eighth nome in Upper Egypt. It is located about 11 kilometres west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of el-'Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana. In the ancient Egyptian language, the city was called Abdju. The English name Abydos comes from the Greek Ἄβυδος, a name borrowed by Greek geographers from the unrelated city of Abydos on the Hellespont.

Archaeological evidence

Granodiorite tomb stela of Peribsen, now on display at the British Museum TombStelaOfPeribsen-BritishMuseum-August21-08.jpg
Granodiorite tomb stela of Peribsen, now on display at the British Museum

The serekh for Peribsen was found pressed in earthen jar seals made of clay and mud and in inscriptions on alabaster, sandstone, porphyry and black schist vessels. These seals and vessels were excavated from Peribsen's tomb and at an excavation site in Elephantine. One clay seal with Peribsen's name was found inside the mastaba tomb K1 at Beit Khallaf. [5] [6]

Alabaster Lightly colored, translucent, and soft calcium minerals, typically gypsum

Alabaster is a mineral or rock that is soft, often used for carving, and is processed for plaster powder. Archaeologists and the stone processing industry use the word differently from geologists. The former use is in a wider sense that includes varieties of two different minerals: the fine-grained massive type of gypsum and the fine-grained banded type of calcite. Geologists define alabaster only as the gypsum type. Chemically, gypsum is a hydrous sulfate of calcium, while calcite is a carbonate of calcium.

Sandstone A clastic sedimentary rock composed mostly of sand-sized particles

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized mineral particles or rock fragments.

Porphyry (geology) Textural form of igneous rock with large grained crystals in a fine matrix

Porphyry is a textural term for an igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals such as feldspar or quartz dispersed in a fine-grained silicate rich, generally aphanitic matrix or groundmass. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts. In its non-geologic, traditional use, the term porphyry refers to the purple-red form of this stone, valued for its appearance.

Two large tomb stelae made of granite were found at his burial site. Their shape is unusual and they appear unfinished and rough. Egyptologists suspect that this was done deliberately, but the reasons are unknown. [7] [8] A cylinder seal of unknown provenance shows Peribsen's name inside a cartouche and gives the epithet Merj-netjeru ("beloved of the gods"). This arrangement leads Egyptologists and archaeologists to the conclusion that the seal must have been created later, in memoriam, because the use of royal cartouches began long after Peribsen's reign. Another seal of the same material shows Peribsen's name without a cartouche, but with the royal title Nisut-Bity ("king of Upper- and Lower Egypt") instead. [9] [10]

Tomb burial place

A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be called immurement, and is a method of final disposition, as an alternative to for example cremation or burial.

Cartouche oval with inscriptions

In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a cartouche is an oval with a horizontal line at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name. The first examples of the cartouche are associated with pharoahs at the end of the 3rd Dynasty, but did not come into common use until the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu. While the cartouche is usually vertical with a horizontal line, if it makes the name fit better it can be horizontal, with a vertical line at the end . The Ancient Egyptian word for it was shenu, and it was essentially an expanded shen ring. In Demotic, the cartouche was reduced to a pair of brackets and a vertical line.

An epithet is a byname, or a descriptive term, accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high.

Existing skeptical views about Peribsen's existence are based on Ramesside king lists, such as the Abydos King List, the Saqqara King List and the Royal Canon of Turin, which all omit Peribsen's name. These, however, are known to have been created nearly 1,500 years after his death [11] and several Fourth Dynasty tombs of priests performing the funerary cult for Peribsen have been uncovered. These tombs report Peribsen's name correctly and their existence demonstrates that Peribsen was seen as a legitimate pharaoh, not subject to damnatio memoriae as Akhenaten later would be. Historians and Egyptologists therefore consider the possibility that Peribsen's name was actually forgotten over time or that his name was preserved in a distorted, misspelled form. [12]

Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt Egyptian dynasty from -1295 to -1186

The Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt is classified as the second Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom period, lasting from 1292 BC to 1189 BC. The 19th Dynasty and the 20th Dynasty furthermore together constitute an era known as the Ramesside period. This Dynasty was founded by Vizier Ramesses I, whom Pharaoh Horemheb chose as his successor to the throne.

Abydos King List

The Abydos King List, also known as the Abydos Table, is a list of the names of seventy-six kings of Ancient Egypt, found on a wall of the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, Egypt. It consists of three rows of thirty-eight cartouches in each row. The upper two rows contain names of the kings, while the third row merely repeats Seti I's throne name and nomen.

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.

