Scepter of King Khasekhemwy

Egyptian
Early Dynastic Period, Dynasty 2, reign of Khase
2676–2649 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Abydos, tomb of King Khasekhemwy

Dimensions

Length: 60 cm (23 5/8 in.)

Accession Number

01.7285

Medium or Technique

Sardonyx, gold, bronze

On View

Egypt: Pre-Dynastic and Dynastic (Gallery 105A)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Personal accessories

Items of royal insignia, such as crowns, scepters, maces, and distinctive kilts, were established in Egypt’s earliest dynasties to identify the king. They would continue to serve as potent symbols of royal authority and as protective implements to ward off hostile forces throughout Egyptian history. Although such regalia appear often in artistic representations, few actual examples, like this scepter made in late Dynasty 2 for King Khasekhemwy and discovered in his tomb at Abydos, have survived. The scepter is composed of highly polished tubular beads of veined brown-red sardonyx held together by a copper rod. A thick band of gold surrounds every fourth bead, giving the appearance of horizontal stripes. The delicate construction of this object indicates that it was made for ceremonial use only. When found, it was broken in two pieces, the larger one seen here and a 12.7 cm (five-inch) segment now in the Cairo Museum.


Items of royal insignia, such as crowns, scepters, maces, and distinctive kilts, were established in Egypt’s earliest dynasties to identify the king. They would continue to serve as potent symbols of royal authority and as protective implements to ward off hostile forces throughout Egyptian history. Although such regalia appear often in artistic representations, few actual examples, like this scepter made in late Dynasty 2 for King Khasekhemwy and discovered in his tomb at Abydos, have survived. The scepter is composed of highly polished tubular beads of veined brown-red sardonyx held together by a copper rod. A thick band of gold surrounds every fourth bead, giving the appearance of horizontal stripes. The delicate construction of this object indicates that it was made for ceremonial use only. When found, it was broken in two pieces, the larger one seen here and a 12.7 cm (five-inch) segment now in the Cairo Museum.

Provenance

From Abydos, tomb of King Khasekhemwy. 1901: excavated by William Matthew Flinders Petrie for the Egypt Exploration Fund, assigned to the Egypt Exploration Fund in the division of finds by the government of Egypt, received by the MFA through subscription to the Egypt Exploration Fund.
(Accession Date: August 1, 1901)

Credit Line

Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription