The kings of ancient Egypt's first five dynasties were responsible for the creation of a unique and enduring civilisation, epitomised by its most impressive monuments, the pyramids. Yet what do we know about the reigns of these kings? Excavations have revealed much; but Egyptology has always been blessed with another rich source of information, the written texts and inscriptions composed by the ancient Egyptians themselves.
For the history of the first five dynasties, one particular series of inscriptions has always been of prime importance. This is the collection of inscribed, stone fragments known as the royal annals. Now divided between museums in Palermo, Cairo and London, these documents from ancient Egypt have been the focus of countless studies in the century or so since they first came to light. For they seem to record the reigns of Egypt's early kings on a reign-by-reign, year-by-year basis. The information they contain has been translated, interpreted and re-interpreted by generations of Egyptologists, in the hope of achieving a better understanding of the first great period of ancient Egyptian history. And yet amazingly for such crucial documents, no complete edition of all seven surviving fragments has ever been published. Royal Annals fills this gap. The text is accompanied by specially-commissioned, detailed line-drawings of all the fragments.