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The Spirits of Nature

Religion of the Egyptians


By
Ottar Vendel

Worshipping Clothing Headgear Regalia Legends of Creation The Myth of Osiris


Court in Underworld Book of the Dead Ka and Ba Solar boat of Re Burial customs

Ancient Egypt had by tradition a great variety of gods and what today
can be labeled as spirits and divine forces. Some were depicted just as
symbols and others had the form of living createures.
In total they were over 2.000(!) but many had similar characteristics and
appeared all over the country but with different names. This great diversity
is due to the fact that before the country was united the northern Nile
Valley was split up into about forty self ruling areas (later to be provinces -
called nomes) where the ruling tribes had their own deities and leaders.
From the dualism of all gods it's clear that animals were the first to get
divine status and by time got human form.
Because of this all gods had two things in common - they were family
members with counterparts from the opposite sex and manifested them-
selves on earth through animals.
Thus the local wild fauna of birds, crocodiles, snakes, turtles, frogs, plus
cattle, dogs, cats and other domesticated animals were considered to be
the living images of a particular god or goddess and a natural and
indestructible part of the environment in which people lived.
All parts of life were covered and there were gods for - beer, plants,
digestion, the high seas, female sexuality, gardens, partying etc. Many of
them had lots of duties and were with time combined with each other in a great number of ways.
Some of them could appear in rather unusual forms like a goddess (curious even by Egyptian
standards) having a head of a bee and body from a hippopotamus.
When having a glance at a depiction of them shown in upright position with human bodies, the
goddesses are easy to single out since they always had their legs joined together, while the males
used to be seen on the move - striding.

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Different towns struggled to have just their local gods at top of the state
religion and thus we have many different religious legends over the years
depending upon which town had the greatest politi-cal influence during the
period. To increase the number of supporters nation wide they could "borrow"
abilities from popular gods and give to their own. Because of this over the
years different gods came into fashion and later went out of style, with
exception of a group that was in front right from the beginning and never lost
its popularity. These were responsible for basic and vital things in life like love,
joy, dancing, childbirth, justice, and life after death.
All aspect of daily life were covered by at least one of these deities, and like
people on earth a vast majority of them were married (of- ten to their siblings)
and had children.
Many ingredients made it possible for common people to identify themselves
with them since their personalities were made of both divine strength and
human weakness. They did most of the things that ordinary people did, like
harvesting, hunting, eating, drinking, partying and even dying. Most of them
were depicted as men and women combined with the head of the animal by
which they were represented and they could appear in different costumes and
be represented by several animals in the Egyptian fauna.
In other words - they could appear in many ways and yet some of them were so
Taueret alike looking that it's impossible to identify them without reading the
connecting text. Just looking at the dresses and the regalia they carry along
isn't always enough, because they used to borrow objects from each other. This guesswork is a
part of the charm when looking in to their in many ways, to us, unlikely world.
As to their names, today we use a blend of both their original Egyptian ones like Re, Ptah and
Amon, and the Greek forms like Isis, Osiris and Horus.

Shrines
As for the veneration of the gods scholars of Egyptology doesn't know exactly how this was made
during the oldest times, or at what point in history the main gods had cult areas replaced by
temples of their own.
One clue might be the god Min (see him) who obviously had a very old cult at Koptos in Upper
Egypt where two statues of him larger then life size were found in the late 1800s. They had no
doubt been situated within a sacred area or by a shrine of some sort, but no remains are left to
reconstruct what it may have looked like.
After the formation of two separate countries along the Nile (Upper and Lower Egypt) a typical
building came to be in each part, which more or less symbolized the country itself in both a
religious and political way and underlined its national identity.

It's most likely that local temples made of clay and reed originally were the cult buildings used by
tribes along the Nile, and with time two shrines were specified where people could make offers to
the main gods. Through their different designs it's easy locate the origin of old writings found

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since their depictions were incorporated into the hieroglyphic signs at an early stage (shown to
the right of each illustration above).
Per-wer, meaning "the Great House", stood for Upper Egypt, and Per-nu, "the House of Flame"
was the cupola shaped roofed national temple of Lower Egypt.
They are both attested for already during the reign of pharaoh Aha at the beginning of the first
dynasty where they are present on a famous wooden label.
If at this stage, all mayor gods were worshipped in these buildings is not known.
With time the temples were elaborated to be great stone building just for a few very popular gods
and goddesses which had fame over the centuries throughout the long Egyptian history. Minor
gods had small shrines or were venerated in the homes.

Clothing
When the goddesses and gods were depicted with a human body the variety wasn't so big in the
way they were dressed. Less then half a dozen types of garments covers almost all of them. From
the beginning they all wore white dresses, or at least single colored. This tradition slowly changed
over the years and with time the colors and patterns became elaborated. The peak was reached
during the Greco-Roman period when they were seen in outfits like actors in a costume spectacle
in a theatre.
Excluding the mummy-like creations, here is a type description in brief:

Tunic with suspenders.


Male garment, ending above the
waist
and popular in all times.
Example: Re.
Dress with suspenders.
Female garment, ended above the
waist,
and was usually white.
Example: Hathor.
The short loincloth
Short and skirt-like garment and
popular from earliest times.
Example: Asar-hap.
The short-sleeved overall
From the earliest times very
common
tight female garment.
Example: Isis.
The full-length dress
Unusual, sleeve-less and for
goddesses.
Went up to the neck.
Example: Seshat.

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Notice that long sleeves were not in fashion in any era of Egyptian history, at least for the gods
and goddesses. Their dresses were to a great extent similar to those worn by the upper classes in
society during daytime and evenings, and mostly indoors.

Pharaoh's crown
The gods had a lot of different things to put on their heads, and they surely did. In bright contrast
to the stereotyped positions of their bodies the painters and sculptors were keen on giving the
heads as much attention as possible. This was obviously initiated by pharaoh himself or the
priesthood in order to give their favorite gods as much promotion as possible. The different
crowns could give a hint where the god originally came from, and by wearing the combined crown
for the whole country, the message was given that this god or goddess was important to all
Egyptians. To make them conspicuous all crowns, hats etc. were adorned with plumes, horns,
snakes, flowers, sun discs, leaves etc painted in bright colors. Especially during the Greco-
Roman era the fantasy and elaboration was significant.

Deshret Hedjet Peshent Peshent Atef Atef with horns Khepresh


EGYPTIAN CROWNS: The red one was from Lower and the white from Upper
Egypt.
The double crown represented the whole country. The Atef-crown was worn by
Osiris and the type with horns and the sun disc by Re-Horakhte and other gods.
The blue helmet-like came during dynasty 18 and was worn by kings and the god
Amon.

Headgears of the gods

Besides royal crowns the gods had a lot of other symbols and things to wear upon their heads.
In some cases the headgear was necessary to identify the deities in ques-tion, when they were
dressed the same, as they often were. Here is a selection of per-sonal things helping to identify
which goddess is depicted in case the written hiero-glyphs don't give a clue. The following
objects below are shown as they looked when the bearer in question was facing right.
Neit had the a stylised form of her shield and crossed arrows on her head. Isis wore a throne on
top, a rather uncomfortable one it seems, and Mat had her standing ostrich feather she was
named after. Nephtys had a building topped with a bowl-like object (for collecting rain water?)
andNut had a pot (or a broad vase) upon her head.
Selkhet wore the dangerous scorpion (without its deadly sting), and Seshat had the holy Persea-
tree with two horns over it as her personal sign. Anat had a stylized cow's uterus as her

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token. Hathor had several objects in her hat box like cow's horns with the sun disc and her
favorite musical instrument - the sistrum, which was a rattle.

Most of these 18 objects worn upon their heads were unique for just one female deity, but
Hathor's solar disc in variations and Anit's object could be worn by others.
Especially the sun (symbolizing the god Re) was seen above the heads of many gods.

Regalia
All paintings, drawings, sculptures and reliefs in Egypt followed a traditional scheme, and
changes came slowly with time. Some artistic features did not alter anything at all, and remained
unchanged for over 3.000 years. The way of depicting people are among these unaltered
expressions of art. The body was normally in profile except for the torso which was shown from
the front like the eye, to make the face more expressive. The gods (and kings) depicted were
seldom empty handed - they usually carried various objects, and the symbolic meaning of some
are still obscure to Egypto-logists. The gods usually had the well known ankh-sign in one of their
hands, with the general meaning "life", and also to be interpreted as joy of living. Since the
Egyptian religion offered eternal life for those who had behaved well on earth, we don't know if
this sign of life meant the next or the present one - or possibly both.
The other hand was holding a staff or scepter of some kind, and here we have half a dozen types.
Goddesses usually had a scepter topped with a flower in different colors (like a white lily from the
Nile) but this was seldom seen among the gods, possibly because it gave a more soft impression
to the observer.
Very common through all times was the Was-scepter for "command" (see pictures below) and
some gods, like Ptah and Osiris, had their own type of this staff.

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1) Sceptre with flower often carried by goddesses.
2) The herdsman's crook of god Anedjti, patron of
shepherds and protector of domesticated
animals. 3) Was-sceptre, stood for domination and
power.
It was very common among gods/kings in all times.
4) Staff of creator Ptah formed of four "djed-pillars"
of order and stability (possibly a human spine).
5) Outfit of Osiris: crook and flail (cattle breeding
and farming) plus the Was-sceptre and ankh-sign.

The Myth of Osiris


is an old and famous tale which in a way tells how Egypt came to be and
points out the devine background of its rulers - the pharaohs. Among
variations the main theme is as follows.

In the very beginning of time Osiris was king over Egypt and his queen (and
sister) was the goddess Isis.
He was beloved by the people whom he told how to worship the gods and
grow their crops for their daily bread. His brother Set became jealous and
tried to overthrow him and become king himself. When participating in a
feast with Osiris as host, Set began to describe a beautiful coffin he had, in
a way that made the other guests curious.

Osiris

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He was asked to fetch it and so he did and this was just in line with his plan.
Everyone agreed that it was a magnificent piece of craftsman- ship and Set told them
that he would give it away for free to whomever fitted exactly into it. Since he had
made the coffin himself it was measured to fit one person only - his brother Osiris.
When he placed himself in it everybody could see that he was the one who would get
i as a present, but the evil Set had other plans. With his brother Osiris still in it, he
and his fellows quickly nailed the lid and threw it into the Nile. Queen Isis was
overcome by sorrow and began to search all over the land for it, but in vain.

One day she heard that a wonderful tree had sprung on the shores of Byblos in the
north on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where the local king had cut it
down and built a palace from it.
Isis understood that this was the place where the coffin had come to
shore and she went there in disguise. She got a job at the court as a
hairdresser for the queen and now when she could walk freely
inside the castle she began to look for the coffin, and finally she
found it in a remote chamber.
During the night she managed to snatch it and embarked a boat Isis
heading for Egypt. When she came there she hid in the marshlands
in the delta. There she opened the coffin and took a last farewell of her beloved
husband Osiris and began searching for a suitable place to bury him. But Set
was aware of all this and was hiding nearby. When Isis went to rest for the night
he snatched the coffin and cut his brother's body into fourteen pieces and
spread them all over Egypt. Isis became furious and asked her
sister Nephthys and her son Anubis, to help her to find all the pieces of her
husband's body.
They now started a nation wide search that lasted for many
years and finally all the part of Osiris' body were found except
for the penis which had been thrown into the Nile where it was
Horus devoured by a fish.
Isis made a wooden replacement for it and then put the whole
body together. She now asked the sun god Re to make her husband alive just for
one day, which he did, and they could have a last night of love together. The next
day Osiris died and his body was embalmed by Anubis who thus made him the
first mummy. Isis later gave birth to a son who was named Horus and she did all
she could to keep it a secret from Set, but he found them and almost killed them
in an ambush.
They were saved by the god of wisdom - Thoth, and he told them
to hide in the reeds in the marshes once more. But as before Set
found their hiding place and had more wicked things on his
mind. He transformed himself into a snake and gave the little
Horus child a fatal bite. Set
When Isis came back she found her baby almost lifeless, and took him to the
nearest village to get help. A wise old woman examined him and found out that it
must have been Set as a snake who had bitten him. Thoth came to their rescue
once more and drove out the poison from Horus' body and he recovered. He and
his mother stayed hiding in the delta until he was a mature man and sometimes
he took the form of a hawk and scouted out Set for the final showdown - the
revenge on his murdered father. When that moment came they fought for three
days until Thoth stopped the fight. They were both taken to the Court of Law in
the Underworld and there they presented their versions of the story leading to the
combat. The Court did not believe Set, who was sentenced to pull the boat with
the sun across the sky forever. Horus now became the new king of Egypt like his
father Osiris before him, and the good had finally conquered evil.
Thoth Isis put the body of her dead husband in a coffin and had nineteen identical
coffins made in which she put duplicates. Priest from Egypt's twenty biggest

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towns then were given one each and could all thereafter claim that they had Osiris' tomb in their
town. Thus many places in Egypt were (and still are) called Abusir - the place of Osiris.

Legends of creation
Ancient Egypt had different stories telling about how the world and all its inhabitants once came
to be. The legends varied from province to province along the Nile, but after the unification a
handful of them grew more popular and others were forgotten.
The priesthood in the cult centers of the creator-gods supported their own version and thus we
meet gods like Atum, Re, Ptah, Khnum and Kheper performing the act as The Great Maker, but in
different ways. There are no Deluge-legends involved in any of the creation stories of the Nile-
people, probably because they had their own big flood every year and the beginning of everything
couldn't possibly involve a banality like that.
The most common and probably one of the oldest stories, said that at the dawn of time there was
nothing but the water called Nun, and the first ground coming out of it was a rock called the "Ben-
Ben stone". From a slightly irregular shape at the begin- ning, with time it was elaborated and
turned into a broad and short obelisk with a pointed top in a four-side pyramid fashion. Some
scholars suggest that this might be the prototype for later pyramids tombs, but others do not.
On the Ben-Ben stone stood Atum and he coughed and spat out Shu and Tefnut.

The world creators in breef:


ATUM from Heliopolis made everything (even himself) of his own sperm through masturbating or
spitting. He then created woman from a bit of flesh from his hand.
PTAH from Heliopolis in Lower Egypt made the world by simply saying words and made earth
raise from the water, very similar the story in the Bible.
RE (also from Heliopolis) is told in a rather late poetic legend to be the creator by using a tear
from his eye to build all the world.
KHNUM from the island Elephantine at Aswan in the south, was the creator who made the world
and all its people on his potter's wheel. The stuff was mud from the Nile.
KHEPER (representing Re) made all other gods from matter taken from his own body. He also
created life (symbolically) every morning by commanding the sun to rise.
AMON from Thebes was during the New Kingdom vaguely connected to the creation of the World,
saying that he once (like Atum) had created himself at the dawn of time.
THOTH was in Khemenu (Hermopolis) in Upper Egypt, the maker of the world and the first ones he
helped to life were four frogs and four snakes, the so called Ogdoad.

The first family


The family from which all people in the world came was Shu, the god of cool air and his wife and
sister Tefnut, goddess of rain, warm dew and moisture. They had the twins Geb who was god of
the earth and Nut the goddess of the sky.
Before they had any children they were separated by command of the solar god Re and Geb wept
over his loss and his tears made all the seas and oceans of the world.
One legend tells that Re for some reason (possibly jealousy) had become angry with Nut and laid
a curse on her telling that none of her coming children could be born on any one day of the year.
This was a big setback for Nut and Geb who were just planning to raise a family. In their agony
they turned to the god of wisdom - Thoth, for advice. He went to his superior, the shadowy and
not often depicted moon-god Aah who was in charge of the Egyptian moon-calendar. This old
table of time consisted of 12 months of 30 days together making the moon-year of 360 days.
Thoth made Re a proposition to gamble about the matter and they started to play a game of dice

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resulting in victory for Thoth. He thereby won the moonlight of the five additional days of the true
year (in this case July 14 to 18) and gave it to Geb and Nut who used them for the births of their
children. Thus the curse of Re had no effect upon them because their children could all be born
outside Aah's moon calendar. In the years to come Nut gave birth to five of the most prominent
deities of Egypt: Year 1 - Osiris. Year 2 - Horus (the Elder). Year 3 - Set. Year 4 - Isis. Year 5 -
Nephtys.

The origin of Universe.


One of the oldest and best known legends comes from Heliopolis and goes like this:
From the beginning there was nothing but a water chaos called Nun, and from that came the
god Atum, who had created himself. From matter taken from his own body, he made Shu, the god
of the air and Tefnut, goddess of moisture and rain. They in turn had the twins Geb, the earth-god,
and Nut, the goddess of the sky.
From these two (Geb and Nut) then came all other Egyptian gods and goddessses.
Shu was often seen holding up the sky (his daugter Nut) with his son Geb lying under- neath
(picture below). This family of four was the very foundation upon which the world existed as they
represented the basic elements: earth, water, air and sky.

The first gods.


1) The old tradition from Heliopolis
(Iunu) just north of Memphis in Lower
Egypt said the creation of all the gods
was made by Kheper, who was another
form of their local sun god Re.
He was self-produced and made the
other gods out of the matter of his own
body. He was the father of many gods
like Osiris, Nephtys, Isis, Set, Horus
and others.

2) The priests from Hermo- polis in


Upper Egypt declared for their part
Air-god Shu holding up the sky-goddess Nut supported
that Thoth was the primeval god and
by two versions of Khnum. Lying down: earth-god Geb.
created the first four couples that built
up everything. The first pair was Nun and Nuntet (snakes), who represented and dwelled in the
mass of water from which everything emerged. The second was Heh and Hauhet (frogs), who
stood for indefinite time and long life. The third was Kek and Keket (snakes), who embodied
darkness, and the fourth pair was Niau and Niaut (frogs) representing the void. During the New
Kingdom the two latter were replaced by Amon and Amonet.

3) In Sais (in the delta in Lower Egypt) the priests taught the people that their own mighty godd-
ess Neit was behind the origin of the other gods. She was self-begotten and self-produced and
mother of the mighty solar god Re.

4) Another story tells that the creation of The World was wet and dark and Atum-Re arose from the
Nun and appointed the eight reptile gods above (the so called Ogdoad) to their proper places and
brought order from chaos. Here the frogs Niau and Niaut have been changed for Amon and
Amonet which tells that this version is of later date (New Kingdom) when Amon had reached a
lofty position among the gods.

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Creation of man.
A very old legend in Egypt told that mankind was divided into four
types when they were made on the potter's wheel by the great
creator Khnum. He made them all out of mud of various colors from
the Nile.
The order in which they were made was as follows: First was
- Romut, meaning "men", and these were the Egyptians them-
selves. The second to come from the potter's wheel was - amu, the
people from the desert mountains east of the Nile. This name was
later also used for Asians in general.
Number three, called - Temehu, was the fair skinned people from the
Mediterranean coast west of the Nile Delta and the oases west of the
Nile Valley.
The last to be made was - Nehesy, the black people to the south of
Egypt, below the province of Nubia.
Notable is that the names of these people seem to be very old and
originating from the early times when the Egyptians didn't have a
name for Asians, which they surely encountered well before the first
dynasty as shown in archaeology remains.
According to another (much younger) legend mankind was created from a tear that fell from the
eye of the god Re, and turned into men and women. The fair-skinned Libyans, considered as
"cousins" by the people in the Nile valley, were formed in the same way. The two other people
have a tear from Re as their origin too, but in a more irregular way.

