Shepseskhaf (d. 2467 b.c.e.) To THE MIDDLE KINGDOM PERIOD

Last ruler of the Fourth Dynasty

He reigned from 2472 b.c.e. until his death, the son of menkaure. Shepseskhaf completed his father’s monuments and reportedly feuded with the priests of various temples over doctrines. He also married bunefer and had a son, Djedefptah, who is sometimes listed as Thamptis. His sister was Khentakawes. Khama’at was his daughter, who married Ptahshepses, the high priest of Memphis. Shepseskhaf erected a tomb in southern saqqara, called mastabat el-fara’un, “the Pharaoh’s Bench.” Rectangular in design, this mastaba was unfinished and was never used.

Sherden Pirates

They were a group of sea-roving marauders on the Mediterranean coast during the New Kingdom (1550-1070 b.c.e.). In the Nineteenth Dynasty, they began raiding the Egyptian Delta. A stela from tanis stated: “none were able to stand before them.” ramesses iii (r. 1194-1163 b.c.e.) defeated the Sherden Pirates and incorporated them into his military forces. carrying round shields and large swords, some of these buccaneers became Ramesses Ill’s personal guards. They received land grants in repayment. Rameses II (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.) also fought the Sherden Pirates.

Shere (fl. 25th century b.c.e.)

Mortuary complex official of the Fourth Dynasty

He served as a mortuary priest for the tombs of sendji and peribsen of the Second Dynasty (2700-2649 b.c.e.), whose royal mortuary cults were still active. A slab from shere’s tomb was reportedly recovered and taken to England in the reign of King Charles II.

Sheshi (1) (Mayebre) (d. c. 1600 b.c.e.)

Second ruler of the Asiatic Fifteenth Dynasty, the Great Hyksos He ruled from the capital of avaris in the Delta region, a contemporary of the Seventeenth Dynasty of Thebes. His throne name was translated as “Just is the Heart of re.” Sheshi’s seals were found throughout Lower Egypt as far south as the third cataract of the Nile in Nubia (modern Sudan). He was a successor of salitis, the founder of the dynasty, and he was listed in the turin canon.
Shesmetet she was a lioness goddess dating to the Early Dynastic Period (2920-2575 b.c.e.), a form of the deity bastet. She was popular especially in the reign of djoser (2630-2611 b.c.e.), and her girdle served as a powerful talisman.


An ancient Egyptian deity associated with the olive and grape presses, he played a singular role in the inscription of the pyramidal tombs of unis (r. 2356-2323 b.c.e.) at saqqara. Sheshmu is recorded in the cannibal hymn discovered in that tomb, as pressing the gods of Egypt, cooking them along with ancestors of the pharaoh, and then presenting them to unis. No shrine or cultic monuments to sheshmu have survived.


This was the ancient Egyptian word for a mystery or a hidden secret. All matter was supposed to contain shetau akhet, truly hidden powers. A shetai was a hidden god, or something completely incomprehensible. The isis cult was particularly shetai, noted for its mysteries. The hieroglyphs describing such enigmatic spiritual matters can be translated only by using phonetic values as clari-fiers.

shomu (shemu)

A season of the Egyptian calendar, it was celebrated following akhet and proyet each year. Shomu was the time of harvests, comprising four months of 30 days each.

Shoshenq I (Hedjkheperre’setepenre) (d. 924 b.c.e.)

Founder of the Libyan Twenty-second Dynasty He ruled from 945 b.c.e. until his death. Shoshenq I was the son of the Libyan leader Nimlot, and the nephew of osorkor (r. 984-978 b.c.e.), and was based in bubastis. Called “the Great Chief of the meshwesh,” the Libyans residing in Egypt’s Delta, he served psusennes ii (r. 959-945 b.c.e.) and married the ruler’s daughter, ma’atkare (2).
Having served as the commander of Egypt’s military forces, Shoshenq I united thebes and tanis, the capital. He fought in Canaan and took the city of Jerusalem. At Ar-Megiddo he erected a stela and renewed ties with Babylon. In Egypt, he built in karnak and reopened the quarries at gebel el-silsileh. The bubastite portal at Karnak records his military exploits. He also erected a cenotaph for his father at abydos. He is probably the Shishas of the Old Testament.
Having three sons, iuput, nimlot, and Djedptahau-fankh, Shoshenq I used them politically. He made Iuput the high priest of amun and the governor of Upper Egypt. Nimlot was made commander of herakleopolis, and Djedptahaufankh became third prophet of Amun. A second consort, karomana, was the mother of Shoshenq I’s heir, osorkon i. A daughter, Ta’apenes, was married to the Edomite prince Hadad, who had been given refuge in Egypt. Another consort of Shoshenq I was Queen pen-reshnas, a Libyan aristocrat.
Shoshenq I was buried in tanis. His coffin, made of silver and decorated with a hawk’s head, was discovered in an antechamber of the tomb of psusennes i. The mummy within his coffin was undisturbed but destroyed by dampness. A calcite canopic chest was also recovered.

Shoshenq II (Hegakheperre’setepenre) (d. 883 b.c.e.)

Fourth ruler of the Twenty-second Dynasty, reigning only one year

He was the son of osorkon i and Queen ma’atkare (3) and possibly the high priest of Amun at Thebes, for a time, called shoshenq Meryamun. osorkon i made him coruler of Egypt, but shoshenq ii died suddenly of an infected head wound. He was survived by his son, har-siese, and his wife, Queen nesitanebetashru (1). Shoshenq II was buried in tanis but was moved to the tomb of psussenes i when his own resting place flooded. He had two sarcophagi, one dating to the Thirteenth Dynasty (1783-1640 b.c.e.).

Shoshenq III (Userma’atre’setepenre) (d. 783 b.c.e.)

