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449 THE USE OF BUCRANIA IN THE ARCHITECTURE OF FIRST DYNASTY EGYPT Renate Marian van Dijk Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies University of South Africa PO Box 392 UNISA 0003 E-mail: [email protected] (Received 03/09/2013: Revised 11/11/2013) ABSTRACT Bucrania, or bull skulls, were used as a decorative motif in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt. There is both archaeological and icongraphic evidence for this – bucrania have been excavated in the mastabas of Saqqara, and there are artefacts from the period with depictions of buildings surmounted by bucrania. Comparative material, such as the bucrania found in situ at the burials of Kerma and the practice of human sacrifice during the Egyptian First Dynasty, can be examined to gain insight into the significance and deeper meaning of the bucrania. This article will study the available evidence in an attempt to answer how and why bucrania were used in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt. INTRODUCTION In architecture, a bucranium (pl. bucrania) is a “carved decorative motif depicting the skull of a bull” (Davies & Jokiniemi 2008:52). It can also refer to the skull and horn cones of a real animal, or to a head modelled entirely from clay or plaster with real horn cones. Bucrania have been found at sites across the ancient world,1 and their use in architecture is particularly famous at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in modernday Turkey.2 Bucrania were also used in the architecture of Egypt, but this has been little studied. The Lexikon der Ägyptologie contains an entry for “Bukranion” (Helck 1975:882-883), and Rice (1998:126-128) discusses the bucrania found around the First Dynasty tombs at Saqqara in his study on the bull cult, but there are no works 1 2 See van Dijk (2011:11-38) for a discussion on bucrania in the ancient Near East. See for example Hodder (2006). ISSN 1013-8471 Journal for Semitics 22/2 (2013) 449-463 450 R.M. van Dijk focusing solely on Egyptian bucrania. While the evidence for the use of bucrania is limited during later periods, there are examples from the First Dynasty from both the archaeological and iconographic records. The First Dynasty only lasted about 200 years,3 and based on the amount of evidence for the use of bucrania in the architecture of this period, it follows that bucrania were especially important during the First Dynasty. This paper will therefore study the use of bucrania as decorative motifs in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt in an attempt to ascertain how and why they were used. What kind of buildings did bucrania adorn and what was their function, purpose or deeper meaning? ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE Bucrania were used to decorate mastabas in the First Dynasty necropolis at Saqqara. The most elaborate decoration belonged to Tomb 3504.4 A low bench ran along the base of the mastaba. Approximately 300 life-size bulls’ heads, modelled from clay and with large natural horns, were mounted upon this platform (Emery 1954: Plate VIa&b; VIIa&b). The bulls’ heads were arranged in a symmetrical pattern, each head held in place by two wooden pegs. There were traces of blue and red paint on the bulls’ heads, but it is uncertain if the heads were painted, or if these were splashes of paint from when the structure itself was painted (Emery 1954:7-9). Tomb 3504 can be dated to the reign of Djet,5 the fourth pharaoh of the First Dynasty, by the labels and sealing impressions found within. The burial chamber was restored and remodelled towards the end of the First Dynasty, which led Emery (1954:6) to suggest that it was the burial place of “Uadji or some other important member of his family”, and, because of its grandeur, it was thought to belong to Djet himself (Emery 1955:3; Lauer 1976:88). It has also been identified as belonging to Djet’s predecessor, Djer (e.g., Rykwert 1996:49). However, it cannot be the tomb of a pharaoh, because the pharaohs of the First Dynasty were buried in the Umm el-Qa’ab 3 4 5 The exact length is difficult to ascertain due to a lack of accurate historical records from the period. Estimates range from as short as 150 years (Wenke 2009:198) to as long as 240 (Wilkinson 1999:67). For a full and detailed description of this tomb and finds associated with it, see Emery (1954:5-127; see especially pp. 7-13 for the architecture). Djet is the most common modern rendering of this pharaoh’s name, but Uadji, Wadji and Zet are also used (Wilkinson 1999:73). The use of bucrania in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt 451 cemetery at Abydos.6 Hoffman (1980:287) identifies at least some of the Saqqara tombs as the northern cenotaphs of the kings buried at