The Court in the Underworld


When a person had died he was taken to Underworld where his deeds in life were taken to the
Court of Osiris for the final judgement. Since this place also was called "The Island of Fire" it's
quite obvious that the Egyptians had knowledge about the burning interior of the Earth though
they had no volcanoes in their own country. Before coming there the dead person had to pass a
labyrinth of gates and doors and answer questions correctly to pass through. The lion-god Aker
let him through the last gate and he was facing the fourteen members of the jury in the Tribunal
Hall. There he was allowed to speak about his behavior on Earth. (Shown in the upper left in the
picture below).
Then god Anubis took him into the courtroom presenting him the scale where his heart would be
put in balance with the feather of the goddess Mat, patroness of truth and harmony. The
procedure was recorded by Thoth - the god of writing and wisdom. Sometimes Thot's animal (a
baboon) was sitting on top of the scale ready to adjust the result using a sliding weight.

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The deceased enters from the left guided by Anubis. His heart is placed on the
scales and the result is recorded by Thoth. Then Horus takes him in front of the
judge Osiris for the final verdict. Behind the throne stand Isis and Nephtys.

If the heart of the deceased wasn't too heavy with sins from his life on Earth, he went through and
could continue his voyage to the afterlife and was granted a plot of land in the "Field of the
Reeds". This was the paradise for the ancient Egyptians - to grow crops for eternity in a land that
was the very image of the Nile Valley they just had left.
If he failed the test on the other hand - his heart was immediately devoured by the beast Ammut
sitting under the scale ready to have a good blow-out. In that case the dead faced the most
horrible future imaginable for the Egyptians - he was denied an eternal life in the land in the West
and his soul would be restless forever.

The seven steps to Paradise

1. Crossing the celestial river by Nemty to the "Land in the West".


2. Passing through gates and labyrinths by answering questions.
3. Being let into the great Court of the Underworld by the god Aker.
4. Addressing a jury of 14 judges about the deeds during life on Earth.
5. Taken by Anubis to "Balance of Truth" to weigh his heart for sins.
6. If the heart wasn't heavy, brought by Horus to Chief Judge Osiris.
7. Entering the "Fields of the Reed" (Paradise) and get eternal life.

The Book of the Dead


The Book of the Dead was (in most versions) an illustrated manuscript which consisted of prayers
and magical texts to be used during the funeral and read over the dead to ensure the survival in
the afterlife.
These texts were a necessary part of the funerary equipment and were thought to help through
dangers of the Underworld. Over 150 burial spells were written on papyrus and placed with the
dead and the content has been traced back to the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts from 2.300 BC and
had probably a long oral tradition before that.
Each nome (province) and even towns had their own version putting text mentioning the local
gods in favor.
For poor people (the average Egyptian man and woman) there were versions not so elaborated
(and expensive) and just containing the essence. A big part concerned the moment when the dead
came in front of the jury in the Underworld. There he would make confessions like: "I have not
killed or used false weights on my balance, or caused pain to anyone". Then he usually stated
things like: "I have given clothes to the naked, water to the thirsty and bread to the hungry" etc, all

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to convince the jury members of his kind-heartedness.
One spell was spoken in front of a tribunal of 42 gods, and proclaimed innocence of a series of
specified sins that covered every kinds of wrong doing. This made the soul worthy to go further
into the Judgement Hall where the Court of Osiris (see above) had the final word. Being approved
of there he was ready to embark on the Boat of Re to sail to the "Land in the West" for eternal
rest.

The human soul - Ba, seen as a bird, hovering


over his newly mummified master on his bier.

Ka and Ba (body and soul)


The purpose of preserving the body through embalming is clearly shown in the two components
the Egyptians thought built up a man's personality. In both cases the physical body was essential
for their existence and an eternal life for the deceased.

The Egyptians believed that every person (during life and after) was followed by an invisible
double called - Ka. He was created at the moment of birth and stood for "force of live" for the
person. He could not be seen or depicted but all big tombs had a "blind door" for him to use. After
death a transformation of rebirth took place and every night he was released to give his dead
master a spiritual travel to the land of the living. The travel itself was made by his soul Ba (see
beyond). This was a link from the tomb to life on earth that was supposed to go on forever.
The poor commoners who couldn't afford an embalming were offered small simple statuettes of
mummies to give their Ka someone to stand beside in the life beyond and thereby please their life-
long companion and get eternal rest themselves.

Ka (left) walking
beside the body
and Ba who was
dwelling within.

The human soul was called - Ba and was depicted as a bird with a human face, sometimes with
the features of the dead person. The Ba (like Ka) appeared for the first time at the moment of birth,

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but the Ba was dwelling within the body, and after death in the mummy. During life he was his
master's conscience and after death he was himself protected from being misled by evil spirits
through rituals and prayers from "The Book of the Dead" performed by priests or relatives. A
correct behavior in both worlds was essential to the Egyptians.
After death he was released from the mummy every night and could fly back to the world of the
living to check things out. Before sunrise he was back within his master, who thus never lost
contact with the world he had left.

The Solar Boat of Re


The story of the sun god Re and the voyage in his boat was one of the most important in Egyptian
mythology and concerned the very basics of life for the people in the Nile Valley. It clearly shows
the cyclic way of looking at time and life that was at hand since the oldest times for Egyptians.
The religious beliefs in Heliopolis in Lower Egypt told that Re was the creator of men and at the
beginning of the fifth dynasty he reached a very lofty position when the kings adopted his name in
their titles claiming to be his sons.
Re traveled through the waters of heaven in two different boats each day. The first, Madjet ("being
strong"), rose out of the east behind the Mount Bakhu and then passed between two sycamore
trees. At noon he was transferred over to a small bark by the name of Semektet ("going weak"),
and this vessel took him into the sunset in the west at Mount Manu.
He did not navigate the boats himself because this was taken care of by Mat, goddess of justice
and stability. She was first mate on the bridge and set the course accompanied by Horus.

The first voyage over the sky.

The life-giving Re (the sun disk)


and the symbol of creation the
beetle Kheper on the very first
day. Onboard are the gods who
had helped to formed the World.
The boat was held up by Nun, the
lord of the watery chaos be- low
from which everything had
emerged at the dawn of time - the
day before.
(See also the gods Hu and Sia).

The boat was not provided with sails, but had another way to get power to move. It was simply
pulled across the sky by the evil god Set who had been condemned to do so for killing his brother
Osiris (as told in the Myth of Osiris above).
At night the god Upuaut stood on the prow and navigation was assisted by pilot fish Abtu and
Ant, who swam in front of the boat.
The crew consisted of the gods Geb and Heka plus the companions Hu and Sia. They all helped
Re to overcome the obstacles set up by those who tried to stop his journey - the three monsters
Sebau, Nak, and Apep. The evil creature Apep was the most dangerous one and he took the shape
of a big snake or a crocodile.
Under the protection of war god Maahes, Re fought and killed the monsters every day and thus
secured the way for the sun to rise the next morning. By then the participants were all alive and
kicking again and the daily combat could begin as usual.
Cloudy days were scary to the Egyptians because it might be that Apep had stopped Re in his

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boat. To prevent this and make things go back to normal again they made extra offerings in the
temples to make the sun come back.

A prayer for life

By begging Re to come
back in the morning the
Egyptians hoped that daily
life should go on as usual.
Since agriculture was the
base of the country, the life
giving sun was essen- tial
for people's well being and
existents.
Scene from a prayer book.

The most critical days, that thankfully did not come often, were those with solar eclipses in
different stages. It seemed that Apep was swallowing up the sun, but somehow, after extra
ceremonies, Re turned out to be the winner in the end. There were even manuals for people to
help to fight this evil snake/crocodile that could jump up from the heavenly waters and attack the
boat and the people onboard. Even the otherwise bad god Set took part in the struggle, besides
pulling the boat, which underlines the importance of the mission.
The essence of this myth is that the sun (symbolizing life itself) was a constant struggle. A lifetime
for a man was a similar voyage with the birth and peak of living at noon. At twilight life was
coming to an end and people finally reach the glorious Land In the West - the next World, after
their short stay on Earth.
By venerating the gods who struggled every day to make the life-giving sun keep shining, order
and stability was secured. This was what the chief navigator goddess Mat stood for and she
always managed to get the old barge to port.

Burial customs
The basic purpose of mortuary preparation was to ensure the deceased a successful passage into
the next world. The tombs were from the very beginning shallow holes in the sand later to be lined
with a wall of sun dried bricks or stones and topped by a mound of sand or clay. The
substructures were elaborated downwards when pits leading to grave chambers were cut out in
the bedrock starting around 3200 BC. The structures above ground developed into bench-like
brick buildings (mastabas) later to be made of stone and ending with the great pyramids 2.400 BC,
a time span of evo- lution for almost half a millennium.
The amount of grave goods and offerings (for wealthy people) was increasing and be- came more
sophisticated and progress was also seen in the treatment of the body of the deceased - the
mummification. This custom first appeared also in about 3200 BC. and steadily progressed
technically for the next 2.000 years from simple dehydration (made by the dry climate) to prepa-
rations with chemicals.
Originally the dead was placed in a crunched position lying on the side, but with time traditions
changed and they were stretched out on their backs.
The religious belief was that the body should be preserved intact for the soul to dwell within in the
next world. This made kings and other royalties hide their dead protected under mountains of
stone (pyramids) and later in secret hideouts in the desert cliffs. Unfortunately the huge
monuments draw attension from poor people, and Egyptians never separated the valuable
offerings and grave goods from the mummies, which made the robbers plunder it all during
periods of political instability.

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During the long periods prosperaty, which could last for hundred of years, cults of long deceased
kings is noted to have been going on for many generations. In these the content in "the Book of
the Dead" (see above) was a crucial element.

Prepared for eternity

Anubis who was the watcher over


the cemeteries, also took care of
the important mummification.
In the picture he is making an em-
balming to make the dead keep his
looks in the next world.
Without a physical body the soul
had no place to dwell and would be
restless forever.
Poor people could only afford
small clay figurines as substitute
for a mummified body.

Thus the great kings from the Old Kingdom did not come to "the Field of Reeds" after death
despite (or more accurate: just because) they tried to protect themselves under mountains of
stone, which draw attention to everybody, not the least tomb robbers.
The next world was located in more than one place both in a physical and a religious
(metaphysical) sense. It could be 1) in the area around the tomb, 2) among the stars, 3) in the
celestial regions with the sun god or 4) in the Underworld itself.
All places had one thing in common: they were all located in "The Beautiful West" where the day
(and life) ended with the setting sun.
The journey to the next world was fraught with obstacles in the Underworld. It was a trip by boat
through many gates with tricky questions to answer. The judgement after death (see "the Book of
the Dead" above) was a subject often depicted from the New Kingdom and onwards. The belief
itself was much older, probably from before the first dynasty 2000 years earlier. It was the final
judgement whether the deceased had been a good human being or not. Most of them (with means)
could pass by giving offerings to the gods and making declarations about their good behavior on
Earth, true or not.

Next interesting chapter is:


Egyptian History and its famous Kings

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Dawn of Egyptian Culture
Neolitic period 6.000 - 3.500 BC.
Predynastic period 3.500 - 3.100 BC.
By Ottar Vendel

The Earliest Cultures South and North History Begins The 42 provinces
Origin of the Egyptians Eye Makeup Sumerian Connection Hieroglyphs
Records Early Kings The Unification The Royal Cemetery Pharaoh's titles

The first signs of human activity in the area which today is Egypt, dates
back around 500,000 years. Pebbles and stone axes from the Abu
Simbel region in the far south have been estimated to be of this age.
The majority of the stone age finds are 90.000 to 250.000 years old and
the materials are mostly the stones quartzite and basalt. These
remnants are surely from the dawn of man and not from our own clever
and imaginetive sort Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
The first fragments of "real" humans and an organized society are from
Qadan (250 km south of Aswan) and date back to circa 13.000 to 9.000
BC. and have the first cemeteries with ritual burials.

A rudimentary agriculture is shown from all grinding stones and the


great number of sickles. In some places fishing is decreasing since the
cereal culture, possibly barley, plus hunting (the area by the Nile were
then a savannah) gave a sufficient level of feeding.
Then, due to a slow change into a drier climate, agriculture was
decreasing, and sickles are found more seldom. The fight for fertile
land was then a fact for the inhabitants in the Nile Valley and in around
6.000 BC they organized themselves in tribes to protected their
possessions. The small semi nomading groups of hunters and
fishermen began to be stationary in villages and after the adoption of
the "modern" agriculture in around 5.000 BC (like working together on
irrigation projects etc), the base to the coming high culture was ready
and the key word was - spare time. This was gained when the Nile was flooding and a good harvest
didn't make it necessary to gather food and cattle breeding made hunting not a necessety. Some
centers based on agriculture and some hunting/fishing grew to quite a substantial size, like the one
excavated in the 1930s at Merimde.
At approximately the same time communities were developing by other rivers like Indus in today's
India/Pakistan and the much closer by Eufrat and Tigris in Mesopotamia the place for the coming
high culture of Sumeria. (See the history table for the region).
Archaeology in Egypt has revealed habitats (map at upper right) which had their own typical pottery,
tools, weapons, burial customs etc. The cultures at the middle Egyptian town of Badari and a couple
of minor at the southern delta, lived their own lives until the advanced civilization from the southern
town of Nagada started to spread northwards. After almost a millennium it had reached up to the
shores of the Mediterranean Sea and wiped out the local cultures at Maadi and Omari which until
then had influences from the region of today's southern Palestine.
The two geographical parts (southern - Upper, and northern - Lower Egypt) thus had a basically
common culture just prior to unification. Some differences however were to a great extent
preserved, like local gods and symbols, which had originated in the around forty small tribe areas
(later to be Egyptian provinces) which were spread along both banks of the Nile.
Very important, not to say essential factors for creating this first national state in history were their

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common language and the developing of a writing system.

Faiyum culture (at right row 1) had


flint arrowheads and stone tools.
The crude pottery was without de-
coration. Sickle blades of wood and
stone (bottom) are found from this
old mixed hunter/farmer society
from the period c. 6 000 - 4 000 BC.

The Mirimde culture (on row 2) had


circular huts with burials along a
main "street". The tombs contained
no offering goods and the pottery
was not decorated. This 12 cm long
saw blade was made of brown flint.
A face of clay (height: 11 cm) was
possibly depicting a dead ancestor.
Estimated date: 5 000 - 4 200 BC.

The Badari culture (on row 3), had


simple clay figures and thin pottery,
"black-topped" (20-25 cm) and the
first cosmetic palettes (square). A
possible parallel culture,
the Tasianhad "trumpet" jars.
The five cm high stone vase was
maybe for perfumed oil. Period
around 4500 - 4000 BC.

The Nagada culture (row 4 at right)


showed an elaborated design on
decorated pottery. Brown urn with
three women dancing over a big
boat with two square cabins. At far
left is seen a row of four
ostriches. Woman figurine of bone
(10-12 cm). Nagada I, (Amaratian) c.
4000 BC . Bearded man of stone (51
cm) from Nagada II, (Gerzean) c.
3500 BC .

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A man is harpooning an hippopotamus from a boat (detail). Carving on a slate palette from
4.000 - 3.500 BC. Provenance is unknown. The boat's hull is clearly of Upper Egyptian
style. In later times kings were often depicted hunting hippos. (Medelhavsmuset
Stockholm).

The two cultures


Prior to the unification in about 3.200 BC. the two main cultures in the north and south were clearly
visible. They had different kings wearing different crowns and their main gods were worshipped in
temples of a quite different style. The pottery in the north showed influences from the area of
Palestine and Syria and in the south new designs were coming from Sumeria in the east such as
cylinder seals to make impressions in clay. The north adopted a new architectural design in
brickwork and began to make tomb buildings in a rectangular form (mastabas) with walls having
fancy recesses, and this was also a cultural inport coming from the Sumerian culture. In the south
the tombs for the upper classes did not change and were crude building hardly above ground i an
elaborated traditional tribe style from the past.

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The types of boats were strikingly different too and in the Delta they had high
sterns (like the reed boats in Sumeria) using vaulted cabins. In the south the
boats were long with low sterns and possibly partly made of wood, and carrying
square flat topped cabins. This is shown clearly in a painting from an old tomb
(later in the text below) and on a knife handle made of ivory where combatants
fight with clubs. If this is the final battle of unification there are interesting details
to put forward: the warriors all look alike with a slight exception for their hair
style and wear the same type of clothing and similar weapons. In other words -
it looks like an internal struggle among cousins from a basically similar culture.
Contradict to this is the depiction on the other side of the knife handle where a
standing man holding two lions is dressed in a typically old Baby- lonian fashion
with a long robe and a turban. He is wearing a full beard, and this is clearly not
Egyptian. In about 1900 scholars made up the theory that invaders had
penetrated the valley coming through the mountains from the Red Sea 120 km
to the east, arriving right at the cradle of culture in Upper Egypt. How, and by
what means they had transported themselves all the way from Sumeria wasn't
Nagada statuette of quite clear, but this was yesterday's try to explain the culture influences from
a dancing woman the east. This hypothesis is now aban-doned and the "invasion theory" has been
with bird's? head.
changed to culture impulses made by trade. An influx of people (settlers) from
the East, in a small scale, might have occurred, but physical evidence to back up this theory has
not come up.

The beginning of History


In general the word "historical" means when a culture has developed a pictographic way of
recording events and persons. In that sense Egypt's history began in about 3.200 BC when the first
hieroglyphic writings come to light on small labels of wood and
ivory.
Remarkably the structure of the writing system was almost
finished in the first dynasty and thus was a product of a
development that had been going on for an unknown period of
time. Remnants from the earlier stages have not been found and
several attempts to derive hieroglyphs from the so-called "pot
marks" made on ceramic vessels have, so far, not been
successful.
The options are two: writing can in the earliest times have been
made on material that has decayed, or the system has been
imported from abroad. No traces outside or inside Egypt can
confirm any of these suggestions.

