Sabu, Ibebi (fl. 24th century b.c.e.) To sekhem (4)

Official of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties

He served unis (r. 2356-2323 b.c.e.) and teti (r. 2323-2291 b.c.e.) in several capacities. Sabu was a counselor and master of ceremonies for unis, receiving the title of “companion,” and then became the high priest of ptah in Teti’s reign. Ibebi Sabu conducted Teti’s coronation rites. His mastaba in saqqara contains an account of his honors and Teti’s ascent to the throne.

Sabu, Thety (fl. 23rd century b.c.e.)

Priestly official of the Sixth Dynasty

He served teti (r. 2323-2291 b.c.e.) as the high priest of ptah. He was the son of ibebi sabu. Thety Sabu was so talented that he became the sole high priest. prior to his term of office it was believed necessary to install at least two individuals as prelates to manage ceremonies and the vast estates of ptah. Thety sabu conducted this office alone. His tomb was in saqqara and contained a false door that is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Sacred topic of the Temple

This was a text copied onto a monumental inscription, pertaining to the shrines and sacred sites in Egypt. The list of holy places contained the names, standing structures, and mythical sites associated with the deities of the land. Most temples and cult centers had copies of the inscription and used it as a reference.

sacred lake

It was an architectural feature of the larger temples of Egypt, reproductions of the primordial waters of NUNU that existed before the moment of creation. Rectangular in design normally, the lakes were reserved for certain rituals and used as well for cleansing. The larger sacred lakes served as receptacles for the barks of the gods at festivals. karnak and other major temples contained such lakes, all man-made. When the pharaoh was in residence, the water from the local sacred lake was used to baptize him in the morning rising rituals.
The sacred lakes were in use throughout all of the historical periods of Egypt. Also called she netjeri, the divine pool, the lakes were stone lined and at times were fashioned with elaborate staircases. They also served as sanctuaries for sacred birds, crocodiles, or hippopotami. certain three-sided lakes were used in osirian monuments. A few were circular or shaped as horseshoes. The sacred temple lake at Thebes figured in the dispute between the hyksos ruler apophis (r. 1585-1553 b.c.e.) and Sekenenre ta’o ii (r. c. 1540 b.c.e.).

Sadeh (fl. 21st century b.c.e.)

Court woman of the Eleventh Dynasty

She was a concubine of montuhotep ii (r. 2061-2010 b.c.e.). In her tomb in the royal complex at deir el-bahri on the western shore of thebes, she is listed as “the Sole Favorite of the King.” This title was an honorary designation shared by all of the women buried there, indicating that they were lesser-ranked consorts or concubines. Sadeh was possibly the daughter of Queen ashait, another “Sole Favorite of the King” buried in the complex.

“saff” tombs

This was the name given to the tombs constructed in the el-tarif district on the western shore of thebes (modern luxor). The name is derived from the Arabic for “row,” indicating similar tombs constructed in a line. Dating to the Eleventh Dynasty (2040-1991 b.c.e.), the “saff” tombs were blended forms of mastabas and pyramids as well as rock-cut sites placed on cliffs. Pillars opening onto sunken forecourts were part of the design, and the tomb doors opened onto corridors and burial chambers. Most “saff” tombs were topped with pyramidions.

Sages of Mehweret

Ancient divine beings in Egypt, revered from the earliest times as the mentors of the god thoth, the sages reportedly dictated their accumulated wisdom to Thoth, an act inscribed on the walls of the temple of edfu. The Sages of Mehweret came from the dawn of time, and their admonitions provided Egypt with the basis for the steadily evolving moral code.


This was the ancient Egyptian concept of the spiritual body of an individual being released from the material bonds of the flesh. Also called sashu, this spiritual essence was released from the body during mummification processes and the funerary rituals. Glorified in its new state, the sah was empowered by prayers and litanies to experience spiritual bliss.

Sahathor (1) (fl. c. 1730 b.c.e.)

Obscure ruler of the Thirteenth Dynasty

His reign is not well documented, but he was the successor of his brother, neferhotep i, with whom he may have had a brief coregency.

Sahathor (2) (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Treasury official of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served in the reign of amenemhet ii (1929-1892 b.c.e.) as an assistant treasurer and expedition leader. sahathor conducted a mining expedition and brought gold and turquoise to court from nubia (modern Sudan). He also conducted an expedition to bring rare plants to the pharaoh. His abydos tomb carries accounts of his exploits as well as reports of his promotions and court favors. A stylish statue of sahathor was also inscribed in a niche in his tomb.

Sahure (d. 2446 b.c.e.)