Abydos. It is now generally believed to have been built for Sekhem-Ka, royal treasurer during the reign of Djet (e.g., Adams & Ciałowicz 1997:62; Rice 1999:177), but Morris (2007a) argues convincingly against the common belief that many of the Saqqara tombs are those of officials, and suggests rather that at least some of them should be assigned to high ranking members of the royal family. In this capacity, they were meant “to function less as tributes to their individual owners than as eternal reminders ... of the power and glory of its [Egypt’s] holy family” (Morris 2007a:188). Tomb 35077 dates to the reign of Djet’s son, Den,8 and most likely belonged to Queen Hernieth, the wife of Djer, third king of the dynasty. Hernieth’s mastaba was also decorated with a low bench upon which were moulded bulls’ heads with real horns (Emery 1958: Plate 90b). Most of these bucrania had long been destroyed by the time the tombs were excavated during the mid-1950s, but enough survived for excavators to be able to reconstruct how they would have been arranged. The superstructure was decorated with “palace façade” panelling, three small niches separating larger niches. The bucrania were found only in the middle of the three smaller niches (Emery 1958:75-6). A similar low bench with bulls’ heads of sun-dried mud with real horns surrounded the panelled facade of Tomb 3505.9 This tomb dates to the reign on Qa’a, the final pharaoh of the First Dynasty, and Emery (1958:4) believed that the tomb belonged to this pharaoh. It is now generally believed to have belonged to a priestly noble named Merkha (Clayton 2001:25). Few of the bucrania survived until excavation, but those preserved revealed that they were arranged in the same pattern as those found around Tomb 3504 (Emery 1958:6). Tomb 350610 dates to the reign of Den and was ascribed by Emery (1958:37) to “a member of the royal family”. Scattered bulls’ horns were found around the tomb, suggesting that bucrania also adorned the low bench surrounding this tomb (Emery 1958:44). 6 7 8 9 10 See Petrie (1900; 1901) for a full discussion and description of these tombs. For a full description of this tomb and its associated finds, see Emery (1958:73-97). Den is also known as Dewen or Udimu. For a full description of this tomb and its associated finds, see Emery (1958:5-36). For a full description of this tomb and its associated finds, see Emery (1958:37-72). 452 R.M. van Dijk These tombs were each surrounded by an enclosure wall, meaning that each “herd” of bucrania decorating the low benches could only be viewed from close proximity (Wengrow 2006:242). This suggests that the viewing of these bucrania would have been a more intimate experience, and one which would have had a profound effect on the viewer. According to Lauer (1976:88), the bucrania were either “a symbolic offering or a magic protection”. In this regard, Pyramid Text 1266c, which mentions a door which is “sealed with two evil eyes” (Mercer 1952:209), may refer to bucrania adorning a doorway to offer protection (Blackman 2000:314), and bucrania are today still hung above doorways in Egypt to protect the house from the evil eye (Gordon & Schwabe 2004:33). Wengrow (2006:242) suggests that the killing and consumption of the cattle which provided the bucrania or horn cones for these tombs formed part of the rituals and ceremonies surrounding the building of the tomb. Further insight into the meaning or symbolism behind the use of bucrania to decorate the First Dynasty mastabas at Saqqara may be gained from a comparison of the similar use at Kerma, a site in Upper Nubia on the east bank of the Nile near the Third Cataract. From the Egyptian Old Kingdom until the Second Intermediate Period, it was almost certainly the capital of the kingdom of Kush, the major trading partner, and sometime adversary, to the south of Egypt (Wilkinson 2005:124). From the Late Neolithic pre-Kerma Period (c.3500-2500 B.C.E.), social stratification is increasingly displayed through the wealth of grave goods in the burials at the necropolis of Kerma. Cattle remains and bucrania have been found in association with the richer burials. The earliest known bucranium from the Kerma region dates to circa 5700 B.C.E. and was found surmounting a child’s grave in the cemetery at el-Barga (Chaix, Dubosson & Honeffer 2012:192). There was a development over time in the treatment of the bucrania at Kerma. The Early Kerma (c. 2500-2050 B.C.E.) bucrania included their nasal bones, but the Middle Kerma (c. 2050-1750 B.C.E.) bucrania were buried with the lower part of the skull cut in half. By the Late Kerma Period (c. 1500-1100 B.C.E.) only the horns and the top of the skull were present (Castillos 2003:119). Their presence was also quite rare during the Early Kerma Period, but by the Middle Kerma they