First Dynasty

Appendix J:   Key Characteristics of the Early Dynastic Period

Key characteristics of the First and Second Dynasties, which immediately preceded the Old Kingdom, are summarised briefly as follows:

  • Transfer of the seat of power from Abydos to Memphis
  • Elite as well as Royal burials, with the first High Official burials at Saqqara
  • Underground chambers topped with Mastaba constructions
  • Increased importance of administration and bureacracy
    • An increase in seals, seal impressions and inscribed labels
    • Bureacratic titles which appear to have been hereditary
    • More vessels inscribed with ownership details
  • Increased foreign contact
  • Increased trade with Palestine
    • Vessels (for their contents rather than for the vessels themselves)
    • Wood
  • Less contact with and influence from Mesopotamia
    • Less Susian and other Mesopotamia iconography
    • Loss of the rosette titulary
  • Increased specialisation in arts and crafts, including statuary, carpentry, copper working, ivory working, and jewellery making. 
    • Pottery was still very fine, but was no longer elaborate.  Iconography and symbolism were incorporated into other art forms.
    • Increased standardisation and less innovation
  • Improved and increased stone sculpture