Den, Pharoah of Egypt
|Also Known As:||"Den", "Dewen"|
|Place of Burial:||Necrópole de Umm el-Qaab, Abydos (Egito)|
|Managed by:||Joseph Frederick Strausman|
About Den, Pharoah of Egypt
Den (or Dewen) was the fourth Egyptian king of the First dynasty or fifth if Narmer is included. He was the son of Queen Merneith. Early Egyptian records mention battles against Bedouin tribes in the Sinai during his reign. He was the first to use the title King of the Two Lands, and the first depicted as wearing the double crowns (red and white). The floor of his tomb in Umm el-Qa'ab at Abydos is made of red and black granite, the first time in Egypt this hard stone was used as a building material. During his long reign he established many of the patterns of court ritual and royalty used by later pharaohs and was held in high regard by his immediate successors.
Den's wives were Seshemetka, Semat, Serethor and possibly Qaineit; their names are found at Abydos. It's possible that Qaineit was capture of Den or some foreign princess. Den's and Seshemetka's son may have been Anedjib, Den's successor.
According to a study of the Palermo Stone, Den had a reign of at least "32 complete or partial years." He appears to have ascended the throne as a child, and the reign of his mother Merneith (possibly as pharaoh) was likely a regency until he was of age. He lived long enough to have enjoyed a second Sed festival, suggesting a reign of at least 33 or 34 years. Consequently his reign is the best attested from the period, and activities of his reign are preserved in register L of Cairo Fragment 5 while his later years are recorded on register III of the Palermo Stone.
Den is the first pharaoh to use the title nj-sw.t-bj.t meaning literally "he of the sedge and the bee" (and represented by equivalent hieroglyphic characters) which is figuratively translated as "King of the Two Lands", the sedge and the bee being the symbols for Upper and Lower Egypt. Though the kingdom had been unified since the time of Narmer from the previous dynasty, it is thought that this new title represented development that further established the ideology of divine kingship.
There is extensive evidence that Den conducted several campaigns against the people bordering the north-eastern part of his kingdom. An ivory label from Abydos depicts Den "at the time of the smiting of the east" (thought to be Sinai), which may also be referred to on the Palermo Stone as an event labeled the "Smiting of the Troglodytes" which happened the second year of an unidentified king. The Palermo Stone records at least two of his campaigns against frontier peoples, and over 70 examples of imported ware from the Palestinian region suggest sustained contact with this region over the course of his reign.
His Horus name Hor Den means "Horus who strikes." and it may have been chosen to reflect his preoccupation with establishing the frontiers of his kingdom.
The Palermo Stone records other key events, including a census in the fourth year of his reign, the dedication of ritual objects to various shrines and the running of the Apis bull in the twelfth year of his reign.
Images of the feline goddess Mafdet are prominent during his reign, which may have developed as a protector of the royal family during this time.
There was significant growth in the wealth and importance of court officials during Den's time on the throne. The tomb of his chancellor Hemaka is larger than the king's own tomb, and for years was mistakenly thought of as belonging to Den. This tomb, located at Saqqara contained many grave goods from this era, including an inlaid gaming disc and the earliest surviving papyrus document. The wealth of goods from this tomb as well as those of other officials from this time are thought to reflect the relative prosperity of Den's reign.
Den was interred within a tomb ("Tomb T") in the Umm el-Qa'ab area of Abydos, which is associated with other first dynasty kings. Tomb T is among the largest and most finely-built of the tombs in this area, and is the first to feature a staircase and a floor made of granite.
His was the first tomb to have a flight of stairs leading to it, those of earlier pharaohs being filled directly above from their roofs. It is possible that the tomb may have used as a storehouse for surplus produce during the king's lifetime, while also making it easier to add grave goods for later use in the afterlife by Den.
Tomb T is also the first tomb to include architectural elements made of stone rather than mud-brick. In the original layout for the tomb, a wooden door was located about half-way up the staircase, and a portcullis placed in front of the burial chamber, designed to keep out tomb robbers. The floor of the tomb was paved in red and black granite from Aswan, the first architectural use of such hard stone on a large scale.
Twenty labels made of ivory and ebony were found in his tomb, 18 of them found by Flinders Petrie in the spoil heaps left by the less systematic archaeologist Émile Amélineau Among these labels are the earliest-known depictions of a pharaoh wearing the double-crown of Egypt, as well as running between ritual stele as part of the Sed festival.
Tomb T is surrounded by the burials of 136 men and women who were buried at the same time as the king. Thought to be the king's retainers, an examination of some of the skeletons suggests they were strangled, making this an example of human sacrifice that was common with the pharaohs of this dynasty, but which seems to have ceased by its conclusion, with shabtis taking the place of actual people to aid the pharaohs with the work expected of them in the afterlife.