Other ways of recording things is by sculpturing. From the


primitive figures of wood, bone and clay appearing in tombs from
about 4.500 BC (like the figurine above), next step was to master Ivory statuette 4000 BC. and tattoos
stone as stuff for artifacts. Cosmetic palettes (for creating eye from a priestess' mummy 2100 BC.
shadowing make up) from graves were with time made in different
shapes and pictures of animals and humans on them became more common.
There are a few outstanding remains in early stone sculpture but one exeption is the two colossi of
the fertility god later to be Min which were found at Coptos. In these early days the god was shown
as a bearded man without any hair (bald or possibly with his head shaven). Several small figurines
looking like this have been found in tombs and in the temple yard at Hierakonpolis, an old fortified
town in Upper Egypt built on an island in the Nile. The finds are dated to a few centuries prior to
dynasty one in 3.200 BC.
A famous sculpture and with a similar look is a well preserved black stone sculpture now in the

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Ashmolean Museum in Oxford known as the Mac Gregor man.
These two examples show that handling and forming hard stone was well known even a couple of
generations prior to the first dynasty.

Two stone palettes


Left: Old type stone of palette with a hunting scene. ( 4000 - 3500 BC ).
Right: Stone palette in shape of an unknown animal ( 3500 - 3200 BC ).

In the 1890s some remarkable finds were made at the old town of Nekhen, called Hierakonpolis
(Falcon City) by the Greeks. It was situated 140 km south of todays Luxor (yesterday's Thebes) and
placed upon a rocky plateau 400 m out in the flood plain from the western bank of the Nile, which
made it easy to defend during the flooding season when it was surrounded by water. The
foundations and remains of a royal palace told that this was the place where the earliest kings had
resided. Under the ground outside the temple was a cache containing lots of remains from the
earliest pharaohs, and it was obviously brought her for safe keeping from the cemetery at Abydos
up north and possibly some other royal burial ground not yet found. Among the finds were several
figures of clay, ceramics, ivory, stone and bone (picture below) and some types (possibly local)
were never to be seen again in Egyptian art after the start of the first dynasty.

Some small figures made of ivory depicted a god with a broad beard and sometimes a helmet like
cap on his head. He might be the god of fertility - Min, at least in the version with a bald head (see
"Nagada" by the picture atop). If the female figurines are early prototypes for later goddesses is not
known, but the sleeve-less cloak around one of them (above) is very unusual. (See the link "old
king" in the text of king Ka below).
Extensive investigations starting in 2002 have revealed a lot about this oldest royal temple in Egypt,
the Hierakonpolis center. It went through at least three big changes (enlargements) during the time
prior to the union of the countries in around 3.200 BC. In the cemetery of the elite has been found
quite elaborated tombs with offerings dating back as long as 3.700 BC. This unex-pected fact gives

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a time span which is half a millenium longer than previous estimated.

Where did the Egyptians come from?


Thousands of examinations over the years of skeletal remains from graves give the fact that the
ancient Egyptians (as well as the present population) belonged to the so called Mediterranean type
of the Caucasian people.
Today as then they are living in Africa north of Sahara from the Red Sea in
the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west.
During the Natufian time around 12 000 years BC the way of making stone
flakes for implements (Microburin technique) was very alike in northern
Egypt and the area south of the Dead Sea in Palestine. Furthermore, an
exchange of people is also confirmed through archaeology. Also dwellings
like round huts partly dug into the ground are similar for these areas.
The influx of people to Egypt over the last 2.000 years has just slightly
effected the bulk of the population, and scholars believe that the human
stock of today is very much the same as it was in ancient times.
The complexion gets darker when going southwards, following the intensity
of the sun, but without any changes towards Negroid looks. Regrettably
nonsens about the origins of the Egyptians is today frequently spread
through television, but a fact is that Egyptians (now and then) are not ralated
to black sub-Saharans.
Thus the genetic laboratories of the Egyptian Museum and University of
Cairo could in 2010 prove in consensus, that king Tutankhamon was of the
West European DNA type R1b, which has no connection at all to black
Africans or Asians.

The ancient Egyptians were in general slim hipped with rather broad shoulders and oval faces was
in majority. They depicted themselves with long straight noses from the earliest times through
portraits made in later periods. (Pictures right are from 1.500 and 3.200 BC).
The women hardly never got plump and had no tendency to a large behind like their black sisters
further south did. Their hair color was usually black to dark brown.
More light skinned individuals were present especially in the coastal area west of the Nile delta
among the Libyan tribes (see below).
Considering the homogeneity of the people a fair assumption is that most of the Egyptians have
entered the Nile Valley from the north (and from the now gone savannas west of the river) and
spread to the Red Sea in the east. In the south they stopped at the cataract of Aswan, where the
fruitful shores of mud ended and were replaced by cliffs. This point was for thousands of years the
natural lower border of Egypt, separating them from the black inhabitants further south by a vast
stretch of wasteland.

Geography and climate

The first "cultural" remains found are, at the earliest, from around 13,000 BC. These traces are too
few for making conclusions about those who left them. When the annual floods with its fertilizing
mud started grass began to grow by the shores and hunters had possibility to get prey, and this did
not begin to an extent until after the latest Ice Age as recent as around 8,000 BC.

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One of the earliest known detailed
depictions of an Egyptian comes from
the so called the "Hunters' Palette"
showing a good dozen worriors with
long hair gathered in a net or a short
wig. They all had long straight noses
and a beard. They were dressed in a
skirt of reed and the weapons were:
boomerang, axe, spear, club and arch.
On their heads they wore plu- mes (as
tribe marks?) and by the belt hung a
jackal's tail. The man to the right has a
standard with a falcon atop and a
shield (or maybe a drum).

The western part of today's Egypt is just the sterile Sahara desert. Archaeology has shown that
long before and during the Later Stone Age (neoliticum, beginning around 6.000 B.C.) people lived
here as hunters and had a type of culture which to a big part was very similar to the one by the Nile
(Hoffman: Egypt Before the Pharaohs" 1979).
Furthermore, ancient rock art in the mountains show hunters, pray and dometicated ani- mals, but
the lack of dwelling and tombs makes it all difficult to date the single remains. Scholars estimate
within a span of 10.000 to 3.000 years BC. Nontheless this clearly indicates that this region which
then was a savannah, provided the Nile Valley with immigrants and possibly vice versa. As late as
during the Old Kingdom these so called "sand dwellers" (Egyptian name) were many enough to
disurb the state by the Nile which had to take military actions against them bringing back prisoners
and live stock to Egypt.
In the ealiest days the people by the Nile were hunters too, but had additional skills compared to
their neighbors in the deserts. They were used to water and used boats and rafts, could catch fowl,
fish and hunted game like crocodiles and hippos.
In around 5,000 B.C. agriculture came to the Nile Valley and the population increased considerably.
By this time the region had rain falls making the desert areas now flanking the river a grass land
feeding animals like buffaloes, giraffes, gazelles, and present were also the feline predators lions
and cheetas. Then the climate constantly got drier and at the beginning of dynastic times most of
the big grass eaters were extinct. By 2,000 years BC rain falls did appear just occasion-ally and the
nomads in the western savannas were the first ones to abandon their hunting grounds. Activities
(like small scale agriculture) was from now on possible only in the big oases. To maintain the food
supply (crops) the Egyptians had to store and transport water from the river and this could only be
done through canal- and dam building in a huge scale. An firm organization was needed to realize
this and the centralized power was established since the original tribe areas and their chiefs were
inadequate in size to perform such a great task themselves.

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The Egyptians classified people into four groups as seen here from the tomb of Seti I.
1) Nehesy - Black inhabitants further south in Africa below today's province of Nubia.
2) Romut - Themselves, the farmers, hunters and fishermen living in the Nile Valley.
3) amu - Asians (and people in the east mountains, usually dressed like Egyptians).
4) Temehu - Libyans, from the coastal area in north-west and western desert, having
swanky dresses, fair skin and tribe mark tattoos, seen also on Egyptians, even today.

The Eastern Mountains towards the Red Sea probably never had any vast grass areas like the
western regions did. Living conditions here were more suitable for small live stock breeding with
animals like goats and sheep. Pictorial remains from the inhabitants are remarkably many, and new
ones are found by hundreds every year today (2007). These pictures have a significant and common
motif which is lacking in the mountains west of the Nile - boats.
This area seems to have been fairly occupied at least until the end of the Old Kingdom. Thereafter
the mountaineers probably got fewer and are not mentioned specifically in hieroglyphic texts any
more. The Egyptian name meaning "easterners" (see text by the picture above) was used also to
designate peoples coming from Asia, mostly those from the Middle East region.
The "real" Egyptians were the farmers by the Nile with their high and developed culture, and they
always considered themselves a separate people from their close neighbors though we can assume
that they shared the same language. These relatives disturbed the Egyptian trade routs through
robbery etc. and this was the main reason for hostility between these cousins.
The Egyptian army was constantly kept alert by maintaining security for their export and import
passing these areas. The Egyptian (slightly degrading) name for inhabitants here was "mountain
dwellers" an analogue to the people in Sahara westbound being called "sand dwellers".

The Egyptian Eye Paint

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The very old Egyptian eye makeup is famous and has influ-
enced modern fashion. This habit was due to the fact that
the Egyptians came from the north and had fair skin not
adapted to the bright sunshine in the northern Nile Valley.
To reduce the irritating light reflected into the eye they
shaded the area around it with paint, and this made work-
ing outdoors or just being i the sun more bearable.
With time people from the upper classes (women and men
alike) made this practical painting an essential part of their
daily appearance, and it was elaborated in form adding
green and blue colors. The stone palettes for grinding eye
paint became pieces of art indicating the owner's status.
They are found in many different shapes from the oldest
times and the most famous is the one of pharaoh Narmer.

The Sumerian connection

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Mother symbols of the Nile valley?

A mysterious scene from a ceremonial make


up palette dated to around 3.300 BC.
Two hyena-like animals with puppies, making
a roof over two feline fantasy-creatures with
long necks which are licking what seems to
be a goat. The opposite side has two lions
standing on their back feet and mouth to
mouth against two goats.
Five palettes with dog-like animals are known
and others have two giraffes(?) with a palm
tree in the center. In one case an unknown
king's serek is shown in the middle. (See
below number 8 in unidentified kings). The
artistic style with two facing animals was
common in Sumeria, and might be a cultural
import to the Nile Valley.
The motif with two animals can also be taken
as symbolizing the North and the South.

The scene on a knife handle mentioned above shows two types of boats. The ones with a high
prows are believed to be from the northern delta - Lower Egypt - and made of papyrus. The
Egyptians living there called their country "Ta-mehu", the land of the papyrus.
The others boats have their origin in southern - Upper Egypt - "Ta-schema", the land of the reed,
and seem to be partly made of wood. The cabins are different too as shown in the "painted grave"
from Hierakonpolis (see picture in chapter "The historical records" below).
The high prowed boats also occur in Sumeria but there is no evidence that they were brought to the
Nile Valley by invaders or even was a cultural import for that matter, because the reed/papyrus
material simply make this the only practical way of constructing such a boat.
In the mountains in the East Desert from the possible path of the "invaders" a large
number of stone carvings have been found, where boats (often big ones) play a leading
roll. It is obvious that this vehicle played a major part in Egyptian society already in
prehistoric times but there is no evidence that these vessels were for sailing on the
high seas, and the more modest strip of water called the Nile (during the inundation
up to 60 km across) would have been enough.
At the beginning of the 1900's archaeologists examined the skeletal remains of the
earliest graves and found that the remains of the ruling class" indicated that they might
have been of heavier stature than the Egyptians in general. This was the ground for
Cylinder seal, the belief that these had come from outside the country.
cultural import
Evidence of cultural influence from Sumeria before the unification is proven, but
from Sumeria
genetic influence to a notable extent is not.
The newcomers were believed to have brought a falcon god into Egypt and were called after him -
"The followers of Horus". The physical statures of the oldest kings are not known, but remains and
depictions of those from dynasties 0-4 tell that some were heavy-built with broad faces, but
variations within the families were frequent.
The most significant influence from Sumeria was the facade of the royal palace. This was an insignia
for the king, depicted in a stylized way and called a "serek". It came into use before dynasty 1, as
did the new style of mud brick masonry in northern Egypt used in the mastaba-tombs.

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Hieroglyphs - and Egyptian writing

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An essential factor for the cultural development in the Nile valley was the invention of writing. This
made it possible to pass knowledge to the next generation. The origin of the signs (known by their
Greek name - hieroglyphs) is still a mystery and the grammatical system was complete already in
the first dynasty without a trace of any developing stages. A theory is that it all had been brought
to Egypt from outside, but this has not been confirmed. One possibility is that the earliest writing
was made on material now totally decayed, but this is naturally hard to prove.
Over the years around 1,200 signs have been detected with a core of around 800 from which a
selection of around 100 were more frequently in use.
When the Roman era was going towards its end a couple of hundred years AC the knowledge of
hieroglyphs also came to an end and all writings on buildings, papyrus manuscripts etc became
totally illegible. This would however, be restored some 1,500 years later starting in the year 1798
when a French military expedition invaded Egypt for both eco-political and cultural reasons.
Besides the troops there were 500 civilians scientists and engineers, geologists, painters and
others. They constructed canals, made maps, documented temples, mummies, tombs and all
interesting they found in this new culture. They noticed that almost everything from simple hand
tools to large buildings were decorated with pictures of birds, flowers, people, frogs and many other
things which were placed in rows or columns. This was the first organized attempt to pass the
knowledge about them to Europe, and it was made by a man of great farseeing who was chief of the
expedition. He was 29 years old and due to his ability in mathematics and leadership he had
graduated as an officer of artillery at the age of 16 and got the rank of general at 24.
In a few yars he would be famous in European politics and known in history by just his first name -
Napoleon.

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In the second year of the occupation
(1899) a black stone slab was found
outside Rosetta, which was a town
by the Mediterranean Sea.
It was covered with inscriptions in
Egyptian using traditional
hieroglyphs and a "short- hand" type
called demotic plus Greek by their
alphabet (picture right).
French scientists participating in the
expe- dition could read the Greek
part at once and it was a religious
decree from the priests of Memphis
(the capital) giving divine honors to
their pharaoh Ptolmaios V, who ruled
in Egypt between 205 and 180 B.C.
A fair assumption was now made
that the content of the three texts
was identical, and if so, it was a
golden opportunity to descript the
ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic
writing.
A complete solution was now at
hand and just a matter of time, and it
should take - 23 years.
The French troops surrendered to
the British two years later, and the
stone was brought to London in the
fall of 1802.
The best French linguist had been
studying copies of the texts for some
years but without any progress, and
handed over the task the same year The Rosetta stone has three different alphabets. From top:
to a Swedish diplomat by the name Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic signs and classic Greek.
David kerblad. He was an orientalist and linguistic genius who mastered (among others) the dead
Coptic language, classic Greek and historical writing systems. He could within just a couple of
months(!) make astonishing pro- gress by correcty identifying all personal names in the demotic
section, like Ptolmaios, Cleopatra, Alexander, Berenike, Arsino plus the words "Alexandria",
Greek", "Egyptian" and "temple". His results also clearly showed that Coptic (in which the text was
written) was a direct descendant of the dead Egyptian which could help to reconstruct old and lost
sounds from the Nile Valley. For this purpose he made a list of 29 demotic letters which (later would
show) rightly gave the sound values from 15 of them. This was a breakthrough which should turn
out to be of great importance in breaking the code of the hieroglyphs.
Now the expectations from the public for a fast solution were high, but remarkably nothing of
importance was achieved for almost two decades, though publications frequently came where the
authors wrongly claimed they have solved the problem. Doing so would surely generate fame of
historical proportions, and this fact made all sorts of scientists eager to win the race.
Seventeen years later (in 1819) the English polymath Thomas Young wrote an article where he
claimed to have found all hieroglyphic letters. Through using them he had identified the name
Ptolmaios from the Rosetta Stone.

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Regrettably just the six letters forming this king's name
were later proven to be correct.
He followed his own odd theory that all foreign names
were written only with hieroglyphs having a sound
value (letters), and Egyptian ones with ideograms
(signs standing for ideas), but this should later turn out
to be wrong. Consequently the scholars working
according to this principle hit a dead end and further
progress was halted for them.
One person who suspected the old Egyptian
grammatical pat- tern to be quite different was the
French linguist and librarian Jean-Franois
Champollion.
Jean-Franois Champollion (1790-1832) He was a 29 years old teacher at the University of
found the key to hieroglyphic writing. Grenoble and had worked with the hieroglypic riddle in
periods for over ten years but had made few publications on the issue.
After reading Young's article he noticed that find-ing even a few sound values was no doubt a step
forward, but far from the solution of the grammatical pattern of the Egyptian language. He now
focused on the personal names within the ovals, so called "cartouches". By also choosing older
texts copied from temples holding pure Egyptian names, he noticed that these were likely to
contain both letters and ideograms. In some cases specific signs ocurred later to be known as
guides about gender.
Then in the summer of 1822 he practically stumbled over the solution to the system by which the
old Egyptian writing was built up. It was a seemingly random mixture of signs making parts of words
(no vowels were written prior to the Greek period 200 BC) as well as groups and single signs which
had an abstract meaning of themselves. Thus an eye could mean "see" and a picture of a vulture
pronounced "ah", being the first sound of its name.
The sun(god) was known to be called Ra (or Re), and names
beginning with a picture of the sun he correctly assumed might
be that sound. He then was able read the names of the two
pharaohs Ramses and Thotmes, with the latter's name having
a picture of the god Thot's bird (an Ibis stork) as its initial. In RA-M-S-(E)-S THOT-M-(E)-S
short: the names started with the sign depicted (the sun
was called Ra), or stood for (the stork symbolized Thot). The other signs were the sounds m and s,
just like modern letters and in between them was (the invisible and not written) vowel "e". By
recognizing these facts the key to the great puzzle was found and a interpreting of all Egyptian text
was possible.
After presenting his result to the academic world in Paris, which gave him a positive response, he
made a trip to Egypt to evaluate his theories on the site, and it was found to be correct.

A very early attempt to descript hieroglyphs was made during the 9th and 10th century. Then an
Arab speaking writer and alchemist named Ibn Wahshiyah is said to have had some progress in
finding Coptic words and sounds from hieroglyphic texts. His manuscripts were translated into
English and published in London in 1806 but have never been referred to by scholars.

Since modern Egyptology started at the end of the 1800s, additional stones has constantly been
added to the building of the Egyptian language and have been put in their proper floor, due to the
fact that many changes were made during its long life of at least 3,500 years.

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The historical records

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Painting (detail) from c. 3.400 BC from tomb 100 at Hierakonpolis possibly showing a battle on
the Nile. White boats of Upper Egyptian style are surrounding a single black one with a high
prow in a Lower Egyptian fashion and probably made of reed. In a canopy on the deck of the
biggest white ship (below the blue point) is the king of Upper Egypt. and in this rather sketchy
work he is surrounded by fighting men, musicians, dancers, cattle and probably wild animals.
A similar (or obviously the same) motif where the two types of vessels are present and a real
combat (but without a king) is also shown in details on a very old ivory knife handle.
In the lower left corner is a man holding two standing lions, a
motif common in Sumerian art.
The single black "enemy" boat indicates that the picture was
made from the Upper Egyptian side and the one from the knife
handle with equal numbers of participants, points to a neutral
(Sumerian?) observer not taking sides in this historical event.
In the far lower left corner (shown right and not in the big pic-
ture) is a royal motif later to be very common. A figure raises a
club and smites three captives. Such scenes were very frequent
for the pharaohs for more than three millennia to come. The
meaning of the picture has been debated among scholars over
the years. A majority says that it's a naval/land combat between Lower and Upper Egypt, and
making way for the unification to come a century or two later.

