image_1357_1e-Ancient-Egypt.jpg
profile pic.jpg

The Palermo Stone

Elvira Valentina Resta

Arts & History Writer

(Italian version)

One of the most important historical documents of ancient Egypt is located in Palermo. In 1877, the art collector Ferdinand Gaudiano donated a slab of basalt covered entirely with hieroglyphics to the Royal Archaeological Museum. 

Today, the so-called Pietra di Palermo is one of the most precious artifacts of the Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas. The Palermo Stone (about 43 cm high x 25 of width x 6.5 cm thick) is the oldest known example of royal annal, with the names of the pharaohs of the first five dynasties (from 3200 to 2350 BC about) inscribed on both sides. It is  symbol, and testament of the great floods of the Nile and the main historical events that occurred during the years of the Egyptian reign of the great Kings.

This fragment is part of a larger inscription, composed of 6  pieces, 5 of which are currently preserved at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Petrie Museum in London. However, the one that graces Palermo is definitely the largest and the most well preserved, with the majority of the historical information on more than 700 years covering the Protodynamic Period and much of the Ancient Kingdom written across its structure.
 
The exceptional historical importance of the document has attracted the attention of several scholars over time, and among all seven fragments, only one, today in Cairo, was found in an archaeological context (in Mit Rahina, the ancient Memphis), while the others were discovered unbelievably from the antique markets. 
 
In September 2018, a team led by Egyptologist Massimiliano Nuzzolo (University Of Charles IV in Prague) began a new study of all the fragments of the royal annanal, and in particular the Palermo Stone, which has revealed the latest secrets and new information about the discoveries. The aim of the research was to reread the hieroglyphic text written on all fragments using the new digital photographic analysis technique called "Reflectance Transformation Imaging" (RTI).  According to Massimiliano  this  instrument uncovered all hidden the hieroglyphic inscriptions that were shrouded and obscured. For other more damaged areas, Egyptologists Kathryn Piquette and Mohamed Osman used a digital microscope (Dino-Lite USB). These new technologies performed a  near miracle bringing to the world the true meaning of these important historical artifacts.
 
The Palermo Stone is written with small hieroglyphics, one or two centimeters in size, sometimes even less, making the Palermo Stone look more like a papyraceo text than a monumental inscription on stone. The research  uncovered that there were commercial expeditions made during the reign of Sahura, the Pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty (around 2450 BC ). 
 
Alongside the well-known expeditions to the land of Punt, there were also trips made to the East in search of a particular quality of copper used to manufacture the statues of the sovereign. These trips were aimed at a desert area, probably between the Sinai Jordan and Israel, where, later, the metallurgical site of Wadi Feynan was born, among the most important for copper harvesting throughout the Middle East.
 
The new research on the Palermo Stone has provided other astonishing information, such as the citation of the "Fields of Ra", a temple,  not yet discovered by archaeologists, which Sahura dedicated to the sun god Ra. This points to the proof of the existence of at least two methods of tracking the dates of events and the years in concrete ways. Until now, it was believed that the only form of dating adopted by the Egyptians was the cattle count that was repeated every two years throughout the country. We now know that the years could also be tracked on the basis of particular events such as a commercial shipment for the supply of turquoise, material widely used by the Egyptians both for the manufacture of amulets, jewelry and luxury items, and in medical-magical practices.
 
The discovery of the magnificent Pallmero Stone has also ended speculation, and confirmed that at the end of the fourth millennium BC, the Egyptians practiced human sacrifices, or ritual sacrifices on statues or other simulacra that were to act as substitutes for the actual victims. 
 
The New research on the Palermo Stone opened a portal to the most remote history of the Pharaoh civilization on which much remains still to be discovered. 

Galleria

The Palermo Stone

This image shows the Palermo Stone, an Egyptian stele found in Memphis that records the names of Egyptian rulers from the First to the Fifth Dynasty. (image http://www.sci-news.com)

press to zoom