Early Dynastic Period (3100 B.C.- 2663 B.C.)
Also called the Archaic Period
Includes the 1st and 2nd Dynasties. The dates of any king’s rule are very subjective, as rules were counted by regal years, not by era dating.
1st Dynasty (3050 b.c.- 2813 b.c.)
Qaa (Qebh- ?-2813)
2nd Dynasty (2813 b.c.-2663 b.c.)
Kings Hotepsekhemwy (Baunetjer- 2813-?)
? (Weneg )
Sekhemib/Seth Peribsen (Peribsen)
? (Neferkare- ?-2709)
? (Neferkasokar- 2709-2701)
? (?- 2701-2690)
Khasekhemwy (Nebwyhetepimyef- 2690-2663).
Approx. 3100 b.c.- the first King of United Egypt, either Menses (as recorded by Greek historian Manetho), Narmer (listed in the earliest artifact of united Egypt), or Hor-Aha. Various father-son relationships have been suggested, along with the idea that any of these two or three were the same person.
By this point the royal court was centered at Memphis and the main necropolis at Abydos, later to become one of the most sacred cities of the dead. The kings of the first two dynasties “attempted to unify the religion, script, calendar, and weights and measures used, thereby creating the first centrally administered state in history” (Hattstein). “The kings developed an efficient administration which made possible a dramatic increase in royal power at the beginning of the old kingdom” (Haywood).
Civil war during second half of 2nd D?
Clothing was very much optional in Egypt due to the hot weather. Animal skins were sometimes worn, but those who did opt for clothes usually wore linen. Linen is made by gathering the stems of the flax plant. Soaked in water for several days, then laid out to dry. Beaten to soften them. Used spindle to wind into thread, which was then woven.
the hunting and fishing, agricultural products, and domesticated livestock (cattle pigs, sheep, goats) from earlier periods were still eaten. The fact that vast amounts of food could be produced by agricultural products meant that not everyone had to spend their days simply procuring food for survival. This fact allowed for the advancement of Egypt in “civilization”, aka people could be scribes, priests, etc.
**Misc. everyday living facts:
glass beads used. First reports of domesticated dogs. From prior periods: harps, flutes, lyres, and double-clarinets still used in Egypt.
The king was not only called the “Ruler of the Two Lands”, but was accepted as the living embodiment of the god Horus, giving him divine power which was to stay with the pharaohs for thousands of years (other sources say this occurred during 4th dynasty).
Localized gods from the pre-dynastic era, often based on nature and natural patterns, gradually spread from smaller towns to larger centers. During this era, it is believed that some of the traits of local gods began to be combined, leaving some gods to be forgotten and others to become more popular but with the added traits of the forgotten gods.
Houses mostly bundles of reeds secured between wooden posts. Mud and straw also used.
Copper-smelting widespread by this time. 2772 b.c., Egypt introduces calendar of 365 days without adjustments.
Papyrus- the earliest (uninscribed) example of a papyrus roll comes from a 1st D tomb. Papyrus is a paper produced from the fibrous stem of the papyrus plant, a member of the sedge family. The long stems are sliced up, then the slices are laid across each other to form a mat, and placed in a press to produce a highly serviceable writing material.
**Language & Writing:
Earliest script in Egypt. Almost all writing of the 1st and 2nd dynasties were labels and short inscriptions. Wide-spread use for other purposes, if it existed at all, has not survived. The Narmer Palette (depicting the king unifying Egypt) includes both images and one of the earliest known hieroglyphic groups.
Hieratic (Greek word meaning “priestly”, as by the time the Greek arrival in Egypt, this writing was used almost exclusively for religious texts) script, which was a cursive form of hieroglyphic writing, was developed during the 2nd dynasty. It was developed for writing quickly on papyrus or linen. Like most early writing, it was first used for administrative purpose, not personal recordings. Writing was also wide-spread in dealing with religion. In fact, the Greek word hieroglyphic means “sacred inscriptions” or “sacred carvings,” which reflects the Egyptian belief that their language was given to them by the gods.
A combination of a pictorial scene, with signs and groups of signs making up words, is a basic feature of the whole body of documents from the earliest years of Egyptian dynastic history. The words included are not formed into sentences, yet act with the associated depictions to convey information about an event. The earliest connected sentence appears on a sealing of Seth Peribsen (6th king of 2nd D), directly before the outbreak of a civil war (limiting the number of sources available).
The Umm el-Qaab cemetery at Abydos lies at the mouth of the valley leading to the Western Desert- speculated that it was chosen as a burial place due to it being regarded as a gateway to the West, the home of the dead. Largest of the earliest tombs is U-j, identical in construction to Tomb 100, but with a dozen rooms vice one. From approximately 3000 b.c., and a direct ancestor to similar tombs built by 1st dynasty kings.
In the 1st dynasty, the use of a staircase to the burial chamber had been introduced, allowing the superstructure around the tomb to be worked on and completed prior to the pharaoh’s death, an important change that allowed more elaborate tombs and, possibly, the pharaoh’s specific instructions for the tomb to be carried out while he lived.
Along with the normal tomb, there were a series of huge brick enclosures to the west of Umm el-Qaab. These included chapels, temporary structures, and the presence of members of the royal household. Some were buried at the same time as the pharaoh, indicating that human sacrifice was occurring. The only example still standing is Khasekhemwy (last monarch of 2nd D)…possibly indicating that these “chapels” were dismantled relatively early.
2nd dynasty advances in tombs included the use of many more chambers, with around 80 for each tomb vice the dozen or so used in earlier tombs, and the tombs being tunneled out of bedrock. This tunneling was only possible as the first kings of the 2nd D moved from the much-used Umm el-Qaab cemetery to Saqqara, which overlooked Memphis (Egypt’s capital). Following civil war, the Pharaoh Peribsen moved the burials back to Umm el-Qaab. The larger tombs, however, remained popular, requiring walls and chambers to be built up instead of tunneled down (due to the conditions). By the end of the 2nd dynasty, the basic layout of future tombs had already been used: a burial complex, which was covered by a monument of some sorts, along with a rectangular enclosure at some distance (for rituals/worship).