Alejandro Jiménez Serrano:
Royal Festivals in the Late Predynastic Period and the First Dynasty

Oxford - BAR International Series 1076
(29,5 x 21 cm - 116pp. - 57 figs - 25£) ISBN 1 84171 455 0

Archaeopress website (infos and full catalogue)

(Summary/Review by Francesco Raffaele, March-April 2003)


The Egyptian predynastic period began to disclose its secrets more than 70 years after the deciphering of the hieroglyphic writing which marks the birth of modern Egyptology. Pioneer excavations were in fact undertaken late in the XIXth century and early in the XXth; the related published reports are still fundamental for the knowledge of the Egyptian Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic period. From 1949 to 1971 various important syntheses were published (by E. Massoulard, J. Vandier, E. Baumgartel, W.B. Emery, I.E.S. Edwards) resuming few more than half a century of researches and discoveries with regards to the early civilization of Egypt.
After the last Nubian salvage campaign and a difficult political situation, a new era of Egyptology started in the 1970s. It is not an exaggeration to assert that the bulk of data emerged from Lower Nubia, Upper Egypt -Elephantine, Hierakonpolis, Abydos-, Lower Egypt, Delta and Southern Levant, has heavily increased and modified our knowledge of Ancient Egypt. As a consequence, a large amount of specialistic publications have seen the light in the last 25 years and new syntheses have appeared (by T.A.H. Wilkinson, K.M. Cialowicz).
The importance of the recent achievements lies not only in the fresh material finds and in the answers which we have been able to offer to some problems, but also in the new questions we have arisen and in the more modern way in which they have been faced.
Alejandro Jiménez Serrano's MPh degree thesis, from which this book derives, is a perfect witness to the currently pursued avenues of research on various aspects of the early Egyptian state. Furthermore this is the first study fully devoted to such a topic for such a historical period. It is to be hoped that more works of this kind will appear in the next years: there is a multitude of traits of this amazing age which are still to be searched out with modern criterions.

The book under review is focussed on the Royal Festivals as emerging from the study of archaeological and epigraphical data related to the formative period of the Ancient Egyptian civilization (from late Naqada II to late Naqada III).
In the introduction the author efficaciously summarises the key subjects and the main objectives of his work.
The monograph is composed of four chapters:
Historical Outline: The Unification Process and the First Dynasty;
Festivals, Kings and Temples;
Royal Festivals in the Late Predynastic period and the First Dynasty;
General Conclusions.
Although the heart of Dr. Jimenez-Serrano's work lies in the last two chapters, it can be plainly stated that the first two are by no means mere introductory appendices: they can be considered as much important as the "core" parts are.

At the end of the introduction there is a chronological table (p. 3, tab. 1) in which years BC, Hendrickx's Naqada-phases subdivisions and rulers' names are arranged; there are three points of this table which call for attention:
- The absolute datation is certainly the highest of those proposed in the last decades (it is related to an unpublished paper by Hassan and Jimenez-Serrano, "The Chronology of the Late Predynastic Period and the First Dynasty").
The (beginning of the) reign of king Scorpion I is dated to 3380(?)-3350 BC, Aha's to 3175, Den to 3075 and the end of the First Dynasty (Qaa) to 2940(?)-2910 BC. It is from 50 to more than 150 years higher than the corresponding average dates recently proposed for Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic period. This topic cannot be analyzed here, but I think that in the next years this problem will find less provisional a solution.
- In the column of Naqada phases there are two mistakes: Scorpion I (as well as his tomb U-j at Abydos) cannot be dated to (Hendrickx's) Naqada IIIA2 but is (late) Naqada IIIA1 (or Naqada IIIa2 in Kaiser's chronology).
The indication of "Naqada IIIC1" beside "Iry-Hor" must be an error in the table editing; it should be shifted down 2 or 3 lines, to be aligned with "Horus Ka and Narmer".
- There would be also much to discuss about the "two (or three) unknown rulers" postulated by the author between the reigns of Scorpion I and Iry-Hor. This hypothesis is diametrically opposite to that of G. Dreyer [1] which reports circa 5 rulers between Scorpion I and Double Falcon and an undetermined number of further rulers between this latter sovereign and Iry-Hor, later in Naqada IIIb.
Even in this instance I believe that we may soon find the answers; this matter is tightly linked with that of the political situation and unification in Naqada III, for it is not yet certain when did Egypt become a single ruling line's reign.

