Sept, local prince of Nubia, Dyn. 12-13

Sept, local prince of Nubia, Dyn. 12-13
Period:Egypt, Middle Kingdom, Middle Kingdom
Dating:1880 BC–1720 BC
Origin:Egypt, Upper Egypt, Elephantine
Physical:11.8cm. (4.6 in.) - 1300 g. (45.9 oz.)

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  This serpentinite bust portrays a young man of importance, wearing a classical Egyptian headdress. The general style (particularly the large ears) is indicative of the Middle Kingdom, in the Nubian provinces (egyptian territory from the first to the second cataract of the Nile). Who was he? The name that appears on the inscription at the back is Sept (“sopdet”, the star now known as Sirius or Sothis), followed by inb (“fort, wall”), suggesting he may have been a local ruler or commander in late Dynasty 12 or Dynasty 13 (1880-1720 BC).

The hieroglyphs on the back pillar read: “The local god, and near me [the goddess] Neith, Sept of the fort, son of ...” (Ntr Niwty p-n Neith Sept inb sa ...). Without the rest of the text, now missing, we are left wanting for more information about his filiation, charge, and rank as royal prince or local ruler.

“By the early 12th. Dynasty (c.1950 BC) the Egyptians had begun to establish a string of fortresses between the second and the third cataracts. The purpose of these military establishments appears to have been to gain a stranglehold on the economic resources of Lower Nubia and the countries further to the south (including such important commodities as gold, ivory, ebony, animals and slaves). The boundary stele erected by Senusret III (1874-1855 BC) at Semna, near the third cataract clearly states this policy . . . .The fortresses not only served as important symbols of Egyptian military strength. . . but, in the case of Buhen, Mirgissa and Askut in particular, acted as temporary depots for the imported materials” (Shaw & Nicholson 1995:205).

“Along with her husband Sah (Orion) and her son Soped, Sopdet [Sothis, Sept] was part of a triad which paralleled that of Osiris, Isis and Horus. She was therefore described in the Pyramid Texts as having united with Osiris to give birth to the morning star. . . The earliest depiction, on an ivory tablet of the 1st-Dynasty king Djer (c.3000 BC) from Abydos, appears to show her as a seated cow with a plant between her horns. It has been pointed out that, since the plant is symbolic of the year, the Egyptians may have already been correlating the rising of the dog star with the beginning of the solar year, even in the early third millennium BC” (Shaw & Nicholson 1995:275).

Bibliography (for this item)

Bard, Kathryn A., and Steven B. Shubert
1999 Encyclopedia of the Archeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge, London, United Kingdom. (

Budge, E. A. Wallis, Sir
1973 Egyptian Language. Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics with Sign List. Dover Publications, New York, NY. (74-14

Clayton, Peter A.
1994 Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, UK. (90- 92)

Gardiner, Alan
1957 Egyptian Grammar. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. (110-111:86, 112

Grimal, Nicolas
1988 Histoire de l’Egypte ancienne. Fayard, Paris, France.

Hart, George
1986 A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, United Kingdom. (110-112

Khalil, Hassan M.
1976 Preliminary Studies on the Sanusret Collection. Manuscript, Musée l’Egypte et le Monde Antique, Monaco-Ville, Monaco. (

Posener, Georges, Serge Sauneron, and Jean Yoyotte
1970 Dictionnaire de la civilisation Egyptienne. 2nd edition. Fernand Hazan, Paris, France. (

Shaw, Ian, and Paul Nicholson
1995 The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. British Museum Press, London, United Kingdom. (205, 275)

Vandier, J
1958 Manuel d’Archeologie Egyptienne. Tome III: Les grandes époques—la statuaire. A. et J. Picard, Paris, France. (Pl LXXVIII

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