Name

Seth-PeribsenSeth-Peribsen
Seth-Peribsen
Seth-Peribsen
pr-jb.sn
in hieroglyphs

Peribsen's royal name is a subject of curiosity for Egyptologists because it is connected to the deity Seth rather than Horus, as was traditional for the name of a pharaoh. Traditionally, the Horus name of the king was written within a serekh: the image of the facade of the royal palace beneath a falcon representing the god Horus (see Hieroglyphics). Instead, Peribsen chose to have the Set animal, representing Seth, on his serekh. Although Peribsen is the only known pharaoh to have the Set animal preside alone over his serekh, he is not the only king to associate himself with Seth. Examples include the 13th dynasty pharaoh Seth Meribre, [13] the 19th dynasty rulers Seti I and Seti II and the 20th dynasty king Setnakhte. [14] [15]

The debate continues over why Peribsen chose this name. Earlier theories favoured the idea that Egypt was split into two realms during Peribsen's time or that he was a heretic who sought to start a new monotheistic religion with Seth as the only worshipped god. [11] However, newer evidence and evaluations tend to show that the Egyptian kingdom was unified, but witnessed a vast and profound reform during the Second Dynasty. Seal impressions from tombs of this era reveal great changes in the titles held by high officials, pointing to a reduction of their power. Further seal impressions show that several deities were worshipped under Peribsen, refuting the monotheism theory. Other contemporary inscriptions indicate that Egyptian grammar was perfected during his time: In particular, the earliest seal impressions with complete sentences date back to Peribsen's reign. Thus, Peribsen's reign was in fact a time of cultural and religious advancement. [16] [17]

Peribsen's choice of patron, and his rule during the shadowy period of the mid-Second Dynasty, have led Egyptologists and historians to search for possible explanations for both his name and the troubled times he lived in. The following sections discuss some of the theories that they have put forth.

Religious theories uniting Peribsen with Seth

Inscription from a porphyry-vase displaying the serekh of Peribsen; note the Seth-animal with a sun-disk above. Seth-Re Peribsen.png
Inscription from a porphyry-vase displaying the serekh of Peribsen; note the Seth-animal with a sun-disk above.
Older theories

A theory that was popular until the mid-20th century, supported by Egyptologists Percy Newberry, Jaroslav Černý, [19] Walter Bryan Emery [20] and Bernhard Grdseloff [11] held that Peribsen was a heretic who sought to introduce a new, monotheistic state religion to Egypt, with Seth as the only worshipped god. Peribsen's actions were thought to be similar to those of the much later 18th Dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten, who had required Egyptians to serve only the Aten. Newberry proposed that the priests of Horus and Seth fought each other "in the manner of a War of the Roses" during the second half of the Second Dynasty. [21]

The "heretic Peribsen" theory was based on three observations: that the name "Peribsen" was excluded from later king lists, that the king's tomb had been destroyed and plundered during antiquity and, finally, that the tomb stelae of Peribsen, that once displayed the Set animal, were badly scratched with the clear intention of effacing the Seth image. Egyptologists hypothesized these were the actions of religious opponents to the Sethian priest-caste. [19] [21] Lauer and Firth relied on the "heretic Peribsen" theory to explain the enormous quantity of stone vessels inscribed with the name of First and Second Dynasty kings found beneath Djoser's pyramid in bags bearing seals of Khasekhemwy and Djoser. They proposed that Peribsen had plundered the tombs of his predecessors, followers of Horus, and scattered their funerary equipment. These vessels were gathered in the royal treasury during Khasekhemwy's reign following his reunification of Egypt, and finally put beneath the Step Pyramid by Djoser, in an act of pious devotion. [22]

Contemporary theories

Today this theory, as well as Lauer and Firth's conclusions, is widely questioned. Archaeological evidence of Peribsen has been found almost entirely in Upper Egypt. In particular, his name does not appear in Lower Egyptian records surviving from that time. It is argued that Peribsen may not have ruled over all of Egypt and therefore did not have the authority to force a change in state religion. Another piece of evidence that argues against the "heretic Peribsen" theory is the false door of the priest Shery at Saqqara. Shery held office during the early Fourth Dynasty. The inscription on the false door connects the name of Peribsen in one sentence with another shadowy king of the Second Dynasty, Senedj. According to the addendum, Shery was "overseer of all wab-priests of king Peribsen in the necropolis of king Senedj, in his mortuary temple and at all other places". This implies that the funerary cult of Peribsen continued at least until the Fourth Dynasty, inconsistent with the assumption that Peribsen's name was not allowed to be mentioned. Additionally, Egyptologists such as Herman te Velde point out that Shery was not the only Fourth Dynasty priest participating in the funerary cult of Peribsen. Inkef, possibly a brother or cousin of Shery, also held the title of a "supervisor of Ka-priests of Peribsen". [16]