During the 1990s old sites of archaeological interest were dug up again after 100 years, and new
methods brought a fresh light to old conclusions made by scholars of yesterday. We have reason
to believe that prior to the unification progress in various sectors of society like agriculture,
breeding of cattle, metalwork, etc was the same in the delta as in the valley itself. Unfortunately
knowledge of the north is practically nothing from this period, but from the south the development
can be well observed through the advances of modern archaeology. The first areas with centralized
power, "mini kingdoms", were placed around the big "knee" of the Nile, where the water strikes
hard rocks of granite and has to make a right (eastern) turn. These main areas were at This (north
of Abydos), Nagada and above all Hierakonpolis 40 km south of today's Luxor. (See map at top of
page).
At Hierakonpolis a huge fortified area with a temple was dug up in the 1890s. Luckily many objects
from the oldest times to the sixth dynasty were found in a cache called "the Main Deposit" in the
temple yard. The town was situated on an island in the Nile and thus easy to protect, because armed
struggle for power was significant for this time, at least from evidence in remains like grave goods

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and inscriptions. Then the oldest royal graves were dug out at Abydos further north, and in less
than ten years Egyptian history had been pushed back several centuries. These lucky strikes
revealed unknown kings from before the unification and one of them was King Scorpion II (menu
left). He was portrayed on a big ceremonial mace head of stone that was found beside other
inscribed objects from other rulers. Yet all these were overshadowed by the most famous find - the
big slate palette of king Narmer (below). This was a green unbroken 60 cm high ceremonial palette
for grinding makeup, and it's now a masterpiece in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Pharaoh's many titles

By the advent of the 12th dynasty in around 2 000 BC the ruler had adopted no
less then five titles in his presentation on monuments and in writings.
The oldest of them was the so called "Horus Name" which is attested for as far
back as when writing began and it was from the beginning connected to the
falcon god Hor (Greek: Horus) which stood for the king himself as a person. The
bird was usually put atop of a rectangular box (a so called serek seen in the
picture left) which symbolized the royal palace and its fancy mud brick facade,
and gates, shown in stripes and squares at the bottom. The picture left shows
the Horus name of king Qaa of the first dynasty.
The well known name "Pharaoh" is a late Greek corruption of two Egyptian
words meaning - great house. From the Greek period (200s BC) and onwards it
was used in writing, just with phonetic hieroglyphs and letters without having a
symbol of its own, and in a context like today's words "His Majesty".
The Horus name

The second name to be was the so called "Nebti Name", showing


the king in his relation to the two goddesses representing the two
united kingdoms. They were the vulture-goddess Nekhbet from the
Upper Egyptian town of today's el-Kab
and the cobra-goddess Uto, patroness
of the town Buto in Lower Egypt. The
title manifests the duality of the
Egyptian kingship, presenting the king
as the ruler of the two countries
The Nebti name through their female animal deities. The first king to used a Nebti-
and its animals
name was Den already duing the first dynasty. The picure above
right shows the Nebti name of king Pepi II of dynasty six: Netjerikhaw, meaning - The king (Netjer)
is the The Two Ladies Divine Of Apparition.

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Number three in order of titles was the "Golden Horus Name" and shows the
god sitting upon the sign for "gold" - a necklace. The title must have had new
meaning compared to the others already in use, but this hasn't
been fully sorted out by the scholars of Egyptology.Each king
put an attribute in front of the falcon or replaced it upon the
symbol. The piture right shows king Djedkare Isesi from
dynasty V put- ting the Djed pillar into the sign making the
meaning - "The golden Horus is firm". During later times kings
had des- cribed themselves as "made as a falcon of gold" with
an unclear meaning. Gold was clearly connected to "eternity"
The golden Horus and the royal burial chambers were called "golden rooms".

The "Nisu-bity name" came to use more frequently during the


third dynasty and then finally replaced the most prom- inent
of titles - The Horus Name. This prefix shows the sedge plant
of Upper Egypt and the honey bee from Lower Egypt. It thus
was "he of the sedge and the bee" meaning the ruler of the
two countries. It was given the king when he entered office
and from dynasty 11 always written within or in front of a
cartouche (picture right). It usually started with the solar disk
(god Re) followed by stereotyped names like "(I'm) Strong is
The sedge and the bee the spirit of Re, Re is my guide in life" etc.

The Nomen was given to the king to be when he was born, and was thus realy a
personal name by which he was called by his family members. From dynasty four
the prefix "Son of Re" was added by a goose (son of) and
the solar disk for Re. It was written within a cartouche
from the third dynasty and onwards. Sometimes the
words "The Good God" could be written just before the
name to put a divine touch to the name of the human
The Son of Re person who could be called Senwosret, Seti or
Amenemhet. The picture right shows this type of personal name from dynasty six, simply saying -
Pepi son of Re.

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Historical event on
record ?

The famous big cosmetic


slate palette of king Narmer.
Size: 64 x 42 cm. Its purpose
was probably to show the
king as the guarantor for
Egypt's stability, keeping re-
bellious tribes in order.
The Pharaoh is wearing the
white crown of Upper Egypt
and smiting enemies.
A falcon (king himself)
holds foes by a nose-ring,
and six flowers give the
number 6,000.
Behind the pharaoh stands
his sandal bearer. At top:
two heads of the cow godd-
ess Hathor are flanking the
king's name: a catfish and a
chisel.
Bottom: Fallen men with the
sign "town" and its name - a
rosette. On the opposite
side (not shown) the king is
wearing the red crown of
Lower Egypt as he inspects
decapitated foes. A very fine
photo is published here.

The question over the years has been if tradition is right about a single military attack from the
south invading the north, and the answer is most likely - it's not. Narmer isn't the only king who
showed himself as the winner smiting enemies and wearing both crowns, because so did Scorpion.
And if Menes wasn't identical with any of those, we have three kings as the presumed founders of
dynasty number one. The theory that's most likely is that it took a long time - maybe generations,
to make Egypt one, and thus we have a possible founder who was the first to rule over the whole
Nile valley. King Aha (see dynasty 1) is a strong candidate for this post since he is the first one to
be present with substantial monuments in both parts of the country.

The Egyptian canons


The sources to help Egyptologists to establish the order of kings and time span of ruling from these
early days, are rather scarce. One of the reasons are that no written documents from outside Egypt
exists, and that is of course due to the fact that during this era writing was in its infancy and only
in Sumeria had people reached the same state of technique. The other reason is that the Egyptians
were not very keen on recording their history as a long time span, they generally took the short time
view and noted events that had passed during the year or a single reign. Fortunately there are a few
exceptions from this pattern that bring some light over the earliest dynasties. Apart from single
notes, carvings on potsherds etc, the main records are:

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The Palermo stone
dynasty 5 2.400 BC
(carving)
The Cairo stone (carving) dynasty 5 2.400 BC
The Karnak list (on stone) dynasty 18 1.500 BC
The Abydos list (on stone) dynasty 19 1.300 BC
The Sakkara list (on stone) dynasty 19 1.300 BC
The Turin canon (on
dynasty 19 1.300 BC
papyrus)
Manetho's list
Greek period 200 BC
(payrus/stone)

The only one of these records that was made to give a correct version of the history, is the list of
Manetho. The others were all made for different purposes, not entirely known.
The Palermo and Cairo stones are possibly in a class all by themselves, and so is the Canon of
Turin, written on papyrus. The lists from Karnak and Abydos are both parts of temple decora-tions
and obviously some kings are deliberately omitted for being either too insignificant or politically
incorrect in some way.
The Sakkara list on the other hand, is the only "private" record of substance, coming from a tomb
of a caretaker of cults for dead kings.
By combining these records scholars have got a rather good picture of the order of kings, but the
time span for the earliest dynasties and the order of some rulers (from dynasties 2 and 3) is still a
subject of discussion.

The Palermo stone was a part of a bigger stone slab on which the Egyptians recorded the events
for each year for the earliest kings, and the present one during its making - the fifth dynasty. In the
top row kings from before the unification are noted and if they have existed they are the oldest
persons on earth recorded by their names. In this case the kings from Lower Egypt are those who
have been saved for later times, and in a another similar stone (more damaged) called the Cairo
stone, the rulers from Upper Egypt are depicted but the part with their names is missing. Notable is
that these stones are the oldest records of its kind, and the recording was made at least 600 years
after the unification in around 3.200 BC by the mythical king Menes.

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The Palermo stone (detail).
In each cell (the lower part of
picture) the most important
event for each year was noted.
Below: two recordings of the
height of the annual flooding
of the Nile. The line between
cells two and three (from the
right) is believed to be the
break when the second king
Aha ended his reign and office
was taken over by Djer.
At top: squares with the old
kings of Lower Egypt before
the unification. In red: the first
full named person in human
history, a king from more than
5.000 years ago.
His name was Seka.

This may seem a long time, but Manetho who made his work nearly 3.000 years after Menes, has
been proven to be correct by archaeology in many cases where other sources have failed or said
otherwise. This shows that the Egyptians kept records of their history, but they were not so keen
on publishing it. Manetho was probably given the task by the king himself, probably one of the two
first in line by the name Ptolmaios. They were of Greek decent and had another view of history and
were not bound to Egyptian traditions. Therefor we can assume (hope) that Manetho (though he
was an Egyptian himself) had a more neutral and "scientific" approach and didn't omit insignificant
and politically "incorrect" rulers from the past that we know was common. His original writings are
regrettably lost, but vital parts have survived through rewritten list made by others which has
effected the content in a negative way. The most quoted of them is a Roman Christian historian
called Africanus who lived in the 3rd century AD.

The Unification

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In about 3.200 BC Upper and Lower Egypt were united, thereby cre- ating a
nation of a 1.200 km fertile strip of land alongside the river Nile, from Aswan
in the south to the Mediterranean Sea in the north.
Two nations became one under a divine king ruling from a new found- ed
capital by the name Ineb Hedj ("The White Walls") which later was changed
by the Greeks to Memphis. Thereby the first national state on earth was
created, and it lasted for 3.500 years, a record that's unlikely to ever be
beaten.
From the oldest times the two parts had been divided into around
42 provinces (nomes) and these local areas with their own capitals and
gods, were in function as long as the Egyptian history lasted and the local
tribe-leaders became governors workig for the state.
Manetho was a Greek speaking Egyptian priest and historian living in the
200s BC. He made a huge work of the Egyptian history (original lost) and
wrote that the unification was made by a king called Menes coming from
Thinis (This), a place just north of Abydos in Upper Egypt (see map left). He
should thus be the founder of the first of 30 dynasties in which Manetho
divided the Egyptian history.
The road to unification seemed to have been a short and straight one, and
this was common belief into the mid 1900s. However science has developed
much in the field of Egyptology and we now know that the process ending with the unification was
a long chain of steps that lasted for many years, maybe generations.
In the south the religious center was Nekhen (Greek: Hierakonpolis) where the falcon goddess
Nekhbet was the patroness of the country. Her northern counterpart was the cobra goddess Wadjet
residing in Buto in the delta, and she was the guardian of Lower Egypt.
After the unification the royal burials took place in the south (at Aydos) for the two first dynasties,
and thereafter in the capital Memphis (and its burial ground Sakkara). Thousands of graves from
ordinary people (most of them in Upper Egypt) were dug up by archaeologists in the late 1800s and
the change in burial traditions indicated a change in society as the years passed. From using burials
in a round or oval pit, indicating a reed hut, the tombs turned into square constructions, sometimes
walled under ground with wooden planks or sun dried bricks walls and with a mound of sand or
lose stones atop. This was the proof that the herdsmen and hunters of the Nile Valley started to be
settled as farmers living in permanent houses at the edge between the desert and the fertile soil.

The royal cemetery at Abydos


Having reached this far in history (~ 3.150 BC), the burial customs and design of the tombs had
gone through considerable changes since a few generations back. The uppermost classes (the
royal court and high officials) began to use cemeteries of their own and elaborated their tombs to a
form called mastaba which became the normal type for centuries to come. The two royal cemeteries
were located at Abydos in Upper Egypt, and at Sakkara, by the new common capital Memphis in the
north. The oldest tombs in Abydos go back before the unification, and kings like Iry-Hor and Ka are
unlikely to have more than one place for their final rest. The dualism of the king's office makes it
difficult for Egyptologists, and it's quite possible that the regents had two graves - one in the south
at Abydos, and the other at the capital Memphis. But where the body of the king was actually buried
is anybody's guess.

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The Abydos royal cemetery is placed 2 km from the Nile. The
oldest tombs are from before the first dynasty. If the tombs were
copies of their earthly palaces it would be a rectangular building.
The earliest kings had lots of sacrificed(?) servants beside them,
but this tradition was probably gone by the time of king Peribsen
from dynasty two.

About seven rulers from the second dynasty are without monuments at Abydos, and are most likely
buried in Sakkara. From the third dynasty and onwards the Abydos cemetery wasn't used for royal
burials.
Another fact is that the tombs in the south were all considerably smaller and cruder than those in
the north. But inscribed remains with the names of the kings and side burials (of retainers) were
more frequent in the south, where also half a dozen large enclosed areas were built, obviously for
ceremonies in the cults of the dead pharaohs. The tombs at Abydos were irre-gular rectangular
constructions, built on sand and gravel nearly two kilometers from the Nile. They were obviously
built to be under ground, perhaps with a low wall on the surface imitating the form of the house the
king had resided in during his reign. In Memphis on the other hand, they were fancy rectangular
mud brick mastabas in a northern fashion with slightly sloping walls above ground, and with time
with larger underground chambers hewn down into the bedrock. They stood right on the high
escarpment overlooking the Nile Valley and the capital below and some of them were decorated
with symmetrical patterns painted in bright colors.
The style with sloping walls and recesses (see picture below) was an influence from the Sumerian
culture in Mesopotamia, and went out of fashion at the end of the second dynasty. By that time the
royal court and the administration had moved permanently to Memphis and the southern burial
ground was abandoned for good.

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Brick mastaba from Nagada in Upper Egypt over Narmer's queen Neit-Hotep. Her name
Neit suggests an origin from Lower Egypt. Founded on the bedrock without substructure.
Mea- sures: 53 x 27m. The sloping walls with recesses was a style from Sumerian
architecture.

When looking at the style of tombs from royalties and high officials it's not difficult to conclude that
they were reflections of their residences during their earthly life. All the rooms filled with gifts and
all kinds of supplies for the next life, were in life various store rooms for the big household. The
dead shouldn't miss anything from his former life and therefore he also had his bathroom and
lavatory. The chamber with his mummy was of course his bedroom where he now could sleep for
eternal times. As to his harem and other employees in housekeeping it's clear that parts of the staff
of the first kings were sacrificed and followed their master into the next world, but this tradition
disappeared rather quickly. During the first dynasty lots of large mastaba graves were built in
Sakkara, but their contents (in some unique cases undisturbed for nearly 5.000 years) do not point
out for sure that the monument was a tomb for a king. Names of high officials and kings have been
found, and if the owners were officials, the tombs were much bigger and more elaborated than those
of the kings in Abydos. It doesn't seem logical to us, but we don't know the Egyptians' reflections
about it, so this issue has to be unanswered for the time being.

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A house for eternity:
The tomb was a copy of the residence
on earth and the burial chamber was
the bedroom. In mastaba-tombs the
roof was probably slightly vaulted and
the ceiling in the bedroom was made of
wooden planks. The minor rooms for
storing were not roofed and filled with
sand. The height is estimated to have
been about three to four metres.
To the far right is the 2nd dynasty king
Khasekhemwy's unusual tomb from
Abydos with the burial chamber built
entirely of stone for the first time. It is
the largest on the site: 70 ~ 15 m.
In style it has a slight resemblance to
the contemporary mastabas from Sakk-
ara and Giza (left), but is cruder and
lack artful decorations and symmetry.

The great mastabas in Sakkara

When the first dynasty kings built their tombs in Abydos, things were also happening in the
capital Memphis at the burial ground in Sakkara. On the high desert edge overlooking the capital
and the fertile valley, about 20 large mastabas were built during the c. 175 years of the first dynasty.
The size, type and technical improvements shown in these have no counterparts in Abydos, and
some archaeologists, among them the one the who dug out most of them, thought that these were
the tombs where the kings had been buried. Today the opinion is different due to the fact that more
and more of old monuments (except royal tombs) have been uncovered in Abydos such as large
enclosed areas with thick brick walls and a dozen boat graves from the oldest dynasties.
Nevertheless the Sakkara tombs shows astonishing improvements as the tombs through the years
got an increasing part under ground in the bedrock. Furthermore we have the fact that some
monuments had side burials for servants. The one with the most (dated to the reign of Djer) had 62.
During the reign of Ka the first self supporting vault ever known in the history of architecture was
built.

The general answer to the question who were the owners of these great tombs is: high officials. For
the first and last time in Egyptian history the royal court had been overshadowed in tomb prosperity
by bureaucrats, if this is the right answer. Royal power thus did not gain land from the high officials
in the first 150 years of the existence of the united Egyptian state. It's interesting to make a
comparison between monuments from the first king Aha. The difference between one of his three
separate chambers that made his monument in Abydos, and a mastaba from Memphis' cemetery.

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A mastaba (41x15 m) in Sakkara from the reign of king Aha, seen from above and
the side. The burial chamber plus four rooms were cut down into the bed- rock
and roofed with wooden planks. Two low brick walls enclosed the tomb.
Upper right corner: Aha's grave chamber in Abydos in the same scale. Why
these mastabas were elaborated artful buildings and the royal tombs in Abydos
smal- ler, crude and sloppy in their design, is still an unsolved mystery of
Egyptology.

Technical advances
During the second dynasty the Egyptians had performed with brilliant skill in working in hard stone.
The statue of Khasekhemwy from dynasty two is so far the best example of this achievement, with
shaped and polished surfaces in hard stone. On the east bank of the Nile opposite Sakkara, dozens
of graves from wealthy non-royal inhabitants of Memphis were buried in tombs where the
substructures were built of large blocks of fine shaped stones. Notable is that in these days the
hardest metal known by the Egyptians was copper and at this time bronze came into use (a bowl
from Khasekhemwy is known) and to cut out the bedrock they had to use implements made of hard
stone (dolerite). This was the only way they could work for a thousand years(!) when finally tools
made of the new hard metal - iron, came into use.