Political unification [2] is the principal argument of Chapter One. As I have anticipated, it is not a cursory review aiming to simply introduce the background of the present study: on the contrary it resumes all the old and new theories about the process of Unification and gives the reader a clear picture of the evolution of thought about this keystone of Egyptological studies. The paragraph is concluded (p. 10) by the author's opinions which address us to his own unpublished PhD thesis (2000) and an article in GM 183, 71ff. (2001). Both these works have stimulated two interesting responses resulting in the articles of E.C.M. van den Brink (in: GM 183, 99ff.) and S. Hendrickx (in: GM 184, 85ff.). Certain hypotheses advanced by Dr. Jimenez-Serrano in some of his earlier studies could sound daring; yet they are never devoid of solid bases, relevant intuition and they tend to produce new fruitful ideas and debates, be them in behalf or in contrast. That's quite a merit.
The author (p.10) mentions Scorpion II and Ka as the former kings who "constructed what we know as 'classical' serekhs" associating the palace façade motif with the Horus falcon; but there is actually no occurrence of the name of Scorpion II within a serekh and the single evidence which Jimenez-Serrano refers to (surely the serekh incised on the jar from Minshat Abu Omar tomb 160.1) has been otherwise explained by other authors, indeed with equally unconvincing proposals.[3]
The second half of this chapter provides the king by king sequence of the First Dynasty rulers with the most important up to date notices about their reigns. I have three remarks on this historical summary:
- The author uses the annalistic informations provided by the Palermo Stone, but he fails to include in the discussion both the Cairo 1 fragment and the minor pieces. He seems to support O'Mara's theories about the probable forgery character of the Cairo 1 (cf. p. 23 and n. 230) and of the minor fragments; this theory is almost univocally rejected by other Egyptologists.[4]
- I don't agree with the interpretation (p. 15) of the 'usurpation' of stone vessels' inscriptions as a clue to a form of "damnatio memoriae" against Semerkhet; however the same author reports a pair of counterproofs to this outdated theory.[5]
- About the titulary of Horus Qaa (p. 16): according to my opinion, it cannot be stated that SN and SHTP were "Nebty titles": I think that during the First and Second Dynasty the Nebty is a kind of epithet or recurrent compound of the Nswt-Bity name, which has in many cases a complete sense only if 'Nebty' is considered part of the statement within the name (as the author also clarifies in the translations of these royal names). Indeed it must also be noted that not one of the known labels of Qaa does report the Nswt-bity, but only display Sen-Nebty or Shotep-Nebty; on the other hand his stone vessels are often inscribed with a different Nswt-Bity name: Nswt-Bity Qa'a-Nebty.
Secondarily I don't understand why does Dr. Jimenez-Serrano interpret a recently found label inscription as providing "the true nebty name sHtp(-nbtj) 'the One who Pacifies (the Two Ladies)'." In my opinion we have rather to do with a change in the throne-name.[6]

Chapter Two
(p. 17-37) is extremely useful and a good point of departure for discussions about the arguments it introduces:
paragraph A defines the festival in social sciences' and particularly in anthropological terms. The following paragraphs move the discussion towards the more strictly Egyptian sphere with the basic notions on royal festivals and kingship in the AE culture; the latter one is a key-point and the author clearly presents the main theoretical lines of study on the origin and role of kingship in Egypt (with a particular regard to those scholars who have compared it with other African peoples' traditions).
In paragraph D the author discusses the categories of (contemporary and later) sources which are of some relevancy for the study of Late Predynastic/Early Dynastic Egyptian festivals: labels and their chronological/structural evolution, "Varia proto-dynastica" (palettes, mace-heads, seal-impressions, stone vessels, architectural elements) and Annals.
Finally the 'historicity' and purpose of these sources as well as the modern methodological approaches to their comprehension are clarified.
With regards to the latter topic, Dr. Jiménez Serrano expresses his position (p. 24) stating that "The method of interpretation used here is based on the argument expressed by W. Davis [in: Masking the Blow, 1992], who considers that prehistoric palettes have narrative or symbolic ends". The cognitive and explicative patterns of W. Davis' (and O. Goldwasser's) models and the concept of decorum introduced by J. Baines are the basic formulas underlying the analysis of sources attempted in this book.[7]

