Over its long and ancient history, Egypt had many capital cities. Some of these were largely fleeting and some were lost to time and have only been discovered in the last two years (like in the case of Dazzling Aten). Many ancient Egypt cities remain lost and archaeologists are continuing to search for them.
One of the oldest and earliest of Egypt's ancient capitals is believed to be an ancient city discovered near Abydos. This city takes back around 7,000 years - that is around 2,400 years before the Great Pyramid was built. It is also home to what is believed to be the world's oldest (discovered) brewery.
What To Know About The Ancient Capital of Abydos
Abydos is located around 6.8 miles west of the Nile near the modern Egyptian towns of El Araba El Madfuna and El Balyana. New discoveries are continuing to be made here with more ancient tombs, breweries, and other finds being discovered.
Abydos is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Egypt. While it is not nearly as well-known and touristic as Luxor and other places, it was an important cultic center. It was a sacred city with many ancient temples.
- Location: 300 miles South of Cairo
- Main Attraction: The Temple of Seti I
- Osiris: Abydos Was Known For Monuments Honoring Osiris (the God of the Underworld)
There is a belief that Abydos was Egypt's capital in the pre-dynastic and early dynastic periods. Abydos is famous for the temple dedicated to Seti I - he was the father of Ramesses the Great (the most famous pharaoh in history who also built the famous Abu Simbel rock-cut temples).
Abydos is notable for several things. These include the memorial temple of Seti I (which contains the Abydos King List), the Abydos Graffiti (ancient Phoenician and Aramaic graffiti on the walls of the temple), the world's oldest brewery, and the tombs.
- Lost: Much of The Old City Has Been Lost To Modern Construction
Unfortunately, much of the most important parts of the site (including the Great Temple and most of the ancient town) are today buried under modern buildings. And it is likely the new construction would have completely destroyed their original structures and artifacts.
The Necropolis of Umm el-Qa'ab
One of its most important possessions is the Umm el-Qa'ab - a royal necropolis where some of Egypt's early pharaohs were entombed.
It was because of the pharaoh's tombs that more people wanted to be buried there. This grew the town into an important cult site. The necropolis had a very long history and was used in every period of Egyptian history up until the time of the Romans.
- Burial Center: Abydos Was Ancient Egypt's Most Important Burial Center
The modern name "Umm el-Qa'ab" means "Mother of Pots". It earned its name because the area is utterly littered with the broken pot shards of offerings made in earlier times.
It is thought that in the First Dynasty human sacrifice was practiced as part of the funerary rituals. One of the tombs - the tomb of Djer - is associated with the burials of 338 individuals thought to have been sacrificed. There are thought to have been strangled.
These people (along with animals like donkeys), were expected to help the pharaoh in the afterlife. For reasons that are not clear, the practice seems to have ended with the conclusion of the First Dynasty.
Beer: The World's Oldest Brewery
Of course, no one is claiming to have found the oldest beer brewery - it's just the oldest until the next oldest is discovered. But for now, it seems that American and Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed what could be the oldest known beer factory in the world at Abydos.
In ancient and medieval times, beer wasn't the recreational beverage we know it as today, instead, it was an important part of a staple diet - and everyone drank it.
- Staple Diet: Beer Was Part Of The Staple Diet
The evidence for the beer factory seems to date back to the reign of Pharaoh Narmer. It was this Pharaoh who unified ancient Egypt at the beginning of the First Dynastic Period (3150 BC- 2613 BC).
- Date: During The Reign of Pharaoh Narmer (3273 – 2987 BC)
Their finds include eight huge units that are thought to have been used for brewing beer. Each of these is 20 meters (about 65 feet) long and 2.5 meters (about eight feet) wide.
- Sacrifices: The is Evidence of Egyptians Using Beer In Sacrificial Rites
- Location: This Brewery Was Likely Built Here To Provide Royal Ritual With Beer
The site has been known for a long time - the British archaeologists found it in the early 1900s. But this is the first time it has been studied and found to be a truly ancient brewery.