Noticing the quality of these tombs of lower officials, archaeologists had reason to believe that the
three first kings of the second dynasty whose tombs were not to be found at the cemetery in Abydos
- Raneb, Nynetjer and Hetepsekhemwy had their last resting places hidden somewhere under the
sand in Sakkara, and finds from the beginning of the twentieth century seem to con- firm this
suggestion. There the building of tombs had taken a new big step downwards under ground, and
the developing of new technique in cutting stone and tunneling in the bedrock made it possible to
elaborate the final resting places of the kings. A new era had begun and the Egyptians were able to
master the hardest of stones to make anything from small statuettes to huge monuments.

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Underground galleries from king Hotepsekhemwy's tomb in Sakkara. Entrance: a
staircase from north. 4 blocks of hard stone were dropped from above into the
corridor to prevent intrusion to his burial chamber (bedroom in red), bathroom
(blue) and lavatory (green). The volume of rock cut out: circa 4.000 cubic meters.

It was in Sakkara, the necropolis of the capital Memphis this great leap forward was taken and the
site had been used as a burial ground even before the founding of the town itself. Making an
estimation that only one person was buried every year (a very low figure) the total of tombs would
still be 3.000(!) waiting to be excavated. No doubt there is still a lot to be revealed from the sand in
this old cemetery, where new finds come to surface regularly.
In 1901 the Italian archaeologist Barsanti made a scoop when he by coincidence practically
stumbled down into a vast underground gallery of rooms going out from a long corridor ending
with a grave chamber (see picture above).
Clay stoppers from storage jars revealed the owner's name - pharaoh Hotepsekhemwy, the first
king of the second dynasty.
Egyptologists now had an example that cutting stone and tunneling the bedrock was well advanced
at this early state of Egyptian history. A few decades later another gallery of similar shape was
found c. 150 meters to the east. Lots of remains from later times were found within it, but remaining
clues told that this was the tomb of pharaoh Nynetjer, the third king of the same dynasty. The tomb
of the ruler thought to have been in charge between these two - Raneb, hasn't been found yet, but
there is a fitting space between the found galleries that is suitable to contain this monument.
There is no trace of the tomb from the following king from dynasty two - Sened, who according to
Manetho had a long reign of well over 40 years. But 100 m north of Hotepsekhemwy's galleries is a
much bigger one with a length of 350 m and now within the enclosure wall of the later grave complex
of pharaoh Djoser. This, not so well examined, large gallery is most likely what is left of the tomb of
Sened. Unfortunately no structures above ground remains from these three underground tombs,
and we don't know if they had mastaba-like buildings or not.
Further reading about these kings can be found in the chapter of the dynasties 1-2. (Menu above).

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The Predynastic period
3.500 - 3.200 BC.

Dynasty "0"
In these old times local chiefs ruled over different parts of the Nile Valley.
In Upper Egypt urban areas, "proto kingdoms", emerged around
places like Hierakonpolis, Nagada, and Abydos (This).
Knowledge about Lower Egypt from this time
is still awaiting to be developed
among Egyptologists
of today.

The archaeological remains

In the 1990s some astonishing finds were made at the old royal cemetery at Abydos. When ex-
cavating the area north of the tombs from the first dynasty and just before, a vast burial ground of
older date was found. The place has been called "Cemetery U" (picture below) and over a dozen
tombs of substance were dug out by the German Institute of Archaeology in Cairo (DAIK).
These new-found monuments were older than those from Cemetery B to the south, where pharaohs
from the first dynasty had their last resting places.

The oldest "royal" tombs in Egypt so far have been found at


Cemetery U at Abydos which has over a dozen monuments.

With a few exceptions the older tombs consisted of only one chamber and those with elabo- rated
structures like a couple of connecting store rooms, are probably made close to the first dynasty.
With one possible exception (see tomb J above and Scorpion I) there were no traces of names to
identify the buried by name, but in this early state of hieroglyphic writing it's possible that the

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Egyptians weren't able to make phonetic signs of their rulers' names.
Sereks showing the palace facade of the king's residence in some cases with a long necked bird on
top, have been found on small ivory tags.
An estimation of the time span during which the grave yard was in use, makes a couple of centuries
a fair guess. If they were just local kings or ruled over greater areas is not known, but it shows that
the unification was a process that took generations to achieve.

Writing developed and from just before the unification


dozens of royal marks are known
from various places and some from
unidentified kings.

Pharaohs known by names are:


Crocodile, Scorpion I & II, Iryhor, Ka and Menes.
They can be read about through the menu left.

Sereks with names hard to read

1) Copy from tomb 1549 at Tarkhan. Some see a resemblance to king Crocodile's seal. A
crocodile's head facing left on a line (standard?) is possible. Top sign hard to read.

2 and 3) Rock carvings from the desert east of Armant: square and a crescent with lines
(beams?). Possibly sign P on top and a hnt-sign at bottom. Pe Hor?, Pe Henet?

4) Painting from tomb of king Ka (dyn. I) from Abydos, copied by Petrie 1902. Looks like a boat
(?) with lines going from the hull. Shows no resemblance to any other sign.

5 Serek from tomb of king Qa (dynasty I) from Abydos, found in 1902. Some see the head of a
bird facing right in this uncertain fragmentary sign (see king Bird dynasty 1).

6 Archaeologist's drawing (Petrie Museum) said to be from Tarkhan tomb 315. The findings from
there have no such sign though, and it's possibly a misinterpretation.

7 Painted jar from Tarkhan, tomb 1702. The serek had a big upstanding object outside like #10.
The sign within has been read Hat Hor. Is it a club, scepter, spear or an arm ?

8 Serek from centre of a ceremonial palette with a common motif of dogs? with suckling puppies.
The grid has similarities to king Den's name written in the Abydos list 1300 BC.

9 Jar from Ezbet el-Tell. A line-sign (Narmer?). Circle outside like the sign of god Re.

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10 Serek from tomb 140 Minshat Abu Omar attested by some to Scorpion with the animal
depicted with his tail pointing left. Others say Crocodile might be the owner.

Crocodile

This ruler is known only from a few remains, and especially an impression coming from a cylinder
seal (link above) found in the wealthy large tomb 414 at Tarkhan.
When it was excavated in 1912, regrettably not a single remain was found of the deceased him- self.
The motif on this remarkable impression is water waves with crocodiles, but unfortunately the
owner has not left a name to identify himself. There is something that might point out his pro-
venance though - in the seal is a standard depicted with a crocodile having two objects standing
on its back. This can be a hint that he was a ruler from the only nome (province) in the country with
this animal as its symbol (picture below right). It was the 6th nome of Upper Egypt, right at the upper
part of the "knee" of the Nile, today known as the "Quena Bend". The capital here was Iunet Tantere,
later to be Dendera.
In a short distance to the south is the old town of Coptos known for its early advanced culture with
monumentalstone statues, around 2,6 m in height, manufactured before the first dynasty. This
region has a strategic location, because from here go the paths between the Nile Valley and the Red
Sea. The road from today's Quift (Coptos), is called Wadi Hammamat, and coils through 120 km of
sterile desert mountains, but 5000 years ago conditions may have been different. A theory among
scientists is that cultural influences (like cylinder seals) possibly came to Egypt from Sumeria by
this route before the first dynasty. If this was the case, the leader of this region would surely have
been the first to observe all news coming from abroad, and maybe the local chief "Crocodile" was
that person.
When the proto-kingdoms slowly were formed in the early times the urban centers were
Hierakonpolis, Nagada and This (Thinis) and possibly leaving the "in between" Dendera
region more or less independent in the middle right by today's "Quena bend". (Kemp 1991, p. 34,
Manley 1996 p. 22). A fact is that this province and its capital is one of the few in Egypt to have a
long tradition of a crocodile cult and the age of the cemeteries goes way back beyond the first
dynasty. The chief ruling this stretch of land could thus make a mini-kingdom of his own and might
be an explanation to the elusive ruler which we for practical reasons call "Pharaoh Crocodile".
Another possible site is the Faiyum basin with its old veneration of the crocodile god Sobek and its
location next door to Tarkhan and the national capital to be (Memphis). But the standards of the
nomes in this region have never included a crocodile.

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Old depictions of a crocodile. Left: Seal from Helwan east of Memphis with a male figure (king?)
by a royal serek topped by Horus. The croc has an object on his head. Middle: Seal from tomb
414 at Tharkan with two standing objcts on its back. Right: The much later sign for nome # six in
Upper Egypt with a standig feather.

A tomb at Helwan east of Memphis has revealed an unique cylinder seal showing a crocodile and
an empty serek with the Horus falcon (picture above far left, colors not genuine). Its age has been
estimated to the period just prior to the unification and this can be King Crocodile showing himself
in the new cylinder style manner.
Also occurring is a male figure (the king himself?) with up-raised arms and two long-necked fantasy
animals (or possibly giraffes) flanking two trees. The latter motif is found on old cosmetic palettes
from before the unification. Crocodiles on the other hand, do not occur on these palettes where
several other types of animals (wild, domesticated and fantasy) often were depicted.
The long necked beasts possibly symbolize the two nations with the growing tree(s) being the fertile
Nile they both live in symbiosis with. Note also the crocodile's head and the object(?) upon it, and
compared to the feather from the nome standard far right. The German Egyptologist Werner Kaiser
has put forward the hypothesis that Crocodile might have been a local high official in the Tarkhan
region during the reign of king Narmer, whose name (in variations) also was found in this tomb.
His countryman Gunter Dreyer takes another view and interprets the mud-seal impression from the
Tarkhan tomb as a mark from a "real" king over some area simultaneously with the rulers from
Hierakonpolis in the south and in This downstream (north). He made his conclusion after studying
infrared photographs and other compara- tive objects. He also estimates king Crocodile's reign to
be contemporary to those of Narmer and Iryhor. Since no tomb of Crocodile has been found at
Abydos among the other early rulers buried there, he might have been an opponent to these kings.
If that's the case king Crocodile's tomb might still await to be found somewhere, possibly around
Dendera in his own province.
The fact that both Crocodile's and Narmer's sealing were found in the same Tarkhan tomb does not
have to be puzzling and plausible explanations can be made.
If the tomb belonged to a nome governor or someone else of high rank, and this is highly prob-
able, surely both Narmer and Crocodile would have paid tribute to the deceased by sending funeral
gifts. Sealings from both kings would in that case be present in the tomb, and exactly this is what
was found. Since Narmer seems to have been the most powerful of the two, it is likely that his gifts
were more in numbers, and just so was the case when the remains from the tomb were analysed.
The historical scenario here described is of course made up, but the physical details are all correct
and fit together. In other words: it's quite possible that something like this once happened and was
revealed 5000 years later when the 6 square meters of tomb 414 at Tarkhan was investigated in
1913.

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There are two other finds from Tharkan (tombs 315 and 1549) found by
Flinders Petrie during the same season (picture right). On two cylin- drical
vases (Petrie Mueum in London) sereks were roughly painted and in 1992
these were considered to be depictions of King Crocodile by the German
Egyptologist Gunter Dreyer.
This interpretation is highly questionable (to this author at least) and the
objects rather look like a plucked goose (left version) than a crocodile with
a figure possibly looking like a stylized water wave (right). The goose was
an "ordinary" hieroglyph and appears in the king lists made half a
millennium later in the cartouche of king Sened from the second dynasty.

It would take over 1.400 years before the crocodile became the insignia
and name of a king in Egypt again. A row of pharaohs took this animal to their hearts and titles
during the troublesome period of dynasty 13 at the end of the Middle Kingdom.

Scorpion I

In the early 1990s an elaborated tomb (right) marked with "J" was exca-
vated in Abydos (picture right). It was found in the oldest part of the burial
site at the so called Cemetery U 150 meters north of the ones from Narmer
and Aha. The construction was built of dried mud bricks and the walls were
rather thin compared to the monuments of the fol- lowers. The size (7,5 x 10
m) told that the owner had been a person of very great importance. The
original structure was the burial chamber in the upper right corner and nine
offering rooms connected to one an- other (and the grave chamber) by
narrow slits, probably symbolizing doors. The tomb was later enlarged with
two rooms built in two stages, at the south long the side. The date of this
extension is not known, but it was probably made close to in time, or even
just when the original monument was finished, and found too small to
contain all the funeral gifts.
The grave goods found within it were remarkable and a big surprise for the
excavators: images of scorpions in a royal fashion and lots of jars imported
from northern Palestine 1000 km to the north-east possibly to have contained
wine. Some were attached with small ivory tags depicting birds and other
animals and one obviously marked with the name of the town Bast (Greek:
Bubastis, see picture left). That town was situated in the mid-east delta in
Lower Egypt 550 km away at the northern end of the Nile Valley. Obviously
parts of the provisions for the owner came from there, stored in these imported
jars. The archaeologists working at the site were from the German
Archaeological Institute in Cairo (DAIK) under the super- vision of Gnther
Dreyer. He put forward the theory that this could be the tomb of a pharaoh he called Scorpion I, due
to the fact that his "name" or rather insignia had been found.
Another thing is that among several depictions and sculptures of a scorpion at the Main Deposit at
Hierakon- polis, nobody can tell if it's made for Scorpion 1 or 2.

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A royal scorpion penetrating into the pro-
vince of Nubia is known from some illu-
startions and a carved similar motif on a
limestone urn is in the picture right. The
crests upon which the falcons (the king) sit
has been a symbol of this province since
earliest times. The three birds at the bottom
seem domesticated and duck-like, possibly
applying to the inhabitants in the region.
They are here flanked by bows from archers.
Other scorpions of glazed pottery, ivory and
limestone were also present in the great find
at Hierkonpolis, and some can be seen here.

Scorpion II

Scorpion II is the king famous for his two


ceremonial mace-heads made of stone, found in
the last decade of the 1800s in the so called Main
Deposit within the old temple area of
Hierakonpolis. Though badly damaged, the visible
parts are extraordinary records from this early
time in Egyptian history. The motif from the
smallest one is shown in picture right with the
animal in question in front of the king's face,
reconstructed by the Egyptologist Arkell from the
remains on the damaged artifact (in picture right).
Looking at the drawing from the original (in
picture below right) the image of a scorpion is
highly disputable and a crocodile's tail hanging
down is another sugg- estion. In that case it can be connected to another shadowy ruler from the
same period of time. (See Crocodile from menu left).

The biggest and most famous is on the other hand of good quality in the parts
remaining of a magnificent big mace head earlier mentioned. It's today
exhibited at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford England.
His tomb has not been detected so far (year 2001) but there is a possibility
that his last resting place was in the four-chamber grave (B 50) just 30 meters
south-west of Narmer's in the old part of the royal cemetery at Abydos, or
identical to the tomb thought to be from his namesake number one. The B 50
monument is placed right in the center of the tombs from the pharaohs of the
first dynasty, but has regrettably not left a single shred of evidence to make
an identification of the owner.
Another possibility is that he was not buried in the area at all because he was
a ruler from Hierakonpolis further to the south, and not connected to kings
from Abydos (This). If so his tomb might still be hidden under the sand in the
Hierakonpolis area.
Other remains of Scorpion II are sparse and only a few names in sereks painted on pots can possibly

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be attested him. An exception is a rather anonymous statuette in a German collection, which is the
only of its kind known where he (or his double number one) is seen in a 3D way.
He has got the regent number II because remains from a supposed older tomb called U-j (see
Scorpion I above) at the same burial ground (Abydos) has brought to light objects with incised
scorpions. The excavator's theory is that the owner could have been an earlier ruler with the same
"name". It might also be the fact that the tomb U-j was the last resting place for the only pharaoh
wearing that name. The mace heads found should in that case originally have been put in his grave
and later transported to the temple area of Hierakonpolis for safe keeping. The content of his tomb
found in the 1990s were thus the leftovers from robbers. This scenario might have been the fact for
the remains from Abydos of Narmer as well. (See Scorpion I from the menu left and text above).

Iryhor
This ruler is the oldest known by name who is buried in the royal cemetery
of Abydos. He is believed to have reigned in around 3100 BC. The picture
right shows what's left of the two chambers from his tomb. The southern
one seems to have been extended in an irregular way with the original
measures left only in the part facing north. Only the substructure of sun
dried bricks remains and it's possible that no superstructure has ever
existed.
The site was axcavated in 1902 by the English
archaeologist Flinders Petrie and in the 1980s an
expedition from the German Archaeology Institute in
Cairo (DAIK) reexcavated the tombusing modern
methods.
New remnants came to light and the there were found
seal impressions and potsherds with Iryhor's
personal insignia. Parts of a bed and a fine ivory
fragment of a bed-foot made like a bull's leg were
also among the new interesting finds.
The big jar with the carved in falcon (picture left), was
unearthed in 1902 from chamber B 1, the supposed
place of king's body. Then in the 1980s it produced
an incised jar fragment and a astonishing eight ink
inscriptions and a seal impression, plus remains holding the names of
Narmer and Ka (JEA 1993). The amount of finds in such a small place was
unexpected and the fragments with Narmer's name means that the tomb was
opened at a later date (and restored?) and new offerings were placed within.

The reading of Iryhor's name is far from certain, and is interpreted by using
the word for falcon god (Hor) who sits upon a sign for mouth (iry). Petrie
interpreted the sign as Ro. No other ruler had the name of the falcon (the icon of the king himself)
as an integrated part of his name, but it works well as an identification for this ancient leader. His
place in the sequence of reign was given after king Ka by Petrie, despite the fact that this king had
his name within a serek. He made the conclusion on mainly three facts:
1) The big jar with the name (above left) is of a later type that did not occur in the tomb of Ka.
2) The seal with the falcon and the mouth was very alike those of Narmer and Aha and not at all like
Ka's more simple one.
3) The seal impression (of clay) was of yellow marl like the ones made in later times, but Ka's was
of black mud.
Some Egyptologists don't recognize him as a real "king" at all mainly because of the absence of a

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serek or hieroglyphs indicating a royal title, the word "king" etc. The sign of the falcon and the
mouth has been taken as the mark for the royal treasury and the jar type mentioned by Petrie occurs
for the first time during the reign of Narmer. But since we now know (after the digging in the 1980s)
that the tomb was reopened, this argument for Iryhor ruling after Ka is no longer valid.
The place and size of his tomb plus the (royal) falcon attribute and the tradition of the burial ground
indicate the opposite though, and the serek might not have been invented yet as a symbol of the
king himself.
Exactly where to put Iryhor's reign in the sequence of rulers is even harder to do today (year 2001)
and an additional ruler from tomb U-j has entered the arena in the 1990s (see Scorpion I from menu
left). The future hopefully will spread more light on this matter.

