The pharaohs of ancient Egypt were some of the most powerful rulers of all time, and they were the kings of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. The third pharaoh of the 1st dynasty was a ruler named Djer. While his name was simple, the man who bore it certainly was not.
A Very Different Egypt
According to some of the historical sources that have been recovered regarding Djer and his rule, Egypt was a very, very different place than it was in later dynasties. How different was it? Well the hieroglyphics found in his tomb, which are written on ivory and preserved wood, are so old that they’re nearly impossible to translate completely. The Egypt that Djer ruled over was powerful, but it was a kingdom where human sacrifice was still fairly common, and it was a great deal smaller than the sprawling, monstrous realm Egypt would one day become.
Djer was the son of Hor-Aha, and though there isn’t a written record confirming it, his grandfather was most likely Narmer. His mother was Khenthap, and his grandmother was Neithhotep. Djer had several wives, several of which were buried near or with him in Abydos.
Where is Djer’s Tomb?
When people think of the burial place of pharaohs they tend to think of grand, secret locations like the Valley of the Kings. Those tombs were far, far later in Egypt’s lifespan though; Djer and his kin who were the pharaohs of early Egypt were all buried in the necropolis at Abydos.
The official designation for Djer’s tomb is Tomb O of Petrie, and what was found inside is the sort of dark wonder that had explorers combing the region for years looking for the buried dead of the forgotten dynasties. In addition to the ivory and wood plates mentioned earlier there were the remains of over 300 followers, other ivory objects (which would certainly qualify as treasure), along with the bracelets of a queen and several urns, one of which was marked with the name of the Pharaoh’s grandmother.
While the grave goods weren’t the lavish extravagances of later generations, Djer was buried like a king all the same. His grave, like the graves of all the early pharaohs, bears the hallmarks that their descendants would also be known by. While Egypt grew and changed in power and scope, there were many things which remained the same such as the adoration of Gods, most probably some of the foods, and the overall culture and society to worship Kings, which later came to be known as pharaohs.