Seventh ruler of the Twenty-second Dynasty, a usurper He reigned from 835 b.c.e. until his death, having usurped the throne upon the death of takelot ii, putting aside the heir, Prince osorkon. Shoshenq III was probably the son of osorkon ii (r. 883-855 b.c.e.) and Queen karomana (4). He married Lady tentamopet.
In his sixth regnal year, shoshenq iii witnessed the rise of harsiese, the son of shoshenq ii, as the high priest of amun in thebes. Harsiese began a series of revolts in Thebes, as pedubaste i of the Twenty-third Dynasty assumed the throne and ruled at leontopolis (828-803 b.c.e.). Egypt was divided between tanis and Leontopolis. Shoshenq III built in Memphis and mendes and celebrated his HEB-SED at the temple of amun in Tanis. His vassal cities included busiris, buto, and sais. He also named prince osorkon to the office of high priest of Amun in Thebes.
His sons were Bakennefi, who died young, pami, who was his successor, and possibly shoshenq v. Shoshenq III was buried at Tanis near the temple of Amun. His seal has been discovered on a statuette and on canopicjars.

Shoshenq IV (Userma’atre’meryamun) (d. 797 b.c.e.)

Second ruler of the Twenty-third Dynasty

He reigned from c. 803 b.c.e. until his death. He succeeded pedubaste, the founder of the dynasty in leontopolis. Little is known of his reign.

Shoshenq V (Akheprure) (d. 735 b.c.e.)

Ninth ruler of the Twenty-second Dynasty in Tanis

He reigned from 773 b.c.e. until his death. Shoshenq V was probably the brother of pami and a son of shoshenq iii and Queen tentamopet. There was a dispute over his coronation, but he ruled many decades in tanis. There he built a temple and a HEB-SED chapel. His son and heir was osorkon iv


He was an Egyptian deity of the air, the patron of light and atmosphere. At the command of atum, Shu lifted nut from the embrace of the earth god geb and transformed her into the sky. A solar deity, shu was depicted as a man carrying a scepter, an ANKH or a MA’AT feather. He wore a solar disk on his head.
The consort of tefnut, Shu was also part of lion cults. The four pillars of heaven were his symbols. He was worshiped at heliopolis and at leontopolis. Shu was called “He Who Rises Up.” He was a member of the ennead in Heliopolis and was also associated with the cult of re, protecting that deity from the serpent apophis. shu was the personification of divine intelligence in Egypt.

Shunet el-Zabib

A double walled fortress called “the storehouse of Dates” and located on the northern boundary of abydos at Umm el-Ga’ab, this necropolis area dates to the Early Dynastic Period (2920-2575 b.c.e.). The funerary enclosure of kha’sekhemwy (r. c. 2649 b.c.e.) was made of mud brick and erected on the site. it is revered as the oldest standing monumental structure in the world and is part of shunet el-zabib. The walls of the entire structure are vast. cenotaphs have been discovered, as well as a series of boat pits.

Shuta (fl. 14th century b.c.e.)

Military official of the Eighteenth Dynasty in the ‘Amarna Period He served as a military commander in the reign of akhenaten (1353-1335 b.c.e.). Some records indicate that he was the grandfather or great grandfather of ramesses i (r. 1307-1306 b.c.e.). He was mentioned in the ‘amarna letters, the correspondence of Akhenaten’s period, actually accused by biryawaza, the prince of Damascus, of unjustly demanding land grants for Egypt. shuta and other commanders were being forced to vacate certain vassal states during Akhenaten’s reign as the empire collapsed.

Shuwardata (fl. 14th century b.c.e.)

Prince of Hebron in the Amarna Period

He wrote to akhenaten (r. 1353-1335 b.c.e.) as a vassal ruler. Shuwardata complained to the Egyptians that abdu heba, the prince of Jerusalem, was raiding Hebron lands. His correspondence was part of the ‘amarna letters.


This was the word for wisdom in Egypt, associated with magic and with hu, the word for creativity. Sia was part of the creation of the world, embodied in heka, pure magic.

Siamun (1) (Netjerkheperre’setepenamun) (d. 959 b.c.e.)

Sixth ruler of the Twenty-first Dynasty He reigned in tanis from 978 b.c.e. until his death. Siamun was the successor of osorkor (Osorkon the Elder) and the son of psusennes i and Queen mutnodjmet (2). He erected monuments in Tanis, including additions to the temple of horus and the temple of amun. A block inscribed with his name announced that siamun added to the monuments of per-ramesses and to the temple at memphis. A small bronze sphinx, bearing his features and inlaid with gold, was discovered at Memphis.
Siamun campaigned against the Philistines and reportedly sent his daughter to the harem of Solomon. In Egypt he transferred vulnerable mummies to secure tomb sites. He also welcomed Prince Hadad of Edom, who was fleeing attacks in his city. Hadad married a daughter of Siamun and had a son, Genubath. Siamun may have been a member of the Theban branch of this royal line.

Siamun (2) (fl. 16th century b.c.e.)

Prince of the Eighteenth Dynasty

He was probably the son of ‘ahmose (r. 1550-1525 b.c.e.). The remains of this prince were discovered in the deir el-bahri cache in 1881. His mummy was severely damaged, and his bones were found in an oblong bundle in a cedar coffin. The inscriptions on the coffin of Siamun identify the remains of the prince.

Sihathor (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Mining official of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served amenemhet ii (r. 1929-1892 b.c.e.) as supervisor of the mines of Egypt in the sinai and in the region below the cataracts of the Nile. sihathor was considered an expert on turquoise, the stone prized by the Egyptians and favored by the goddess hathor. He took part in the construction of the pyramid of Amenemhet II at dashur and supervised the building of 10 statues for the mortuary complex of the pharaoh. Sihathor’s mortuary stela, which gives an account of his career and his era, is in the British Museum in London.

Si-Iset (fl. 13th century b.c.e.)

Scribal official of the Nineteenth Dynasty

He served ramesses ii (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.) as a royal scribe and overseer of the granaries. Si-Iset was buried in deir el-durunka, south of assiut. Statues found in his tomb depict the wolf deity wepwawet and other gods popular in that territory.

