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Cult of kings after their death: the success stories

In the theory of ancient Egyptian kingship, all kings were of one substance with the sun-god, and merged with him after death; the body of each king rested in the burial chamber of the tomb, as the sole sun of their world, and formed with all the other kings a chain of divine rulers through time. King-lists in the temples to the cults of kings Sety I and Ramesses II at Abydos show those kings making offerings to edited lists of all their predecessors.

For each king one or, exceptionally, more cult-centres were built during his reign; these might survive his death by a century or two. Thereafter, the maintenance of the dead king depended on the survival of the body and on the presence of his name among the ancestor kings to whom offerings were made by the reigning king. However, the cults of some kings continued for flourish in certain places, for a variety of reasons, as the following four cases demonstrate:


Sneferu, Dynasty 4: first great pyramid builder
name widespread in Dynasties 12-13, seven hundred years after his death
example: UC 32157 list of the household of a man named Khakaura Sneferu, from Lahun


Amenemhat III, Dynasty 12: cult temple probably the Labyrinth acclaimed by classical Greek writers
inhabitants of the area were being named after the king into the Ptolemaic Period, fifteen hundred years after his death
example: UC 14340 Ptolemaic Period offering-table of a man named Nimaatramakhet 'Amenemhat III is in the horizon'


Amenhotep I, Dynasty 18: first New Kingdom king buried at Thebes, marking the conversion of Thebes into a sun city
cult maintained and oracles consulted by the crew working on the tomb of the king in Thebes, Dynasties 19-20
examples: UC 14423 stela showing Qeh worshipping the king; UC 39622 an oracle of the king


Thutmose III, Dynasty 18: long-reigning and campaigning king at a period of great prosperity for Egypt
cult maintained at places such as his Gurob palace town into Dynasty 19; name written on scarabs into the Late Period
examples: UC 14386 stela showing a man in worship of the king, Gurob; Late Period scarabs with the name of the king



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