pen of the year 2023 - ancient Egypt

Pen of the Year 2023 - Ancient Egypt

A fountain pen on a rock

Inspired by Ancient Egypt

The Pen of the Year 2023 is inspired by Ancient Egypt with its 3,000-year history, its deities, tales and achievements. The people referred to their homeland as the black land (kemet), which was regularly flooded by the dark mud of the Nile and the earth thus became fertile. This annually repeating cycle is said to have led to the creation of the calendar system with around 365 days. The origin of the Egyptian empire, the pharaohs, their hieroglyphics and symbols are evidenced by the black colour and the ornate elements of the Pen of the Year 2023.

Egyptian graphic

Creation of Ptah

Around 4,000 years before the turn of the century, an advanced civilization emerged in Egypt that rose to become a great empire on the Nile. In mythology, Ptah is considered a creator deity and "father of the gods, from whom all life and the creative power of mankind emanates". The heart and tongue are its creative organs. As a "sculptor", Ptah creates the living beings, cities and temples by saying aloud the thoughts formed in his heart. Thus, Ptah also creates other deities, whose histories survive the millennia, in the form of unique characters – the hieroglyphics.

Cap of the Pen of the Year


"It's no use describing it, it's no use looking. Every other word is superfluous," Ludwig Borchardt noted when the bust of Nefertiti was found in 1912, one of the most famous art treasures of ancient Egypt. "Beauty has come" is the translation "Nefertitis", whose graceful bust was made 1,340 years before the turn of the era. The cap of the Pen of the Year 2023 is based on the distinctive shape of her blue crown (altiyjan), which could be used to assign the bust to Nefertiti. In ancient Egypt, headdresses were significant, in addition to the blue Khepresh, the war crown of the pharaohs, there was the red Deshret, Crown of the North, the white Hedjet, Crown of the South and the Atef crown, a combination of Deshret and Hedjet. Nefertiti's high crown shape was rare. She symbolizes Nefertiti's position of power at least equal to or higher than her husband Akhenaten.

Egyptian graphic of Osiris

Myth of Osiris

Osiris, god of the afterlife, wears a crown studded with ostrich feathers and decides on the rebirth of the deceased. His jealous brother Seth kills him and dismembered his body. Osiris' grieving sister-consort Isis reassembles her husband's body with the help of Anubis, the god of funeral rites and mummification. Thus, Osiris becomes the first mummy.

Pen of the Year engraved details

Lotus Flower

The inspiration for the delicately engraved pattern on the end of the Pen of the Year 2023 was provided by the lotus flower (seschen), which embodied regeneration and resurrection in Ancient Egypt. The blue lotus was particularly revered, the blossom of which closes day after day at sunset and sinks into the water to rise again at sunrise. As one of the most important symbols, the graceful plant adorned alabaster vessels, jewelery, paintings and columns and was often used as a hieroglyph, often in connection with deities.

Goddess of Isis Egyptian graphic

Power of Isis

Magic, rebirth and regeneration are powers of the goddess Isis, who is staged several times with blue lotus flowers. In the Temple of Isis by Philea, she receives lush bouquets of lotus and papyrus flowers. With her twin Nephthys, she performs rituals for the deceased Osiris and is considered a link between the living and the dead: in order to be close to her husband, she wanders between worlds.

Gold Eye of Horus in the sand


Gold (nebu) was a symbol of power and wealth in ancient Egypt and only the pharaohs were allowed to adorn themselves with it. Impressive jewellery, tools, vessels and masks made of gold bear witness to Ancient Egypt as the richest gold country of antiquity. The Golden Era reached its peak under Akhenaten and Tutankhamun about 1,300 years before the turn of the era. Gold was also a symbol of the deities, one of the most important gods was Horus, who was often depicted as a falcon. His famous Eye of Horus was found as a protective symbol on amulets, coffins and grave goods, and served as a mathematical ratio in the production of medicine for the dosage of ingredients. Engraved on a 24-carat gold-plated metal plate, the Eye of Horus also adorns the end of the Pen of the Year 2023.

Eye of Horus Egyptian graphic

Eye of Horus

Two rivals fight for the throne of Osiris for eighty years, according to the "Myth of Horus and Seth". Because the gods favor Horus in the fight, Seth, brother of Osiris, gets into a great rage and tears out Horus' left eye. With the help of Thot, the patron saint of science and the art of writing, Horus regains his sight and from then on the left eye of Horus, known as the Eye of the Moon, is considered a symbol of healing, protection, perfection and power. After a long trial by the gods, Seth resorts to unfair means, so Horus turns to the goddess of war, Neith. She advises the gods, whereupon Osiris finally speaks a word of authority and his son Horus becomes the "Lord of both countries".

