Early Dynastic Period

Early Dynastic Period
3 records
1st - 2nd Dynasty (3050-2687 BCE)

The process of cultural development begun in the Predynastic Period led to a more complex society out of which the Egyptian state emerged. The event that marks the creation of the ancient Egyptian state is the unification of the distinct geographic regions of Upper (southern) Egypt and Lower (northern) Egypt. In later times Egyptians referred to their homeland as the Two Lands acknowledging regional differences and the role of the king in uniting Egypt under his rule. It is in the Early Dynastic Period that we see the development of Egyptian kingship as the focus of society and the funerary cult. At the important funerary sites of Abydos and Hierokonpolis the name of the falcon god Horus comes to be clearly associated with the living king.

It is quite possible that the final unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under one king was the result of a military conquest of one region to establish dominance over the other. At the site of Hierokonpolis, archaeologists found ceremonial objects such as maceheads and stone palettes that depict scenes of war: prisoners, war booty, and decapitated enemies—all of which suggest that war played a prominent role in early Egyptian kingship. One such object, known as the Narmer Palette, may depict one of the first kings of Egypt. The Narmer Palette dates to around 3000 BCE (5,000 years ago). The representations on the palette show king Narmer wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and smiting enemies with his mace, strengthening the evidence that the earliest kings of Egypt united the north and south through military domination.

As time progressed, the political strength of Egypt’s kings grew and they began to build monumental architecture such as burial complexes and palaces of mudbrick. Even at this early date kings devoted a huge number of resources toward building their burial complexes—a practice that would culminate in the period that followed in the form of the pyramids at Giza.

- Amber Myers Wells, (2006)