Category: den


King Den Striking Down Asiatic Tribesman

Ivory label

originally attached to a pair of royal sandals,

found at his tomb in Abydos, showing the king Den with an upraised mace, about to strike a captive. The king’s name is written before him, in the center of the top of the label. 

He wears a bull’s tail, symbolic of fertility and ferocious power. Instead of a crown, however, Den wears an archaic version of a royal headdress, with the rearing neck and head of a royal uraeus cobra at his forehead.

That the enemy is an Easterner is indicated by his long locks and pointed beard, which resemble those on later depictions of Asiatic foes

with the inscription “The first occasion of smiting the East”. 

Early Dynastic Period, 1st Dynasty, around 3000 BC. Now in the British Museum. EA 55586

Face from a composite statue of king Den

Because ancient wood rarely survives, very little large-scale wooden sculpture remains from any period in Egyptian history. Thus, this remarkably well-preserved face from such an early date is unparalleled. The concave, masklike face was probably attached to a core made of a different material, possibly a less valuable type of wood.

The eyes and eyebrows, now missing, were once inlaid with crystal or stone, which would have given the face a lifelike appearance.


from Abydos. Early Dynastic Period, 1st Dynasty, ca. 3150-2890 BC. Now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.