Seal impressions found in Peribsen's tomb at Abydos show several deities: Ash, Min and Bastet, suggesting they were venerated during Peribsen's time on the throne. This finding argues against Peribsen worshipping a single god, or promoting monotheism. [23] [24] [25] The heretic theory of Newberry, Černý, Grdseloff and others was devised from the very limited archaeological information available during their lifetimes. Most of the clay seal impressions found were still undeciphered and untranslated in their time. [26]

Vessel from the tomb of king Peribsen, Ashmolean Museum. Peribsen vessel.jpg
Vessel from the tomb of king Peribsen, Ashmolean Museum.

In the opinion of Sainte Fare Garnot (1956) and te Velde (1956), the name of "Peribsen" accords religious meaning, even before association with a deity. The name "Peribsen" literally means "He who comes forth by their will" or "His heart and will comes forth for them."[ citation needed ][ clarification needed ] The Egyptian syllable sn means "them, their, those", revealing a clear plural writing. Te Velde and Garnot are convinced that Peribsen used the heraldic Seth animal as a serekh patron, but also linked his name to Horus. If true, it would prove that Peribsen worshipped Horus and Seth on an equal footing during his lifetime. [16] [27] An ostentatious plural meaning with religious ambiguity was not uncommon for pharaohs' names in the early Egyptian dynasties. Peribsen may have been perceived as a living incarnation of both Horus and Seth in equal measure, just like his predecessors on the throne. Therefore, Peribsen's name may actually show no break in the sacred tradition; he added the power of Seth to Horus. As further examples, the titles of early dynastic queens used plural patron deities, such as "she who is allowed to see Horus and Seth" and "she who carries Horus and Seth". [16] [27] Similarly, the unusual serekh of king Khasekhemwy, the last ruler of the Second Dynasty, shows the deities Horus and Seth together atop the serekh. Horus wears the White Crown of Upper Egypt and Seth wears the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. The two gods are depicted facing each other in a kissing gesture. This special name was meant to illustrate the dual incarnation of the king as the representative of Horus and Seth, with power over all Egypt. Khasekhemwy's name can be interpreted as an advanced form of Peribsen's serekh name. [16] [27]

Egyptologists Ludwig David Morenz and Wolfgang Helck [28] remark that the targeted gouging of Seth-animals did not occur until the New Kingdom of Egypt. The erasure of the Seth chimera on Peribsen's tomb stelae had been attributed to activity shortly after his death under the "heretic" theory; new discoveries suggested the defamation occurred centuries later. [29] Historian Dietrich Wildung states that the necropolis of Abydos was not the only one plundered in antiquity: the tombs at Saqqara and Giza were also ransacked. Thus, he concludes that any targeted action against one particular pharaoh can be excluded. [30]

Political theories

The earlier theories of Newberry, Černý and Grdseloff [11] said that the Egyptian state under Peribsen suffered from several civil wars, either economic or political in origin. If he was held responsible for the putative misery in the past, this could explain why later king lists excluded Peribsen. [19] [21]

In contrast, more recent theories now hold that, if the Egyptian kingdom was divided, the division happened peacefully. Egyptologists such as Michael Rice, [31] Francesco Tiradritti [32] and Wolfgang Helck point to the once palatial and well preserved mastaba tombs at Saqqara and Abydos belonging to high officials such as Ruaben and Nefer-Setekh. These are all dated from the reign of Nynetjer to that of Khasekhemwy, the last ruler of the Second Dynasty. Egyptologists consider the archaeological record of the mastabas' condition and the original architecture as proof that the statewide mortuary cults for kings and noblemen operated successfully during the entire dynasty. If true, their preservation is inconsistent with the theory of civil wars and economic problems during Peribsen's reign. Rice, Tiradritti and Helck think that Nynetjer decided to leave a divided realm because of private or political reasons and that the split was a formality sustained by Second Dynasty kings. [31] [32] [33]

The origin of the political division is unknown. It might have happened at the beginning of Peribsen's rule or shortly before. Because Peribsen chose the deity Seth as his new throne patron, Egyptologists are of the view that Peribsen was a chieftain from Thinis or a prince of the Thinite royal house. This theory is based on Seth being a deity of Thinite origin, which would explain Peribsen's choice: his name changing may have been nothing more than smart political (and religious) propaganda. [33] [34] Peribsen is thought to have gained the Thinite throne and ruled only Upper Egypt, whilst other rulers held the Memphite throne and ruled Lower Egypt. [26]