The conclusive part of the second chapter is a keen synthesis of the theoretical ground-lines and the structural characters of the Egyptian temples (p. 26-37).
Temple is analysed from many perspectives: its definition (Egyptian words for 'temple'), mythical origin and artistic evidence for temples' foundation, symbolic structures of temples and of parts thereof. Even in this paragraphs the author avails of various works and documents, both recent and older, as Patricia Spencer's lexicographical monograph on Egyptian temples, the study of R.B. Finnestad, P. Montet's article on later temples' foundation rituals, the ceremonies attested on the Annals and J. Baines' innovative ideas on the role of temples, enclosures, emblems.
The debate between B.J. Kemp and D. O'Connor about the character of Egyptian temples is also summarised, explaining the pro and contra to their theories; Jiménez-Serrano is inclined to share Kemp's theories.
The following discussion (p. 31-33) presents the royal enclosures of Abydos, Saqqara and Hierakonpolis, with all the main hypotheses on their definition, function, and development. A short paragraph on the Per-Nw of Buto ends this nice chapter.
Concerning Hierakonpolis, not only Khasekhemwy's fort (and the important conclusions on the royal cult celebrative and commemorative functions which N. Alexanian's study has produced) but also the mound revetment in the Horus temple and the palace façade entrance are considered.
It's very important the thesis which Jiménez-Serrano follows about the enclosure+shrine represented on Narmer macehead (R. Friedman) and on a label of Hor Aha (2nd reg., right): the complex in object would be the temple of Hierakonpolis (in the town precinct) rather than that of Buto (Per Djebawty) as generally hypothesised. [Typo on p. 35, left column: Locality HK26A ].

Chapter Three
(p. 38-98) is the one in which the royal festivals are recognised on the sources. It is divided into four parts:
A) The Coronation and the Ceremony of the "Appearance of the King";
B) Sed Festival;
C) Festivals of Victory;
D) The Festival of Sokar.

In Part A, Jiménez presents the cosmic/symbolic and earthly/political aspects of the enthronement, the development of the dualism and the "Appearance of the King". The part ends up with some interesting (although perhaps partly speculative) conclusions: the economic and power features of the "Uniting the Two Lands" are compared with those of the "Circuit of the Wall", [...] more related to the symbol and definition of the sacred space [...].

Part B (p. 42-78) is devoted to the Heb-Sed. The first six paragraph are a careful survey of the possible origin and genesis of this ceremony and of the word by which it is defined; the localization of the rituals [8]; the single ceremonies which composed the Sed Feast in later times; relevant structures and other elements which recur in the Step Pyramid complex and in the bidimensional representations of the Sed Festival.
In the following twenty-two pages 16 items [9] are discussed which the author considers to be connected with the Heb-Sed ritual or part thereof.

The discussion is preceded by a short paragraph on the so called 'Royal Cycle' identified by Williams and Logan (JNES 46, 1987, 245-285) in some Naqada I-III representations. I agree with Jiménez who states that the connection with the Sed Festival of the elements detected by Williams and Logan is not satisfactorily developed and that hippopotamus hunt and bark processions towards a niched building are common to various festivals. Yet I would have liked the author had dealt with these Predynastic antecedents in deeper details (although this is partly out of the scope prefixed in the book) because the historical Heb-Sed seems to have incorporated parts of Predynastic traditions as it occurred for other institutions.
The large description of the Narmer Macehead (item nr. 2, cf. list in note 9) is enriched by the interpretations attempted by other Egyptologists in the past, by the parallel with later representations of Sed feasts and the hypotheses about the role of the ceremonial center at Hierakonpolis loc. HK 29A, possibly the Per-Wr. However Jiménez thinks that the celebration of the festival occurred in the city temple of Hierakonpolis, not in the HK 29a; even more intriguing is the conclusion (p. 57 and fig. 21) that the two "national" shrines in the Sed festivals owe their presence to the disposition of the sacred spaces at Hierakonpolis. Probably, both temples played a liturgical role during the whole festival.
At p. 54 (and n. 511) Jiménez compares the bird on top of the shrine in items nr. 2 and 3 with the bird found on the Hathor bowl (JEA 44, 1958, 5ff.) and on some of the carved ivories from Hierakonpolis. But the former one is an Heron (Gardiner sign G31, G32; Kahl, Das System, 1994, 537, 946), whereas the latter is a Saddle Bill (Jabiru Stork, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)[10].