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

Harem and court official of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served amenemhet ii (r. 1929-1892 b.c.e.) as “the chief of works” for the court and a royal scribe. Simonthu appears to have held administrative duties in the king’s own harem. His mortuary stela, now in the British Museum in London, gives an account of his life.


This is the peninsula on Egypt’s eastern border, called Shibh Jazirat Sina in Arabic and the triangular link between Africa and Asia. The Sinai comprises 23,500 square miles, bounded by the Gulf of Suez, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Negev Desert. The Mediterranean and Red seas also serve as boundaries.
The Sinai was always part of the life of ancient Egypt, serving as a resource for minerals and stones and as a barrier against nomadic tribes and foreign armies in most historical periods. The Sinai attracted the Egyptians in the earliest eras, possessing copper, malachite, turquoise, and several other types of precious and semiprecious stones used in decorative arts. The Predynastic Period (before 3000 b.c.e.) graves found in Egypt contained turquoise articles, indicating that the early inhabitants of the Nile valley mined the stones or traded with the sinai bedouins for the items.
The mines and quarries founded by the Egyptians in the Sinai date to the Early Dynastic Period (2920-2575 b.c.e.), and Old Kingdom (2575-2134 b.c.e.) rulers also exploited the area. Expeditions and military campaigns were conducted to insure that the Egyptian use of the area could continue without hindrance. The Bedouins in the sinai revolted against the continued presence of the Egyptians in the reign of snefru (2575-2551 b.c.e.), and these nomadic people were confronted and defeated by Egyptian military units in a series of sinai campaigns.
pepi i (r. 2289-2255 b.c.e.) mandated his military commander, General weni, to conduct major campaigns in the sinai, and as a result, the Egyptians chased one Bedouin tribe all the way to Mount carmel to punish them for hindering Egyptian activities in their original homeland. When the Old Kingdom collapsed, however, the Asiatics, the name for the dwellers in the sinai and in the eastern territories, entered the Nile valley and caused severe social and political problems.
The rise of montuhotep ii (r. 2061-2010 b.c.e.) and the union of the Two Kingdoms in Egypt put an end to Asiatic incursions and renewed Egypt’s presence in the Sinai minefields and quarries. amenemhet i (1991-1962 b.c.e.), the founder of the Twelfth Dynasty, assumed the same military posture, erecting a series of fortresses on the borders of Egypt and the sinai. The great copper mines of the sinai region were in full operation at this time.
The collapse of the Middle Kingdom and the rise of the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period brought an invasion of Asiatics from the Sinai, particularly the hyksos, who ruled the Delta region and extended Egypt’s borders to the northern sinai and even to parts of palestine. They were driven out of Egypt by the armies of ‘ahmose (r. 1550-1525 b.c.e.), the founder of the New Kingdom.
The New Kingdom (1550-1070 b.c.e.) rulers used the Sinai quarries and mines extensively. hatshepsut (r. 1473-1458 b.c.e.) left inscriptions in the region, mementos of the mining expeditions conducted in her name. in the Nineteenth Dynasty, ramesses ii (r. 1290-1224 b.c.e.) erected a temple at the copper mines. These mines and quarries did not remain in Egypt’s hands after the reign of ramesses iii (1194-1163 b.c.e.).
sporadic quarrying and mining operations were conducted by the various rulers of the Third intermediate Period (1070-712 b.c.e.) in the Sinai, but they did not sustain operations in the region. During the Late period (712-332 b.c.e.), only a few expeditions were supported. The Ptolemaic Period (304-30 b.c.e.) accelerated the operations in the sinai to a degree, and the Romans, gaining control of Egypt after the death of cleopatra vii in 30 b.c.e., institutionalized Sinai resource sites and carried out vigorous control of the traditional and historical operations.

Sinai Inscriptions

These are hieroglyphic records discovered on the rock walls of wadi maghara in the sinai Peninsula. One dates to the reign of snefru (2575-2551 b.c.e.), giving an account of his exploits and campaigns against the local bedouins, the Bedu or Bedwi, and his use of the copper mines of the area.
sahure (r. 2458-2446 b.c.e.) of the Fifth Dynasty is also depicted smiting the Bedouins on the Sinai. men-kauhor (r. 2396-2388 b.c.e.) sent smaller expeditions into the region, as did izezi (Djedkare; r. 2388-2356 b.c.e.) during his reign. A stela was erected as a marker by this expedition. pepi i (r. 2289-2255 b.c.e.) is also depicted smiting the Bedouins on a stela that announces his jubilee. Queen ankhnesmery-re (2) erected a similar stone to commemorate an expedition during her regency for pepi ii (r. 2246-2152 b.c.e.). This malachite stone was discovered on a terraced region of the sinai. Later rulers, including amenemhet ii (r. 1929-1892 b.c.e.) left other inscriptions.
Sinuhe the Sailor He is one of the most interesting literary characters of the ancient world, preserved in the Berlin papyri and in an inscription in a Twentieth Dynasty (1196-1070 b.c.e.) tomb. The character is the hero of a tale concerning the reign of senwosret i (1971-1926 b.c.e.), who came to the throne when his father, amenemhet i, was assassinated by a harem plot. senwosret i was in Libya, campaigning there with sinuhe, who served as an official of Amenemhet i’s harem and was possibly involved in some way in the harem plot. He intended to travel south but ended up in palestine, Lebanon, and other lands. sinuhe was invited to syria by a nobleman and married his daughter. Becoming a patriarch there he defends the lands and has adventures.
sinuhe means “son of the sycamore,” a tree popular in myths and in Egyptian love poetry. His adventures served as models for later works, particularly the Arabian Nights tales and the character of the modern sinbad the sailor. The tale provides considerable detail about the Middle Kingdom period, including the court of senwos-ret i, who invited him to return to Egypt. sinuhe was welcomed with gifts and a pardon. The pharaoh also erected a fine tomb for sinuhe.

Siptah (Akhenre’setepenre, Ramesses-Siptah, Mery-enptah) (d. 1198 b.c.e.)

