Secrets of Ancient Egypt: Thutmose III Heb Sed festival stele CASE STUDY
Secret of Anubis - Ancient Astronomy
By WindBlowerTM

Thutmose III Heb Sed festival stele CASE STUDY

Thutmose 3 Heb sed festival by Karima
Click the image to see a larger view.
Dendera temple is said to belong to the Greek period of the Egyptian time line, more precisely to the Ptolemy period (331 BC - 30AD).

When I visited Dendera temple the last time, I took some pictures out side the temple. I remember that I was struck by a deep fascination, when I took notice of some object which had unusually beautiful engravings upon them, not matching the Ptolemy artist style.
I clearly remember telling myself that this was not the art of the Greeks, then I thought it looks like the time of Queen Hatshepsut (1500-1400 BC), the style they used in her days.

Heb-Sed Festival

I was lucky to have had a course where the Egyptology teacher spoke with deep passion about the Heb-Sed festival which the ancient pharaohs would perform. In that case the teacher was speaking about the pharaoh Djoser, namely from the pyramid time period. 

I was deeply fascinated, I don't really know why. When I then visited Egypt last, I saw this scene in every temple I visited, except a few (but I would probably guess that they were there, I just didn't find them). 

I took pictures of all that I saw, and funny enough, again I don't know why. The reason why I wonder why this interested me, is because I am mostly fascinated by their beliefs and religion as we call it today, not that much about pharaohs.

But maybe it was the fascination of a religious ritual, which I found to be like a standard scene of some sort.

The scene is called Heb-Sed or just the Sed festival, and it was a very important ritual which we only see preformed by the pharaohs. One could call it a ritual which determent if the pharaoh was fit to rule and ruled with justice (Matt). 

No one knows where this ritual descends from or when it began to be practiced, but even other pharaohs/kings coming from different cultures, seem to have been depicting the same ritual scene. It was a huge festival in ancient days, probably one of the only times where the normal people got to see the pharaoh perform a sacred ritual.

It is said that the Heb-sed festival was held every 30 years in a pharaohs reign, which lead some to suspect that a pharaoh would only have one, if any at all. But most pharaohs have had this scene made for them on countless temple walls, and many of these pharaohs were a long way from a reign of 30 or more years, so could it be possible that it is not a 30 year celebration?

It is the Jackal god called Wepwawet that is thought to be connected to the Heb-Sed festival. Actually there is an ancient god called Sed, and it is him that the festival is dedicated too. The actually meaning of the god Sed, seems to be lost, the only thing known about Sed is that he was also associated with the goddess Matt, being a champion of Justice. 

Even in ancient days the Egyptian would change his attributes and they ended up with Wepwawet, who is also an ancient god. When the Egyptian reign came near its end, the Wapwawet worship was centered around a city the Greeks called Lykopolis or Wolf city, and by Arabic it is known as Asyut.

The pharaoh gave offerings to a goddess called Sechat-Hor, a mythological cow that provided milk (drink of immortality) to Horus. 

The next stage was that the nobles gathering together in front of the pharaoh, and rededicate their ligancy to him. Here after the pharaoh would run in the holy Sed court, he would do so carrying different sacred objects. 

At some point in the ritual the priests would led the pharaoh to a curtain place where the pharaoh was given the two crowns of Egypt, renewing the crowning ritual.


  1. hi thats good article, i like it. .

    hi from mas raden

  2. Dear Mas-Raden,

    Thank you so much, I am glad that you liked it.
    may you have a lovely weekend.

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  4. I don't know where you got your information from The sed festival was celebrated every ten years. It was dervied fromt he ritual murder of Osiris by Set and 72 companions. The current king was placed in a coffin and driven through town with an honor guard. If the people where happy with him they would shout the king is dead long live the king. At the end of the procession the king would emerge to rule another ten years. If the people were unhappy they would say nothing.The royal guard was there to make sure there was no real assassination attemped.

  5. Dear Mysticmaster49,

    First off, I should ask you that question? where do you get your information from, since you see your self as being a sole correct speaker of this topic??? what books did you read ?

    I went to take a ancient Egyptian historic class held by Egyptologist, who first told me the basic,
    and I read these (and many more);

    1) Moustafa Gadalla, in the book Historical deception, the untold story of ancient Egypt, page 78, states that it was (intended to be) held every 30 years!

    2) Peter A. Clayton in the book Chronicle of the Pharaohs, page 19,
    Also agrees with this idea, but in this book it also explains how in later kings would change this, primarily shorten the years between the festivals!

    3) Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson in the book British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, page 256, states the same:
    "(Egyptian Heb-Sed: 'Royal Jubilee') Ritual of renewal and regeneration, which was INTENDED to be celebrated by the King only after a reign of 30 years...con." in this book they also discuss the difference in the later kings heb-sed festivals, that they are a shorter elapse of time between them. Look closer at the word = Intended.

    4) Miroslav Verner (with forewords by Zahi Hawass) in the book The Pyramids, page 129, also agrees on this point. It was Supposed to be held every 30 years, but since they rarely lived and ruled for 30 years they changed this to fit their need. it also goes into further debates about the Heb-Sed festival, and how it seems to have stopped being expressed by the architecture and was instead represented by bas-reliefs in the mortuary temple and the sun temple.

    I could bring up more book references, but I really don't have the time, and I think this is proof enough.
    Now tell me, what books have you been reading? It seems rather ridicules what you are saying about the king being placed in a coffin and taken around the city... I have NEVER read such a thing, so I am eager to know where YOU get your information from??

    by the way you do know that there is another royal jubilee ceremony which looks a lot like the Heb-Sed festival, right??

    But let me guess, you will ague that all theses people are so wrong, and what you say is the sole truth..........

    I would say that you are way off.

    Have a nice week

  6. Hello,
    Nice blog! Where exactly is this anubis sfinx?

  7. Hi,

    Check out the anubis Sphinx post again, I have added a comment of where it is located :)

    Have an awesome day,