On p. 60 (item nr. 3) the author states that the name of the fortress in the center of the label would be composed by the glyphs of the two religious capitals, Pe (Buto) and Nekheb (El Kab). But the second sign is not the elongated form of O48 (which would be Nekhen, Hierakonpolis, not Nekheb -cf. Kahl, op. cit., 1994, 647); it would be hard to find two different place-names in the same crenellated oval: thus it must be the N39 sign, as Jimenéz himself alternatively proposes in n. 543 quoting Gauthier's reading.
[Typo in n. 541: Huni's autobiography must be corrected with Uni's (or Weni's) autobiography].

On p. 65 (item nr. 8, fig. 30) the reading of the Djet label upper right sign as sah cannot be accepted; it is clearly khent (cf. on the two labels in fig. 5 = Djet and Den) a verb or the substantive 'cellar' related to the crenellated building(s); the two sign on the right of the serekh cannot be 'sacred items for the cult of Thot': they should represent the personal name of the king (as found in the same position on later labels) which has an uncertain reading; it has been proposed Iterty, similar to NK lists Nebty Ita.

On p. 66-67 different interpretations of the Hemaka/Den label (item n. 9) are offered, both the older and the more recent ones. Jiménez is certainly right in interpreting the building represented on the upper left as the oil press.

On p. 73: The fragment of crystal bowl from Semerkhet tomb U at Abydos (fig. 40) is one of the two I have mentioned in n. 5; the other one was a fragment of Hb-Sd throne of the series only known for Adjib: therefore both the inscribed fragments (Petrie, RT I, pl. VII,5-6) must have been reused by Semerkhet but they must be related to Adjib's reign. We are thus left with no convincing clue that Semerkhet ever celebrated his own Sed festival.

At p. 74 there is a table in which the author evidences all the common elements found on the 16 items and also those depicted on the six panels from the subterranean rooms of Netjerykhet's complex.
In the following page, two appendices comment the Sed-festivals in the Second Dynasty and a possible occurrence on the Siali seal. As evidence for the celebration of the festival during the Second Dynasty, Ninetjer's and Khasekhemwy's reigns are cited; it must be pointed out that Ninetjer statuette (Simpson, in: JEA 42, 1956, 44-49) with the sitting king wearing Heb-Sed robe has been recently suspected as a possible forgery (cf. G. Dreyer, in: Elephantine VIII, 1986, 65, n. 164; J. Kahl, Das System, 1994, 12, n. 9).
Furthermore the massive evidence of Heb Sed ink inscription from the Step Pyramid of Netjerykhet (P. Lacau- J.P. Lauer, Pyr Deg V, 3ff., 9ff., pl. 10-13) would have deserved at least a mention.

A paragraph of conclusions summarises the most important characters of the Heb-Sed as emerging from the discussed items.
It is properly stated that early celebrations of this festival knew no fixed periodicity: some of the reasons which might have been determining in deciding the celebration would include catastrophic events (destructive floods, plagues) apart from the primary need to magically enhance the king's energy; the festival would also be an occasion for the census of the country goods, for surplus redistribution and to strengthen the links between the monarchy and the provincial élite.
In the Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic period the sites of the celebration were the enclosures of Hierakonpolis, Abydos and Saqqara. Hierakonpolis was where Narmer and Aha (and probably also earlier rulers) would celebrate their Heb-Sed at both the HK29A (Pr-Wr) and the city temple at Nekhen. The latter one is identified by the author on some of the earliest items he has discussed and the link is demonstrated by some of the finds as the red pottery lion, ivory statuettes of the king wearing the typical robe and captives statues.
Following O'Connor's theory, Jiménez indicates the Nekhen temple as a model for the later ED enclosures, including the Abydos ones. It has been also stressed the similarity between some of the elements of the Nekhen temple and the complex of Netjerykhet at Saqqara. Both these suggestions are as much interesting as very hard to demonstrate; in the case of the origin of the enclosures the discussion would encompass the origin of the palace façade as well as the genesis of the Abydos structures and the cultural/political relationship between Abydos and Hierakonpolis in late Naqada II/ early III.
Finally the author underlines some features of the Sed which acquired different form or meaning in later times and others which lost their original value when filtered through the redefinition of conceptions and symbols at the time of the Unification.
[About note 665: what D. O'Connor himself thought to represent Aha's enclosure (with a distinctive bastioned corner -cf. id., in: JARCE 26, 1989) revealed instead to be the prow of one of the funerary boats later excavated near the Shunet ez-Zebib (id., Expedition 33/3, 1991)].

Part C discusses evidence for the Festivals of Victory.
In the first paragraph the author describes the early attestations of the king harpooning hippopotami, in particular a seal impression of Den. Strangely, after quoting the oldest epigraphic interpretative attempts, the author does not mention Kaplony's own (IAF I, 1142, IAF III, fig. 364) which is the only right one[11].

Jiménez cites various examples of representations of military victories. After a military victory, religious ceremonies undoubtedly took place. He first shortly describes the "minor" relief at Gebel Sheikh Suleiman (W. Needler, in: JARCE 6, 1967, 87-91) for which no personal interpretation is offered; rather than following Needler's possible attribution of the relief to the reign of king Scorpion (II) I would prefer to date it earlier (on stylistical basis) in late Naqada II or early Naqada III, perhaps during the reign of Scorpion I.

Pages 82-86 concern the renowned Narmer palette (and the related year-label more recently found at Abydos).
In the figure and in the description the verso and recto are inverted (recto is always the side with the space for grinding). Several interpretations of this palette are summarized, falling within one of three broader categories: a victory of Narmer over the Delta, over foreign peoples (Libyans, Nubians) or a ritual affirmation.
About Jiménez's interpretation (p. 85), instead of reading the rosette as a symbol of Seshat (for which cf. Schneider, in: SÄK 24, 1997, 241-67 not quoted) one should prefer H.S. Smith's reading (in: Friedman-Adams eds., Followers of Horus, 1992, 244) as "servant of the king".
The sign in a rectangle on the left end of the recto (second register) must be Gardiner T25 (Djeba), and the whole would represent a building where the king dresses him up.
The Tjat(y) is surely, not possibly, a man rather than a woman: notwithstanding the long hairdress, the skin he wears (with hanging pendants to fasten it on the shoulder) and the muscles of his legs qualify him as an high priest (and official).
[Note 739: it was A. Schulman (BES 11, quoted by the author at p. 83) to first hypothesise that Sahura might have copied the Narmer palette in the representations of his victory over the Libyans and the Libyan chiefs' names].
The captive on Aha's label (fig. 50) has distinctive features of the Nubian Ta-Setyw: short squarish beard and shaved hair[12].
[P. 87: Imiut must be corrected with Khentyamentyw (or Sed or Anubis)].

P. 89: the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman relief; Jiménez describes the graffito and the evolution of its interpretations, particularly with regards to the name in the serekh. However there is an error here: Murnane (JNES 46, 1987, 283) never allowed the presence of the hieroglyph "Djer" in the serekh: the part of the latter which is above the palace façade motif is punctured and the alleged djer sign, on the lower part of the falcon, is indeed the body and legs of a more deeply incised antelope (looking leftward) whose horns are clearly visible few centimetres behind the back of the falcon. Therefore there was no addition to the graffito, except for the much later MK hieratic and hieroglyphic inscriptions (cf. Arkell, in: JEA 36, 1950).

Part D, the last of the third chapter, begins with an introduction on the god Sokar and the general notions on his festival.
The first item on which the Festival of Sokar is detected is the Naqada label.
There are various disputable points about the author's interpretations of this document and of the following ones, especially from the epigraphic point of view.
- In the dispute about the meaning of the glyph "mn" to the quoted articles, it should have been added Grdseloff (ASAE 44); - Jiménez interprets the name written in the tripartite tent as Aha's Men-Nebty name.
- P. 95: the reading of the two falcons of Hor Aha's name as "Nebwy" seems incorrect: the first one should be the subject and the second one the verb (mrj).
- P. 96: the two blocks of signs in the middle of the label, above the "pounding" men, are not those Jiménez supposes,but rather Djef[a] Shema (Upper Egyptian revenue) and jnw Mehw (Lower Egyptian tribute) which have many parallels in the early Naqada IIIB ink inscribed vessels (cf. Hor-Aha cylinder vessel, Kaplony, IAF III, fig. 849; but also ED labels: Djer label in: Emery, Hemaka, fig. 8 and the one of item nr. 5 in Chapter 3 of the present book).
The central object is not for metal smelting, but a press, probably for oil. The person with staff standing in front of the building surmounted by khekerw frieze, is not a statue (there is no indication of a base as is usual in the representations of statues).
After a brief mention of another object on which the Sokar Henw bark is depicted, the comb of Djet, a label of Semerkhet is analyzed.
As I have said above, for most of the objects various interpretative attempts are mentioned, but in some cases the author quotes unimportant theories and outdated, wrong readings overlooking more recent or more precise interpretations.

