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Granite stela of Peribsen


Height: 113.500 cm
Width: 33.000 cm

Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society

EA 35597

Room 64: Early Egypt

    Granite stela of Peribsen

    From Abydos, Egypt
    2nd Dynasty, around 2800 BC

    One of a pair which stood at the entrance to the king's tomb

    While the kings of the First Dynasty (about 3100-2890 BC) were buried at Abydos, the first kings of the Second Dynasty (about 2890-2686 BC) were buried at Saqqara. However, the last two kings, Peribsen and Khasekhemwy, chose to be buried at Abydos alongside the First Dynasty kings. Peribsen erected stelae such as this outside his tomb.

    The rectangle containing the hieroglyphs of the king's name is called a serekh. It is usually surmounted by a falcon, the sacred animal of the god Horus, representing the identification of the living king with Horus. However, Peribsen's serekh here is surmounted by the animal of the god Seth (the type of animal is unknown). In Egyptian mythology Seth murdered Osiris, and is always depicted as the archetypal enemy of Osiris and Horus. Peribsen's successor, Khasekhemwy, placed both creatures on top of his serekh, and some scholars have speculated that such changes from normal practices indicate an internal conflict in Egypt at the time.

    A.J. Spencer, Catalogue of Egyptian antiqu-4 (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)

    S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


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