On the west bank of the Nile, opposite El-Kab, is another site, although off-limits to visitors. Called Kom al-Ahmar (Red Mound) in Arabic, it is better known to Egyptologists by the name bestowed upon it by the Ancient Greeks: Hierakonopolis (City of the Falcon) – itself derived from its Ancient Egyptian name, Nekhen, and its association with a local falcon-god, Nekheny, later amalgamated with Horus.

The city flourished during the late Pre-dynastic and Early dynastic eras (c.4000–2686 BC) and may have been the first administrative capital of the Two Lands, judging by two famous artefacts found here that are now in the Egyptian Museum. The Palette of Narmer and the Scorpion Macehead are the oldest-known symbols of Egyptian kingship, prefiguring the iconography of the dynastic era.

Over a century of research, continuing with the present Hierakonopolis Expedition, has confirmed the site’s role in the transition from prehistory to early Egyptian civilization. Among recent discoveries are Egypt’s oldest mummies (c.3600 BC); an industrial-scale brewery; the first mention of hair-extensions and the use of henna to colour hair; and Egypt’s one and only elephant burial. For news of ongoing excavations, visit w hierakonopolis-online.org.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Egypt features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 amazing African journeys

7 amazing African journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …

06 Jul 2016 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
12 captivating pictures of Egypt

12 captivating pictures of Egypt

Rough Guides author and photographer Anthon Jackson has travelled to over eighty countries, from Morocco to Indonesia and Ethiopia to India, capturing many of h…

16 Mar 2015 • Anthon Jackson insert_drive_file Article
Video: things not to miss in Egypt

Video: things not to miss in Egypt

The oldest tourist destination on Earth, Egypt has a multitude of things to see and do. There are ancient pyramids, crumbling temples and vast deserts to explor…

13 Jan 2015 • Site Editor videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month