I agree with Jiménez's translation of the events in the right part of the label of Semerkhet (Petrie, RT I, pl. 17.26).
Yet there are two inaccuracies in the left part: the best quality oil fragrance is tepy haty idet (not tepy idet; Jiménez's reading of the glyph blocks as Medjeh Per-Nesw Hat merw Henwka is wrong) and the upper left inscription must be divided: khet Hor, which is the oil name; Medjeh (or Medjeh Medjehw-) Neswt; thus the partially erased sign above the Nswt is not pr as the reading of another equal label clarifies (Petrie, Abydos I, pl. 11.9; cf. Kaplony, in: IAF I, 299).

Chapter Four
(p. 99-101) summarises the conclusions of this study.
Some common elements to the investigated festivals are evidenced ("Circuit of the walls", offerings, redistribution) and, although they are discussed in the texts, I would have liked the author had dealt with them more largely in the short chapter of conclusions. For example the question of the "prizes for officials" and "the offerings to the king" could have been dealt with more in detail.
The chapter closes with a paragraph entitled "Symbolic topography and royal festivals". Even in this case a larger discussion wouldn't have been out of place, in order to show how do the theoretical premises of the second chapters fit with the study of the sources of the third chapter.

Summarising, I must say that my opinion on this study is largely a satisfactory one. I have been caught by the reading and I have read it step by step, statement by statement.
Several images constellate the book, which make the reading very comfortable: one is not compelled to search elsewhere for referenced objects and inscriptions.
There are some imprecisions, as I have evidenced, mostly concerning the sphere of epigraphy; indeed they are no key points in the discussion and, to tell the truth, the author could have avoided full discussions of items (especially those parts thereof like the product names which have no relevancy in the study).
In my opinion, some of the hypotheses of other Egyptologists about the reading of certain inscriptions (especially most of those of early XXth century) should have been omitted; on the contrary a wider use of Kaplony's and Kahl's works would have been of undoubted aid and would have also avoided the epigraphic mistakes.
I'd liked the author had more widely dealt with the formative stages of these festivals (i.e. Naqada II and early Naqada III attestations) as well as those of the Second Dynasty (especially Jienkhnemw/Khnemwenii Sed-festival ink inscriptions on stone vessels from the Step Pyramid complex), but these are out of the chronological boundaries of the book.
It would have been interesting to group up in a table (like Table 2, p. 74) the elements of the other festivals too.
Finally, as I have already said, the last chapter is too scanty to summarize all the correspondences which have been found between archaeological and epigraphical data.

Yet this book should be looked at as a milestone: it delineates a procedure that Egyptologists should adopt when investigating these early phases of Egyptian history. Anthropological theories about festivals and monumental architecture archaeology are confronted with the analysis of contemporary (and later) inscriptions.
With all the weak points which it might turn out to have, a synthesis between evidence from different fields of research is indispensable; this kind of approach may and should be followed in the study of other aspects of Early Egypt.
It is a necessary step towards a better comprehension of the culture of the period in object.

