The city of Abydos was the most important political city in ancient Egypt’s “Archaic” or Early Dynastic Period, which encompassed the first two dynasties of Egyptian history (ca. 3100-2650 BC). All of the kings of the First Dynasty and two of the kings of the Second Dynasty are believed to have resided in the nearby, but as of yet unlocated, city of Thinis and were buried in the necropolis of Abydos, making it one of the holiest sites in early pharaonic history. After the Archaic Period, Abydos lost much of its political influence to Memphis, Thebes, and other cities, but retained its significance by becoming an important religious center. Beginning in the Old Kingdom (ca. 2686-2181 BC), the first major temples were built near the city, attracting priests and pilgrims alike, but it was in the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2055-1650 BC) when Abydos became the center of the Osiris cult. As the importance and popularity of Osiris grew throughout Egypt, so too did the city. Several kings in the New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1069 BC) and Late Period built mortuary temples to their own cults and added to the existing monuments to Osiris in order to ensure their immortality and to prove their piousness to their people. Eventually, though, when the Greeks took control of Egypt, the importance of Abydos waned and so too did its size.
Abydos: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Egyptian Holy City and Burial Site examines the history of the city, and what life and death were like there. You will learn about Abydos like never before.