Seventh ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty

He reigned from 1204 b.c.e. until his death. He was listed as “King’s Son,” and his mother was Queen tia (2). He was originally called Ramesses-Siptah, the son of seti ii. Forensic studies indicate that siptah was possibly a victim of poliomyelitis, appearing clubfooted. siptah was reportedly placed on the throne by bay, with Queen twosret serving as his regent because of his young age. He conducted campaigns in nubia (modern Sudan) in his first regnal year, and inscriptions concerning him were found in a temple in wadi halfa. He also built a mortuary temple north of the ramesseum in thebes (modern Luxor).
Siptah died young and was buried in the valley of the kings with Queen Tia. His mummified remains were stuffed with dry lichen, and his cheeks padded by strips of linen. His tomb was designed long and straight, with decorated corridors, a square antechamber, and a burial place with four pillars. A red granite sarcophagus was in the burial room. siptah was moved in a later era, because of tomb robberies, and his mummy was discovered with other royal remains in the tomb of amenhotep ii.

Sirenput (1) (fl. 20th century b.c.e.)

Military governor of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served senwosret i (r. 1971-1926 b.c.e.) as a military commander and as the governor of the south. He was a noble from ASWAN who also served as the overseer of the priests of khnum and satet. His tomb in Aswan has a doorway leading to a columned courtyard with scenes of paradise as decorations. The tomb also has square pillars, a long passage, and a statue recess. A large figure of siren-put was discovered. He was also portrayed with his dogs and family members.

Sirenput (2) (Nubkare-nakht) (fl. 20th century b.c.e.)

Military governor of the Twelfth Dynasty He served amenemhet ii (r. 1929-1892 b.c.e.) as the governor of the south and a military commander. sirenput was the son of satet-hotep. His tomb is on the western bank of the Nile at ASWAN and contains elaborate paintings, a six-pillared hall, a recessed corridor, and statues. He is depicted on four pillars discovered in rear chambers. Portraits of his family and vivid scenes of birds and animals were also completed. An osiride statue of siren-put was found in the tomb as well.

Sisatet (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Financial official of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served senwosret iii (r. 1878-1841 b.c.e.) as a royal treasurer. sisatet was the son of an official named Ameni and his mother was Sitamene. Sisatet accompanied ikher-nofret, a relative, to abydos, where a stela was erected. He succeeded Ikhernofret as treasurer after serving in that agency throughout his career.
sistrum called the seses or shesheset by the ancient Egyptians, it was a musical instrument that was popular in the cult of the goddess hathor. The sistrum was formed as a stick-like wooden or metal object, with a frame and small metal disks that rattled when the instrument was shaken by a hand. Designed with a broad band of copper, bent almost double, the sistrum had wires inserted through holes drilled into the band, containing the disks. When shaken, the sistrum makes a shimmering sound. The head of Hathor was often depicted on the instrument or the horns of a cow were incorporated into its design. The sistrum was a favored instrument in cul-tic rites in Egypt’s temples and shrines and was used in religious processions. The sistrum took the form of a cartouche and was honored for this coincidence. When the sistrum was used by the goddess NEHEM-AWiT,a divine form of Hathor, evil spirits fled from the sound. some of these sistrums were later fashioned out of FAIENCE.

Sitamon (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Eighteenth Dynasty

She was the consort of amenhotep ii (r. 1427-1401 b.c.e.), but not the mother of the heir.

Sitamun (1) (fl. 16th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Eighteenth Dynasty

She was a daughter of ‘ahmose (r. 1550-1525 b.c.e.) and Queen ‘ahmose nefertari, who died young and was buried in a sycamore coffin. Her original tomb was vandalized and her remains were hacked to bits by robbers looking for jewels or gold in her mummy wrappings. sitamun was among the mummies found in the royal cache in deir el-bahri in 1881.

Sitamun (2) (fl. 14th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Eighteenth Dynasty

The daughter of amenhotep iii (r. 1391-1353 b.c.e.) and Queen tiye (1), Sitamun married her father and bore him two sons. she reportedly had a suite in Amenhotep Ill’s tomb, and her furniture was deposited in the tomb of her grandfather, tuthmosis iv. Sitamun was buried at THEBES.

Sit-Hathor (fl. 20th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Twelfth Dynasty

She was the consort of amenemhet i (r. 1991-1962 b.c.e.) and the mother of Princess Nenseb-Djebet and Princess dedyet (2). Sit-Hathor was buried in the royal mortuary complex at el-LiSHT.
Sit-Hathor Meryt (Sit-Hathor Horneryt) (fl. 19th century b.c.e.) Royal woman of the Twelfth Dynasty She was probably the daughter of amenemhet ii (r. 1929-1892 b.c.e.) and was buried in the royal mortuary complex at dashur. Her mummy was disturbed, but some of her beautiful jewelry survived the robbery. Sit-Hathor Meryt’s sarcophagus was carved out of sandstone.

Sit-Hathor Yunet (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Twelfth Dynasty

She was reportedly the daughter of senwosret ii (r. 1897-1878 b.c.e.) and Queen neferhent (1). The sister of Senwosret III, she was possibly his consort. Sit-Hathor Yunet was buried in dashur, and her jewels and mortuary regalia survived tomb robberies. Many displays of affection from royal family members were discovered in her gravesite. The cartouches of Senwosret II and amenemhet iii were also in her tomb.

Sitiah (fl. 15th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Eighteenth Dynasty

She was a consort of tuthmosis iii (r. 1479-1425 b.c.e.) and held the rank of Great wife. sitiah received this rank upon the death of neferu-re, as late as Tuthmosis Ill’s 22nd regnal year. A commoner, and the daughter of the royal nurse ipu, she either did not live long or retired to the harem villa at mi-wer in the faiyum at a young age. She bore no heirs. Sitiah was replaced by meryt-re-hat-shepsut.