Identity

Seal impression of king Sekhemib from Abydos Sekhemib retouched.jpg
Seal impression of king Sekhemib from Abydos
Seal impression of Peribsen Peribsen.JPG
Seal impression of Peribsen

Egyptologists Walter Bryan Emery, Kathryn A. Bard and Flinders Petrie believe that Peribsen was also known as Sekhemib-Perenmaat, another Second Dynasty ruler that had connected his name with the falcon god Horus. As evidence, clay seals of Sekhemib found in the entrance of Peribsen's tomb support this hypothesis. Sekhemib's tomb has not yet been found. [1] [35] [36] [37]

This theory is debatable; Hermann Alexander Schlögl, Wolfgang Helck, Peter Kaplony [38] and Jochem Kahl [39] argue that the clay seals were only found at the entrance area of Peribsen's tomb and none of them depict Peribsen and Sekhemib's names together in one inscription. Furthermore, they remark that it was customary for a pharaoh to bury his predecessor and seal his tomb; the presence of Sekhemib's seals shows the line of dynastic inheritance. Similar inferences can be drawn from the ivory tablets of king Hotepsekhemwy found at the entrance of king Qa'a's tomb and the clay seals of Djoser found at the entrance of Khasekhemwy's tomb. Schlögl, Helck, Kaplony and Kahl are convinced that the discovery of Sekhemib's seals support the view that Sekhemib immediately succeeded Peribsen and buried him. [26] [40]

Scholars Toby Wilkinson and Helck believe that Peribsen and Sekhemib could have been related. Their theory is based on the stone vessel inscriptions and seal impressions that show strong similarities in their typography and grammar. The vessels of Peribsen show the notation "ini-setjet" ("tribute of the people of Sethroë"), whilst Sekhemib's inscriptions have the notation "ini-khasut" ("tribute of the desert nomads"). A further indication that Peribsen and Sekhemib were related is their serekh names; they both used the syllables "Per" and "ib" in their names. [41] [42]

The false door inscription of Shery might indicate that Peribsen is identical with king Senedj ("Senedj" means "the frightening") and that this name was used in the king lists by proxy, as the Seth name was forbidden to mention. [43] In contrast, Dietrich Wildung and Wolfgang Helck identify Peribsen with the Ramesside cartouche name Wadjenes . They think it is possible that the name Per-ib-sen was misread from a sloppy hieratic inscription of Wadj-sen. [44]

Reign

Seal impression from Peribsen's tomb with the first known complete sentence in Egyptian history Peribsen2.JPG
Seal impression from Peribsen's tomb with the first known complete sentence in Egyptian history

As some archaeological records support the view that the Egyptian state was divided during Peribsen's reign, there is continued debate as to why his predecessors decided to divide the realm, and whether Peribsen ruled part or all of Egypt.

Proponents of the divided-realm-theory

Egyptologists Wolfgang Helck, [40] Nicolas Grimal, Hermann Alexander Schlögl [45] and Francesco Tiradritti believe that king Nynetjer, the third ruler of the Second dynasty and predecessor to Peribsen, ruled an Egypt that was suffering from an overly complex state administration. Nynetjer decided to split Egypt to leave it to two chosen successors who would rule two separate kingdoms, in the hope that the state administration could improve. Archaeological evidence, such as the imprinted clay seals and inscribed jars, appear to support the claim that Peribsen ruled only in Upper Egypt. A great number of these were found in Abydos, Naqada and at Elephantine, with only a single clay seal bearing his name found in Lower Egypt, at Beit Khallaf. Historians think Peribsen's realm would have extended from Naqada to the Isle of Elephantine. The rest of Egypt would therefore have been controlled by a different, coexisting ruler. [32] [46]

Egyptologist Dimitri B. Proussakov supports his theory with notations on the famous Palermo stone concerning the year events of king Nynetjer. From the twelfth year event onward, "The king of Upper- and Lower Egypt appears" was amended to "The king of Lower Egypt appears". Proussakov sees this as a strong indication that Nynetjer's power over Egypt had diminished. [47] Egyptologists compare the situation to that of king Qa'a, one of the last rulers of the First Dynasty. When Qa'a died, obscure claimants appeared and battled for the throne of Egypt. The struggles reached an apex with the plundering of the royal cemetery at Abydos, whereupon the cemetery was abandoned and Saqqara became the new royal burial site. The conflict was ended by the ascension of king Hotepsekhemwy, the founder of the Second Dynasty. [48] [49]

