Foundation marker from Seti I, Dyn.19

Foundation marker from Seti I, Dyn.19
Period:Egypt, New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, Sethos I/Menmaatre
Dating:1318 BC–1304 BC
Origin:Egypt, Upper Egypt
Physical:15.5cm. (6.1 in.) - 22 g. (.8 oz.)

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Links to others from Dynasty 19

Bronze of King Sethi I as Nefertem, Dyn. 19
Horus-the-Child, Dyn.19, 1300-1200 BC
Imsety canopic jar of Osorkon, Dyn. 19
Lapis seal of King Ramesses II, Dyn.19
Ptah-Tatenen pendant, Dyn. 19-20
Queen Isitnefret as Isis nursing, Dyn. 19
Relief of king offering small jars, Dyn. 19
Relief, procession of priests, Dyn. 19
Relief, reign of Ramesses II, Dyn.19
Ritual pendant for the Priest of Ptah
Seal of Queen Maa-writ-nefrw-ra, Dyn.19
Shawabti from Deir el-Medineh, Dyn. 19
Shawabti of an unidentified king, Dyn. 19
Shawabti of Pa-iri, fan-bearer, Dyn. 19
Shawabti of the Vizier Paser, Dyn. 19
Unfinished stone statue, Dyn. 19
Wood shawabti of King Seti I, Dyn. 19
Wood shawabti of King Seti I, Dyn. 19
Wood shawabti of King Seti I, Dyn. 19
  Copper foundation marker bearing the throne name of King Seti I, Men-maat-re, in a cartouche.

“Apart from their ritual significance, the foundation deposits have proved invaluable to archaeologists from a chronological point of view, since they often include large numbers of plaques inscribed with the name of the ruler responsible for the construction of the building in question.” (Shaw & Nicholson 1995:103).

Foundation Marker
“Foundation deposits: Among the ceremonies that were performed when the foundation was laid of a temple, or pyramid, or fortress, was the deposit, in a secure and secret part of it, of a series of pieces of each material that was used in the construction of the building. And the founder’s name was usually cut or stamped in each piece. The deposit that Ramses II placed in the foundation of one of his buildings at Thebes included models of his bricks, of which a specimen has come down to us.” (Budge 1989:450)

Seti I
The first great king of Dynasty 19, Seti I revived an Egypt exhausted by the years of strife and self-doubts brought by the Amarnian revolution, the ensuing vengeful restoration, and the successional challenges of a moribund Dynasty 18. Although his reign was relatively short (a dozen years or so), his impact on Egyptian history was considerable.

Like his father Ramesses I, Seti first served as vizier and military commander of the critically important fortress of Sile in Syro-Palestine before becoming pharaoh in 1291 BC. And so it is naturally with Syria that the newly crowned Seti began his program of restoration of Egypt’s military credibility in Asia. The walls of the temple of Karnak tell it all.

The first year, he started with a swift campaign in southern Palestine. He captured the cities of Raphia, Gaza, Acre, Tyre, Pella and--just as importantly--the nine wells that would provide Egyptians with a path through the Sinai desert. The second year, he pushed further North, reaching Qadesh and further establishing the presence of Egypt in a Syria vacated by the once mighty, but now defunct Kingdom of Mittanni. The third year, Seti turned to the western edge of the delta to rebuff Libyan tribes, which had started their inexorable drive eastward, moved by the limited food production potential of their homeland (through slow, peaceful invasion, they would eventually come to rule Egypt some 350 years later). The fourth year, Seti returned to Syria and Lebanon, where the Egyptian and Hittite armies first clashed. This was no longer an expedition to subjugate local tribes and small city states. It was full fledged war between two formidable empires. Many lives were lost, but neither side could claim decisive victory. Having reached a stalemate, Seti and the Hittite king Muwatallis forged a peace agreement. These initial years of military activity probably included a program to secure the southern end of the Kingdom, and indeed we know of a campaign to pacify Irem in Nubia. By year 6 of his reign, Seti had sent a clear message to the world: “Egypt is back and means business.”

Indeed, this was about business. Seti’s display of military might was a prerequisite to economic development and the implementation of his ambitious building program. Pacifying the Sinai gave him full access to a number of important quarries and mines. Building blocks, minerals, and semiprecious stone, such as turquoise, soon flowed into Egypt. His Nubian expeditions provided him with captives he could use as cheap building labor and secured his access to the gold mines of Wadi Allaqui. Within Egypt proper, he dug water wells at Wadi Mia and Wadi Abbad to facilitate the exploitation of gold mines in the desert east of Edfu. Gold was an excellent means to finance state sponsored building.

As prolific builders as some of his predecessors may have been, Seti surpassed them handily. From Gebel Barkal next to the fourth cataract in Upper Nubia, to Avaris in the east of the Delta, no region of Egypt was left untouched by his determination to build anew, and to restore and expand existing temples.

In Abydos, he erected a marvelously decorated cenotaph temple of Osiris (now called the Osireion), and flanked it with his own mortuary temple. In the Hall of Records of the Osireion, a large relief shows Seti paying homage to all pharaohs that preceded him from times immemorial. Interestingly, Akenaten and his Amarnian successors were deliberately omitted from the list, as was Queen Hatshepsut. That he obliterated Hatshepsut is more surprising, because Seti spent great care in restoring Queen Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple in Deir-el-Bahri, had his second mortuary temple (now destroyed) built near hers, and held huge yearly festivals using both sites. Seti’s most architecturally daring project was his completion of the Hypostyle Hall in the Temple of Amun at Karnak. There, 134 massive columns supported a stone slab ceiling, soaring to 69 feet over the processional aisle lit by an innovative clerestory stone grille, which for the first time in antiquity allowed natural light to penetrate the inner darkness of a temple. But one of the most striking creations of his reign may be his own tomb, the longest, deepest, and most beautiful tomb of the Valley of the Kings. The wall decorations found throughout the extensive galleries strike a balance between realistic naturalism and symbolic abstraction that raised Egyptian funerary art to new heights. Most original is the astronomical ceiling of the burial chamber, depicting each of the constellations and their associated mythical representation.

Towards the end of his reign, Seti designated his son, the future Ramesses II, as his successor by appointing him co-regent. He would become the most formidable king in the history of Egypt. Seti was survived by his queen Tuy (or Twy), mother of Ramesses II, who lived another twenty years and seems to have enjoyed considerable popularity.

Bibliography (for this item)

Andrews, Carol
1994 Amulets of Ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press, Texas. (99 (Obelisks))

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

Time-Life Books,
1992 Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs. Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia.

Wilkinson, Richard H.
2000 The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, UK.

Bibliography (on Foundation Marker)

Budge, E. A. Wallis, Sir
1989 The Mummy: a Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology (Republication of the 1925 second edition.). 2nd edition. Dover Publications, New York, NY. (450)

Bibliography (on Seti I)

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. (142)

Grimal, Nicolas
1994 A History of Ancient Egypt (Reprint of the 1994 edition, translated by Ian Shaw). Blackwell, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Shaw, Ian
2000 The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.

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