Second ruler of the Fifth Dynasty He reigned from 2458 b.c.e. until his death. Sahure was the successor of userkhaf and possibly the son of Queen khentakawes (1). A builder and innovator, Sahure started sending fleets of ships along the coast of Palestine and conducted expeditions to punt. He exploited the mines in the sinai territory and quarried diorite stone at abu simbel near aswan. Mentioned in the palermo stone, Sahure campaigned against the Libyans and made raids on Syrian-held lands. His name meant “He Who Comes to re.”
Sahure began the royal cemetery at abusir south of saqqara. He erected a pyramidal complex there, complete with a valley temple, causeway, and mortuary temple. it was designed with colonnaded courts and reliefs depicting his military campaigns and is considered a model of Fifth Dynasty funerary architecture, using not only basic building materials from the local region but fine limestone from the tureh (Tura) quarry as well. sahure’s desert hunting expeditions and his naval fleet are depicted on the pyramid. The scenes are in low relief and were once painted.
His mortuary temple had rainspouts shaped as lion heads, forerunner of the Gothic gargoyles. copper-lined bases and lead plugs were also discovered in the complex, as were red granite palm columns. His pyramid was called Sekhet-Re, “the Field of Re.” A second pyramid was built in the eastern complex, possibly for an unknown consort. in the later eras, sahure’s complex was used as a sanctuary for the goddess sekhmet. Sahure was succeeded on the throne by his brother kakai.

St. Petersburg Papyrus

This is an Egyptian document now in the State Hermitage Museum in Russia. The papyrus contains the TALE OF THE SHIPWRECKED SAILOR.

Sais (Zau, Sai, Sa-el-Hagar)

It is a site on the right bank of the Rosetta or Canopic branch of the Nile in the Delta region. called zau or sai by the Egyptians, sais is the modern Sa-el-Hagar. The city was the cult center of the goddess neith (1) and the capital of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (664-525 b.c.e.). The rulers of the Twenty-fourth Dynasty (724-712 b.c.e.) also resided in Sais, which served as the capital of psammetichus i (r. 664-610 b.c.e.). No monuments remain, however, as the city was looted by later dynasties and by the persians. The burial sites of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty are still evident in the territory, some having yielded exquisite objects of the mortuary regalia of the Necho-psam-metichus royal line.

sakieh (sakia)

It was an Egyptian waterwheel designed to take water out of the Nile for use in agricultural projects. oxen or humans powered the sakieh, which was used side by side with the later shaduf, the irrigation tool introduced by the hyksos.


This was the principal coastal city of cyprus, where a naval battle took place between ptolemy i soter (r. 304-284 b.c.e.) and demetrius i poliorcetes of Macedonia and his allies in 306 b.c.e. The Egyptians were defeated in the battle. At the time of the engagement, Salamis was an important Egyptian trade center. The battle also took place early in the reign of ptolemy i, at a time when the former generals of Alexander iii the great struggled for supremacy in the Mediterranean world.


This was an ancient necropolis district serving the city of akhmin in many historical eras. A temple for the god min was also erected in Salamuni.
Sal Island it is an eight-mile-long site south of the third cataract of the Nile in nubia (modern Sudan). A famous summit there was called Gebel Adou. ‘ahmose (r. 1550-1525 b.c.e.) fortified an Egyptian outpost there, and a temple was erected on the island by amenhotep i (r. 1525-1504 b.c.e.). The site served as an outpost of Egyptian trade activities. seti i (r. 1306-1290 b.c.e.) put down a rebellion on sal island, at sha’at, defeating the irem, a local warrior people. The island became the administrative base of the viceroy of Nubia in Seti I’s reign.

Salitis (Sharek, Sharlek) (fl. c. 1640 b.c.e.)

Asiatic who founded the Fifteenth Dynasty, called the Great Hyksos He started his line in Memphis and then moved his capital to avaris on the eastern side of the Bubastis branch of the Nile in the Delta. salitis is believed to have held the Avaris throne for about 19 years. He ruled the entire Delta and Egypt as far south as gebelein. He is called “sultan” in some lists, and his Asian name was sharek or sharlek. salitis and his successors in Avaris were called the Great Hyksos because of their dominance. Salitis had an alliance with the kermeh culture in nubia (modern Sudan), and his seals were found there. He was a contemporary of inyotef iv of Thebes, whose line held Upper Egypt. salitis fortified Avaris against possible assaults by the Thebans.

Sallier Papyri

This is collection of ancient Egyptian texts purchased by one M. sallier from an Egyptian sailor. These papyri contained accounts of the campaigns of ramesses ii (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.) and the confrontations of Sekenenre ta’oii of the Seventeenth Dynasty (1640-1550 b.c.e.) with apophis (1585-1553 b.c.e.) of the Fifteenth Dynasty, starting the war against the Hyksos. Also included is a copy of the “Poem of pentaur,” the account of Ramesses Il’s battle of kadesh. The SATIRE ON TRADES is part of the accounts and literary texts.
The sallier papyri are in the British Museum in London. Papyrus IV, for example, dating to the 56th regnal year of Ramesses II, is long and composed over an earlier text, with exercises, notes, and memorabilia on the verso. A calendar of lucky and unlucky days is part of the material in this papyrus.

Salt Papyrus

This is an Egyptian account from the Nineteenth Dynasty (1307-1196 b.c.e.), discovered in deir el-medina. A petition from a worker named Ame-nakhte is included in this document. He wrote about another worker, Paneb, and his numerous crimes, expecting some sort of redress in the local court system.

