Egyptian Kingship

These communities were organised with clan chiefs, an elder council, having pottery with heraldic (totemic) symbols. A continuing process led to the formation of upper and lower kingdoms. Unification occurred circa 3000 BC and produced the 1st Dynasty.

The high place of the village – emerged flood land – was sacred, the location of the temple, the shrine site which commemorated the world’s creation. Thence the ceremonial and annual re-enactment of creation. The highest architectural expression became the pyramids – the primeval hill.

The mythology says the dry land was created out of the waters by the sun. This mythic ideology was used to consolidate the power of the king. Each king was then identifies as a sun-god. Sovereignty was invested by coronation ritual which presented the king as the world’s creator. In this way the people taught that kingship was always existing.  [the king is dead, long live the king!]

The Sed Festival – Sed is Set or Seth – was the jubilee re-enactment of the coronation and the dedication of the field. Four quarters – or compass points – represented the duality or twice each kingdom. See Thomson (1976). Two chapels would have been for Horus and Seth.

The titles of the king would have been for |Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The two ladies – Cobra Goddess for Lower Egypt and Vulture Goddess for Upper Egypt. Therefore two viziers, two treasurers, two capitals. Two lords – Horus and Seth. Two titles for two kings – Upper and Lower Egypt. The myth of Osiris who is annually slain by Seth and is mourned by his sister Isis and is avenged by his son Horus.

Therefore – the royal office has a dual nature. Every king had a still-born brother or placenta. This twin was the moon god. Hence the duality of the king expressed as a duality of the universe.

[James, E. O.  Prehistoric Religion].

The prehistoric Nile Valley was divided into a number of small city states. These were administrative nomes before the beginning of the Dynastic period. Each nome derived its name from an ensign or standard which were most likely totemic. The ensigns were clan symbols and often took the form of animals e.g., ibis, falcon. Other sacred objects were also regarded as divine and also interpreted as totems.

There is no indication they associated with clans or nomes in a totemic relationship. There is no indication they were associated with rituals or exogamy. These totems were local gods who ruled the nomes and gave authority to the clan chiefs or nomarchs. Then the pattern developed from nome to kingdom, with the nomarch regarded as a king, as the son of a god. His rule and function were given a divine status.

The Divine Kingship in Egypt had the last of the primordial kings who was ‘the Horus’ or sky deity of the falcon clan in predynastic times.

It is alleged ‘the Horus’ conquered the delta and set up the line of kings with a central administration. From the earliest times the god was depicted as a bird. At Hierakonolis, in the 3rd nome of Upper Egypt, was the predynastic centre of his worship and clan. Other falcon gods were also identified with him.

The Lower Kingdom conquered Upper Egypt. At this time there was the cult of Behdet or Edfu. Hence Horus equates with Behdety or ‘he of Behdet’.   Union with Behdetite led to the permanent figure of a king as ruler. This ruler may be Namer who was identified with Menes. Thus the falcon god, the sky god Horus became incarnate in the person of the king of Upper Egypt.


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