On our journey to Ancient Egypt, we encounter numerous deities (alalha), each with specific characteristics and tasks. The ornate hieroglyphics of twelve fabled deities of Ancient Egypt are engraved on the dark barrel of the 2023 Pen of the Year.

Pen of the Year in black sand


Artistic hieroglyphics (medu netscher) adorn the metal barrel of the Pen of the Year 2023: the names of twelve ancient Egyptian deities are engraved on the diamond-like carbon-coated metal. Hieroglyphics are considered to be the oldest Egyptian characters, with around 7,000 of them coming down to us. For over 3,500 years, hieroglyphics have been used mostly for ritual or religious purposes, but also to pass on knowledge through generations. Only then was it possible to develop Ancient Egypt into a high culture and to administer the national territory. The fact that we can decipher the detailed signs today is thanks to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1822: the imposing plaque shows the inscription in three different languages.

Scripture of Thoth Egyptian graphic

Scripture of Thoth

As the god of writing, arithmetic and words, the god Thoth brings language and writing to the people. With its long, curved beak of the ibis, it watches over archives and libraries where the knowledge of ancient Egypt rests. Thoth is also a god of the judgment of the dead and records the weighing of the heart. Only those who are capable of repentance and light-hearted will enter the kingdom of return.

Pen of the Year cap in sand


The reconstructed lapis lazuli embedded in the end of the cap of the Pen of the Year 2023 with an engraved scarab (cheperer) shines bright blue. In ancient Egypt, the divine beast on amulets, seals and grave goods was considered a good luck charm and sun symbol that embodied life and resurrection. When the Nile overflowed its banks, the animals moved away from the water and promised the people the longed-for flood at an early stage. The strong blue of lapis lazuli was associated with the water and divinity of the night sky as a new color at the time, and was used liberally as jewelry, royal robes and relics. The death mask of Tutankhamun, dyed in royal blue, and the equally blue make-up of Cleopatra, who saw herself as the incarnation of the goddess Isis, are impressive.

Re Egyptian graphic

Journey of the Ré

Re, the sun god, makes life on earth possible. The scarab rolling its ball in front of it symbolizes the sun. After Re created humans, he ascended and since then has been sailing across the sky day after day with the solar barge. In the eternal cycle, Re crosses the realm of the dead at night in the company of Seth, who fends off the attacks of the serpent goddess Apophis, who stands for darkness, chaos and dissolution, only to be resurrected at sunrise.

Pen of the Year Fountain Pen nib


One of the best-known and most impressive finds of Ancient Egypt weighs an impressive twelve kilos: Tutankhamun's death mask. Inspired by the stripes in gold and lapis lazuli on the replica Nemes headscarf of the Pharaoh (per aa) is the handle of the Pen of the Year 2023. Metal rings with a 24-carat gold plating and blue lacquer rings, which are elaborately handcrafted in several layers, are reminiscent of the valuable headgear that was reserved for pharaohs. Tutankhamun's burial chamber lined with pure gold was discovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings, it also contained, among other things, his golden throne and a chariot. As an important part of the Egyptian faith, the embalming and mummification of the deceased is part of the ceremony of entering the afterlife.

Mummification Egyptian graphic

Mummification by Anubis

On the deceased Osiris, Anubis, god of funeral rites and mummification with the head of the jackal, performs the funeral rites for the first time, which from then on are the model for the funeral ceremony. The Guardian of the Dead accompanies the journey in the afterlife by receiving the mummies, opening the mouth and allowing the soul to ascend eastward to the "Field of Heavenly Offerings". His hand rests protectively over the mummy.

Sekhmet Egyptian graphic

End by Sekhmet

Because people do not pay sufficient homage to the gods and rebel against them, Ré Sekhmet, the Mighty One, sends the lion-shaped goddess to earth to kill her. In a bloodlust, Sekhmet kills more and more people until the land turns red with blood and Ré relents by using a ruse to put them into a deep sleep. Sekhmet's thirst for blood is now quenched. Ré separates heaven and earth from each other and retreats with the gods to the stars. This marks the end of the era of the gods on earth.