Sealing of Semerkhet

British Museum

British Museum

From the earliest times, one of the most common ways of sealing jars was to seal them with a mass of mud. Very soon in Egyptian history, it became customary to make some sort of mark in the mud to identify ownership or provenance of the jar and contents. The cylinder seal came into use in Egypt at the very beginning of the historical period and a considerable number of early inscriptions were made with it. The seal was carved with an inscription and could be rolled back and forth on the mud to produce an impression.This example belongs to the reign of Semerkhet, the last-but-one king of the First Dynasty (about 3100-2890 BC) and is from one of the jars placed in his tomb as part of the provisions for his Afterlife. In addition to his name, it bears some hieroglyphs inside a rectangular enclosure. These signs perhaps name a building that could have been a wine cellar.

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  • Title: Sealing of Semerkhet
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 11.00cm (max); Width: 11.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: impressed
  • Registration number: 1900,1015.32
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Tomb of Semerkhet
  • Period/culture: 1st Dynasty
  • Material: clay
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Egypt Exploration Fund


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