Barbara Bell, another scholar, believes that an economic catastrophe such as a famine or a long-lasting drought affected Egypt. To better address the problem of feeding the Egyptian population, Nynetjer split the realm into two and his successors founded two independent realms, perhaps with intent to reunite after the famine. Bell points to the inscriptions of the Palermo stone, where, in her opinion, the records of the annual Nile floods show constantly low levels during this period. [50] Bell's theory is refuted today by Egyptologists such as Stephan Seidlmayer, who asserts her calculations were incorrect. Seidlmayer has shown that the annual Nile floods were at usual levels at Nynetjer's time up to the period of the Old Kingdom. Bell overlooked that the heights of the Nile floods in the Palermo stone inscription take into account the measurements of the nilometers around Memphis, but not elsewhere along the river. A state-wide drought was unlikely. [51]

Opponents of the divided-realm-theory

Scholars such as Herman TeVelde, [16] I. E. S. Edwards [52] and Toby Wilkinson [12] believe the inscription of the famous Annal stone of Fifth dynasty, a black olivin-basalt slabstone displaying a very detailed king list, argues against the division of the realm. On the stone the kings from 1st to 7th dynasty are listed by their Horus name, their gold name and their cartouche name, their name banderoles end with the name of their royal mother. The lists also contain rectangular windows presenting year events from the day of king's coronation up to his death. The most famous fragments of the Annal stone are called Palermo Stone and Cairo Stone. On the Cairo stone, in line IV, the nine last years of king Nynetjer are preserved (but most of the year windows are illegible now). [12] The date of Nynetjer's death is followed by a new king. Recent investigations reveal that the serekh of that new king is surmounted by a four-legged animal, not by the Horus-falcon. Since the only four-legged heraldic serekh animal in early Egypt was the chimera of the god Seth, despite passionate disagreement, the indicated ruler is likely to be Peribsen. Egyptologists such as TeVelde, Barta and Edwards do not agree; Peribsen might have not been the only king with a Seth-name. The year events under Nynetjer show increasing references to Seth, suggesting the tradition of a Horus name as the sole name of kings might have already evolved. The rise of a king allied with Seth was thus unsurprising. TeVelde, Barta and Edwards think that, in addition to Peribsen, the rulers Wadjenes, Nubnefer or Sened might have been Seth-kings as well; one of them surely was the true direct successor of Nynetjer. The comparatively large amount of archaeological finds from Peribsen's reign contradict the brief estimated length of rulership, only 10 to 12 years, as presented on the Annal stone. [12]

The Annal stone gives absolutely no indication of a division of the Egyptian realm. Barta, TeVelde, Wilkinson and Edwards argue that the theory of state division is untenable. An administrative reorganization or split in the priesthood sects is more likely. [12]

Political accomplishments

During his time on the throne, Peribsen founded an administrative center called "The white house of treasury" as well as a new royal residence, called the "protection of Nubt", located near Ombos ("Nubt" being the Ancient Egyptian name of Naqada). [53] The administrative titles of scribes, seal-bearers and overseers were adjusted to correspond to the divided bureaucratic state administration. For example, titles like "sealer of the king" were changed into "sealer of the king of Upper Egypt". This bureaucratic reform may indicate an attempt by Peribsen to limit the power of these officials, further evidence for a bloated and unwieldy state administration under Nynetjer. [54]

The administration system under Peribsen and Sekhemib had a clear and well-defined hierarchy; as an example, from highest to the lowest rank: Treasury house (royal and therefore highest in ranking) → pension office → property → vineyards → private vineyard (property of citizens and therefore lowest in ranking). King Khasekhemwy, the last ruler of the Second dynasty, was able to re-unify the state administration of Egypt and therefore unite the whole of Ancient Egypt. He brought the two treasury houses of Egypt under the control of the "House of the King", bringing them into a new, single administration centre. [54] [55] [56]

Peribsen also founded royal edifices such as Per-nubt ("house of Ombos") and Per-Medjed ("house of meetings") and created several cities of economic importance. Their names, Afnut ("city of the headdress-makers"), Nebj ("protector's city"), Abet-desheret ("city of the red granite jars") and Huj-setjet ("city of the Asians'), are mentioned on numerous clay seals alongside Peribsen's serekh, often preceded by the phrase "visit of the king at ...". [56] [57] Inscriptions on stone vessels also mention an "ini-setjet" ("tribute of the people of Sethroë"), which might indicate that Peribsen founded a cult centre for the deity Seth in the Nile Delta. This may suggest Peribsen ruled over the whole of Egypt, or, at least, that he was accepted as king across all of Egypt. [58]

One official from Peribsen's reign, Nefer-Setekh ("Seth is beautiful"), the "wab-priest of the king", is known to Egyptologists by his stela. His name may highlight the appearance and popularity of Seth as a royal deity. [59]

In Peribsen's tomb at Abydos, clay seals were found that demonstrate the first complete written sentence in recorded Egyptian history. The inscription reads: [60]

"The golden one/He of Ombos hath unified/handed over the two realms for/to his son, the king of Lower and Upper Egypt, Peribsen".

