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The Pschent (//; Greek ψχεντ) was the name of the Double Crown worn by rulers in Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians generally referred to it as sekhemti (sḫm.tỉ), the Two Powerful Ones. It combined the Red Deshret Crown of Lower Egypt and the White Hedjet Crown of Upper Egypt.
The Pschent represented the pharaoh's power over all of unified Egypt. It bore two animal emblems: An Egyptian cobra, known as the uraeus, ready to strike, which symbolized the Lower Egyptian goddess Wadjet, and an Egyptian vulture representing the Upper Egyptian tutelary goddess Nekhbet. These were fastened to the front of the Pschent and referred to as the Two Ladies. Later, the vulture head sometimes was replaced by a second cobra.
The invention of the Pschent is generally attributed to the First Dynasty pharaoh Menes, but the first one to a Double Crown was First Dynasty pharaoh Djet: a rock inscription shows his Horus wearing it.
The king list on the Palermo stone, which begins with the names of Lower Egyptian pharaohs (nowadays thought to have been mythological demi-gods), shown wearing the Red Crown, marks the unification of the country by giving the Pschent to all First Dynasty and later pharaohs. The Cairo fragment, on the other hand, shows these prehistoric rulers wearing the Pschent.
As is the case with the Deshret and the Hedjet Crowns, no Pschent has survived. It is known only from statuary, depictions, inscriptions, and ancient tales.
Statue of Amenhotep III wearing a pschent
- Griffith, Francis Llewellyn, A Collection of Hieroglyphs: A Contribution to the History of Egyptian Writing, the Egypt Exploration Fund 1898, p.56
- Dunand, Françoise; Christiane Zivie-Coche, Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE, Cornell University Press 2004, pp.32f.
- Wilkinson, Toby A. H., Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge 1999, p.196
- Fage, John Donnelly; Desmond J. Clark, Roland Anthony Oliver, A. D. Roberts, The Cambridge History of Africa", Cambridge University Press 1974, p.521
- Kemp, Barry John, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy Of A Civilization, Routledge 2006, p.92
- Zandee, Jan, Studies in Egyptian Religion: Dedicated to Professor Jan Zandee, Brill 1982, p.74
- The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 2005, p. 689
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