Den (Udimu) in Tour Egypt
DEN, THE 4TH KING OF EGYPT'S 1ST DYNASTY.
While an early King, Den, who's name means "Horus Who
Strikes" (Udimu), is perhaps better attested than some. We
believe he served as the 4th King of Egypt's 1st Dynasty. He
may have come to the throne at an early age, with his
mother, Merneith, acting as regent.
He left a number of labels and inscriptions on stone vases
which cite the king, including events during his reign. We
have found seals impressions and inscriptions in tombs 3035,
3036, 3038, 3504, 3506, 3507, X and a lower status tomb at
Saqqara, from a tomb at Abu Rowash and of course, from King
Den's own Tomb at Saqqara.
His throne name has been identified as Semti which helps us
identify him as a king in the Abydos King list named
Hesepti. He is believed to have been the first king to adopt
a nsw-bity (King of Upper and Lower Egypt) name, which was
Khasty. According to Manetho, he had a reign of some 20
years. However, he may have celebrated a Sed-festival,
which usually occurred in the 30 year of rule, and some
Egyptologists believe he may have reigned for as long as 50
Though the reigns of Den's processor and successor seemed to
have been troubled, the reign of Den was apparently a
glorious and prosperous one. Yet beyond this prosperity,
like Horus Djer before him, Den left behind an intellectual
reputation. We believe that the spells found in the later
funerary manual called the Book of the Dead was attributed
to his time, as well as medical formulae that were preserved
in New Kingdom papyri.
Den Apparently limited the power of high officials which had
previously been allowed to grow dangerously strong during
the reign of his predecessor. Such centralization always
seems to have been key to a successful royal reign. However,
we believe he also pursued a policy of conciliation with
northern Egypt, probably creating a post of "chancellor of
the King of Lower Egypt:, filled by a man named Hemaka.
Hemaka is a well known figure of this time who built an
important tomb at Saqqara. The contents of this tomb provide
us with our most comprehensive collection of 1st Dynasty
funerary equipment. It is also from this tomb that we find
possible evidence for Den's Sed-festival (along with a label
found at Abydos, depicting the earliest known king wearing
the double crown of Egypt).
Soon, however, it appears that Den turned his focus to
military affairs. An interesting ivory label found at Abydos
that was inscribed for Den records, "The time of the
smitting of the East". It shows Den in the classic pharaonic
posture, with his mace raised above his head about to club a
foreign chieftain. This seems to correlate with the "Smiting
of the Troglodytes" recorded on the Palermo stone.
We believe these campaigns included an incursion into the
"Asiatic" (Palestine) territories, during his first year,
where he bought back a harem of female prisoners. He also
seems to have made a military expedition into the Sinai to
deal with a (so called) Bedouin problem.
Den's tomb, notably excavated by Petrie in 1900 after having
earlier been excavated by Emile Amelineau, has been
identified as Tomb T at Abydos. Significantly, this tomb was
the first we know of to utilized a significant amounts of
granite in its construction. This consists of slabs of red
and black granite from Aswan that was used to pave the
burial chamber. In many ways, the tomb was one of the most
impressive so far built in Egypt, and certainly at Abydos,
with a proper stairway and a massive burial chamber that was
once roofed with wood, perhaps retrieved during his Eastern
The stairway, the first we find in an Egyptian tomb, was
sealed with a wooden door, and just before the burial
chamber was a portcullis barrier to block grave robbers. A
small room to the south-west, with its own small stairway,
may have been an early serdab, which was a chamber built to
hold statues of the deceased. A German team who excavated
the ruins (after a number of earlier excavations) revealed
that grave goods or fragments included pots with seal
impressions, stone vessels, inscribed labels and other
carved objects in ivory and ebony, as well as inlays from
boxes and furniture. A long side chamber probably held jars
of wine. Near the tomb were found 136 subsidiary burials.
However, one of his queens was probably buried at Giza, and
her tomb is larger than that of her husband's. It also
included graves of sacrificed servants around it, but
unfortunately, her name is not know.
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