Samto-wetefnakht (fl. seventh century b.c.e.)

Trade and mayoral official of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty He served psammetichus i (r. 664-610 b.c.e.) as the mayor of herakleopolis and as “the master of shipping.” His family had a firm grip on the Nile trade. When nitocris (2), the princess of the royal house, sailed to Thebes to be adopted as the god’s wife of amun,or Divine Adoratrice of Amun, she traveled on one of samto-wetefnakht’s ships.
Sanctuary of Ptah It was a site at Thebes, on the western shore between deir el-medina and the valley of the queens, dedicated to the god ptah. Small shrines and votive stelae honoring Ptah were erected in this district by the pharaohs of the Nineteenth Dynasty (1307-1196 b.c.e.) and the Twentieth Dynasty (1196-1070 b.c.e.).


A site west of Memphis on the edge of the Libyan desert, part of the necropolis area of the capital, saqqara contains important historical and archaeological monuments and extends from abu rowash to meidum. This necropolis was named after the god sokar of Memphis, a deity of the dead, and holds 4,000 years of building projects by the Egyptians.
The step pyramid of djoser (r. 2630-2611 b.c.e.) dominates the site. The Step Pyramid was designed by imhotep, the vizier of Djsoer, as an advanced mastaba tomb, having six separate such tombs placed one on top of another to form a pyramid. These six tiers rose almost 200 feet on a 500-foot base. This pyramid dominates a vast mortuary complex enclosed in a mile-long wall that stood over 30 feet high. chapels, temples, galleries, and tombs were part of the design.
The pyramidal complex of unis (r. 2356-2323 b.c.e.) is also in saqqara, complete with a long causeway leading to the mortuary temple and to a valley temple. This complex was fashioned out of limestone slabs and is designed to follow the general terrain. carved scenes of daily life decorate the causeway and the ceiling was starred. The mortuary temple has a granite gateway and inscriptions. The floors are alabaster, with limestone walls and granite columns.
A partial inscription of the mortuary temple states that Prince kha’emweset (1), a son of ramesses ii (r.1290-1224 b.c.e.), restored the site in the Nineteenth Dynasty. The pyramid of Unis, called “Beautiful Are the Places of Unis,” was fashioned out of limestone and encased in Tureh limestone. A limestone plug originally sealed the pyramid at ground level. A corridor leads to a vestibule and portcullises, connected to another corridor and antechamber and a burial chamber. A black granite sarcophagus was discovered in this chamber, which had alabaster and limestone walls, painted blue and inscribed with the pyramid texts. The valley temple of Unis is now partially hidden by a modern access road. This complex is also believed to have covered earlier gravesites.
Near unis’s pyramid the graves of his family were erected as well. The tombs of Queens khenut and nebet were erected north of the funerary temple. A relief depicts Khenut in a seated position, smelling a lotus. Unis’s daughter, Idut, was buried nearby in a tomb originally fashioned for the viceroy of the reign, Ihuy. Other sites, including the Tomb of the Birds, are also in the area.
The pyramid complex of sekhemkhet (r. 2611-2601 b.c.e.) of the Third Dynasty is southwest of Unis’s complex. An unfinished step pyramid is included in the design, containing an unused alabaster sarcophagus. A wooden sarcophagus containing the remains of a small child was discovered there as well.
Yet another complex in Saqqara belongs to userkhaf (r. 2465-2458 b.c.e.), a pyramid located in the corner of Djoser’s complex of the Step Pyramid. This was called “Pure Are the Places of Userkhaf.” Modern names for the tomb include the “Scratched Pyramid” and “El-Harem el-Mekharbesh.” It was constructed out of limestone, faced with higher quality Tureh stone. This is in ruins only, surrounded by a tenemos wall, a paved causeway, and a portico with red granite columns. The mastaba of akhethotep and ptah-hotep (2) is located close by
Also near these complexes are tombs of prominent Egyptian officials of several historical periods. niankh-khnum and Khnumhotep were buried in a mastaba called the “Tomb of the Hairdressers” or the “Tomb of the Two Brothers.” mereruka’s mastaba, shared with his wife and son, and the tomb of kagemni are near the pyramid of Teti. Beyond is the Street of Tombs and the mastaba of Ti.
The pyramidal complex of teti (r. 2323-2291 b.c.e.) of the sixth Dynasty overlooks the scene on the edge of the plateau of Saqqara. The pyramid of Teti was called “the Place of Teti, Son of Re, Is Enduring Forever.” The structure was faced with limestone, and the entrance was blocked by a chapel that was added later and by a sloping passage. The burial chamber contained a wooden sarcophagus and the ceiling was painted blue and decorated with stars. The walls were inscribed with the pyramid texts. A mortuary temple contained niches and a small sanctuary and was set against the face of the pyramid. Teti’s cult flourished for centuries at this complex. The small pyramids of Queens iput (1) and kawit (1) are located beside his pyramid.
The complex at Saqqara of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, a pharaoh of the Third Dynasty. Mortuary structures and storage areas surround the pyramid, using the palace facade design.
The complex at Saqqara of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, a pharaoh of the Third Dynasty. Mortuary structures and storage areas surround the pyramid, using the palace facade design.
In the southern section of saqqara, the pyramidal complex of pepi i (r. 2289-2255 b.c.e.) is in ruins. The pyramid collapsed, destroying a black basalt sarcophagus. A rose granite canopic chest was also destroyed, along with alabaster jars. The pyramid texts used as decorations are particularly beautiful in surviving corridors and in the burial chamber, which is painted green.
The pyramid of merenre i (r. 2255-2246 b.c.e.) is located nearby, and the unfinished pyramid shows ancient signs of vandalism. A black basalt sarcophagus contained a mummy, but it was not Merenre i. Limestone statues of prisoners taken by Merenre i’s military campaigns, or from earlier battles, were discovered there.
The pyramidal complex of izezi Djedkare (r. 2388-2356 b.c.e.) is in the area as well, located beside the tomb of pepi i. The mortuary bears izezi’s name, and the pyramid was called “izezi is Beautiful.” A vestibule opens onto a passage that leads to a burial chamber and antechamber and the limestone slab roof is pitched at an angle. Within the burial chamber, a black basalt sarcophagus and fragments of a mummy were discovered also. The mortuary temple of izezi Djedkare was destroyed by the Eighteenth Dynasty (1550-1307 b.c.e.) burial sites. This temple had beautiful reliefs and statues of animals. A smaller queen’s pyramid is part of the complex.
The serapeum (1) was also erected in Saqqara. Also in the southern section are tombs from the Fourth Dynasty, including the tomb of shepseskhaf (r. 2472-2467 b.c.e.), now called the mastabat el-fara’un. This tomb is fashioned in the shape of a giant sarcophagus, with corridors, ramps, and a separate chamber. The mortuary temple has terraces and pillared halls. other tombs included those of tia (2) and maya. The statue of Sheikh el-Beled (ka’aper) was discovered in a mastaba there.