review by Francesco Raffaele, March/April 2003


[1] G. Dreyer, in: Umm el-Qaab I, 1998, 179f.; see this page, esp. table 1 and related notes.
As opposed to the cultural unification which occurred earlier (during mid-late Naqada II) and marked the diffusion of the Upper Egyptian cultural tradition (pottery techniques, decorative motifs, kingship canons and their corollaries) all along the Nile Valley, Lower Nubia and Delta.
[3] For the serekh see Van den Brink, 1996, pl. 28b; also the drawing n. 29 of this table. A. Jimenez Serrano reaffirms the identification of the MAO tomb 160.1 serekh name with Scorpion II's in: BAEDE 10, 2000 and in: GM 183, 2001, 73, n. 15. For my opinion see the discussion in the 'Dynasty 0' page, especially note 33 of part II).
[4] Obviously this is no weak point per se, but it should be argued (I don't know if Jimenez-Serrano has dealt with this topic in his own translation and commentary of the Palermo Stone, La Piedra de Palermo: traducciòn y contextualizaciòn històrica. Madrid 2002). In my opinion O'Mara's hypotheses about the suspect status of the Cairo 1 and minor fragments cannot be accepted, especially in consideration of various correspondences between Annals fragments and annalistic labels (cf. G. Godron, Études sur l'Horus Den, 1990, 105ff.). However there is no doubt, as also O'Mara showed, that the minor fragments of Annals belonged to different original slabs than the Palermo's one.
[5] Namely stone vessels and seal impressions listing all or part of the First Dynasty kings names (see also this important new ivory label of Semerkhet which probably names Horus Qaa's harem by a serekh-like compound on the upper right portion of the label). -
In n. 145 the author quotes Edwards' (in: CAH, 1971, 28) perplexities about the lack of any indication of Semerkhet's Sed-festival on Cairo 1 ("unless it was included in one of the two year-frames of this reign which is now illegible"): indeed the two inscribed stone vessels which Edwards referred to (Petrie, RT I, pl. VII,5-6), despite their findspot, were surely originary of Adjib's reign/tomb.
Note the similitude of Qa'a SHtp-Nebty with the name of Second Dynasty founder, Hotepsekhemwy, (Nswt-Bity) Htp-Nebty.
[7] The only remark I would point out here may concern the adoption of Davis' methodology; however Jiménez Serrano seems indeed to share only the basic principles of Davis' model as applied to the problematic identification of the purpose and role of objects and related scenes. When dealing with Narmer palette interpretative attempts (p. 83) the author defines in fact surprising but also ... chaotic and hyper-complex ... Davis' reading of the representations narrative.
In my opinion the iconological, semiological and structuralistic approaches to the analysis of LP 'decorated' objects have all produced interesting improvements in our understanding of the function and aim of these "artefacts" (Tefnin, Finkenstaed). Davis' work is no exception because his study is an original one and the premises are stimulating (both his earlier articles and the same introductive chapters of his 1992 book are full of important hints); but when he sets the perspective into the particulars, Davis often skims, laps or penetrates the territory of "overinterpretations", caused by a straightforward and massive application of principles of modern philosophy and semiotic to the ancient Egyptian representations. These methods' elementary principles should be instead only of a marginal aid to solve the problem (as anthropological and other disciplines are too) and however they should never be used independently from the classic iconographical, (eventually epigraphical), stylistical, typological and (cross-) comparative approaches.
For considerations about W. Davis' Masking the Blow, 1992 (and critics to the in-dept analysis of Narmer palette and to the general theory of the book, e.g. the motifs' "chains of replications" and the development in the "masking" of the hunter's or sovereign's "blow") cf. K.M. Cialowicz review in: BiOr 52 5/6, 1995, 625-631 and R. Tefnin's in: CdE 71, 1996, 274-276.
[8] Rituals are -correctly IMO- supposed to have taken place within the enclosures; O'Connor has convincingly traced the genesis of the Step Pyramid complex out of the Early Dynastic Enclosures and, as already advanced in the past, the function of these structures as loci of important ceremonies cannot be challenged (also cf. N. Alexanian, in: Grimal ed., Les Criters de datation... 1998).
[9] (Sed-Festival). Item nr. 1: Hierakonpolis Macehead; nr. 2: Narmer Macehead; nr. 3: Aha label; nr. 4: Aha fragmentary labels; nr. 5: Djer label; nr. 6: Djer seal impression (Petrie, RT II, pl. 15.108); nr. 7: Djer seal impression (Kaplony, IAFS, fig. 1032); nr. 8: Djet label; nr. 9: Den label; nr. 10: Den seal impression (Emery, The tomb of Hemaka, 1938, 64, fig. 26); nr. 11: Den label; nr. 12 is missing; nr. 13: recently found example of label nr. 11; nr. 14: Saqqara carved limestone slab reused in a Third Dynasty tomb cutting S3507; nr. 15: Adjib stone vessels (see fig. 1; fig. 2); nr. 16: Qa'a stone vessels (see fig. 1, fig. 2, fig. 3).
[10] Already on the tomb U-j tags at least four different wading birds are distinguished (cf. G. Dreyer, Umm el-Qaab I, 1998, 125-135): Heron, stork, crested ibis and crane. These certainly had different meaning and phonetic value.
[11] After the figure of the standing golden statue of Den: Msn (or Hor Mesen/Menes[ty]), the Harpooner (cf. WB II, 145, 9).
[12] Cf. similar portraits of Ta-Setyw on the Siali seal, the Metropolitan Museum knife handle (boss side, lower right), the Qustul t. L24 incense burner, the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman graffito and perhaps also the Archaic Horus incense burner (Qustul t. L11).