Ancient Egypt: Early Dynastic Period

The Early Dynastic Period comprises the first two dynasties after the supposed unification of Egypt. The ceremonial slate palette of king Namer (a candidate for the first king of Egypt), now in the Cairo Museum, is decorated with scenes of the king overcoming representatives of the northern area of Egypt. The validity of the palette as a historical document has been questioned, but seems to be confirmed by the appearance of a motif. Ivory labels used to identify commodities placed in the tombs of the kings of this period display the same motif and are the first inscribed objects to be found in Egypt.

The kings of the First Dynasty were buried in the necropolis of Abydos, while the high officials of the north were buried at Saqqara near the capital, Memphis. The tombs of both kings and officials contained a vast array of grave goods. Each tomb consisted of rectangular superstructure within a large rectangular enclosure. These were known as mastaba tombs.

Kings of the Second Dynasty were buried at Abydos and Saqqara. One of these, Khasekhemwy, is the first king for whom sculpture is known, and the bronze vessels found in his tomb are the earliest known from Egypt.

Related galleries