Table This is a royal relief discovered in the tomb of tjueneroy, or Thuneroi, a scribe in the court of Ramesses II (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.). The cartouches of 57 or 58 rulers of Egypt were inscribed in tjueneroy’s tomb, all listed as pharaohs honored by ramesses ii. See also king lists.


They are the stone receptacles for the mummified remains of ancient Egyptians, from the Greek term meaning “eater of flesh.” The Greek term supposedly referred to a type of limestone that was believed to dissolve human remains. stone sarcophagi used in the Fifth Dynasty (2465-2323 b.c.e.) had intricate patterns resembling the facades of the palaces of the time, and these patterns sometimes included painted replicas of the same colored materials. These sarcophagi were so heavy and large that they had to be placed inside the burial chambers before funerals because of the labor involved in setting them in place. it is believed that the sarcophagus constructed for khufu (Cheops; r. 2551-2528 b.c.e.) was actually incorporated into the pyramid in the process of constructing that monument.
stone sarcophagi became rare by the Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 b.c.e.) and were used exclusively for royal or noble burials. Their decorations were austere, but some, such as the ones discovered in deir el-bahri at Thebes, in the mortuary complex of montuhotep ii (r. 2061-2010 b.c.e.), were discovered with painted reliefs. The New Kingdom (1550-1070 b.c.e.) form of the sarcophagus was either rectangular or anthropoid. The sarcophagi used for nonroyal persons as early as the Eighteenth Dynasty and in the Ramessid Dynasties sometimes represented the deceased in daily attire. The royal sarcophagi were rectangular, carved with the figures of deities and embellished with bands of religious texts.
At the start of the Nineteenth Dynasty in 1307 b.c.e., the custom developed of carving the form of the king in high relief on the outer lid. The inner and outer surfaces were painted with mortuary texts. sometimes a picture of the goddess nut, the sky deity, lined the interior. With the close of the New Kingdom in 1070 b.c.e., the sarcophagi lost popularity until after 650 b.c.e., when the royal families again adopted their use. They continued to hold the remains of the pharaohs during the ptolemaic Period (304-30 b.c.e.) and even in later eras.


A reddish brown variety of chalcedony, called her-set or desher (in the red tones) by Egyptians, this stone is normally darker than carnelian and is found in the eastern desert territories. Sard was used to make scarabs and plaques in the period of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 b.c.e.).
A rendering of a sarcophagus and accompanying regalia in a tomb at Thebes.
A rendering of a sarcophagus and accompanying regalia in a tomb at Thebes.

Sarenput (fl. 20th century b.c.e.)

Military official of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served senwosret i (r. 1971-1926 b.c.e.) and amen-emhet ii (r. 1929-1892 b.c.e.) as a mayor and then as a commander of a southern frontier garrison. He also served as the chief priest of the cults of the gods khnum and satet. Sarenput was buried at aswan in an elaborate tomb. The reliefs in his tomb depict him at a sports event, fishing on the Nile, and walking with his favorite dog.

Sasobek (fl. seventh century b.c.e.)

Vizier of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty

He served as a vizier for psammetichus i (r. 664-610 b.c.e.). His administrative seat was in Memphis. Sasobek’s basalt sarcophagus depicts a stern and powerful man.