Sit-Kamose (fl. 16th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Eighteenth Dynasty

She was a princess of Thebes in the reign of ‘ahmose i (1550-1525 b.c.e.), or possibly kamose (r. 1555-1550 b.c.e.) of the Seventeenth Dynasty. Her mummified remains were discovered at deir el-bahri in 1881. The priests of the Twenty-first Dynasty (1070-945 b.c.e.) placed them there after finding her tomb vandalized. A large woman, sit-Kamose’s mummy was packed with linens. she was placed in a sycamore coffin and garlanded with flowers.

Sitre (fl. 14th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Nineteenth Dynasty

She was the consort of ramesses i (r. 1307-1306 b.c.e.), an elderly commoner when Ramesses i founded the Nineteenth Dynasty. Sitre was the mother of seti i and a military woman, having moved with Ramesses i during his career and having supported him as he rose in rank. she died in the reign of seti i, much honored by the court. She was buried in the first tomb in the valley of the queens, and her gravesite had a hall and an unfinished burial chamber. paintings on the walls depict her making offerings to the gods of Egypt.

Sit-Sheryet (fl. 22nd century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Eleventh Dynasty

She was the consort of montuhotep i (r. c. 2130 b.c.e.), ruling in Thebes. Her son was Prince Herunefer, and she died soon after he was killed in a battle in herakleopo-lis.

Sit-Weret (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Twelfth Dynasty

She was a lesser-ranked consort of senwosret iii (r. 1878-1841 b.c.e.). Sit-Weret was buried in the royal mortuary complex of Senwosret III at dashur.


One of the oases in the Libyan desert, the most honored of the fertile islands, siwa is situated west of Alexandria in the Delta area and served as a famous religious destination for centuries. oracles at the temple of amun drew countless pilgrims, and the religious houses there were well endowed. Alexander iii the great visited the temple of the oracle in 331 b.c.e., and was crowned there as the son of amun, a true pharaoh. This temple was originally stolid and plain. During the ptolemaic Dynasty (304-30 b.c.e.), however, half columns, courts, antechambers, and a sanctuary were added or refurbished. In an earlier era, amasis (r. 570-526 b.c.e.) had dedicated new additions.
A second temple dedicated to Amun, called umm ‘ubayda, was located near the rock of Aghurmi at siwa. Another site, Ain el-Gubah, called “the spring of the sun,” is ancient in origin. A necropolis served siwa at Gebel el-Mawta, or Qarat el-Mussaberin, the “Ridge of Mummies.”
cambyses (r. 525-522 b.c.e.), the Persian conqueror, sent a rather large force to siwa oasis, having heard of the wealth of the region, known for wines and dates as well as religious ceremonies. This persian army marched into the desert and disappeared. The entire force was lost and this disappearance remained a mystery. Recent excavations in the area, however, may have uncovered the persian soldiers and their equipment. in the Greco-Roman era, siwa oasis was named jupiter Ammon.
sma It was an amulet of ancient Egypt, designed as a phallus. The symbol denoted unity.
sma-tawy (sema-tawy) It was the symbol of the unified upper and Lower Egypt. The insignia was fashioned out of the signs of the Two Kingdoms, the entwined papyrus and lotus. The sma-tawy appeared on thrones, sacred barks, or in the decorations in palaces and temples.
Smendes (1) (Nesbenebded, Hedjkheperre’setepenre)(d. 1044 b.c.e.)
Founder of the Twenty-first Dynasty He reigned from 1070 b.c.e. until his death. Smendes had served ramesses xi (r. 1100-1070 b.c.e.), the last ruler of the Twentieth Dynasty, and took the throne when the Ramessid line ended. in order to consolidate his claims, Smendes married Princess tantamun (2), the daughter of Ramesses xi. smendes is derived from Nes-benebded, his commoner name. He was a native of Djedet in the Delta.
Smendes established his capital in tanis, as heri-hor, the high priest of Amun in Thebes, played the role of coregent. In Smendes’s 16th regnal year, pinudjem (1), the new high priest of Amun, openly displayed pha-raonic titles and rituals. Smendes’s sons were psusennes i and Amenemnisu, and his daughter was henuttawy. He resided at Memphis and constructed the enclosing wall in karnak and luxor. An inscription attesting to his reign was discovered at gebelein. He was buried in tanis.

Smendes (2) (fl. 11th century b.c.e.)

Priestly official of the Twenty-first Dynasty

He served as high priest of Amun during the reign of psusennes i (1040-992 b.c.e.). The son of menkhe-perresenb (2) and istemkhebe (2), he was elderly when he succeeded his father in the role of high priest. smendes served two years and was succeeded by his son, pinudjem (2).

Smenkhare (Ankheprure) (d. 1333 b.c.e.)

Eleventh ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty

He reigned at ‘amarna and thebes from 1335 b.c.e. until his death at a young age. Married to Queen Meryt-amun, who had replaced her mother, nefertiti, as the consort of akhenaten, Smenkhare was depicted as Akhenaten’s companion before that ruler died, serving for a time as coregent. He also took the religious title of Nefertiti, Nefer-Nefru-Aten, leading to speculation that smenkhare was actually Nefertiti.
when smenkhare assumed the throne upon the death of Akhenaten, he bowed to pressure from the various priesthoods and the military and returned to Thebes. He ruled from that capital for two years. He was reportedly buried in biban el-moluk, near Thebes, and his funerary regalia was used in the tomb of tut’ankhamun. A tomb was also prepared for Smenkhare at ‘Amarna. His tomb in the valley of the kings had an undecorated coffin and a shrine for Queen tiye. His sarcophagus was originally made for a woman and then altered. No mummy has been identified as his remains.


This was the goose maintained in the temple of amun in Thebes. This goose was considered sacred to Amun and was used in ceremonies, symbolizing the god on monuments. such fowls were also associated with the cosmogonic traditions of Egypt.
Smith Papyrus, Edwin It is an Eighteenth Dynasty (1550-1307 b.c.e.) text, which may have been a copy of a papyrus that originated in the Third Dynasty (2649-2575 b.c.e.). Concerned with the medical practices of the priest-physicians of Egypt, the document contains 48 separate sections that discuss symptoms of diseases, diagnostic traditions, and treatments—all aspects of ancient Egyptian medicine. The medical procedures seem remarkably modern in objective analysis of a medical problem and the method by which symptoms could be alleviated. The Edwin smith papyrus is one of the texts that have enabled modern scholars to assess medical knowledge in pharaonic Egypt.

