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Gallery 20: Case 3

Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom Egypt

The Old Kingdom (2707 - 2170 BC) is best known as the age of the pyramids. The faience tiles shown here come from the elaborate complex of rooms and corridors under the earliest pyramid, built for the burial of King Djoser at Saqqara around 2700 BC. Later kings continued to build pyramids, and many officials chose to be buried close to their king. The inscriptions in these tombs show the complex administrative structure now developing.

After a time when the power of the ruler was fragmented, King Mentuhotep II reunited Egypt and became the first ruler of the period now called the Middle Kingdom (2046 - 1793 BC). During this period representations of the king show him in a non-idealised way, often with mature or careworn features. This may reflect the burden carried by the king during a period that Egyptian texts portray as deeply troubled.

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