had become common (Chaix, Dubboson & Honeggar 2012:192). Many of the elite of the Late Kerma Period were interred in enormous tombs which had large numbers of bucrania arranged around their south side (Edwards 2004:91). Grave 253 contained 4899 bucrania (Chaix, Dubosson & Honegger 2012: 193). This suggests that wealth in cattle was significant to Kerma’s social elite (Mitchell 2005:75). The The use of bucrania in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt 453 large amount of bucrania simultaneously deposited with the burials suggests a massive slaughter of cattle for funerary or mortuary rites (Chaix 2001:369). According to Bray (2003:49), these bucrania indicate “large funerary feasts conducted before the burial of Kerma kings and elite”. This display of wealth and power would have been “a means of establishing one’s authority over an alliance network” (Chaix et al. 2012:209). The bucrania used to decorate the tombs at Saqqara may then similarly also represent funerary or mortuary rites associated with the interment of the deceased, rather than rituals associated with the building of the tomb. It is curious though that the tombs decorated with such a display of wealth and power are thought to not be those of the pharaohs themselves. The tombs of the pharaohs at Um el-Qa’ab show no remaining traces of surface structures. Although the superstructures of these tombs may have been simple tumuli (Wengrow 2006:252), O’Connor (2009:151) suggests that, because contemporary tombs “of importance” from other sites in Egypt, such as Saqqara, Helwan and Tarkhan, all have rather significant superstructures, the Umm elQa’ab tombs, being those of the pharaoh, would also have had superstructures. If such superstructures did exist, it is possible that they were decorated with bucrania, and that these, like the superstructures themselves, have not survived to today. The large-scale use of bucrania in tomb architecture at Saqqara appears to have been very limited, being restricted to the reigns of three pharaohs – Djet, Den and Qa’a. But Tomb 3038,11 dating to the reign of Den’s successor, Anedjib,12 and thought to belong to the high official Nebetka (Rice 2003a:131), contained the burial of a bucranium in one of the niches of the superstructure (Emery 1949: 92; Plate 27B). This recalls a bucranium discovered beneath the southern altar close to the base of Djoser’s Step Pyramid in the South Court Complex at Saqqara (Firth, Quibell & Lauer 1935a:70; Firth, Quibell & Lauer 1935b: Plate 73). The Step Pyramid bucranium dates to the Third Dynasty, and, although it is associated with an altar rather than with a tomb, its burial points to a similar, if not shared tradition roughly 200 years later. The burial of the bucranium in Tomb 3038 suggests a continuation in the ideology behind the sacrifice, if not in the large-scale sacrifice itself. This change in ideology may be linked to another practice which seems to be peculiar to First Dynasty Egypt: that of ritual death, the large-scale sacrifice of human 11 12 For a full description of this tomb and its associated finds, see Emery (1949:82-94). Called Enezib by Emery (1949). 454 R.M. van Dijk life,13 a practice which is also known from the necropolis at Kerma, where the remains of up to 400 human sacrifices were found in the great “royal” Tumuli during the Classic Kerma Period (c. 1750-1580 B.C.E.) (Edwards 2004:84). Retainers were buried in subsidiary graves in the tomb complexes of the First Dynasty pharaohs at Umm el-Qa’ab. This practice started during the reign of Aha, the second pharaoh of the dynasty. To the east of his tomb were 36 small graves14 which belonged to young men aged 20-25 (van Dijk 2007:138). It reached its pinnacle during the reign of Djer, Aha’s successor, whose tomb had 318 subsidiary graves with a further 269 graves surrounding the funerary enclosure15 (Morris 2007b:16). By comparison, 174 retainers were found around the tomb of Djer’s successor, Djet (Morris 2007b:20). The practice of retainer sacrifice was discontinued with the end of the First Dynasty. The subsidiary burial of retainers was not restricted to the burials of the pharaohs at Umm el-Qa’ab. At Saqqara, 62 subsidiary graves were found around Tomb 3504 (Emery 1954:7), 20 around Tomb 3505, and 10 around Tomb 350616 (Wengrow 2006:243 note 23). Tomb 3507 is unusual in that there are no burials of retainers – the only subsidiary burial is that of a dog (Emery 1958:78; Plate 91b). This dog may have been a favourite pet and was presumably sacrificed to accompany Herneith in the afterlife (Rice 2006:45-47) and/or to guard the tomb (Emery 1958:78). The retainers buried around the tomb of Aha appear to have been strangled (Bard 2000:68), and it seems likely that at least some of those interred with later kings of the First Dynasty