Snefru (d. 2551 b.c.e.)

Founder of the Fourth Dynasty He ruled from 2575 b.c.e. until his death. Snefru was probably the son of huni and merysankh (1). His name meant “He of Beauty,” and he was one of Egypt’s early great pharaohs. The Palermo stone gives accounts of his campaigns in libya, nubia (modern Sudan), and the sinai. The westcar papyrus calls him an amiable ruler who liked amusements. He was made a god in the sinai, where an inscription at wadi maghara depicts his concern for the area’s turquoise mines. He also built a fleet of 40 ships to trade with Phoenicia (modern Lebanon) for their prized wood. snefru established trade enterprises with other Mediterranean city-states as well.
During his reign the cultural and artistic standards of Egypt were stabilized. Snefru devised the use of the cartouche for displaying royal names, as earlier rulers had used a circular shell. in Egyptian records, he was called “the Beneficent Ruler.”
In his Nubian campaigns, snefru boasted that he brought back “7,000 captives and 200,000 oxen and sheep.” He used Nubian medjay as well as the blemmyes to aid his control of the copper, turquoise, and malachite mines of the sinai.
Snefru married hetepheres (1) and had sons and daughters. His son Neferma’at died young. Another son, Rahotep, called Kanefer as well, served as his vizier. His heir was khufu. Prince Snefrukhaf is also listed as a son of snefru, as is prince snefru-seneb.
Three pyramids, possibly four, are believed to be the work of snefru, who pioneered this type of tomb. The meidum pyramid, the two at dashur, and possibly one at seila, west of Meidum, on the crest of Gebel el-Rus, are all credited to snefru’s reign. The rubble fragments at seila contain snefru’s titles as well as statues, tables, and stelae. At Meidum there was a Hall of nomes. The rulers of the Twelfth Dynasty (1991-1783 b.c.e.) deified Snefru and made his achievements their standards, also electing to be buried near him at Dashur. He had cultic shrines at abydos, the elephantine, edfu, el-kula, Seila, kom ombo, and elsewhere.


A deity originally called Msuh and associated with crocodiles, Sobek, depicted either as a man with a crocodile’s head or as a crocodile, was the patron deity of the Thirteenth Dynasty (1783-1640 b.c.e.). Many kings of that line bore his name in their royal titles. sobek was mentioned in the pyramid texts as a son of the goddess neith (1). He was considered to be one of the beings that emerged from the watery chaos at the moment that the world began. The faiyum and the city of crocodilopolis were his sacred abodes, and a temple was built for him on the banks of the Nile in Upper Egypt, in kom ombo. Sobek was also associated with aha, the first king of Egypt. The god was equated in some nomes with set, and there crocodiles were ritually slaughtered. In other regions, crocodiles were venerated. crocodilopolis (Medinet el-Faiyum) was his main center, but he also had temples at gebel el-silsileh and gebelein. In the New
Kingdom (1550-1070 b.c.e.), Sobek was associated with the god amun and was also worshiped as Sobek-Re.

Sobekemsaf (fl. 17th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Seventeenth Dynasty

She was the consort of inyotef vii (r. c. 1600 b.c.e.), and she was reportedly born in edfu.

Sobekemsaf I (Sekhemre-wadjka’u) (fl. c. 1650 b.c.e.)

Second ruler of the Seventeenth Dynasty He reigned c. 1640 b.c.e., but the actual dates are undocumented. Sobekemsaf I ruled in thebes, as a contemporary of the hyksos Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties (1640-1532 b.c.e.) in the Delta, and he built in abydos, karnak, tod, and on elephantine Island during his reign. He also led an expedition to nubia (modern Sudan). Sobekemsaf’s tomb was vandalized in the reign of ramesses ix (1131-1112 b.c.e.). A heart scarab belonging to Sobekemsaf, fashioned out of green jasper and with a human rather than an insect head, was recovered. The remains of his consort, Queen nubkhas (2), disappeared from the tomb, probably a victim of robbers.

Sobekemsaf II (Sekhemre-shedtawy) (fl. c. 1570 b.c.e.)

Fourth ruler of the Seventeenth Dynasty in Thebes He reigned c. 1570 b.c.e. Sobekemsaf II built at karnak and abydos and was remembered as a “great” ruler, whose “monuments stand even to this day.” He was a contemporary of the Hyksos Dynasties, the Fifteenth and Sixteenth in the Delta (1640-1532 b.c.e.). Sobekemsaf’s tomb was mentioned in the abbott papyrus.

Sobekhirkhab (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Mining official of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served in the reign of amenemhet iii (1844-1797 b.c.e.) as a superintendent of Egyptian mining operations at serabit el-khadim in the sinai. Sobekhirkhab erected a stela on the walls of the reservoir near the mines, a source of much needed water. on the monument he states that he opened the mines and returned with all his men healthy. The stela also honors the goddess hathor, patroness of such operations.

Sobekhotep (fl. 14th century b.c.e.)

Chancellor of Egypt in the Eighteenth Dynasty

He served tuthmosis iv (r. 1401-1391 b.c.e.) as chancellor and as the mayor of the “Southern Lake,” the faiyum region. The territory was also called the Southern Channel or the Channel of Sobek. His tomb in thebes contains paintings of various local industries.

Sobekhotep I (Kha’ankhre) (fl. c. 1750 b.c.e.)

Ruler of the obscure Thirteenth Dynasty

He reigned c. 1750 b.c.e. Cylinder seals and scarabs bearing his royal name have been discovered. The Papyrus Bulaq 18 dates to his reign.

Sobekhotep II (Sekhemre-khutawy) (fl. c. 1730 b.c.e.)

