Ancient Egypt: Its History and Culture
Ancient Egyptian deities:

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The kap

    The kap, Egyptian kAp,[1] generally referred to as the Royal Nursery, was part of the inner royal palace during the New Kingdom. In its rooms the young princes and selected children of mostly noble parents were brought up and educated.

The pupils

Having been a "Child of the Nursery" was a distinction an official like Userhet serving under Amenhotep II as a royal scribe [2] or Maiherpri who lived during the 18th Dynasty,[3] could not fail to mention in their curriculum vitae.
Maiherpri crown
© Udimu on Wikimedia. License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Maiherpri was probably of Nubian descent. He spent his life in Egypt and had a successful career as the fanbearer on the right hand of the pharaoh. Aper-El, whose name suggests an Asiatic origin was also a child of the kap who did well under Amenhotep III, becoming his vizier.[4] Other foreigners, sometimes princes taken as hostages, were also educated together with the children of the Egyptian elite and were eventually sent home to become administrators and officers in their own countries. One such was Hekanefer, a prince from Miam in Nubia, who lived at the time of Tutankhamen. He had been brought to Thebes and depictions in his own tomb show him to have been thoroughly Egyptianized. Back in Nubia he was considered to be a client ruler of Egypt and is shown in the tomb of Huy, viceroy of Kush, wearing Nubian clothing and feathers while prostrating himself before the representative of the Egyptian pharao.[13] His tomb was found at Tushka in Nubia.[5] During their stay in the kap, the children often forged strong bonds with future pharaos which resulted in their having better access to the ruler than the old, regional nobility, which lost much of its influence as a result.[6][7] Amenhotep II above all others relied on the people he had grown up with. Moreover the contacts the Egyptian children had with their foreign peers may well have contributed to breaking down the insular outlook the Egyptians had.[8] Not all the Children of the Royal Nursery belonged to the very top of society. Nebseny, son of the draughtsman Tjena, who lived around 1400 BCE, had been brought up in the kap and became a draughtsman in the sculptors' workshop.[9]

The institution

    The kap had an overseer who was the only official who could operate in the inner, private parts of the palace und in the more public outer parts, the khenty, where the vizier and other high officials handled the business of the state.[10] One of these overseers was the pageant master Neferamen who sported the title of Head of the megas of His Majesty with the children of the kap, where the megas were possibly the young Nubians staying at the Egyptian court.[6]

    It is not quite clear what kind of education the youngsters received in the kap. It was probably an elite training centre with a military programme. Graduates referred to themselves as Children of the kap or claimed to know the secrets of the kap.[11]


    The kings had been building pleasure palaces in the attractive Fayum for centuries and during the 18th Dynasty the most important royal nursery was to be found at Gurob.[12] Nubians were probably taken to a kap at Thebes.[11]

Carol Andrews, Raymond Oliver Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, University of Texas Press, 1990
Kathryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 1999
Margaret R. Bunson, Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Facts on File 2002
Michael Rice, Who's Who in Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 2001
Ian Shaw, Paul Nicholson, The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, The British Museum Press 2003
Ian Shaw, The Oxford history of ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press, 2003
Marc Van De Mieroop, The Eastern Mediterranean in the Age of Ramesses II, John Wiley & Sons, 2008
Toby Wilkinson, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, Bloomsbury Publishing,2011
[1] MdC transliteration kAp, Wb 5, 105.7
[2] Bunson 2002, p.421
[3] Shaw & Nicholson 2003, p.168
[4] Rice 2001, p.27
[5] Rice 2001, p.63
[6] Rice 2001, p.130
[7] Bard 1999, p.87
[8] Wilkinson, p.253
[9] Andrews & Faulkner 1990, p.9
[10] Shaw 2003, p.165
[11] Bunson p.192
[12] Wilkinson 2011, p.254
[13] Van De Mieroop 2008, p.118

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