Outside the Nile Valley: Serabit el-Khadim as a Remote Cult Centre for the Deified Kings


Ahmed Mansour


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The ancient Egyptian kings were venerated posthumously for political legitimacy and propaganda within and outside the political capital. In Sinai, for instance, the Twelfth Dynasty kings initiated this practice to venerate their ancestors, as well as practice their own cults in Serabit el-Khadim, where their messengers to turquoise mines were in charge. For example, the veneration of king Sneferu was first introduced to this area during the Twelfth Dynasty, and then, Senusret I venerated his father Amenemhat I together with himself. Later, the temple of Hathor at the Serabit el-Khadim plateau included a particular place called “The Shrine of Kings”, dedicated by Thutmose III to a group of deities: Hathor, Ptah, Sopedu, and Sneferu as a deified king. Thus, it chiefly functioned as a commemoration place for the dead kings (such as Sneferu and Amenemhat I). This could be confirmed by the scenes and texts depicted on its walls and the statues of the kings. Nevertheless, the pieces of evidence of the veneration of the deified kings outside the ‘shrine of the kings’ are numerous, such as basiliphoric names, material culture, mural scenes, and textual pieces of evidence, which are scattered over the turquoise mining areas. Thus, this paper will touch on the history of the Serabit el-Khadim plateau, the venerated kings' identification, the reasons behind the establishment of such veneration, and how their cults evolved. Finally, it will focus on the shrine of the kings for the veneration of deified kings as a remote cult centre outside the Nile Valley.

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