Ruler of the obscure Thirteenth Dynasty The dates of his reign are unknown. Sobekhotep II left monuments in medamud and deir el-bahri. He also had Nile floods recorded at semna, where his statue was found. Listed in the turin canon, Sobekhotep II is mentioned in reliefs at Nag Hammadi, the elephantine, and bubastis.

Sobekhotep III (Sekhemre-swadjtawy) (fl. c. 1745 b.c.e.)

Ruler of the obscure Thirteenth Dynasty The dates of his reign are unknown. Sobekhotep III was the son of a Theban prince, Montuhotep, and the Lady Auhetabu. He married ana (1) and had two daughters, Ankhetitak and Fent Ankhet. Papyri dating to his reign provide details about the administration of the court of Thebes and his control of nubia (modern Sudan). He issued decrees and established three ministries. Sobekhotep III built a temple gate with a colonnade for montu at medamud and had statues at the third cataract of the nile in Nubia.

Sobekhotep IV (Kha’neferre) (fl. c. 1730 b.c.e.)

Ruler of the obscure Thirteenth Dynasty

He possibly reigned from c. 1730 to 1720 b.c.e. and was the brother of neferhotep i and sahathor (1). Colossal statues of him have survived in tanis, made of red granite. Sobekhotep IV campaigned in nubia (modern Sudan). He also had to put down rebellions inside Egypt’s borders. During his reign, the hyksos took over the territory of avaris in the Delta.

Sobekhotep V (Kha’hotepre) (fl. c. 1720 b.c.e.)

Ruler of the obscure Thirteenth Dynasty He possibly reigned 1720-1715 b.c.e. Sobekhotep V was the son of sobekhotep iv. Little documentation of his reign survives, but he left a stela in karnak.

Sobek-khu-Za’a (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Military official of the Twelfth Dynasty

He served in the reigns of senwosret iii (1878-1841 b.c.e.) and amenemhet iii (1844-1797 b.c.e.) as superintendent of the Nile’s measurements, and then as the commander of the pharaoh’s personal troops. He was also a governor.
Sobek-khu-Za’a was a prince and count of a nome. He left a stela at abydos that provides a dramatic account of one of his campaigns in Syria and he fought as well in Nubia (modern Sudan). During Amenemhet Ill’s reign, Sobek-khu-Za’a was named one of the guardians of the royal nilometers. He was 66 years old at the time.

Sobekneferu (Nefru-Sobek) (d. 1783 b.c.e.)

Last ruler of the Twelfth Dynasty, reigning as a queen-pharaoh She ruled Egypt from 1787 b.c.e. until her death. She was a daughter of amenemhet iii and the half sister of amenemhet iv. Her name meant “the beauty of Sobek.” Sobekneferu was listed in the turin canon and in the saqqara king list.
she was a coregent with her father and married to her brother, Amenemhet IV When he died in 1787 b.c.e., she assumed the throne, ruling from itj-tawy, the dynastic capital. sobekneferu completed Amenemhet iii’s mortuary temple at hawara and possibly resided at times during the year at Shedet (crocodilopolis) in the faiyum.
Three headless statues of her were found at teel-dab’a, and a monument at the second cataract honored her reign. Cylinder seals with her serekh and statuary fragments have also been found. Her torso is in the Louvre in paris. sobekneferu is believed to have built a pyramid at mazghuna, near dashur, but did not use it. She and Amenemhet iv were possibly buried somewhere nearby.

Sobek-shedty-neferu (fl. 19th century b.c.e.)

Royal woman of the Twelfth Dynasty

She was the consort of senwosret iii (r. 1878-1841 b.c.e.). Her name was listed at the labyrinth erected at hawara by Amenemhet III.
social evolution in Egypt Ongoing traditions dominated life in the Nile valley from the earliest eras until the end of the nation’s independence and the beginning of Roman domination. several social factors, such as the divine status of the rulers and the foundation of society based on clan structures in the nomes, fluctuated and were dimmed or revived over the centuries. The moral order and the imperatives of spiritual beliefs, later systematized in the concept of ma’at, however, remained constant, providing stability in times of peace and a certain resiliency in eras of chaos.


The Nile River was the dominating factor of life from the predynastic periods before 3,000 b.c.e., as the first inhabitants entered the Nile valley. The Nile’s annual inundation made human existence possible but only as a cooperative venture of shared responsibilities based on seasonal demands. The Nile valley, surrounded by inhospitable desert wastes, made the Egyptians aware of their blessings.
The river and the annual inundations also turned their attentions and energies inward, fostering a sense of human destiny and stimulating artistic and architectural activities that cut across social caste levels. The dominant cultic forms of worship that developed during this time, especially that of the god Re, stressed a basic equality of humans in existence on earth and in the spiritual world beyond the grave. The caste system of the clans was firmly in place, but commoners, or simple farmers, knew their own value and their destinies in eternal realms. The temple hierarchies were also being formed.