were also put to death. The interred include courtiers, women from the harem, craftsmen, specialists and various attendants of the pharaoh (Rice 2003a:133) – an entourage intended to follow their king to the afterlife.17 At least seven lions were interred around Aha’s burial at Umm el-Qa’ab. Lions were a high status animal, and their burial in association with the retainers suggests a similar high status for the latter (Bestock 2009:29). Human sacrifice is the ultimate display of the “right to control of life and death” (Wengrow 2006:252), and therefore a potent display of the power of 13 14 15 16 17 Although there is limited evidence for small-scale human sacrifice in a cultic setting from the Predynastic period (van Dijk 2007:137; Wilkinson 1999:265). According to Wengrow (2006:252) there were 34 subsidiary burials. Van Dijk (2007) gives the numbers as 317 and 242 respectively. For a description of these ten burials and the grave goods found in them, see Emery (1958:46-48). During later periods, ushabtis were interred with the pharaoh to serve him in the afterlife, symbolically taking the place of the individual they represented, and taking the actual place of a human sacrifice. The use of bucrania in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt 455 the deceased. If the tombs at Saqqara are those of the elite, and not just the pharaohs, they reveal that the nobility also claimed this power and also that they aspired to eternal life (Wenke 2009:242). Similarly to the human sacrifices, the cattle slaughtered to provide the bucrania which decorated the tombs at Saqqara may have been meant to accompany the deceased to the afterlife. They could have served as a herd for the afterlife, or they could have been meant to offer protection to the deceased. At the same time, their sacrifice would have been a show of the wealth and power of the deceased, made all the more potent by their continued display around the tombs. ICONOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE Tarkhan seal impression A seal impression in Grave 414 at Tarkhan (Petrie, Wainwright & Gardiner 1913; Plate II:4) dating to the reign of Narmer bears a depiction of a building facade surmounted by a bull’s head and surrounded by crocodiles over spirals, the latter which symbolise waves.18 A crocodile on a standard next to the building can be identified as Sobek, the sacred crocodile of the Fayum province, and Petrie, Wainwright and Gardiner (1913:21) identify the seal which made this impression as the “seal of the Fayum province”. Wilkinson (1999:295) believes the building facade to represent a shrine dedicated to the god Sobek at Medinet el-Fayum.19 A different interpretation is that the building facade doesn’t represent a temple, but a serekh20 belonging to Pharaoh Horus Crocodile, a “Gegenkönig” of Dynasty 0, a local king of the Tarkhan area, and rival to the main Thinite dynasty (Dreyer 1992). While the building facade on the Tarkhan impression is surmounted by a bucranium, in most cases a serekh was surmounted by a falcon, representing Horus and the pharaoh’s special association with this god. But as Wilkinson (1999:201) notes, “the earliest serekhs were empty, the symbol alone conveying the necessary message of 18 19 20 This is a unique way of representing water. The usual wavy line can be traced back to plain parallel lines (Petrie, Wainwright and Gardiner 1913:22). Ancient Shedyet and Krokodilopolis. In Egyptian hieroglyphs a serekh is a rectangular enclosure which represented a niched or gated palace façade which contained a text within. The serekh was often surmounted by a falcon, symbolising the god Horus, which indicated that the text represented a royal name. 456 R.M. van Dijk royal power.” In addition, early serekhs were not surmounted exclusively by Horus. The Second Dynasty pharaoh Peribsen’s serekh was surmounted by the Seth animal, and the serekh of his successor, Khasekhemwy, was surmounted by both the Horus falcon and the Seth animal.21 Khasekhemwy’s name means “In Him the Two Powers are Reconciled” (Rice 2003b:105) or “The Two Powerful Ones Appear” (Clayton 2001:26), and Rice (2003b:105) contends that the use of the images of these two gods reflects a social struggle between two factions which were represented by these gods. During the reign of Peribsen the supporters of Seth rose to power, and Khasekhemwy reconciled the two factions. This may be related to the royal title “Lord of the Two Lands”, which was first attested under the First Dynasty ruler, Anedjib (Wenke 2009:244). The pharaoh was seen as a manifestation of Horus, who usually surmounted the serekh, and the king therefore claimed his power through Horus. While Peribsen and Khasekhemwy were on the throne that power was also seen to come from Seth. If the Tarkhan seal impression