Abydos (Egypt)

Seti I Temple at Abydos (Egypt)
Seti I Temple at Abydos (Egypt). Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko


Abydos (known as Abdju to the ancient Egyptians) is an Early Dynastic city and necropolis located on the edge of the desert on the west bank of the Nile River in Egypt. It was one of the earliest pharaonic cemeteries in Egypt, beginning with the Old Kingdom rulers about 3000 BC. One early temple at Abydos was dedicated to the god Khentiamentiu (later merged with Osiris).

A fleet of 14 mud-brick boat graves was discovered at Abydos.

These date to the Old Kingdom, and as such are the earliest boat-burials discovered in Upper Egypt. One grave has been completely excavated, and it included a wooden boat made of local tamarisk, lashed together and covered with white plaster and painted dark yellow. Also identified at Abydos are donkey burials, evidence of the importance of these animals to predynastic cultures.

The site also included a temple of the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senwosret III, built about 1850 BC, and dismantled after 1500 BC. Later, the New Kingdom pharaoh Seti I also built a mortuary temple at Abydos sacred to Osiris; that is the large temple visitors can see today.

Much of the information we know about early dynastic Egypt at all comes from the hieroglyphic symbols carved into Abydos' walls.


This glossary entry is a part of the About.com guide to Egyptian Predynastic Period, and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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Also Known As: Abtu, Abdjou or Abdju