The title "The golden one", also read as "He of Ombos", is considered by Egyptologists to be a religious form of address to the deity Seth. [61] [62] [63]

Religious changes

Despite his alignment with Seth, numerous deities were worshipped by the populace under Peribsen. Numerous clay seal impressions and jar inscriptions mention the gods Ash, Horus, Nekhbet, Min, Bastet and Kherty. The depictions of the deities are followed by the name of the place or town where they had their principal cult center. On the Cairo stone, a statue of Ash and a fetish of Seth are credited to Peribsen, complementing the clay seal impressions. Curiously, several seal impressions show a sun disc over the Seth chimera atop the royal serekh: the ancient symbol for the god Ra. There is no archaeologic proof that the sun god Ra was part of the Egyptian pantheon at this early date; the appearance of the disc may be the first evidence of the evolving sun cult and theistic change. The sun disc appears in connection to one of the state patrons (for example, under Peribsen's predecessor Raneb the sun was connected to Horus); under Peribsen it was connected to Seth. Under king Khasekhemwy the sun finally received its own name (ra) and, at the time of throne change between Khasekhemwy and his follower Djoser, several priests and officials also connected their name to Ra. [64] [65]

Rulers of Lower and Upper Egypt

Alabaster fragment with the nebti-name Weneg. Weneg.png
Alabaster fragment with the nebti-name Weneg.

Egyptian historians such as Helck, Tiradritti, Schlögl, Emery and Grimal are convinced that Peribsen was a co-ruler. The investigation into the rulers of Lower Egypt is ongoing. The Rammesside king lists differ in their order of royal names from king Senedj onward. The royal table of Sakkara and the royal canon of Turin reflect Memphite traditions, which only allowed Memphite rulers to be mentioned. The Abydos king list reflects instead the Thinite traditions and therefore only Thinite rulers appear on that list. Until king Senedj, all the king lists are in agreement. After him, the Sakkara list and the Turin list mention three kings as successors: Neferkara I, Neferkasokar and Hudjefa I. The Abydos king list jumps forward to Khasekhemwy, calling him "Djadjay". The discrepancies are considered by Egyptologists to be the result of the division of Egypt during the Second dynasty. [26] [32] [46] [59]

Additional contradictory findings are the Horus and Nebty names of kings discovered in the Great Southern Gallery in the necropolis of the (Third dynasty) king Djoser at Sakkara. Stone vessel inscriptions mention the kings Nubnefer, Weneg-Nebty, Horus Ba, Horus "Bird" and Za; each of these is mentioned only a few times, suggesting their reigns were short. King Sneferka might be identical with king Qa'a or an ephemeral successor of his. King Weneg-Nebty might be identical with the Ramesside cartouche name Wadjenes. But kings such as "Nubnefer", "Bird" and "Za" remain a mystery. They never appear anywhere else and the number of objects surviving from their lifetimes is very limited. Schlögl, Helck and Peter Kaplony postulate, that Nubnefer, Za and Bird were contemporaries of Peribsen and Sekhemib and ruled over Lower Egypt, whilst the latter two ruled Upper Egypt. [26] [32] [46] [59] [67]

Peribsen's tomb at Abydos, in the background the Great Enclosure of king Khasekhemwy is visible Pots by Peribsen Enclosure.jpg
Peribsen's tomb at Abydos, in the background the Great Enclosure of king Khasekhemwy is visible
Mehen game board from Peribsen's tomb in Abydos, on display at the Louvre. Peribsen Mehen.jpg
Mehen game board from Peribsen's tomb in Abydos, on display at the Louvre.