does represent a serekh, the question is: what power is represented by the bull’s head which surmounts it? The bull was used as a symbol of royal power from early in Egypt’s history.22 Narmer clearly equated himself with the bull on his famous palette (Egyptian Museum, Cairo JE32169, CG14716), and therefore the bull was a sign of kingship during his reign.23 According to Darnell (2002:14-19), part of the so-called Scorpion Tableau at Gebel Tjauti in the Egyptian Western Desert,24 which dates to 200 years before the reign of Narmer, depicts King Scorpion25 defeating a bound captive. Between these two figures is a bucranium mounted on a pole. According to Darnell (2010:26), the bound figure thus “appears to be labeled with a bull’s head”, but if the bull’s head had been an identifier for this prisoner, following iconographic conventions, it should have been placed in front of him (Hendrickx & Friedman 2003:101), and Hendrickx (2002:283) points out that “it is not obvious whether the 21 22 23 24 25 See Petrie (1901: Plates XXI-XXIV) for examples of these serekhs. See Hendrickx (2002) and van Dijk (2011:96-106). Indeed, Miller (1967:424) believes the bull on the Bull Palette (Louvre E 11255) to represent Narmer on the basis of its similarity in depiction and iconography to the Narmer Palette. See Darnell (2002) for a full description and discussion of this and other rock inscriptions in the Western Desert of Egypt. This King Scorpion may have been the king buried in Tomb U-j at Abydos. Tomb U-j is famous for containing the earliest examples of Egyptian writing, found on inscribed bone labels and written with black ink on pottery vessels. The use of bucrania in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt 457 bucranium identifies the king, the prisoner, or represents an idea in itself”. A similar depiction was found at Tomb U-j in Abydos, and Dreyer (1995:55; 1998:65-7, 85-6) suggests it represents a royal name. There are, however, problems with this hypothesis,26 and it may rather represent a specific place, deity or temple (Darnell 2002:16). If a deity is represented, the best candidate would be Bat, a celestial goddess who was important in the Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods.27 Hendrickx and Friedman (2003:97-100) argue against the bull’s head representing the goddess Bat and the seventh nome of Upper Egypt of which Bat was the local goddess, citing a sherd from Hierakonpolis on which both a bull’s head which was shaped like that on the Scorpion Tableau and the Bat emblem are incised and are clearly distinct. If the bucrania depicted on the Scorpion Tableau at Gebel Tjauti and Tomb U-j at Abydos do represent a particular place or temple, this location was presumably especially associated with a bucranium. If this is the case, then the bucranium-topped building on the Tarkhan seal may represent this place, and would therefore not represent a serekh. Abydos label A fragment of an ivory label excavated at Abydos and dating to the reign of Den, the fifth king of the First Dynasty (Petrie 1901:VII:8), depicts a shrine (Lauer 1948:6) or sacred enclosure (Petrie 1901:25) with a ram in it, and with a bucranium on the wall to the left of the ram. The label is broken and the right-hand side of this enclosure is missing, but it is possible that a second bucranium would have been found on a wall to the right of the ram. This building is found within a settlement, identifiable by the crenellated walls which are also found on the depictions of cities on the Narmer Palette, Bull Palette, and City Palette (Egyptian Museum, Cairo, JE27434; CG14238).28 A smaller fragment of a second label (Petrie 1901: VII:9) appears to bear the same depiction. According to the Palermo Stone, a large fragment of a stele which records the royal annals of the Old Kingdom, Den visited Herakleopolis in the ninth year of his reign (Wilkinson 2000:115). Wilkinson (1999:284-285, 296) suggests that the Abydos label records this visit, suggesting that the ram in the enclosure represents Herishef, 26 27 28 See Hendrickx (2002:282-283) for a discussion on these problems. See van Dijk (2011:189-191) for a discussion on Bat and her relationship with the goddess Hathor during this period. Also known as the Libyan Palette, the Siege Palette and the Tehenu Palette. 