when the regions of upper and Lower Egypt were united by Narmer around 3,000 b.c.e., the dynastic patterns of rule evolved slowly as nome clans took power with the imperative of unity becoming dominant. The act of unity, in fact, sparked the birth of Egypt, a coming into being that focused energies and set in motion creative forces in all walks of life. Literacy was dominant and vital as most male children attended classes. A bureaucracy— based on earlier nome and clan administrative traditions—arose and the compelling pantheon of deities was already in place, worshiped at cultic bases throughout the Nile valley.
The ruler was supreme after the unification, although some areas of Egypt had to be persuaded or militarily compelled to become part of the new society, a process that took decades. By the end of the First Dynasty (2920-2770 b.c.e.) the rulers could wear the Double crown, representing upper and Lower Egypt, with actual authority and with the consent of the people.
During the First and second Dynasties (2770-2649 b.c.e.), in fact, the civilizing elements of government, art, literacy, cultic religion, and a sense of unique destiny arose as natural elements of life on the Nile. This remarkable sense of awareness spurred the Egyptians of all economic and political levels toward advancement.
The pharaoh djoser (r. 2630-2611 b.c.e.) was a critical force in this era and demonstrates the unique social foundations in place. He was a “living god,” embodying the religious mandates and serving as the supreme judge of all. He had enough power as well to marshal the resources of the earth and human labor to embark on a massive construction program that drew on the loyalty and fervor of the people. workers came from far and wide to raise up the step pyramid at saqqara, joining in a holy union with the pharaoh and proclaiming their belief in the divine system on earth and in the paradises waiting beyond the grave.
Djoser’s vizier and architect, imhotep, demonstrates yet another social uniqueness of Egypt. imhotep was not divine and had not inherited a throne, but he had brought artistic vision, wisdom, and fidelity to his various offices and stood beside the pharaoh as a beloved “companion.” This paradoxical aspect of Egypt would continue throughout all of the dynasties. The ruler was a god, but he did not deter the wise, the talented, or the dedicated from achieving rank and power. What was necessary for the individual Egyptian in any historical period to rise in rank and honors as public servants or as faithful members of villages was dedication, loyalty, conformity to accepted traditions, and a commitment to ma’at, the guiding principle of life in the Nile valley.


The nomarchs, the aristocratic clan families that controlled hereditary ranks and estates, were powerful in the Old Kingdom (2575-2134 b.c.e.), and commoners looked to them to control regional matters and to maintain stability and peace. The commoners were assured of equal justice in the nation’s courts and of their right to appeal to higher authorities in cases of juridical incompetence or malice.
Men and women married, raised families, bequeathed their holdings to their heirs, and went to their tombs assured of paradise in a spiritual form. When the ruler called for laborers for the great monuments, the people responded with enthusiasm because this was part of their pact with the gods and with Egypt. When the ruler declared that an enemy was threatening Egypt, the people knew that such a foe had to be evil and deserving of punishment. They marched to war behind their nomarchs and clan totems to free Egypt from menace.
The Old Kingdom nurtured the traditions of previous generations and brought them to full flower. Egypt was prosperous, protected by the gods, and in the service of the anointed ruler on the throne. The individual Egyptians could attend schools, follow in the trade of their fathers, or invent new ways of making a living. All Egyptians, however, stood at the tombs of their ancestors to keep their memories alive. They also worshiped the gods and practiced henotheism, the art of believing in one god while not denying the presence of an entire pantheon of deities.
Men and women set dowry arrangements and took up cohabitation as marriage. The wife was the sole mistress of the house, the one who set the discipline, and might become one of the matriarchs of the village or city neighborhood. The men performed their labors and met with others to settle disputes in council. Many marriages were love-matches, especially among the common classes, and most were monogamous. The mandate of the historical period was the obligation of the people to raise up “stout sons” for Egypt.

During the Fourth (2575-2465 b.c.e.),

Fifth (2465-2323 b.c.e.), and Sixth (2323-2150 b.c.e.) Dynasties, the nation prospered, and irrigation, agriculture, and religious factors of life were aided by vast building projects and improvements. During this period the supremacy of the pharaoh was stressed, and in many reigns only members of the royal families held positions of power. The commoners were estranged to some extent, and the various nomarchs began to assume powers. There were still commoners of wisdom and valor, such as kagemni and mereruka, serving teti (r. 2323-2291 b.c.e.), but the government was becoming decentralized. The nomarchs, however, served as loyal, capable representatives of the pharaoh, and remarkable individuals appear in this era. The governing officials of some areas, such as nubia (modern Sudan), had to raise armies, garrison outposts, levy taxes, conduct trade, and perform quarrying or mining operations. A vast army of dedicated assistants made such labors possible.


All of this prosperity and determined service came to an end in the 94-year reign of pepi ii (2246-2152 b.c.e.). His successors, including a queen-pharaoh, nitocris (1), could not stem the tide of decline, and thus chaos, an element of existence most feared by the Egyptians, descended on the Nile. The First Intermediate Period (2134-2040 b.c.e.) witnessed the collapse of the monarchy and the steady rise of the nomarchs and industrious commoners. The literature of the era demonstrates confusion, a profound sense of loss, and despair.
The rulers of the Ninth (2134-? b.c.e.) and Tenth (?-2040 b.c.e.) Dynasties tried to regroup, but the Egyptian people did not respond until an act of sacrilege so alarmed everyone that the Thebans of Upper Egypt raised an army and retook all of the nation. In the battles for land and power, a group from the north assaulted thinis, the original area of narmer. Ancient grave sites were destroyed, an act that was shockingly depraved in the minds of the Egyptians. During this era, however, the eloquent peasant, abused by a local nomarch, took his case to the pharaoh and became a popular sage when he triumphed legally.
montuhotep ii (r. 2061-2010 b.c.e.) assumed the mantle of moral outrage that resulted from the desecration of Thinis tombs and marched on the remaining rulers of the Tenth Dynasty, ending the disunity and the chaos. Egyptians applauded this campaign because Egypt could not survive as two entities in one valley. The Nile and the gods, in their view, demanded a united people.


The Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 b.c.e.) was a time of rejuvenation, military expansion, monuments, religious fervor, and artistic vitality, because the nation was one, and ma’at, the order of the cosmos, had been restored. The Montuhoteps, the Amenemhets, and the Senwosrets came to the throne with the ability to inspire their people. Focusing on the faiyum and other internal needs of the nation, these pharaohs also reined in the nomarchs and consolidated the powers of government in their own divine persons. A true golden age arose in Egypt, and individual citizens could look back at the “Eloquent Peasant” who had spoken for all commoners in the previous era. Women served as regents for infant nomarchs, held property, and bequeathed their estates. Another queen-pharaoh, Sobekneferu, ended this historical period.
A relief depicting the daily labors, recreation, and ceremonial events on the Nile in the Middle Kingdom Period (2040-1640 B.C.E.).
A relief depicting the daily labors, recreation, and ceremonial events on the Nile in the Middle Kingdom Period (2040-1640 B.C.E.).

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