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Palermo Stone

   ... is one of the most important historical sources for the Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom. The part of a Vth Dynasty (Neferirkare Kakai) basalt stele inscribed on both sides with royal annals stretching back to the mythical prehistoric rulers. The main fragment has been known since 1866 and is currently in the collection of the Palermo Archeological Museum, Sicily, although there are also further pieces in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and  the Petrie Museum, London. The slub must originally have been about 2.2 m long, 0.61 m wide and 6.5 cm thick, but most of it its now missing, and there is no surviving information about its provenance.
The text of the Palermo Stone enumerates the annals of the kings of Lower Egypt, beginning with the many thousands of years that were assumed to have been taken up by mythological rulers, until the time of the god Horus, who is said to have given the throne to the human king Menes. Human rulers are then listed up to the Vth Dynasty. The text is divided into a series of horizontal registers divided by vertical lines that curve in at the top, apparently in imitation of the hieroglyph for regnal year (renepet), thus indicating the memorable events of individual years in each king's reign. The situation is slightly confused by the fact that the dates cited in the Palermo Stone appear to refer to the number of biennial cattle censuses (hesbet) rather than to the number of years that the king had reigned; therefore the number of 'years' in the date may well have to be doubled to find out the actual number of regnal years.
The types of event that are recorded on the Palermo Stone are cult ceremonies, taxation, sculpture, building, and warfare - that is, precisely the type of phenomena that are recorded on the protrodynastic ivory and ebony labels from Abydos, Saqqara, and various other early historical sites.


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