Ancient Man and His First Civilizations


The Palermo Stone




The Palermo stone is one of the basic sources of information about the chronology and cultural history of Egypt during the first five dynasties (c. 2925–c. 2325 BC). It is named for the Sicilian city where it has been preserved since 1877, the black basalt stone is one of six existing fragments, all similar in scale and arrangement that probably originally stood in Egyptian temples or other important buildings.

It is inscribed on both sides with horizontal lines of hieroglyphic text, the top row listing the names of predynastic rulers. The following rows, each headed by the name of a different king, are divided into compartments, each compartment signifying one year. Within the compartments the hieroglyphs always list one or more memorable events of that year. Thus the original monument was apparently a year-by-year record of all the kings from the 1st through the 5th dynasty, although the last name preserved on the stone is that of Neferirkare, the third of the nine kings of the 5th dynasty. The stone was probably copied under Shabaka, of the 25th dynasty, from an original on more perishable material.