Satet (Satis)

she was an Egyptian goddess hailed as the “Mistress of the elephantine.” Originally a goddess of the hunt, Satet became patroness of the Nile River’s inundations and was associated with the first cataract of the Nile, south of aswan. senwosret iii (r. 1878-1841 b.c.e.) built a canal in her honor.
Satet’s cult dates to c. 2900 b.c.e. on Elephantine Island. Her temple started as a rock niche there, assuming magnificence over the centuries. Also called “She Who Runs Like an Arrow,” Satet was a consort of the god khnum and the mother of anukis. She was worshiped as the patroness of the southern frontier, the one who “spread the life-giving waters of the Nile.” Upper Egypt was sometimes called Ta-satet, “the Land of satet.”
Also associated with protecting the Egyptians in war, satet carried arrows to slay the nation’s enemies. The pyramid texts list her as the purificator of the deceased, and her name was found in the saqqara necropolis. She was portrayed as a woman wearing the white crown of upper Egypt and carrying a bow and arrows or an ankh. in some depictions, the white crown on her head had antelope horns extending on either side. she was also shown wearing the vulture headdress, normally reserved to queens who had given birth to heirs. satet’s original home was sehel island. she may originally have been a Nubian goddess.

Satire on Trades

A Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 b.c.e.) literary text also called “the Instruction of DuaKhety” (or Duaf), the text was discovered in the sallier papyrus ii, anastasi papyrus vii, and on ostraka and boards. The satire stresses the disadvantages of being stone workers, farmers, carpenters, etc., especially when compared to the life of a scribe, which is called “the path of the god,” a way of attaining honor, knowledge, and rank. The Satire on Trades is also listed as the “Hymn of praise of Learning.” it is attributed to one Achtoes, composed for his son, pepi. The extant versions may be based on earlier renditions, and the work mentions a pre-Middle Kingdom text that was used as a copying exercise.

Satirical Papyrus

This is a document dating to the Twentieth Dynasty (1196-1070 b.c.e.), a collection of artistic works satirizing the state of the nation during the reigns of the last Ramessid kings. Charming animals demonstrate the peculiar reversal of roles taking place in that particular era. A mouse is being shown pampered and served by cats. A baby mouse is depicted in the arms of a loving cat nurse. As the social order of the nation eroded, the satirical drawings served as a warning and as an incisive commentary on the breakdown of society. The satirical papyrus is now in the Egyptian Museum in cairo.

Satkamose (fl. 16th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Eighteenth Dynasty

She was a consort of amenhotep i (r. 1525-1504 b.c.e.) but a secondary queen, as ah’hotep (2) was the Great Wife. Satkamose did not give birth to the heir. She was possibly the royal daughter of Sekenenre ta’o ii and Queen ah’hotep (1).

Satrap Stela

This monument was erected by ptolemy i soter (r. 304-284 b.c.e.) in 311 b.c.e. to announce his role in freeing Egypt from the persian domination. ptolemy i linked his own name to a native Egyptian, khababash, who led a doomed insurrection against the persians in 338. ptolemy i was the satrap, or governor, of Egypt when he erected the stela, serving Alexander iii the great’s successors. In time he would assume the throne in his own right.


This was the ancient Egyptian term for literature as an instructional or reforming instrument. Didactic texts come under this description, the instructions, adages, or admonitions of sages in the various historical periods. such writings played an important role in the moral and social development of the nation. The sboyet were revered and copied by the scribes of each new generation on the Nile, never considered irrelevant.


It is the form of a beetle, Scarabeus sacer or Scarabeus harabas, and associated with the cult of the god re. The beetle pushes a ball of dung into a hole and lays eggs in the matter, thus providing its young with security and food. This action was revered as Re’s movement across the sky. The first flight of newly hatched scarab beetles also mirrored Re’s rising. The scarab personified Khepri as well, the aspect of Re seen at dawn.
called kheprar, the scarab had no wings or legs in the early depictions, which date as early as the Old Kingdom (2575-2134 b.c.e.), but then became more stylized and detailed. scarabs were fashioned out of stone-glazed earthenware, stones, and gems. When made of blue faience, they were used as amulets and attached to the torso wrappings of mummies. They also formed an amulet of the heart and were composed of large basalt designs during the New Kingdom (1550-1070 b.c.e.). Winged scarabs were also popular in mortuary rituals.
During the reign of tuthmosis iii (1479-1425 b.c.e.), the ruler’s cartouche was carved into the backs of scarabs. amenhotep iii (r. 1391-1353 b.c.e.) also used large scarabs as commemoratives of his marriage to Queen tiye (1). The scarab became one of the most popular symbols and was used in pendants, decorative designs, and jewelry, while retaining its cultic significance and mortuary connotations. Another plainer version was also used, called scaraboids.