The tomb of Peribsen

Peribsen was buried in the tomb P of the royal cemetery at Umm el-Qa'ab near Abydos. The first excavation of the tomb started in 1898 under the supervision of French archaeologist and Egyptologist Émile Amélineau. [68] This first foray was followed by excavations in 1901 and 1902 under the supervision of British archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie. [5] [69] [70] Further exploration of the tomb was undertaken in 1928 by the Swiss Egyptologist Edouard Naville. [71]

The tomb's construction is straightforward and, compared to the size of other royal tombs in the same area, surprisingly small. The design model was the tomb of king Djer (third pharaoh of the First dynasty), thought to be the 'Tomb of Osiris' from the Middle Kingdom. The architecture of Peribsen's tomb is similar to the residential palace. The tomb measures 16 metres (52 ft) x 13 metres (43 ft) and comprises three independent structures nested into one another: in the center is the main burial chamber, measuring 7.3 metres (24 ft) x 2.9 metres (9.5 ft), and which is made of mud bricks, reeds, and wood. On the north, east and west sides the burial chamber is surrounded by nine small storage rooms leading into one another; on the south face is a long antechamber. A passageway runs between the inner structures and the outer wall. [5] [69] [70]

Excavations under the supervision of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Kairo (DAIK) in 2001 and 2004 revealed that the tomb had been erected and completed in a great hurry. The building works took place in a single phase; the walls were plastered roughly; and the monument had collapsed several times over the centuries. During the Middle Kingdom, Peribsen's tomb was restored at least twice together with the tomb of Djer, which was thought to be that of Osiris. [69] [72]

Findings

The tomb had been extensively plundered by tomb robbers during antiquity, yet numerous stone vessels and earthen jars remained. Some of the stone vessels had copper-coated rims and are similar to the better known finds from tomb of Khasekhemwy. Vessels from preceding rulers such as Nynetjer and Raneb were also found. Beads and bracelets made of fayence and carnelian and tools made of copper were excavated. Special findings include a silver needle engraved with the name of king Hor Aha and clay seal fragments with the name of king Sekhemib. The two stone stelae from the entrance, common to burial chambers of the First and Second dynasties, are now on display in two different museums. [5] [69] [70]

Royal funerary enclosure

A royal funerary enclosure made of mud bricks was found close to Peribsen's tomb. Clay seals with Peribsen's serekh name on them were located near the eastern entrance and inside a destroyed offering shrine. The findings support the view that the building was part of Peribsen's burial site. The funerary enclosure is commonly known as "Middle Fort". This was first discovered in 1904 under the supervision of Canadian archaeologist Charles Trick Currelly and British Egyptologist Edward Russell Ayrton. The enclosure wall was located on the north-west side of Khasekhemwy's funerary enclosure "Shunet ez Zebib" ("raisin barn"). Peribsen's measures 108 metres (354 ft) x 55 metres (180 ft) and housed only a few cult buildings. The enclosure has three entrances: one to the east, one to the south and one to the north. A small shrine, measuring 12.3 metres (40 ft) x 9.75 metres (32.0 ft) was located at the south-east corner of the funerary enclosure. It once comprised three small chapels. No subsidiary tombs were found. [69] [70] [73]

The tradition of burying the family and court of the king when he died was abandoned at the time of Qa'a, one of the last rulers of the First dynasty. [74]

Related Research Articles

Khasekhemwy Final king of the Second dynasty of Egypt

Khasekhemwy was the final king of the Second Dynasty of Egypt. Little is known about him, other than that he led several significant military campaigns and built the mudbrick fort known as Shunet El Zebib.

Hotepsekhemwy Egyptian pharaoh

Hotepsekhemwy is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who was the founder of the 2nd dynasty. The exact length of his reign is not known; the Turin canon suggests an improbable 95 years while the Ancient Egyptian historian Manetho reports that the reign of "Boëthôs" lasted for 38 years. Egyptologists consider both statements to be misinterpretations or exaggerations. They credit Hotepsekhemwy with either a 25- or a 29-year rule.

Qaa Egyptian ruler

Qa'a was the last king of the First Dynasty of Egypt. He reigned for 33 years at the end of the 30th century BC.

Nynetjer Egyptian pharaoh

Nynetjer is the Horus name of the third pharaoh of the Second Dynasty of Egypt. The length of his reign is unknown. The Turin Canon suggests an improbable reign of 96 years and Egyptian historian Manetho suggested that Nynetjer's reign lasted 47 years. Egyptologists question both statements as misinterpretations or exaggerations. They generally credit Nynetjer with a reign of either 43 years or 45 years. Their estimation is based on the reconstructions of the well known Palermo Stone inscription reporting the years 7–21, the Cairo Stone inscription reporting the years 36–44. According to different authors, Nynetjer ruled Egypt from c. 2850 BC to 2760 BC or later from c. 2760 BC to 2715 BC.

