Egypt in South Africa

Early Dynastic Period, 3050-2686 BCE

According to myth, a king by the name of Narmer (or Menes) unified Upper and Lower Egypt ± 3050 BCE. Even in these early times the king/pharaoh was regarded as a god rather than human. The pharaoh was at the top of the ‘pyramid’ and beneath him were the ruling elite, priesthood, minor officials and the peasant farmers.
Memphis was the capital city of the new Egypt, and Ptah, the creator-god and patron of workmen, was the principal deity here. The most important event in this time is the development of writing in the form of the hieroglyphic script. This was to serve a growing public administration.
Objects found in tombs in the cemeteries show that the ancient Egyptians were making beautiful vessels, tools, weapons and jewellery during this time. Materials used were stone, especially alabaster, and pottery for different types of food containers. For jewellery gold, bone, ivory, stones and beads like lapis lazuli from Afghanistan were used, and copper for tools and weapons.
The early tombs show a gradual development towards the pyramid architecture. At first the pharaoh had a tomb in the desert and a funerary palace near the town, but by the end of the Second Dynasty these two separate buildings had become one building. The mound of sand called the ‘mound of resurrection’ or pyramid, was now recreated within these walls. The next step was the pyramid.
Ptah, the god of creation, arts and fertility, at the Elder Temple in Kom Ombo. (c) Iziko photo archive.