This was an ancient Egyptian royal insignia, depicting the time-honored traditions in each new reign. Called the hekat when formed as a shepherd’s crook, the scepter represented the early agricultural beginnings of the land and designated the pharaoh as the shepherd of humans, called “the flocks of god.” When the scepter was in the form of a waset, a carved emblem, it represented the god set and formed another insignia of ruling. Yet another type of scepter was the sekhem, attributed to the god osiris and kept at abydos. This scepter had a golden face at the top and denoted osiris’s powers.

School Boy Texts

They were written materials used in the teaching institutions of Egypt as exercises in copying. Found on ostraka and in some surviving papyri, these texts were traditional, maintaining the tone and style of the original documents from the past. They were designed to acquaint students of each new generation with didactic literature and with the literary compositions of earlier eras. Most urged the young Egyptian males to become scribes.


A venomous arachnid symbolizing the goddess selket and associated with the cult of osiris-isis-horus. Seven giant scorpions accompanied the goddess Isis as her guardians. One stung the infant Horus, according to cultic traditions. The Egyptians believed that scorpions killed only men, out of reverence for Isis.

Scorpion I (Pe, Zekhen, Ip) (fl. 31st or 32nd century b.c.e.)

Ruler of the so-called Dynasty O of Egypt Scorpion I was followed by an obscure Scorpion II. Scorpion I is described as an Upper Egyptian ruler who waged war in the Delta, thus beginning the unification process as early as 3250 b.c.e. He reportedly reached the area around modern Cairo. Scorpion I’s capital was THiNis,or This, replacing hierakonpolis. In Hierakonpolis, Scorpion I was called Ip. His name was also found in tureh, in tarkhan, and in Cairo suburbs.
The Scorpion macehead, now in the Ashmolean Museum, depicts Scorpion Iasa king with the white crown of Upper Egypt. He wears a kilt and a belted loincloth to which a bull’s tail is attached as a symbol of strength. Scorpion I is shown digging a canal with a hoe. Before him a man fills a basket with earth, while others water a potted palm. Fashioned out of limestone, the macehead was found at Hierakonpolis. The Scorpion Palette depicts him destroying seven cities in the Delta, or else attacking one city seven times. Scorpion I is depicted as a falcon and a lion on this palette.
Scorpion I’s tomb was discovered near athribis at Gebel Tjauti, and it contained boxes and objects carved of ivory. seven of the boxes contained linens. Hieroglyphs discovered in Scorpion I’s tomb indicate that writing was commonplace in Egypt much earlier than was formerly believed. The tablets discovered in the site indicate the number of linens and oils delivered to scorpion, as well as taxes and the names of institutions of the period.


It was the profession of the literate elite of ancient Egypt who assumed a variety of functions in the various historical periods in government and religious institutions. some scribes achieved high rank and honors, and the profession was highly esteemed. In one ancient document the life of a scribe is called “the path of the god.” Literacy was the prerequisite for any higher secular or religious office.
scribes were exclusively men and were recruited from all classes of society, as literacy and loyalty were the two basic qualifications. They were educated by priests and encouraged to develop their skills in specialized record-keeping or in temple and government affairs. scribes were assigned to government or estate offices or to the various agencies of temples after receiving training in reading, writing, and the basic tenets of law, temple lore, and administrative procedures. They had to have command of nearly 800 hieroglyphs of Middle Egyptian, and the additional signs when they were added to the language in the Ramessid Period (1307-1070 b.c.e.).
scribes were normally attached to the various temples they served, but in the New Kingdom (1550-1070 b.c.e.), when the religious complexes grew larger and more sophisticated, lay scribes were hired. scribes were also required to have knowledge of the classic texts and mathematics. initially they performed routine tasks, normally recordkeeping.
The best known symbol of the scribe was his kit or palette, which contained slates, inks, smoothing stones for papyri, and reed brushes, which were kept firm by chewing the end of the fibers. The kits, regular cases with indentations on one side for small cakes of ink, were attached to a cord. The ink was fashioned out of lampblack or any carbonized material, mixed with gum and water by the scribe. Brushes were held in the center cavity of a box, which had small pieces of wood glued across the opening or a sliding cover to keep them in place. Brushes could be fine or heavy depending on their use and age.
In the larger temples, scribes worked as archivists or as librarians. They kept the census, recorded tax assessments, measured the rise of the Nile, and generally maintained the vast religious and government correspondence. some accompanied military expeditions or local government officials to the mines and quarries, to record the annual findings there. Many important inscriptions and documents of the military exploits of the New Kingdom, especially those of tuthmosis iii (r. 1479-1425 b.c.e.) and ramesses ii (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.), were the work of scribes. They remained powerful even in the Roman Period, after 30 b.c.e.

