Getting Closer

Shining light on the Old Kingdom

by Lester Picker

The Egyptian government, in its desire to jump start tourism, has been releasing archeological information at a faster pace than it has ever done. This week was a particularly good week for those of you interested in the Old Kingdom.

While this week’s announcement doesn’t approach the time period I write about, the First Dynasty, it does take us back to the Fifth. That alone gives us some indication how quickly Egypt developed.

While I’ve always been interested in all things Ancient Egypt, I also wonder how this whole incredible Dynastic tradition began. How did one ruler, or even the first few, unite disparate cultures into one mighty nation that was lightyears ahead of its neighbors in terms of social freedoms, legal systems, religious traditions, literature, medicine and more. My trilogy explores this through the lives of three First Dynasty kings; Narmer, Meryt-Neith and Qa’a.

In this week’s discovery, archeologists report on the excavation of the tomb of Behnui-Ka. Following in the tradition of flowery language, Behnui-Ka was “The Priest, the Judge, the purifier of kings: Khafre, Userkaf and Niuserre; the priest of goddess Maat, and the elder juridical in the court”. The time period was 2465-2323. Another tomb of a noble was found nearby. What makes this find particularly intriguing is its location, near the burial grounds of common workers.

Fascinating stuff, this is. My hope is it will lead to other finds that bring us still closer to an understanding of the First Dynasty, where it all started.