458 R.M. van Dijk the ram god whose main cult centre was at Herakleopolis, and identifying the building surmounted by the bucranium as a cult centre at this site. Although this seems the most plausible explanation, the identification of the location shown on the label may not be that simple. The scene on the Narmer Macehead (Ashmolean Museum AN1890-1908 E 3631), for example, has been identified on the basis of the shrine with the heron and the enclosure of bubalis antelopes (hartebeest) as both Buto (Millet 1990:56) and Hierakonpolis (Friedman 1996:33). Furthermore, the question remains as to what the bucrania represent or symbolise. If the Tarkhan seal impression depicts the shrine of Sobek at Medinet el-Fayum and the Abydos label represents the cult centre at Herakleopolis, then the bucrania can clearly not represent one specific location. This point is further illustrated by the fact that bucrania were associated with multiple locations in later pharaonic Egypt. For example, the later Fayum Shrine of Sobek was decorated with two bucrania (Brovarski 1984:997 Fig. 2) and a chapel in the back hall of the Temple of Seti I at Abydos contains a relief sculpture of a shrine of a mummified hawk surmounted by a bucranium (Caulfield 1902:Plate VII). According to Hendrickx (2002:280), bucrania were “meant as an identification of the building, or as a general indication of its importance”. Hierakonpolis carved tusk A large carved hippopotamus tusk from the main deposit at Hierakonpolis (Quibell 1900: Plate XIV) depicts on both sides the long niched facade of a building which has bucrania hanging above at least four doorways.29 The building may be identified as either a palace or the enclosure wall of a temple (Hendrickx 2002:280). Raffaele (2010:259 n65) suggests the building represents a tomb. The carved tusk dates to Dynasty 0, showing that the use of bucrania as architectural motifs, although becoming more impressive in the First Dynasty, had its roots in predynastic times. Also, if Raffaele’s suggestion is correct, the use of bucrania to decorate tombs predates those at Saqqara. However, it is uncertain what type of 29 Quibell (1900:7) calls these bucrania or rams’ skulls and Whitehouse (2004:1125) suggests they may be the skulls of Barbary goats, but according to Hendrickx (2002:280) each is “a bull’s head, or more probably a bucranium”. The use of bucrania in the architecture of First Dynasty Egypt 459 building is depicted on the Hierakonpolis tusk, although only a building of great importance would have been depicted with the extent of decoration it displays, let alone been depicted at all. When the Tarkhan seal impression and the Abydos label are considered, it is more likely that the building depicted on the carved tusk is also a shrine and that the three pieces point to a common Pre- and Early Dynastic tradition in which bucrania were used to decorate or mark shrines. CONCLUSIONS Bucrania were then used to decorate two different types of buildings during the First Dynasty of Egypt – tombs and shrines. The archaeological evidence shows that tombs were decorated with up to 300 bucrania. No archaeological evidence survives for the use of bucrania in shrines, and the iconographic evidence is insufficient to deduce if a specific amount of bucrania was typically used to decorate this type of building. The Abydos label is broken, so it is uncertain whether the building depicted on it was surmounted by one or more bucrania, the Tarkhan seal shows one bucranium surmounting the building facade, and the carved hippopotamus tusk from Dynasty 0 Hierakonpolis shows multiple bucrania hanging above the doorways. The iconographic examples from later Egyptian history, the Fayum Shrine of Sobek and the chapel in the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, suggest that a more modest amount of bucrania decorated shrines than did the First Dynasty mastabas at Saqqara. This may point to a difference in the ideology behind the use of the bucrania. While the bucrania decorating the tombs reflected the wealth and power of the deceased, the gods were already known to be powerful, and such an ostentatious display may not have been necessary for their shrines. Still, that bucrania decorated the shrines as well as tombs reveals that they had some deeper meaning. The bull was a symbol of strength and power, and the bucrania may have been meant to afford protection to the buildings which they decorated. They also would have functioned to mark the importance of these buildings. In the case of the tombs, the bucrania may additionally have represented a herd which, like the human sacrifice of the retainers, was to accompany the deceased to the afterlife. The iconographic evidence for the use of bucrania during the First Dynasty, and the later evidence, the Fayum Shrine of Sobek and the chapel in the Temple of Seti, reveal a long and abiding tradition. The bucranium buried beneath the altar in Djoser’s 460 R.M. van Dijk Step Pyramid Complex may be related to the use of bucrania in shrines, as the altar was obviously also related to the cult. At the same time, because this bucranium was buried beneath the altar, it reflects a similar ideology to the burial of the single bucranium in Tomb 3038 at Saqqara. 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