Sea Peoples

They were a confederation of various groups who were active as pirates and marauders in the Ramessid Period, the Nineteenth Dynasty (1307-1196 b.c.e.) and the Twentieth Dynasty (1196-1070 b.c.e.). ramesses ii (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.) sought a pact with the hittite ruler hattusilis iii, in defense against these wide-ranging attackers, and merenptah (r. 1224-1214 b.c.e.) faced one contingent of them during his reign. The actual listing of the Sea Peoples, however, dates to ramesses iii (r. 1194-1163 b.c.e.), who destroyed them.
The Sea Peoples recorded on the walls of medinet habu at thebes include the Ekwesh, believed to be Greek Achaeans; Teresh, Anatolian sailors, possibly the Tyrrhenians; Lukka, an Anatolian coastal people; sher-dana, probably a group of sardinians; shekelesh, identified as members of the sicilian siculi; peleset, from crete and the ancestors of the philistines. others not identified with certainty were the Kizzuwatna, Arzawa, Zakala, Alasiya, Tjeker, and Denyen. The meshwesh, Libyans who were always active in Egypt’s Delta, were also listed.
originally some of the groups had fortified cities and worked copper mines. Displaced, the sea peoples conquered Cyprus and blockaded Syrian ports. They began their first campaigns near their homelands. The Mycenean Greeks repulsed them, but other nations, including the Hittites, endured their aggression.
In Ramesses Ill’s eighth regnal year, the Sea Peoples had attacked Cilicia, carchemish, Palestine, Arzawa, Cyprus, Amurru, and the hittites and had arrived in the Delta region with the Libyans. These marauders came in carts, bringing their entire families to the invasion. They wore kilts and headdresses of feathers or pleated stiffened cloths and they carried spears, short swords, and round shields. The Great harris papyrus adds other details.
Ramesses III met the Sea Peoples who were entering Egypt as migrants, not as marauders. crop failures in the eastern Mediterranean region caused these nomads to destroy entire cities in their movement. They sought the safety of the Nile, and Ramesses III had to repel land and sea assaults. He moved defensive units to the eastern border and fortified the Nile branches in the Delta. By allowing the sea peoples to enter certain Nile branches and then moving floating islands and debris behind them, Ramesses III trapped entire contingents and annihilated them. others he took as prisoners and forced them into his armed forces or made them slaves.
Egypt withstood their assaults, but the sea peoples changed the political matrix of the Mediterranean. one group that managed to escape Ramesses Ill’s assaults were called the peleset. These are believed to have been the philistines documented in palestine. some records indicate that the peleset, or philistines, were sent into palestine to control the area there for Egypt.


The designation of certain times of the year in Egypt, appearing in their written form in the Early Dynastic Period (2920-2575 b.c.e.), there were three seasons of the year, composed of four months each, with 30 days in each month. The symbol for the entire year was a sprouted bud, and the word for year was renpet. The year began in the season of AKHET, the time of the inundation of the Nile, starting approximately the third week of July according to modern calculations. Akhet was followed by PROYET (or peret), the time of sowing. The last season, SHOMU (or shemu), was the time of the harvest. Each season had its own festivals and cultic observations.

Seat of the First Occasion

This was the Egyptian term for a temple as the original site of the first creation and the designated god’s entrance into the world. Each temple was deemed the actual location upon which the deity appeared for the first time and was celebrated annually as the cosmogonic source of life.


This was a festival in Egypt associated in many instances with harvests. The entire royal court attended celebrations in the fields for the festival, held near their residences or at certain designated sites. The festivals ended with the ruler and his retinue sailing on the Nile or on one of the sacred lakes of a temple.

Sebennytos (Tjebnutjer, Samannub)

It was a site on the left bank of the Damietta branch of the Nile, called Tjebnutjer by the Egyptians and now modern samannub. manetho, the Ptolemaic Period historian, was a native of sebennytos. A temple of a local deity was discovered on the site, and blocks bearing the name of nectanebo ii (r. 360-343 b.c.e.) and Ptolemaic rulers were discovered there.
An altar from the reign of amenemhet i (1991-1962 b.c.e.) and an Old Kingdom (2575-2134 b.c.e.) false door were found on the site. A shrine dating to nephrites I (r. 399-393 b.c.e.), a statue from the reign of psammetichus I (664-610 b.c.e.), and a sculptured piece from nectanebo I (r. 380-362 b.c.e.) were recovered as well.

Sebu’a, el-

A site at the Wadi es-Sebu’a, in nubia (modern Sudan), where ramesses ii (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.) built a temple dedicated to the gods amun and RE-Harakhte, this temple was noted for its SPHiNX-lined entrance and colossal figures of the pharaoh. six human-headed sphinxes formed the decoration for the second court, where four hawk-headed sphinxes were positioned. Another pylon opened to a third court. Storage rooms were built on an underground level for this temple.

sed (heb-sed)

This was an ancient Egyptian festival dating to predynastic times (before 3,000 b.c.e.) and remaining popular throughout Egypt’s history. Also called the HEB-SED in some eras, this festival was a symbolic recreation of the ruler’s physical and magical powers. it was usually celebrated in the 30th year of the ruler’s reign and every three years to 10 years thereafter. Details of the sed are obscure because the festival changed over the centuries. The hieroglyph for sed is an image of an open-sided pavilion with a column and two thrones.
It is believed that the sed festival became a substitute for the traditional and archaic custom of slaying the pharaoh, sparing his life, and allowing him a ceremonial foretaste of his rule in the afterlife. During the ceremony the pharaoh visited the shrines of the various gods, dressed in a short garment that completely enveloped his torso and arms. The ruler performed the rite of “going around the wall,” danced, and jumped in order to demonstrate his rejuvenation.
The festival also included ritual battles between the followers of horus and the followers of set and the herding of oxen and cattle around the royal residence. At the close of the ceremony, the ruler was attired in jubilee clothing and distributed honors and gifts to higher-ranked subjects. The sed ceremony ended at a temple lake, where the ruler mounted a barge. The festival lasted two or more months in some eras, uniting the Egyptians to the gods. some pharaohs lived long enough to celebrate more than one festival, and others anticipated their 30 years of reign, celebrating one or more sed festivals without actually achieving the proper number of years of rule.


