Hierakonpolis (Egyptian NHN, " Nekhen " probably castle or similar; Greek " Hierakonpolis " arab " Kom El -Ahmar " - The Red Hill.) Was the religious and political center of Upper Egypt at the end of the Predynastic as possibly even during the Early Dynastic period (38th - 26th century BC).

The name is probably derived from an identically worded appellative, whose translations between " fence, bund ", " type building " and " Royal manager " fluctuate. In addition, is also an interpretation as "establishment, service area " is possible. The Greek name Hierakonpolis ( "City of the Hawk " ) is attributed to the Egyptian god Horus, who was among others the name of " Horus of Nekhen ".

The place was still in the Old, Middle and New Kingdom of particular importance, but the buildings of that period are almost completely destroyed. There are some decorated rock-cut tombs of the Old Kingdom, the Second Intermediate Period and the New Kingdom.

Development of the city

Naqada and Hierakonpolis formed in the pre-dynastic period, the two cultural centers. At the beginning of the Naqada II period, however, won Nekhen in importance and became the capital of Upper Egypt. The settlement origins in the late Badarian culture or in the Naqada I culture back (about mid 5th millennium BC ). At the height of his settlement Hierakonpolis numbered about five to ten thousand inhabitants.

With the end of the Naqada period Nekhen lost its importance and was later the capital of the Upper Egyptian nome 3. Nekhen was one of the great Upper Egyptian trade centers, here was concerned primarily with ebony, ivory and gold.

The urban area of ​​Nekhen comprised approximately 145 km ². It parts of the city walls, the temple and parts of the cemeteries were excavated. Within the city walls craft and the first signs of industrialization were found. In the excavation site called HK24A the oldest documented brewery was found. The four surviving brewing vats, each with 390 liter capacity were dated to the Naqada Ib to IIa - time. They thus represent the oldest known brewery in the ancient world dar.

Under the name HK25D found the remains of a bakery. On the red hills many pottery sherds were found, indicating faults fires a pottery. Nekhen developed in the Naqada II period becoming the main production center for ceramics in Upper Egypt.

Since most of the buildings were built of Nilschlammziegeln, it is due to the Sebbach - degradation difficult to reconstruct the buildings on. Nonetheless, the ancient Nekhen is one of the best preserved ruins of the pre-dynastic period. Hoffman has divided the development of the city into six phases:

History of Research

The exploration of the site began with the Egyptian expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798. During this expedition Vivant Denon led by various studies on the animal and plant world. It was he who created the first topographic map of Hierakonpolis.

In the period 1897-1900 there were James Edward Quibell and Frederick W. Green, who carried out the first archaeological excavations. They found, among other things, the Narmer Palette and the mace head of King Scorpion II

In the years 1905/ 06 excavations were carried out by the service of Antiquites and the University of Liverpool John Garstang and Harold Jones. 1907/ 08 led Henri de Morgan for the Brooklyn Museum excavations. 1934 Ambrose Lansing grub from some 100 tombs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He found in his excavations, a stele of the priest Horemhauet, priest of Horus of Nekhen. In the years 1958 to 1961 the German archaeologist Werner Kaiser spent some time with excavations.

Excavations took until 2002 by James O. Mills and Barbara Adams of University College London and find currently headed by Renée Friedman of the British Museum instead.

The temple

Here the god Horus had one of the oldest temples of Egypt, which remained an important place of worship and later, after the city Nekhen himself had lost their meaning. The Shrine of the Horus falcon standing on a framed by sandstone sand hill ( high sand), which is within a 90 x 145 meter perimeter. Some of the surviving granite blocks show the oldest Egyptian temple reliefs, which date from the time of King Khasekhemwy. Within the walls also the gateway of a palace or a Divine Fortress was excavated from the 1st dynasty.

The temple developed as early as the Predynastic period to the center of Nekhen.

The Cachette (main treasury ), called by James Edward Quibell " Main Deposit", contained a number of votive offerings. Found stone vessels of king scorpion II and its splendor mace head. King Narmer were assigned to the ceremonial make-up palette, and a bulbous head, various ceramics, Fayencegegenstände and some ivory sculptures. Most of the artifacts dates from the 1st to the 3rd Dynasty.

The " Fort "

Under the architecture stands a " fort" out: A walled with bricks district from the time of King Khasekhemwy, similar massive constructions at Abydos is comparable. This plant bears the scientific name HK29A and is 3705 square meters. The area is enclosed with a brick wall that has a wall thickness of five meters and a height of twelve meters obtained. An inscribed granite pillars at the entrance points to the king Khasekhemwy out (last king of the 2nd dynasty ).

This is the oldest known place of worship in Egypt. The plant was built in the Naqada II period and served royal ceremonies. Some finds of ceramics from the Naqada III period and from Lower Egypt and Palestine indicate that the system was used until the end of the 2nd dynasty. Quibell found there in 1905, a fragment of a statue made ​​of lapis lazuli, representing the king Khasekhemwy. According to Renée Friedman is probably the Upper Egyptian crown sanctuary (pr - wr ), the archetype of the Egyptian sanctuary. This was first handed down in the time of King Narmer and Aha king in wall displays.

The necropolis

In the cemetery areas, including the necropolis a top layer, is evidence of the mummification of people and animals have received. These and mask and figure findings point to the long tradition of the ancient Egyptian burial rites.

Fort Cemetery: In the years 1905/ 06 John Garstang dug 188 graves in the " fort" out. The graves of the Naqada II period lie on the eastern edge and behind the entrance of the facility. The graves of the Naqada III period are mainly in the northern part of the plant. Those tombs that dated to the 1st Dynasty, are in the west. Due to the proximity of the fort to the city Nekhen and the great distance to the cemetery of the upper class is to conclude that it is the graveyard of the residents of the city.

Cemetery of the upper class in Wadi Abul Suffian: The cemetery is located about 2.5 kilometers southwest of the city. It includes about 200 grave sites of Naqada I Period. It objects of ivory, lapis lazuli ceramic and obsidian were found. In addition to people and animals were buried in the cemetery. In grave 13 dogs and 14 in grave even an African elephant were buried. In the Naqada II period, the cemetery of the upper class moved closer to the Nile. Here lies the grave 100, known as the " Painted grave of Hierakonpolis ". It probably belonged to a king; the magnificently painted walls of the facility are unique. The painted ceramics found helped to date the grave in the Naqada II period.

At Hierakonpolis there are also decorated rock-cut tombs of the Pharaonic period: