Discussions of the early Egyptian state suffer from a weak consideration of scale. Egyptian archaeologists derive their arguments primarily from evidence of court cemeteries, elite tombs, and monuments of royal display. The material informs the analysis of kingship, early writing, and administration but it remains obscure how the core of the early Pharaonic state was embedded in the territory it claimed to administer. This paper suggests that the relationship between centre and hinterland is key for scaling the Egyptian state of the Old Kingdom (ca. 2,700-2,200 BC). Initially, central administration imagines Egypt using models at variance with provincial practice. The end of the Old Kingdom demarcates not the collapse, but the beginning of a large-scale state characterized by the coalescence of central and local models.