Khaba pharaoh of Ancient Egypt

Khaba was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, active during the 3rd dynasty of the Old Kingdom period. The exact time during which Khaba ruled is unknown but may have been around 2670 BC.

Nebra (pharaoh) the Horus name of the second early Egyptian king of the 2nd dynasty

Nebra or Raneb is the Horus name of the second early Egyptian king of the 2nd dynasty. The exact length of his reign is unknown since the Turin canon is damaged and the year accounts are lost. The ancient Greek historian Manetho suggests that Nebra's reign lasted 39 years, but Egyptologists question Manetho's view as a misinterpretation or exaggeration of information that was available to him. They credit Nebra with either a 10- or 14-year rule. According to different authors, Nebra ruled Egypt c. 2850 BC, from 2820 BC to 2790 BC, 2800 BC to 2785 BC or 2765 BC to 2750 BC.

Weneg (pharaoh) Egyptian statesman

Weneg, also known as Weneg-Nebty, is the throne name of an early Egyptian king, who ruled during the second dynasty. Although his chronological position is clear to Egyptologists, it is unclear for how long King Weneg ruled. It is also unclear as to which of the archaeologically identified Horus-kings corresponds to Weneg.

Senedj

Senedj was an early Egyptian king (pharaoh), who may have ruled during the 2nd dynasty. His historical standing remains uncertain. His name is included in the kinglists of the ramesside era, although it is written in different ways: While the kinglist of Abydos imitates the archaic form, the Royal Canon of Turin and the kinglist of Sakkara form the name with the hieroglyphic sign of a plucked goose.

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.

Sekhemib-Perenmaat Egyptian pharaoh

Sekhemib-Perenma'at, is the horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the 2nd dynasty. Similar to his predecessor, successor or co-ruler Seth-Peribsen, Sekhemib is contemporarily well attested in archaeological records, but he does not appear in any posthumous document. The exact length of his reign is unknown and his burial site has yet to be found.

Neferkara I ancient Egyptian ruler

Neferkara I is the cartouche name of a king (pharaoh) who is said to have ruled during the 2nd dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The exact length of his reign is unknown since the Turin canon lacks the years of rulership and the ancient Greek historian Manetho suggests that Neferkara's reign lasted 25 years. Egyptologists evaluate his statement as misinterpretation or exaggeration.

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.

Neferkasokar

Neferkasokar was an Ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) who may have ruled in Egypt during the 2nd dynasty. Very little is known about him, since no contemporary records about him have been found. Rather his name has been found in later sources.

Wadjenes

Wadjenes, also known as Wadjlas, Ougotlas and Tlas, was an early Egyptian king who may have ruled during the 2nd dynasty. Since the name form "Wadjenes" is not contemporarily attested as the name of a king, but frequently appears in Ramesside kinglists, Egyptologists to this day are trying to connect Wadjenes with contemporary Horus-kings.

Hudjefa is the pseudonym for a 2nd dynasty pharaoh as reported on the Turin canon, a list of kings written during the reign of Ramses II. Hudjefa is now understood to mean that the name of the king was already missing from the document from which the Turin canon was copied. The length of the reign associated to Hudjefa on the canon is 11 years. Because of the position of Hudjefa on the Turin list, he is sometimes identified with a king Sesochris reported in the Aegyptiaca, a history of Egypt written by the Egyptian priest Manetho in the 3rd century BC. Manetho credits this pharaoh with 48 years of reign. Egyptologists have attempted to relate Hudjefa with archaeologically attested kings of the period, in particular Seth Peribsen.

Sneferka Egyptian pharaoh

Sneferka is the serekh-name of an early Egyptian king who may have ruled at the end of the 1st dynasty. The exact length of his reign is unknown, but thought to have been very short and his chronological position is unclear.

Ba, also known as Horus Ba, is the serekh-name of an early Egyptian or ancient Egyptian king who may have ruled at the end of the 1st dynasty, the latter part of 2nd dynasty or during the 3rd dynasty. Neither the exact length of his reign nor his chronological position is known.

Horus Sa

Horus Sa was a possible early Egyptian pharaoh who may have reigned during the 2nd or 3rd dynasty of Egypt. His existence is disputed, as is the meaning of the artifacts that have been interpreted as confirming his existence.

Inykhnum

Inykhnum was an ancient Egyptian high-ranking official who worked and lived during the transition time between 2nd dynasty and 3rd dynasty. The king(s) under which he served are not known for certain, the subject being currently highly disputed.

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