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Variable of the Day, Ancient Egypt: Uraeus diadem

Temple of Seti I at Abydos

NOTE: The uraeus diadem appears to have been used first during the reign of  Akhenaten in Dynasty 18.  This band of aggressive cobras provided extra protection for the king in situations that were (apparently) deemed particularly treacherous.  A ceremonial shield from the tomb of Tutakhamun (Cairo Museum JE 61578) shows a diadem encircling the king’s crown.  Ramses II and Ramses III both wear the diadem during the Min festival when interacting with this potent, ithyphallic deity, and Seti I in the above example is interacting with Anubis.  The diadem is often placed over the khepresh crown, but also the deshret, and sehemty. It appears also around the heads of both Osiris and Horus.  Often, the uraei are unadorned, but several examples show them with discs on their heads, and at least one example (from the facade of the Seti I temple at Abydos) depicts them sporting alternating deshret and hedjet crowns.  For more on this element, see E. Ertman, “From two to many: the symbolism of additional uraei worn by Nefertity and Akhenaten,” (JSSEA 23, 1996), esp. p. 45-48.

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The Art of Counting is dedicated to the memory of Margery Meilleur, who first taught me to view history through the eyes of the images we create.