A particular hieroglyphic symbol of the plant, serving as the insignia of upper Egypt and joined with the bee symbol of the Delta in Lower Egypt to reflect a united land. The Two Kingdoms of Egypt were thus portrayed by the sedge and the bee and were used separately or in a combined form. The sedge became part of the royal names of the pharaohs in time.


A mythological creature associated with the pyramid texts and the mortuary rituals of the Fifth Dynasty (2465-2323 b.c.e.), the Sefer-t was a winged lion with magical powers. The pyramid Texts depict the creature as a friend of Unis (r. 2356-2323 b.c.e.) in the afterlife.

Segerseni (fl. 20th century b.c.e.)

Rebel from Nubia (modern Sudan) who opposed the Twelfth Dynasty He opposed amenemhet i (r. 1991-1962 b.c.e.) when he founded that royal line upon the death of montuhotep iv. Segerseni wanted to stop Amenemhet I and fought repeated, intense campaigns before he was defeated. Later, Segerseni’s allies fought the armies of Egypt on elephantine Island before being routed.

Sehel Island

A site between the first and second cataracts of the Nile, south of ASWAN, ancient fortifications, a canal, and inscriptions were discovered there. The canal dates to the Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 b.c.e.) or perhaps earlier, and tuthmosis i (r. 1504-1492 b.c.e.) cleared the waterway for his Nubian campaigns. The famine stela, erected on Sehel Island in the Ptolemaic Period (304-30 b.c.e.), commemorates a visit by djoser (r. 2630-2611 b.c.e.) to the shrine of khnum.

Sehetepibre (Sehetepibre-ankh) (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Financial official and esteemed sage of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served senwosret iii (r. 1878-1841 b.c.e.) and amenemhet iii (r. 1844-1797 b.c.e.) as a court treasurer. sehetepibre is famous for his Loyalist Instruction, in which he advised his fellow Egyptians to obey the pharaoh in all things. such behavior, he suggested, led to high offices and honors. The Loyalist Instruction was inscribed on an abydos stela and is now in the Louvre in Paris, having been inscribed with a poem dedicated to Amenemhet III.
This official had to take tours of the natural resource sites to tally potential assets of the various regions. Sehetepibre and his father, Tay, who also served as treasurer, left an inscription on a rock at ASWAN. The relief that records their presence on the scene was carved onto a cliff across from the elephantine Island.


This was a site bordering the faiyum territory of Egypt, south of el-LiSHT. A pyramid was erected on a desert spur at Seila. This pyramid, probably built by huni (r. 2599-2575 b.c.e.), was constructed out of limestone blocks. The pyramid was designed with four steps and was 99 square feet at the base.

Sekhaen-Re (d. c. 1520 b.c.e.)

Fifth ruler of the lesser Hyksos Sixteenth Dynasty

This dynasty was contemporary with the Great hyksos of the Fifteenth Dynasty at avaris. No monuments survive from the reign of sekhaen-Re.

sekhem (1)

This was the Egyptian term for the vital force of a human being that serves as a companion in eternity but is distinct from the KA and the BA. The term translates literally as “to have mastery over something.”

sekhem (2)

This was the Egyptian term for the powers of a deity, normally written with additives. osiris was described as sekhem-o, having great power. Osiris’s sekhem scepter was kept in the god’s shrine at abydos to demonstrate his magical attributes. This scepter had a golden face at the top. Two crown feathers and two cobras protected the face. The scepter was inlaid with blue faience or with stones and was beribboned.

sekhem (3)

This was the Egyptian term for royal acts that aided or restored MA’AT in the land. These were physical acts in comparison to HEKA, ritual symbols. The military campaigns of the pharaohs and the establishment of just laws and traditions were all acts of sekhem, because they insured the security and honor of Egypt. Each pharaoh declared that he was commanded by the gods to restore ma’at. The double crown of Egypt, called pschent by the Greeks, was originally named pa-sekhemty as it displayed the double powers of the rulers of the Two Kingdoms, Upper and Lower Egypt.

sekhem (4)

They were the magical powers involved in the mortuary rituals. Such powers were infused into the mummy of the deceased through rituals and incantations. The topics of the dead was a repository of sekhem, and mortuary priests were initiated into the ceremonies that imparted such powers to the deceased. This form of sekhem involved overcoming the obstacles facing the dead in the journey to the paradise beyond the grave.

Next post:

Previous post: