Fit For a King

We all know the feeling of having to physically prove ourselves in our profession as we grow older, and the Egyptian Pharaoh's were no exception.

Hieroglyph depicting the Sed festival. 

Hieroglyph depicting the Sed festival. 

In Ancient Egypt, the Heb Sed or Sed festival was a festival where the Pharaoh had to prove his worth to continue to rule after thirty years on the throne, and that we that he was reinvigorated for the next period of reign. The festival was designed as a re-enactment of Egyptian unification, named after the jackal like god 'Heb'.

The festival was a symbol of the Pharaoh's fertility of the land, and a rejuvenation of his power and strength to rule. Once a pharaoh had completed a Heb festival, he was required to do it every three years after that. The practice first appeared around the first dynasty (3100 BC) and lasted until Alexander's conquest of Egypt.

Some Pharaoh's even put work into developing their own Heb Sed course, such as the Pharaoh's Djoser and Amenhotep III.

One of key features of the festival was that the Pharaoh had to run an obstacle course whilst wearing a kilt, periodically paying tribute to the gods and crowns of the kingdom. It was a chance to show the people of the kingdom that they were still fit enough to rule. The festival also included homage to the pharaoh as well as other ceremonial tributes paid to the gods, including the raising of Djed.

 It's not clear how late in life pharaoh's continued to do the festival, but there are some Pharaoh's (such as Ramses II) that completed over 13 Heb Sed's in their lifetime.