Ka

King Ka ruled a generation prior to dynasty I, and was buried in a double tomb
at Abydos. where he is considered to have preceded king Narmer as king of This.
This conclusion is based upon analysis of the ceramics and other offerings from
his grave and its building style and position in the cemetery. Its feature (picture
left) was very alike his supposed predecessor's king Iryhor both in position and
shape, with two chambers beside each other in a "row" with pointing short sides
and a gap between of a couple of meters. When it was excavated in 1902 lots of
remains with the king's name came to light and the identification is thus clear.
He is a well-attested king and his remnants have been
found as far north as the northeast delta in Lower Egypt
plus Helwan opposite Memphis and Tarkhan at the level
of the Faiyum basin. Findings connected to him has not
been found south of Abydos (the area of the old capital
of This). This indicates that he had no relationship to the
(earlier?) rulers from Hierakonpolis. Among the finds
from his tomb were several potsherds found with his
"name", two raised arms, a sign later to mean "soul" and pronounced "ka".
He had it written within a "serek", thought to be a depiction of the facade of
the royal palace (picture right). He was the first pharaoh to adopt this sign
and the falcon on its top, in this illustration (picture right) accompanied with
the plant symbolizing Upper Egypt. Of the two chambers he is likely to have
been buried in southern (B7) and the other (B9) was for offerings and
supplies. He could possibly have been the father of Narmer, whose tomb
was built in a similar style and size, and placed just 30 meters away. A small
very realistic ivory statuette showing an anonymous old king might be a portrait of king Ka, but this
is pure guesswork.

Menes

This pharaoh is the legendary king that came from the town of This (Tinis) in Upper Egypt and took
over Lower Egypt (the North) by force. He then became the first king over the whole country and
founded a new capital for the united Egypt - Memphis (egy. Menefer), just where the two states

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bordered on each other. According to archaeology this was supposed to have happened around
3200 BC.
His name was Meni (or Mena) in later Egyptian king-lists and the historian Manetho (200s BC) called
him by the Greek form Menes in his work on the Egyptian history. He only appears by this name in
king lists made over 1000 years later (see below), and not at all in any monuments from his own
time.

Menes (Meni) in red, as written in the Royal Canon of Turin.

Many scholars have tried to point out who he was and the candidates have mostly been Narmer and
Aha. Narmer because he portrayed himself as the ruler of both Upper and Lower Egypt on his
famous green palette found within the temple area of the town of Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt (as
seen above in the chapter "Historical Records").
King Aha, likely Narmer's son, on the other hand, was the first pharaoh who had monuments of
substance over the whole country, and his large tomb constructions (with buried retainers for the
first time) were in dimensions that far overshadowed his predecessors. He has also left a written
sign interpreted by some as the word "men" (meaning: "established") written beside his ordinary
name at one occasion. This once made him the favorite to be "Menes from Thinis" until the last
decade of the 1900s when the old royal tombs in Abydos were re-excavated. Then came to light two
remarkable seal impressions from the tombs of Den and Qaa, the fifth and eighth ruler of the first
dynasty. The motif was a line of kings in a successive order, and both had Narmer as the founder
of the first dynasty, followed by Aha. Analyzing the Egyptian tradition it looks like the deeds of
Menes might be an amalgam of components from several chiefs and legends, and thus it may not
be fruitful to identify him with a single historical person, though Narmer might have been the one
to finished the job by uniting the to kingdoms.
A linguistic possibility for Narmer being Menes is that the two sound elements Nar and Mer might
have been read in reverse order (common in later Egyptian history), making: Mernar, which gives a
similarity to the sounds of Mena - Meni.

The Nile Valley now took the step to be


a united country under one divine king.
This phase in Egyptian history is called:

The Early Dynastic Period

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Dawn of Egyptian Culture
Neolitic period 6.000 - 3.500 BC.
Predynastic period 3.500 - 3.100 BC.
By Ottar Vendel

The Earliest Cultures South and North History Begins The 42 provinces
Origin of the Egyptians Eye Makeup Sumerian Connection Hieroglyphs
Records Early Kings The Unification The Royal Cemetery Pharaoh's titles

The first signs of human activity in the area which today is Egypt, dates
back around 500,000 years. Pebbles and stone axes from the Abu
Simbel region in the far south have been estimated to be of this age.
The majority of the stone age finds are 90.000 to 250.000 years old and
the materials are mostly the stones quartzite and basalt. These
remnants are surely from the dawn of man and not from our own clever
and imaginetive sort Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
The first fragments of "real" humans and an organized society are from
Qadan (250 km south of Aswan) and date back to circa 13.000 to 9.000
BC. and have the first cemeteries with ritual burials.

A rudimentary agriculture is shown from all grinding stones and the


great number of sickles. In some places fishing is decreasing since the
cereal culture, possibly barley, plus hunting (the area by the Nile were
then a savannah) gave a sufficient level of feeding.
Then, due to a slow change into a drier climate, agriculture was
decreasing, and sickles are found more seldom. The fight for fertile
land was then a fact for the inhabitants in the Nile Valley and in around
6.000 BC they organized themselves in tribes to protected their
possessions. The small semi nomading groups of hunters and
fishermen began to be stationary in villages and after the adoption of
the "modern" agriculture in around 5.000 BC (like working together on
irrigation projects etc), the base to the coming high culture was ready
and the key word was - spare time. This was gained when the Nile was flooding and a good harvest
didn't make it necessary to gather food and cattle breeding made hunting not a necessety. Some
centers based on agriculture and some hunting/fishing grew to quite a substantial size, like the one
excavated in the 1930s at Merimde.
At approximately the same time communities were developing by other rivers like Indus in today's
India/Pakistan and the much closer by Eufrat and Tigris in Mesopotamia the place for the coming
high culture of Sumeria. (See the history table for the region).
Archaeology in Egypt has revealed habitats (map at upper right) which had their own typical pottery,
tools, weapons, burial customs etc. The cultures at the middle Egyptian town of Badari and a couple
of minor at the southern delta, lived their own lives until the advanced civilization from the southern
town of Nagada started to spread northwards. After almost a millennium it had reached up to the
shores of the Mediterranean Sea and wiped out the local cultures at Maadi and Omari which until
then had influences from the region of today's southern Palestine.
The two geographical parts (southern - Upper, and northern - Lower Egypt) thus had a basically
common culture just prior to unification. Some differences however were to a great extent
preserved, like local gods and symbols, which had originated in the around forty small tribe areas
(later to be Egyptian provinces) which were spread along both banks of the Nile.
Very important, not to say essential factors for creating this first national state in history were their

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common language and the developing of a writing system.

Faiyum culture (at right row 1) had


flint arrowheads and stone tools.
The crude pottery was without de-
coration. Sickle blades of wood and
stone (bottom) are found from this
old mixed hunter/farmer society
from the period c. 6 000 - 4 000 BC.

The Mirimde culture (on row 2) had


circular huts with burials along a
main "street". The tombs contained
no offering goods and the pottery
was not decorated. This 12 cm long
saw blade was made of brown flint.
A face of clay (height: 11 cm) was
possibly depicting a dead ancestor.
Estimated date: 5 000 - 4 200 BC.

The Badari culture (on row 3), had


simple clay figures and thin pottery,
"black-topped" (20-25 cm) and the
first cosmetic palettes (square). A
possible parallel culture,
the Tasianhad "trumpet" jars.
The five cm high stone vase was
maybe for perfumed oil. Period
around 4500 - 4000 BC.

The Nagada culture (row 4 at right)


showed an elaborated design on
decorated pottery. Brown urn with
three women dancing over a big
boat with two square cabins. At far
left is seen a row of four
ostriches. Woman figurine of bone
(10-12 cm). Nagada I, (Amaratian) c.
4000 BC . Bearded man of stone (51
cm) from Nagada II, (Gerzean) c.
3500 BC .

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A man is harpooning an hippopotamus from a boat (detail). Carving on a slate palette from
4.000 - 3.500 BC. Provenance is unknown. The boat's hull is clearly of Upper Egyptian
style. In later times kings were often depicted hunting hippos. (Medelhavsmuset
Stockholm).

The two cultures


Prior to the unification in about 3.200 BC. the two main cultures in the north and south were clearly
visible. They had different kings wearing different crowns and their main gods were worshipped in
temples of a quite different style. The pottery in the north showed influences from the area of
Palestine and Syria and in the south new designs were coming from Sumeria in the east such as
cylinder seals to make impressions in clay. The north adopted a new architectural design in
brickwork and began to make tomb buildings in a rectangular form (mastabas) with walls having
fancy recesses, and this was also a cultural inport coming from the Sumerian culture. In the south
the tombs for the upper classes did not change and were crude building hardly above ground i an
elaborated traditional tribe style from the past.

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The types of boats were strikingly different too and in the Delta they had high
sterns (like the reed boats in Sumeria) using vaulted cabins. In the south the
boats were long with low sterns and possibly partly made of wood, and carrying
square flat topped cabins. This is shown clearly in a painting from an old tomb
(later in the text below) and on a knife handle made of ivory where combatants
fight with clubs. If this is the final battle of unification there are interesting details
to put forward: the warriors all look alike with a slight exception for their hair
style and wear the same type of clothing and similar weapons. In other words -
it looks like an internal struggle among cousins from a basically similar culture.
Contradict to this is the depiction on the other side of the knife handle where a
standing man holding two lions is dressed in a typically old Baby- lonian fashion
with a long robe and a turban. He is wearing a full beard, and this is clearly not
Egyptian. In about 1900 scholars made up the theory that invaders had
penetrated the valley coming through the mountains from the Red Sea 120 km
to the east, arriving right at the cradle of culture in Upper Egypt. How, and by
what means they had transported themselves all the way from Sumeria wasn't
Nagada statuette of quite clear, but this was yesterday's try to explain the culture influences from
a dancing woman the east. This hypothesis is now aban-doned and the "invasion theory" has been
with bird's? head.
changed to culture impulses made by trade. An influx of people (settlers) from
the East, in a small scale, might have occurred, but physical evidence to back up this theory has
not come up.

The beginning of History


In general the word "historical" means when a culture has developed a pictographic way of
recording events and persons. In that sense Egypt's history began in about 3.200 BC when the first
hieroglyphic writings come to light on small labels of wood and
ivory.
Remarkably the structure of the writing system was almost
finished in the first dynasty and thus was a product of a
development that had been going on for an unknown period of
time. Remnants from the earlier stages have not been found and
several attempts to derive hieroglyphs from the so-called "pot
marks" made on ceramic vessels have, so far, not been
successful.
The options are two: writing can in the earliest times have been
made on material that has decayed, or the system has been
imported from abroad. No traces outside or inside Egypt can
confirm any of these suggestions.

Other ways of recording things is by sculpturing. From the


primitive figures of wood, bone and clay appearing in tombs from
about 4.500 BC (like the figurine above), next step was to master Ivory statuette 4000 BC. and tattoos
stone as stuff for artifacts. Cosmetic palettes (for creating eye from a priestess' mummy 2100 BC.
shadowing make up) from graves were with time made in different
shapes and pictures of animals and humans on them became more common.
There are a few outstanding remains in early stone sculpture but one exeption is the two colossi of
the fertility god later to be Min which were found at Coptos. In these early days the god was shown
as a bearded man without any hair (bald or possibly with his head shaven). Several small figurines
looking like this have been found in tombs and in the temple yard at Hierakonpolis, an old fortified
town in Upper Egypt built on an island in the Nile. The finds are dated to a few centuries prior to
dynasty one in 3.200 BC.
A famous sculpture and with a similar look is a well preserved black stone sculpture now in the

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Ashmolean Museum in Oxford known as the Mac Gregor man.
These two examples show that handling and forming hard stone was well known even a couple of
generations prior to the first dynasty.

Two stone palettes


Left: Old type stone of palette with a hunting scene. ( 4000 - 3500 BC ).
Right: Stone palette in shape of an unknown animal ( 3500 - 3200 BC ).

In the 1890s some remarkable finds were made at the old town of Nekhen, called Hierakonpolis
(Falcon City) by the Greeks. It was situated 140 km south of todays Luxor (yesterday's Thebes) and
placed upon a rocky plateau 400 m out in the flood plain from the western bank of the Nile, which
made it easy to defend during the flooding season when it was surrounded by water. The
foundations and remains of a royal palace told that this was the place where the earliest kings had
resided. Under the ground outside the temple was a cache containing lots of remains from the
earliest pharaohs, and it was obviously brought her for safe keeping from the cemetery at Abydos
up north and possibly some other royal burial ground not yet found. Among the finds were several
figures of clay, ceramics, ivory, stone and bone (picture below) and some types (possibly local)
were never to be seen again in Egyptian art after the start of the first dynasty.

Some small figures made of ivory depicted a god with a broad beard and sometimes a helmet like
cap on his head. He might be the god of fertility - Min, at least in the version with a bald head (see
"Nagada" by the picture atop). If the female figurines are early prototypes for later goddesses is not
known, but the sleeve-less cloak around one of them (above) is very unusual. (See the link "old
king" in the text of king Ka below).
Extensive investigations starting in 2002 have revealed a lot about this oldest royal temple in Egypt,
the Hierakonpolis center. It went through at least three big changes (enlargements) during the time
prior to the union of the countries in around 3.200 BC. In the cemetery of the elite has been found
quite elaborated tombs with offerings dating back as long as 3.700 BC. This unex-pected fact gives

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a time span which is half a millenium longer than previous estimated.

Where did the Egyptians come from?


Thousands of examinations over the years of skeletal remains from graves give the fact that the
ancient Egyptians (as well as the present population) belonged to the so called Mediterranean type
of the Caucasian people.
Today as then they are living in Africa north of Sahara from the Red Sea in
the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west.
During the Natufian time around 12 000 years BC the way of making stone
flakes for implements (Microburin technique) was very alike in northern
Egypt and the area south of the Dead Sea in Palestine. Furthermore, an
exchange of people is also confirmed through archaeology. Also dwellings
like round huts partly dug into the ground are similar for these areas.
The influx of people to Egypt over the last 2.000 years has just slightly
effected the bulk of the population, and scholars believe that the human
stock of today is very much the same as it was in ancient times.
The complexion gets darker when going southwards, following the intensity
of the sun, but without any changes towards Negroid looks. Regrettably
nonsens about the origins of the Egyptians is today frequently spread
through television, but a fact is that Egyptians (now and then) are not ralated
to black sub-Saharans.
Thus the genetic laboratories of the Egyptian Museum and University of
Cairo could in 2010 prove in consensus, that king Tutankhamon was of the
West European DNA type R1b, which has no connection at all to black
Africans or Asians.

The ancient Egyptians were in general slim hipped with rather broad shoulders and oval faces was
in majority. They depicted themselves with long straight noses from the earliest times through
portraits made in later periods. (Pictures right are from 1.500 and 3.200 BC).
The women hardly never got plump and had no tendency to a large behind like their black sisters
further south did. Their hair color was usually black to dark brown.
More light skinned individuals were present especially in the coastal area west of the Nile delta
among the Libyan tribes (see below).
Considering the homogeneity of the people a fair assumption is that most of the Egyptians have
entered the Nile Valley from the north (and from the now gone savannas west of the river) and
spread to the Red Sea in the east. In the south they stopped at the cataract of Aswan, where the
fruitful shores of mud ended and were replaced by cliffs. This point was for thousands of years the
natural lower border of Egypt, separating them from the black inhabitants further south by a vast
stretch of wasteland.

Geography and climate

The first "cultural" remains found are, at the earliest, from around 13,000 BC. These traces are too
few for making conclusions about those who left them. When the annual floods with its fertilizing
mud started grass began to grow by the shores and hunters had possibility to get prey, and this did
not begin to an extent until after the latest Ice Age as recent as around 8,000 BC.

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One of the earliest known detailed
depictions of an Egyptian comes from
the so called the "Hunters' Palette"
showing a good dozen worriors with
long hair gathered in a net or a short
wig. They all had long straight noses
and a beard. They were dressed in a
skirt of reed and the weapons were:
boomerang, axe, spear, club and arch.
On their heads they wore plu- mes (as
tribe marks?) and by the belt hung a
jackal's tail. The man to the right has a
standard with a falcon atop and a
shield (or maybe a drum).

The western part of today's Egypt is just the sterile Sahara desert. Archaeology has shown that
long before and during the Later Stone Age (neoliticum, beginning around 6.000 B.C.) people lived
here as hunters and had a type of culture which to a big part was very similar to the one by the Nile
(Hoffman: Egypt Before the Pharaohs" 1979).
Furthermore, ancient rock art in the mountains show hunters, pray and dometicated ani- mals, but
the lack of dwelling and tombs makes it all difficult to date the single remains. Scholars estimate
within a span of 10.000 to 3.000 years BC. Nontheless this clearly indicates that this region which
then was a savannah, provided the Nile Valley with immigrants and possibly vice versa. As late as
during the Old Kingdom these so called "sand dwellers" (Egyptian name) were many enough to
disurb the state by the Nile which had to take military actions against them bringing back prisoners
and live stock to Egypt.
In the ealiest days the people by the Nile were hunters too, but had additional skills compared to
their neighbors in the deserts. They were used to water and used boats and rafts, could catch fowl,
fish and hunted game like crocodiles and hippos.
In around 5,000 B.C. agriculture came to the Nile Valley and the population increased considerably.
By this time the region had rain falls making the desert areas now flanking the river a grass land
feeding animals like buffaloes, giraffes, gazelles, and present were also the feline predators lions
and cheetas. Then the climate constantly got drier and at the beginning of dynastic times most of
the big grass eaters were extinct. By 2,000 years BC rain falls did appear just occasion-ally and the
nomads in the western savannas were the first ones to abandon their hunting grounds. Activities
(like small scale agriculture) was from now on possible only in the big oases. To maintain the food
supply (crops) the Egyptians had to store and transport water from the river and this could only be
done through canal- and dam building in a huge scale. An firm organization was needed to realize
this and the centralized power was established since the original tribe areas and their chiefs were
inadequate in size to perform such a great task themselves.

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The Egyptians classified people into four groups as seen here from the tomb of Seti I.
1) Nehesy - Black inhabitants further south in Africa below today's province of Nubia.
2) Romut - Themselves, the farmers, hunters and fishermen living in the Nile Valley.
3) amu - Asians (and people in the east mountains, usually dressed like Egyptians).
4) Temehu - Libyans, from the coastal area in north-west and western desert, having
swanky dresses, fair skin and tribe mark tattoos, seen also on Egyptians, even today.

The Eastern Mountains towards the Red Sea probably never had any vast grass areas like the
western regions did. Living conditions here were more suitable for small live stock breeding with
animals like goats and sheep. Pictorial remains from the inhabitants are remarkably many, and new
ones are found by hundreds every year today (2007). These pictures have a significant and common
motif which is lacking in the mountains west of the Nile - boats.
This area seems to have been fairly occupied at least until the end of the Old Kingdom. Thereafter
the mountaineers probably got fewer and are not mentioned specifically in hieroglyphic texts any
more. The Egyptian name meaning "easterners" (see text by the picture above) was used also to
designate peoples coming from Asia, mostly those from the Middle East region.
The "real" Egyptians were the farmers by the Nile with their high and developed culture, and they
always considered themselves a separate people from their close neighbors though we can assume
that they shared the same language. These relatives disturbed the Egyptian trade routs through
robbery etc. and this was the main reason for hostility between these cousins.
The Egyptian army was constantly kept alert by maintaining security for their export and import
passing these areas. The Egyptian (slightly degrading) name for inhabitants here was "mountain
dwellers" an analogue to the people in Sahara westbound being called "sand dwellers".

The Egyptian Eye Paint

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The very old Egyptian eye makeup is famous and has influ-
enced modern fashion. This habit was due to the fact that
the Egyptians came from the north and had fair skin not
adapted to the bright sunshine in the northern Nile Valley.
To reduce the irritating light reflected into the eye they
shaded the area around it with paint, and this made work-
ing outdoors or just being i the sun more bearable.
With time people from the upper classes (women and men
alike) made this practical painting an essential part of their
daily appearance, and it was elaborated in form adding
green and blue colors. The stone palettes for grinding eye
paint became pieces of art indicating the owner's status.
They are found in many different shapes from the oldest
times and the most famous is the one of pharaoh Narmer.

The Sumerian connection

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Mother symbols of the Nile valley?

A mysterious scene from a ceremonial make


up palette dated to around 3.300 BC.
Two hyena-like animals with puppies, making
a roof over two feline fantasy-creatures with
long necks which are licking what seems to
be a goat. The opposite side has two lions
standing on their back feet and mouth to
mouth against two goats.
Five palettes with dog-like animals are known
and others have two giraffes(?) with a palm
tree in the center. In one case an unknown
king's serek is shown in the middle. (See
below number 8 in unidentified kings). The
artistic style with two facing animals was
common in Sumeria, and might be a cultural
import to the Nile Valley.
The motif with two animals can also be taken
as symbolizing the North and the South.

The scene on a knife handle mentioned above shows two types of boats. The ones with a high
prows are believed to be from the northern delta - Lower Egypt - and made of papyrus. The
Egyptians living there called their country "Ta-mehu", the land of the papyrus.
The others boats have their origin in southern - Upper Egypt - "Ta-schema", the land of the reed,
and seem to be partly made of wood. The cabins are different too as shown in the "painted grave"
from Hierakonpolis (see picture in chapter "The historical records" below).
The high prowed boats also occur in Sumeria but there is no evidence that they were brought to the
Nile Valley by invaders or even was a cultural import for that matter, because the reed/papyrus
material simply make this the only practical way of constructing such a boat.
In the mountains in the East Desert from the possible path of the "invaders" a large
number of stone carvings have been found, where boats (often big ones) play a leading
roll. It is obvious that this vehicle played a major part in Egyptian society already in
prehistoric times but there is no evidence that these vessels were for sailing on the
high seas, and the more modest strip of water called the Nile (during the inundation
up to 60 km across) would have been enough.
At the beginning of the 1900's archaeologists examined the skeletal remains of the
earliest graves and found that the remains of the ruling class" indicated that they might
have been of heavier stature than the Egyptians in general. This was the ground for
Cylinder seal, the belief that these had come from outside the country.
cultural import
Evidence of cultural influence from Sumeria before the unification is proven, but
from Sumeria
genetic influence to a notable extent is not.
The newcomers were believed to have brought a falcon god into Egypt and were called after him -
"The followers of Horus". The physical statures of the oldest kings are not known, but remains and
depictions of those from dynasties 0-4 tell that some were heavy-built with broad faces, but
variations within the families were frequent.
The most significant influence from Sumeria was the facade of the royal palace. This was an insignia
for the king, depicted in a stylized way and called a "serek". It came into use before dynasty 1, as
did the new style of mud brick masonry in northern Egypt used in the mastaba-tombs.

<="" a="">
Hieroglyphs - and Egyptian writing

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An essential factor for the cultural development in the Nile valley was the invention of writing. This
made it possible to pass knowledge to the next generation. The origin of the signs (known by their
Greek name - hieroglyphs) is still a mystery and the grammatical system was complete already in
the first dynasty without a trace of any developing stages. A theory is that it all had been brought
to Egypt from outside, but this has not been confirmed. One possibility is that the earliest writing
was made on material now totally decayed, but this is naturally hard to prove.
Over the years around 1,200 signs have been detected with a core of around 800 from which a
selection of around 100 were more frequently in use.
When the Roman era was going towards its end a couple of hundred years AC the knowledge of
hieroglyphs also came to an end and all writings on buildings, papyrus manuscripts etc became
totally illegible. This would however, be restored some 1,500 years later starting in the year 1798
when a French military expedition invaded Egypt for both eco-political and cultural reasons.
Besides the troops there were 500 civilians scientists and engineers, geologists, painters and
others. They constructed canals, made maps, documented temples, mummies, tombs and all
interesting they found in this new culture. They noticed that almost everything from simple hand
tools to large buildings were decorated with pictures of birds, flowers, people, frogs and many other
things which were placed in rows or columns. This was the first organized attempt to pass the
knowledge about them to Europe, and it was made by a man of great farseeing who was chief of the
expedition. He was 29 years old and due to his ability in mathematics and leadership he had
graduated as an officer of artillery at the age of 16 and got the rank of general at 24.
In a few yars he would be famous in European politics and known in history by just his first name -
Napoleon.

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In the second year of the occupation
(1899) a black stone slab was found
outside Rosetta, which was a town
by the Mediterranean Sea.
It was covered with inscriptions in
Egyptian using traditional
hieroglyphs and a "short- hand" type
called demotic plus Greek by their
alphabet (picture right).
French scientists participating in the
expe- dition could read the Greek
part at once and it was a religious
decree from the priests of Memphis
(the capital) giving divine honors to
their pharaoh Ptolmaios V, who ruled
in Egypt between 205 and 180 B.C.
A fair assumption was now made
that the content of the three texts
was identical, and if so, it was a
golden opportunity to descript the
ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic
writing.
A complete solution was now at
hand and just a matter of time, and it
should take - 23 years.
The French troops surrendered to
the British two years later, and the
stone was brought to London in the
fall of 1802.
The best French linguist had been
studying copies of the texts for some
years but without any progress, and
handed over the task the same year The Rosetta stone has three different alphabets. From top:
to a Swedish diplomat by the name Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic signs and classic Greek.
David kerblad. He was an orientalist and linguistic genius who mastered (among others) the dead
Coptic language, classic Greek and historical writing systems. He could within just a couple of
months(!) make astonishing pro- gress by correcty identifying all personal names in the demotic
section, like Ptolmaios, Cleopatra, Alexander, Berenike, Arsino plus the words "Alexandria",
Greek", "Egyptian" and "temple". His results also clearly showed that Coptic (in which the text was
written) was a direct descendant of the dead Egyptian which could help to reconstruct old and lost
sounds from the Nile Valley. For this purpose he made a list of 29 demotic letters which (later would
show) rightly gave the sound values from 15 of them. This was a breakthrough which should turn
out to be of great importance in breaking the code of the hieroglyphs.
Now the expectations from the public for a fast solution were high, but remarkably nothing of
importance was achieved for almost two decades, though publications frequently came where the
authors wrongly claimed they have solved the problem. Doing so would surely generate fame of
historical proportions, and this fact made all sorts of scientists eager to win the race.
Seventeen years later (in 1819) the English polymath Thomas Young wrote an article where he
claimed to have found all hieroglyphic letters. Through using them he had identified the name
Ptolmaios from the Rosetta Stone.

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Regrettably just the six letters forming this king's name
were later proven to be correct.
He followed his own odd theory that all foreign names
were written only with hieroglyphs having a sound
value (letters), and Egyptian ones with ideograms
(signs standing for ideas), but this should later turn out
to be wrong. Consequently the scholars working
according to this principle hit a dead end and further
progress was halted for them.
One person who suspected the old Egyptian
grammatical pat- tern to be quite different was the
French linguist and librarian Jean-Franois
Champollion.
Jean-Franois Champollion (1790-1832) He was a 29 years old teacher at the University of
found the key to hieroglyphic writing. Grenoble and had worked with the hieroglypic riddle in
periods for over ten years but had made few publications on the issue.
After reading Young's article he noticed that find-ing even a few sound values was no doubt a step
forward, but far from the solution of the grammatical pattern of the Egyptian language. He now
focused on the personal names within the ovals, so called "cartouches". By also choosing older
texts copied from temples holding pure Egyptian names, he noticed that these were likely to
contain both letters and ideograms. In some cases specific signs ocurred later to be known as
guides about gender.
Then in the summer of 1822 he practically stumbled over the solution to the system by which the
old Egyptian writing was built up. It was a seemingly random mixture of signs making parts of words
(no vowels were written prior to the Greek period 200 BC) as well as groups and single signs which
had an abstract meaning of themselves. Thus an eye could mean "see" and a picture of a vulture
pronounced "ah", being the first sound of its name.
The sun(god) was known to be called Ra (or Re), and names
beginning with a picture of the sun he correctly assumed might
be that sound. He then was able read the names of the two
pharaohs Ramses and Thotmes, with the latter's name having
a picture of the god Thot's bird (an Ibis stork) as its initial. In RA-M-S-(E)-S THOT-M-(E)-S
short: the names started with the sign depicted (the sun
was called Ra), or stood for (the stork symbolized Thot). The other signs were the sounds m and s,
just like modern letters and in between them was (the invisible and not written) vowel "e". By
recognizing these facts the key to the great puzzle was found and a interpreting of all Egyptian text
was possible.
After presenting his result to the academic world in Paris, which gave him a positive response, he
made a trip to Egypt to evaluate his theories on the site, and it was found to be correct.

A very early attempt to descript hieroglyphs was made during the 9th and 10th century. Then an
Arab speaking writer and alchemist named Ibn Wahshiyah is said to have had some progress in
finding Coptic words and sounds from hieroglyphic texts. His manuscripts were translated into
English and published in London in 1806 but have never been referred to by scholars.

Since modern Egyptology started at the end of the 1800s, additional stones has constantly been
added to the building of the Egyptian language and have been put in their proper floor, due to the
fact that many changes were made during its long life of at least 3,500 years.

<="" a="">
The historical records

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Painting (detail) from c. 3.400 BC from tomb 100 at Hierakonpolis possibly showing a battle on
the Nile. White boats of Upper Egyptian style are surrounding a single black one with a high
prow in a Lower Egyptian fashion and probably made of reed. In a canopy on the deck of the
biggest white ship (below the blue point) is the king of Upper Egypt. and in this rather sketchy
work he is surrounded by fighting men, musicians, dancers, cattle and probably wild animals.
A similar (or obviously the same) motif where the two types of vessels are present and a real
combat (but without a king) is also shown in details on a very old ivory knife handle.
In the lower left corner is a man holding two standing lions, a
motif common in Sumerian art.
The single black "enemy" boat indicates that the picture was
made from the Upper Egyptian side and the one from the knife
handle with equal numbers of participants, points to a neutral
(Sumerian?) observer not taking sides in this historical event.
In the far lower left corner (shown right and not in the big pic-
ture) is a royal motif later to be very common. A figure raises a
club and smites three captives. Such scenes were very frequent
for the pharaohs for more than three millennia to come. The
meaning of the picture has been debated among scholars over
the years. A majority says that it's a naval/land combat between Lower and Upper Egypt, and
making way for the unification to come a century or two later.

During the 1990s old sites of archaeological interest were dug up again after 100 years, and new
methods brought a fresh light to old conclusions made by scholars of yesterday. We have reason
to believe that prior to the unification progress in various sectors of society like agriculture,
breeding of cattle, metalwork, etc was the same in the delta as in the valley itself. Unfortunately
knowledge of the north is practically nothing from this period, but from the south the development
can be well observed through the advances of modern archaeology. The first areas with centralized
power, "mini kingdoms", were placed around the big "knee" of the Nile, where the water strikes
hard rocks of granite and has to make a right (eastern) turn. These main areas were at This (north
of Abydos), Nagada and above all Hierakonpolis 40 km south of today's Luxor. (See map at top of
page).
At Hierakonpolis a huge fortified area with a temple was dug up in the 1890s. Luckily many objects
from the oldest times to the sixth dynasty were found in a cache called "the Main Deposit" in the
temple yard. The town was situated on an island in the Nile and thus easy to protect, because armed
struggle for power was significant for this time, at least from evidence in remains like grave goods

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and inscriptions. Then the oldest royal graves were dug out at Abydos further north, and in less
than ten years Egyptian history had been pushed back several centuries. These lucky strikes
revealed unknown kings from before the unification and one of them was King Scorpion II (menu
left). He was portrayed on a big ceremonial mace head of stone that was found beside other
inscribed objects from other rulers. Yet all these were overshadowed by the most famous find - the
big slate palette of king Narmer (below). This was a green unbroken 60 cm high ceremonial palette
for grinding makeup, and it's now a masterpiece in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Pharaoh's many titles

By the advent of the 12th dynasty in around 2 000 BC the ruler had adopted no
less then five titles in his presentation on monuments and in writings.
The oldest of them was the so called "Horus Name" which is attested for as far
back as when writing began and it was from the beginning connected to the
falcon god Hor (Greek: Horus) which stood for the king himself as a person. The
bird was usually put atop of a rectangular box (a so called serek seen in the
picture left) which symbolized the royal palace and its fancy mud brick facade,
and gates, shown in stripes and squares at the bottom. The picture left shows
the Horus name of king Qaa of the first dynasty.
The well known name "Pharaoh" is a late Greek corruption of two Egyptian
words meaning - great house. From the Greek period (200s BC) and onwards it
was used in writing, just with phonetic hieroglyphs and letters without having a
symbol of its own, and in a context like today's words "His Majesty".
The Horus name

The second name to be was the so called "Nebti Name", showing


the king in his relation to the two goddesses representing the two
united kingdoms. They were the vulture-goddess Nekhbet from the
Upper Egyptian town of today's el-Kab
and the cobra-goddess Uto, patroness
of the town Buto in Lower Egypt. The
title manifests the duality of the
Egyptian kingship, presenting the king
as the ruler of the two countries
The Nebti name through their female animal deities. The first king to used a Nebti-
and its animals
name was Den already duing the first dynasty. The picure above
right shows the Nebti name of king Pepi II of dynasty six: Netjerikhaw, meaning - The king (Netjer)
is the The Two Ladies Divine Of Apparition.

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Number three in order of titles was the "Golden Horus Name" and shows the
god sitting upon the sign for "gold" - a necklace. The title must have had new
meaning compared to the others already in use, but this hasn't
been fully sorted out by the scholars of Egyptology.Each king
put an attribute in front of the falcon or replaced it upon the
symbol. The piture right shows king Djedkare Isesi from
dynasty V put- ting the Djed pillar into the sign making the
meaning - "The golden Horus is firm". During later times kings
had des- cribed themselves as "made as a falcon of gold" with
an unclear meaning. Gold was clearly connected to "eternity"
The golden Horus and the royal burial chambers were called "golden rooms".

The "Nisu-bity name" came to use more frequently during the


third dynasty and then finally replaced the most prom- inent
of titles - The Horus Name. This prefix shows the sedge plant
of Upper Egypt and the honey bee from Lower Egypt. It thus
was "he of the sedge and the bee" meaning the ruler of the
two countries. It was given the king when he entered office
and from dynasty 11 always written within or in front of a
cartouche (picture right). It usually started with the solar disk
(god Re) followed by stereotyped names like "(I'm) Strong is
The sedge and the bee the spirit of Re, Re is my guide in life" etc.

The Nomen was given to the king to be when he was born, and was thus realy a
personal name by which he was called by his family members. From dynasty four
the prefix "Son of Re" was added by a goose (son of) and
the solar disk for Re. It was written within a cartouche
from the third dynasty and onwards. Sometimes the
words "The Good God" could be written just before the
name to put a divine touch to the name of the human
The Son of Re person who could be called Senwosret, Seti or
Amenemhet. The picture right shows this type of personal name from dynasty six, simply saying -
Pepi son of Re.

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Historical event on
record ?

The famous big cosmetic


slate palette of king Narmer.
Size: 64 x 42 cm. Its purpose
was probably to show the
king as the guarantor for
Egypt's stability, keeping re-
bellious tribes in order.
The Pharaoh is wearing the
white crown of Upper Egypt
and smiting enemies.
A falcon (king himself)
holds foes by a nose-ring,
and six flowers give the
number 6,000.
Behind the pharaoh stands
his sandal bearer. At top:
two heads of the cow godd-
ess Hathor are flanking the
king's name: a catfish and a
chisel.
Bottom: Fallen men with the
sign "town" and its name - a
rosette. On the opposite
side (not shown) the king is
wearing the red crown of
Lower Egypt as he inspects
decapitated foes. A very fine
photo is published here.

The question over the years has been if tradition is right about a single military attack from the
south invading the north, and the answer is most likely - it's not. Narmer isn't the only king who
showed himself as the winner smiting enemies and wearing both crowns, because so did Scorpion.
And if Menes wasn't identical with any of those, we have three kings as the presumed founders of
dynasty number one. The theory that's most likely is that it took a long time - maybe generations,
to make Egypt one, and thus we have a possible founder who was the first to rule over the whole
Nile valley. King Aha (see dynasty 1) is a strong candidate for this post since he is the first one to
be present with substantial monuments in both parts of the country.

The Egyptian canons


The sources to help Egyptologists to establish the order of kings and time span of ruling from these
early days, are rather scarce. One of the reasons are that no written documents from outside Egypt
exists, and that is of course due to the fact that during this era writing was in its infancy and only
in Sumeria had people reached the same state of technique. The other reason is that the Egyptians
were not very keen on recording their history as a long time span, they generally took the short time
view and noted events that had passed during the year or a single reign. Fortunately there are a few
exceptions from this pattern that bring some light over the earliest dynasties. Apart from single
notes, carvings on potsherds etc, the main records are:

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The Palermo stone
dynasty 5 2.400 BC
(carving)
The Cairo stone (carving) dynasty 5 2.400 BC
The Karnak list (on stone) dynasty 18 1.500 BC
The Abydos list (on stone) dynasty 19 1.300 BC
The Sakkara list (on stone) dynasty 19 1.300 BC
The Turin canon (on
dynasty 19 1.300 BC
papyrus)
Manetho's list
Greek period 200 BC
(payrus/stone)

The only one of these records that was made to give a correct version of the history, is the list of
Manetho. The others were all made for different purposes, not entirely known.
The Palermo and Cairo stones are possibly in a class all by themselves, and so is the Canon of
Turin, written on papyrus. The lists from Karnak and Abydos are both parts of temple decora-tions
and obviously some kings are deliberately omitted for being either too insignificant or politically
incorrect in some way.
The Sakkara list on the other hand, is the only "private" record of substance, coming from a tomb
of a caretaker of cults for dead kings.
By combining these records scholars have got a rather good picture of the order of kings, but the
time span for the earliest dynasties and the order of some rulers (from dynasties 2 and 3) is still a
subject of discussion.

