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Abydos (Egypt)

The ancient town of Abedju, modern Abydos, was the cult centre of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris. The earliest remains at the site are the tombs of the late Predynastic rulers who may have ruled parts of Egypt before the First Dynasty. There are also tombs of the kings of the Early Dynastic period (about 3100-2613 BC). However, the tomb of the First-Dynasty king Djer became identified as that of Osiris and Abydos became a place of pilgrimage. In order that they could participate in the festivals of resurrection of the god, people from far and wide came to erect stelae and cenotaphs, or even to be buried at the site. It was also common to show the journey in tomb decoration, so that an individual could make the journey in death, if it had not been possible during life.

Among the most prominent features of the site are the temples of the Nineteenth-Dynasty kings Sety I (1294-1279 BC) and Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC). These are an extension of the tradition of building cenotaphs, but were actually secondary mortuary temples. The main mortuary temples of both these kings are located on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes. The L-shaped temple of Sety I is beautifully carved. It includes a room decorated with a list of the kings of Egypt, who were regarded as the ancestors of the king. Earlier cenotaph temples of Senwosret III (1874-1855 BC) and Ahmose (about 1550-1525 BC) also exist.

 

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The British Museum's collections, £16.99

The British Museum's collections, £16.99