Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egyptian history: The first and second dynasties
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ancient egypt: the red crown
Deshret: The Red Crown
Lower Egypt
[Image: White crown]
Hedjet: The White Crown
Upper Egypt
unification of ancient egypt
Pshent: The Double Crown,
the red crown
and the white crown
put together

Stela of Djet
Stela of King Djet (Wadj)

Stela of Merenith
Stela of Queen Merenith

Stela of Peribsen
Peribsen's Stela


Dynasties I and II
The Unification of Egypt

Protodynastic Era

Map of Egypt     Much of what happened during the earlier periods of Egyptian history is speculative. It seems that the southern king Narmer (perhaps Aha or the legendary Menes) won a victory over a northern king which has been immortalized by the Narmer Palette. What may have been another southern victory over the inhabitants of the Delta is depicted on the Bull Palette

1st Dynasty (3100-2890 BCE)

    According to Herodotus Upper and Lower Egypt were united by Menes (who may be representing a number of kings involved in the process of unification), the founding king of the first dynasty who, according to Manetho, came from the Thinite province in Upper Egypt. Whether unification was achieved by military or peaceful means is uncertain.
    According to tradition, Menes founded Memphis on an island in the Nile, conducted raids against the Nubians and extended his power as far as the first cataract. He sent ambassadors to Canaan and Byblos in Phoenicia to establish peaceful commercial trade links. He founded the city of Crocodilopolis and built the first temple to the god Ptah.
    Legend has it, that he died at the age of sixty three, killed by wild dogs and crocodiles near Fayum. According to Manetho he was killed by a hippopotamus after a 62 year reign. His was buried at Saqqara, the necropolis of Memphis. His wife Neithotep became regent until their child, Djer, was old enough to reign.

Herodotus on Menes

    Djer, married to Herneith, ruled from Memphis during fifty years, building palaces and conducting military expeditions against Asiatics in the Sinai desert. An inscription with his name south of the first cataract points to the extent of the realm.

    Of Djet (Wadj), who succeeded him little is known. His limestone stela was found near Abydos where he was buried.

    Queen Merenith ruled Egypt as regent when Den became king as a child. There are, however, many scholars who think that Merenith was a ruler in her own right. Stone vessels and sealings bearing her name were found at Saqqara, as was a stela with her name written in an archaic form with crossed arrows signifying the name of Neith. Merenith has two burial sites, one at Abydos and one at Saqqara (Mastaba 3503). The Saqqara tomb contains some artifacts that show the the name of a high court official called Seshemka. The Abydos burial complex is amongst those of the kings of her dynasty.

    During Den's fifty year reign he conducted military campaigns in the Sinai desert in order to gain control of the mineral deposits there. He was buried at Saqqara, even though he built his mortuary complex in Abydos. The cult of Apis was introduced during his reign.

    Anendjib who was legitimized by his marriage to Betrest of the Memphite royal family, ruled for fourteen years from Memphis. His power over the south was challenged by local tribes and the northern nomes were often rebellious.

    Semerkhet reigned for only nine years, and is thought by some to have been a usurper. According to Manetho disasters occurred during his reign. He may have caused the unrest during Anendjib's reign. He is responsible for erasing Anendjib's name from stone vases. A little black stela bearing his name is the only direct evidence found.

    Qa'a is mentioned on jar sealings and two damaged stela. One one of these stela he is shown wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and being embraced by the God Horus. According to Manetho he reigned for about 26 years. He was buried at Abydos in the tomb designated Tomb Q. A German archaeological expedition in 1993 re-excavated the tomb and discovered that several alterations had been made in the tomb.

    Until the reign of Den Egypt seems to have enjoyed stability and prosperity. Order broke down during Anendjib's reign, when conflicting factions caused changes that would end this great dynasty. The practice of subsidiary burial where retainers were killed in order to serve the ruler in the afterlife ceased after the reign of Qa'a.


