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Narmer Macehead

Narmer Macehead

Heb Sed or Sed festival (ancient Egyptian: ḥb-sd, "Festival of the Tail") was a kind of festival designed to renew the King's potency and the fertility of the land. Originally celebrated after a pharaoh had ruled for a total of 30 years and henceforth after every 3 years of rule. Ramesses II is though to have celebrated a total of 14 Sed festivals. The ritual involved the king running around a set course an example of which can be seen on the Narmer Macehead where we see three vertical ellipses before a running figure and from another relief panel from the South Tomb of Djoser at Saqqara[1].

Heb Sed

Early Dynastic Period[]

Early depictions of this festival can be seen on an ivory statue of Narmer where his ritual robe has a pattern of lozenges[1], and an alabaster jar seal with his name[2]. It may also be depicted on the Narmer Macehead though others would disagree[3]. Other early depiction can be seen from the reign of Den with a tablet showing him wearing the Double-Crown and he sits on a single dais. Lower on the tablet Den is shown again running a race wearing the double crown and carrying a flail. Anther tablet shows Den on a double heb-sed platform[4].


  1. 1.0 1.1 Clayton, P.A (2001) Chronicles of the Pharaohs London: Thames & Hudson.
  2. Amiran, R. (1974) An Egyptian Jar Fragment with the Name of Narmer from Arad Israel Exploration Journal. Vol.24 No.1 pp.4-12
  3. Tyldesley, J. (2011) Myths & Legends of Ancient Egypt Glasgow: Ellipsis Books Limited.
  4. Millet, N.B (1990) The Narmer Macehead and Related Objects Journal of American Research Center in Egypt: Vol. 27, pp. 53-59