2nd Dynasty (2890-2686 BCE)

    According to Manetho, this dynasty consisted of nine kings of Thinis. The royal names Manetho gives bear little resemblance to those found in contemporary inscriptions. These rulers were buried at Saqqara or Abydos.
    Hotepsekhemwy has been identified only by some sealings discovered at Saqqara near the Pyramid of Unas. He may have been given his name which translates as Pleasing in Powers for having ended the political strife that occurred during the 1st Dynasty. His rule spanned 35 years and may have been ended by a military coup organized by his brother.

    Raneb followed Hotepsekhemwy to the throne of Egypt, and is thought to have ruled for 39 years. Many sealings found at Saqqara and a stela located at Abydos bear his name. Raneb had, according to Manetho, initiated the worship of the sacred goat of Mendes.

    Nynetjer ruled according to some accounts for 47 years. The Palermo Stone records a number of events that occurred between the 6th and 26th year of his reign. He had many festivals dedicated to various deities of Egypt. among them the Running of the Apis Bull. The wrecking of the city of Shem-Re is connected with his name [1].

    Peribsen (Sekhemib) made sweeping political changes. The serekhs bearing the royal names are not surmounted by Horus anymore but by his religious rival, Seth, who became the primary royal patron deity. A stela bearing Peribsen's name found at Abydos illustrates this change in loyalties. He may have been a usurper or a member of a collateral branch of the ruling family. Peribsen was buried at Abydos.

    When Khasekhemwy ascended the throne he had to put down a Northern rebellion. The rebels reached as far south as Nekheb and Nekhen, the ancient southern capital. His victory is described on two statues. Both portraits show the king with northerners cringing at his feet wearing the White Crown symbolizing the South. It is recorded that there were more than 47,000 casualties.
    A statue of him, which resides in the Cairo Museum, is the first example of use of hard stone . He married Nemathap, a woman of royal Northern lineage. The marriage consolidated the kings rule in both regions. Nemathap is documented as being a "King Bearing Mother". She is also credited with being the ancestor of the 3rd Dynasty.

[1] Shem-re: probably in the north of the country:
Hacking up of the city: Shem-Re.
Hacking up of the city: "House of the North".
Palermo Stone
James H. Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt Part One § 125

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History Contents PageHistory Contents Page
Dynasty List Dynasty List
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Offsite links(Opening in a new window)
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Early dynastic EgyptEarly dynastic Egypt by Francesco Raffaele
About the first two dynastiesAbout the first two dynasties
Dynasty I jar sealingsDynasty I jar sealings by Elaine A. Evans
The formation of the ancient Egyptian stateThe formation of the ancient Egyptian state

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- Alternative spellings:
Narmer: Narmar, Mernar
Menes: Meni, Min, Mena
Aha: Hor-Aha, Athothis I
Djer: Athothis II, Kenkenes, Cencenes
Djet: Wadji, Snake, Wadj, Athothis III, Uenephes, Vavenephis
Mereneith: Merneith, Meritnit, Meryet-Nit, Meryt-Neith
Den: Dewen, Udimu, Oudimou, Usaphaidos, Usaphais
Anedjib: Adjib, Miebidos, Niebais
Semerkhet: Semerchet, Semempses, Mempses
Qa'a: Qa-a, Bieneches, Ubienthes, Vibenthis
Hotepsekhemwy: Hotepsekhemwi, Hetepsekhemwi, Hetepsekhemoui, Hotepsekhemoui, Hetepsechemwi, Hetepsechemoui, Boethos, Bochos, Bochus
Raneb: Nebre, Kakaw, Kaiechos, Kaichoos, Choos, Chechous, Horus-Reneb, Horus-Nebre, Nebra
Nynetjer: Ninetjer, Horus-Ninetjer, Horus-Ninetcher, Wadjnes, Binothris, Tlas, Biophis
Peribsen: Seth-Peribsen, Sekhemib, Sethenes, Sened
Khasekhemwy: Khasekhem, Khasekhemwi, Horus-Khasekhem, Horus-Chasechem, Horus-Khasekhemwi, Chasechem, Chasechemoui, Horus-Chasechemoui