The Palermo stone was a part of a bigger stone slab on which the Egyptians recorded the events
for each year for the earliest kings, and the present one during its making - the fifth dynasty. In the
top row kings from before the unification are noted and if they have existed they are the oldest
persons on earth recorded by their names. In this case the kings from Lower Egypt are those who
have been saved for later times, and in a another similar stone (more damaged) called the Cairo
stone, the rulers from Upper Egypt are depicted but the part with their names is missing. Notable is
that these stones are the oldest records of its kind, and the recording was made at least 600 years
after the unification in around 3.200 BC by the mythical king Menes.

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The Palermo stone (detail).
In each cell (the lower part of
picture) the most important
event for each year was noted.
Below: two recordings of the
height of the annual flooding
of the Nile. The line between
cells two and three (from the
right) is believed to be the
break when the second king
Aha ended his reign and office
was taken over by Djer.
At top: squares with the old
kings of Lower Egypt before
the unification. In red: the first
full named person in human
history, a king from more than
5.000 years ago.
His name was Seka.

This may seem a long time, but Manetho who made his work nearly 3.000 years after Menes, has
been proven to be correct by archaeology in many cases where other sources have failed or said
otherwise. This shows that the Egyptians kept records of their history, but they were not so keen
on publishing it. Manetho was probably given the task by the king himself, probably one of the two
first in line by the name Ptolmaios. They were of Greek decent and had another view of history and
were not bound to Egyptian traditions. Therefor we can assume (hope) that Manetho (though he
was an Egyptian himself) had a more neutral and "scientific" approach and didn't omit insignificant
and politically "incorrect" rulers from the past that we know was common. His original writings are
regrettably lost, but vital parts have survived through rewritten list made by others which has
effected the content in a negative way. The most quoted of them is a Roman Christian historian
called Africanus who lived in the 3rd century AD.

The Unification

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In about 3.200 BC Upper and Lower Egypt were united, thereby cre- ating a
nation of a 1.200 km fertile strip of land alongside the river Nile, from Aswan
in the south to the Mediterranean Sea in the north.
Two nations became one under a divine king ruling from a new found- ed
capital by the name Ineb Hedj ("The White Walls") which later was changed
by the Greeks to Memphis. Thereby the first national state on earth was
created, and it lasted for 3.500 years, a record that's unlikely to ever be
beaten.
From the oldest times the two parts had been divided into around
42 provinces (nomes) and these local areas with their own capitals and
gods, were in function as long as the Egyptian history lasted and the local
tribe-leaders became governors workig for the state.
Manetho was a Greek speaking Egyptian priest and historian living in the
200s BC. He made a huge work of the Egyptian history (original lost) and
wrote that the unification was made by a king called Menes coming from
Thinis (This), a place just north of Abydos in Upper Egypt (see map left). He
should thus be the founder of the first of 30 dynasties in which Manetho
divided the Egyptian history.
The road to unification seemed to have been a short and straight one, and
this was common belief into the mid 1900s. However science has developed
much in the field of Egyptology and we now know that the process ending with the unification was
a long chain of steps that lasted for many years, maybe generations.
In the south the religious center was Nekhen (Greek: Hierakonpolis) where the falcon goddess
Nekhbet was the patroness of the country. Her northern counterpart was the cobra goddess Wadjet
residing in Buto in the delta, and she was the guardian of Lower Egypt.
After the unification the royal burials took place in the south (at Aydos) for the two first dynasties,
and thereafter in the capital Memphis (and its burial ground Sakkara). Thousands of graves from
ordinary people (most of them in Upper Egypt) were dug up by archaeologists in the late 1800s and
the change in burial traditions indicated a change in society as the years passed. From using burials
in a round or oval pit, indicating a reed hut, the tombs turned into square constructions, sometimes
walled under ground with wooden planks or sun dried bricks walls and with a mound of sand or
lose stones atop. This was the proof that the herdsmen and hunters of the Nile Valley started to be
settled as farmers living in permanent houses at the edge between the desert and the fertile soil.

The royal cemetery at Abydos


Having reached this far in history (~ 3.150 BC), the burial customs and design of the tombs had
gone through considerable changes since a few generations back. The uppermost classes (the
royal court and high officials) began to use cemeteries of their own and elaborated their tombs to a
form called mastaba which became the normal type for centuries to come. The two royal cemeteries
were located at Abydos in Upper Egypt, and at Sakkara, by the new common capital Memphis in the
north. The oldest tombs in Abydos go back before the unification, and kings like Iry-Hor and Ka are
unlikely to have more than one place for their final rest. The dualism of the king's office makes it
difficult for Egyptologists, and it's quite possible that the regents had two graves - one in the south
at Abydos, and the other at the capital Memphis. But where the body of the king was actually buried
is anybody's guess.

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The Abydos royal cemetery is placed 2 km from the Nile. The
oldest tombs are from before the first dynasty. If the tombs were
copies of their earthly palaces it would be a rectangular building.
The earliest kings had lots of sacrificed(?) servants beside them,
but this tradition was probably gone by the time of king Peribsen
from dynasty two.

About seven rulers from the second dynasty are without monuments at Abydos, and are most likely
buried in Sakkara. From the third dynasty and onwards the Abydos cemetery wasn't used for royal
burials.
Another fact is that the tombs in the south were all considerably smaller and cruder than those in
the north. But inscribed remains with the names of the kings and side burials (of retainers) were
more frequent in the south, where also half a dozen large enclosed areas were built, obviously for
ceremonies in the cults of the dead pharaohs. The tombs at Abydos were irre-gular rectangular
constructions, built on sand and gravel nearly two kilometers from the Nile. They were obviously
built to be under ground, perhaps with a low wall on the surface imitating the form of the house the
king had resided in during his reign. In Memphis on the other hand, they were fancy rectangular
mud brick mastabas in a northern fashion with slightly sloping walls above ground, and with time
with larger underground chambers hewn down into the bedrock. They stood right on the high
escarpment overlooking the Nile Valley and the capital below and some of them were decorated
with symmetrical patterns painted in bright colors.
The style with sloping walls and recesses (see picture below) was an influence from the Sumerian
culture in Mesopotamia, and went out of fashion at the end of the second dynasty. By that time the
royal court and the administration had moved permanently to Memphis and the southern burial
ground was abandoned for good.

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Brick mastaba from Nagada in Upper Egypt over Narmer's queen Neit-Hotep. Her name
Neit suggests an origin from Lower Egypt. Founded on the bedrock without substructure.
Mea- sures: 53 x 27m. The sloping walls with recesses was a style from Sumerian
architecture.

When looking at the style of tombs from royalties and high officials it's not difficult to conclude that
they were reflections of their residences during their earthly life. All the rooms filled with gifts and
all kinds of supplies for the next life, were in life various store rooms for the big household. The
dead shouldn't miss anything from his former life and therefore he also had his bathroom and
lavatory. The chamber with his mummy was of course his bedroom where he now could sleep for
eternal times. As to his harem and other employees in housekeeping it's clear that parts of the staff
of the first kings were sacrificed and followed their master into the next world, but this tradition
disappeared rather quickly. During the first dynasty lots of large mastaba graves were built in
Sakkara, but their contents (in some unique cases undisturbed for nearly 5.000 years) do not point
out for sure that the monument was a tomb for a king. Names of high officials and kings have been
found, and if the owners were officials, the tombs were much bigger and more elaborated than those
of the kings in Abydos. It doesn't seem logical to us, but we don't know the Egyptians' reflections
about it, so this issue has to be unanswered for the time being.

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A house for eternity:
The tomb was a copy of the residence
on earth and the burial chamber was
the bedroom. In mastaba-tombs the
roof was probably slightly vaulted and
the ceiling in the bedroom was made of
wooden planks. The minor rooms for
storing were not roofed and filled with
sand. The height is estimated to have
been about three to four metres.
To the far right is the 2nd dynasty king
Khasekhemwy's unusual tomb from
Abydos with the burial chamber built
entirely of stone for the first time. It is
the largest on the site: 70 ~ 15 m.
In style it has a slight resemblance to
the contemporary mastabas from Sakk-
ara and Giza (left), but is cruder and
lack artful decorations and symmetry.

The great mastabas in Sakkara

When the first dynasty kings built their tombs in Abydos, things were also happening in the
capital Memphis at the burial ground in Sakkara. On the high desert edge overlooking the capital
and the fertile valley, about 20 large mastabas were built during the c. 175 years of the first dynasty.
The size, type and technical improvements shown in these have no counterparts in Abydos, and
some archaeologists, among them the one the who dug out most of them, thought that these were
the tombs where the kings had been buried. Today the opinion is different due to the fact that more
and more of old monuments (except royal tombs) have been uncovered in Abydos such as large
enclosed areas with thick brick walls and a dozen boat graves from the oldest dynasties.
Nevertheless the Sakkara tombs shows astonishing improvements as the tombs through the years
got an increasing part under ground in the bedrock. Furthermore we have the fact that some
monuments had side burials for servants. The one with the most (dated to the reign of Djer) had 62.
During the reign of Ka the first self supporting vault ever known in the history of architecture was
built.

The general answer to the question who were the owners of these great tombs is: high officials. For
the first and last time in Egyptian history the royal court had been overshadowed in tomb prosperity
by bureaucrats, if this is the right answer. Royal power thus did not gain land from the high officials
in the first 150 years of the existence of the united Egyptian state. It's interesting to make a
comparison between monuments from the first king Aha. The difference between one of his three
separate chambers that made his monument in Abydos, and a mastaba from Memphis' cemetery.

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A mastaba (41x15 m) in Sakkara from the reign of king Aha, seen from above and
the side. The burial chamber plus four rooms were cut down into the bed- rock
and roofed with wooden planks. Two low brick walls enclosed the tomb.
Upper right corner: Aha's grave chamber in Abydos in the same scale. Why
these mastabas were elaborated artful buildings and the royal tombs in Abydos
smal- ler, crude and sloppy in their design, is still an unsolved mystery of
Egyptology.

Technical advances
During the second dynasty the Egyptians had performed with brilliant skill in working in hard stone.
The statue of Khasekhemwy from dynasty two is so far the best example of this achievement, with
shaped and polished surfaces in hard stone. On the east bank of the Nile opposite Sakkara, dozens
of graves from wealthy non-royal inhabitants of Memphis were buried in tombs where the
substructures were built of large blocks of fine shaped stones. Notable is that in these days the
hardest metal known by the Egyptians was copper and at this time bronze came into use (a bowl
from Khasekhemwy is known) and to cut out the bedrock they had to use implements made of hard
stone (dolerite). This was the only way they could work for a thousand years(!) when finally tools
made of the new hard metal - iron, came into use.

Noticing the quality of these tombs of lower officials, archaeologists had reason to believe that the
three first kings of the second dynasty whose tombs were not to be found at the cemetery in Abydos
- Raneb, Nynetjer and Hetepsekhemwy had their last resting places hidden somewhere under the
sand in Sakkara, and finds from the beginning of the twentieth century seem to con- firm this
suggestion. There the building of tombs had taken a new big step downwards under ground, and
the developing of new technique in cutting stone and tunneling in the bedrock made it possible to
elaborate the final resting places of the kings. A new era had begun and the Egyptians were able to
master the hardest of stones to make anything from small statuettes to huge monuments.

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Underground galleries from king Hotepsekhemwy's tomb in Sakkara. Entrance: a
staircase from north. 4 blocks of hard stone were dropped from above into the
corridor to prevent intrusion to his burial chamber (bedroom in red), bathroom
(blue) and lavatory (green). The volume of rock cut out: circa 4.000 cubic meters.

It was in Sakkara, the necropolis of the capital Memphis this great leap forward was taken and the
site had been used as a burial ground even before the founding of the town itself. Making an
estimation that only one person was buried every year (a very low figure) the total of tombs would
still be 3.000(!) waiting to be excavated. No doubt there is still a lot to be revealed from the sand in
this old cemetery, where new finds come to surface regularly.
In 1901 the Italian archaeologist Barsanti made a scoop when he by coincidence practically
stumbled down into a vast underground gallery of rooms going out from a long corridor ending
with a grave chamber (see picture above).
Clay stoppers from storage jars revealed the owner's name - pharaoh Hotepsekhemwy, the first
king of the second dynasty.
Egyptologists now had an example that cutting stone and tunneling the bedrock was well advanced
at this early state of Egyptian history. A few decades later another gallery of similar shape was
found c. 150 meters to the east. Lots of remains from later times were found within it, but remaining
clues told that this was the tomb of pharaoh Nynetjer, the third king of the same dynasty. The tomb
of the ruler thought to have been in charge between these two - Raneb, hasn't been found yet, but
there is a fitting space between the found galleries that is suitable to contain this monument.
There is no trace of the tomb from the following king from dynasty two - Sened, who according to
Manetho had a long reign of well over 40 years. But 100 m north of Hotepsekhemwy's galleries is a
much bigger one with a length of 350 m and now within the enclosure wall of the later grave complex
of pharaoh Djoser. This, not so well examined, large gallery is most likely what is left of the tomb of
Sened. Unfortunately no structures above ground remains from these three underground tombs,
and we don't know if they had mastaba-like buildings or not.
Further reading about these kings can be found in the chapter of the dynasties 1-2. (Menu above).

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The Predynastic period
3.500 - 3.200 BC.

Dynasty "0"
In these old times local chiefs ruled over different parts of the Nile Valley.
In Upper Egypt urban areas, "proto kingdoms", emerged around
places like Hierakonpolis, Nagada, and Abydos (This).
Knowledge about Lower Egypt from this time
is still awaiting to be developed
among Egyptologists
of today.

The archaeological remains

In the 1990s some astonishing finds were made at the old royal cemetery at Abydos. When ex-
cavating the area north of the tombs from the first dynasty and just before, a vast burial ground of
older date was found. The place has been called "Cemetery U" (picture below) and over a dozen
tombs of substance were dug out by the German Institute of Archaeology in Cairo (DAIK).
These new-found monuments were older than those from Cemetery B to the south, where pharaohs
from the first dynasty had their last resting places.

The oldest "royal" tombs in Egypt so far have been found at


Cemetery U at Abydos which has over a dozen monuments.

With a few exceptions the older tombs consisted of only one chamber and those with elabo- rated
structures like a couple of connecting store rooms, are probably made close to the first dynasty.
With one possible exception (see tomb J above and Scorpion I) there were no traces of names to
identify the buried by name, but in this early state of hieroglyphic writing it's possible that the

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Egyptians weren't able to make phonetic signs of their rulers' names.
Sereks showing the palace facade of the king's residence in some cases with a long necked bird on
top, have been found on small ivory tags.
An estimation of the time span during which the grave yard was in use, makes a couple of centuries
a fair guess. If they were just local kings or ruled over greater areas is not known, but it shows that
the unification was a process that took generations to achieve.

Writing developed and from just before the unification


dozens of royal marks are known
from various places and some from
unidentified kings.

Pharaohs known by names are:


Crocodile, Scorpion I & II, Iryhor, Ka and Menes.
They can be read about through the menu left.

Sereks with names hard to read

1) Copy from tomb 1549 at Tarkhan. Some see a resemblance to king Crocodile's seal. A
crocodile's head facing left on a line (standard?) is possible. Top sign hard to read.

2 and 3) Rock carvings from the desert east of Armant: square and a crescent with lines
(beams?). Possibly sign P on top and a hnt-sign at bottom. Pe Hor?, Pe Henet?

4) Painting from tomb of king Ka (dyn. I) from Abydos, copied by Petrie 1902. Looks like a boat
(?) with lines going from the hull. Shows no resemblance to any other sign.

5 Serek from tomb of king Qa (dynasty I) from Abydos, found in 1902. Some see the head of a
bird facing right in this uncertain fragmentary sign (see king Bird dynasty 1).

6 Archaeologist's drawing (Petrie Museum) said to be from Tarkhan tomb 315. The findings from
there have no such sign though, and it's possibly a misinterpretation.

7 Painted jar from Tarkhan, tomb 1702. The serek had a big upstanding object outside like #10.
The sign within has been read Hat Hor. Is it a club, scepter, spear or an arm ?

8 Serek from centre of a ceremonial palette with a common motif of dogs? with suckling puppies.
The grid has similarities to king Den's name written in the Abydos list 1300 BC.

9 Jar from Ezbet el-Tell. A line-sign (Narmer?). Circle outside like the sign of god Re.

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10 Serek from tomb 140 Minshat Abu Omar attested by some to Scorpion with the animal
depicted with his tail pointing left. Others say Crocodile might be the owner.

Crocodile

This ruler is known only from a few remains, and especially an impression coming from a cylinder
seal (link above) found in the wealthy large tomb 414 at Tarkhan.
When it was excavated in 1912, regrettably not a single remain was found of the deceased him- self.
The motif on this remarkable impression is water waves with crocodiles, but unfortunately the
owner has not left a name to identify himself. There is something that might point out his pro-
venance though - in the seal is a standard depicted with a crocodile having two objects standing
on its back. This can be a hint that he was a ruler from the only nome (province) in the country with
this animal as its symbol (picture below right). It was the 6th nome of Upper Egypt, right at the upper
part of the "knee" of the Nile, today known as the "Quena Bend". The capital here was Iunet Tantere,
later to be Dendera.
In a short distance to the south is the old town of Coptos known for its early advanced culture with
monumentalstone statues, around 2,6 m in height, manufactured before the first dynasty. This
region has a strategic location, because from here go the paths between the Nile Valley and the Red
Sea. The road from today's Quift (Coptos), is called Wadi Hammamat, and coils through 120 km of
sterile desert mountains, but 5000 years ago conditions may have been different. A theory among
scientists is that cultural influences (like cylinder seals) possibly came to Egypt from Sumeria by
this route before the first dynasty. If this was the case, the leader of this region would surely have
been the first to observe all news coming from abroad, and maybe the local chief "Crocodile" was
that person.
When the proto-kingdoms slowly were formed in the early times the urban centers were
Hierakonpolis, Nagada and This (Thinis) and possibly leaving the "in between" Dendera
region more or less independent in the middle right by today's "Quena bend". (Kemp 1991, p. 34,
Manley 1996 p. 22). A fact is that this province and its capital is one of the few in Egypt to have a
long tradition of a crocodile cult and the age of the cemeteries goes way back beyond the first
dynasty. The chief ruling this stretch of land could thus make a mini-kingdom of his own and might
be an explanation to the elusive ruler which we for practical reasons call "Pharaoh Crocodile".
Another possible site is the Faiyum basin with its old veneration of the crocodile god Sobek and its
location next door to Tarkhan and the national capital to be (Memphis). But the standards of the
nomes in this region have never included a crocodile.

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Old depictions of a crocodile. Left: Seal from Helwan east of Memphis with a male figure (king?)
by a royal serek topped by Horus. The croc has an object on his head. Middle: Seal from tomb
414 at Tharkan with two standing objcts on its back. Right: The much later sign for nome # six in
Upper Egypt with a standig feather.

A tomb at Helwan east of Memphis has revealed an unique cylinder seal showing a crocodile and
an empty serek with the Horus falcon (picture above far left, colors not genuine). Its age has been
estimated to the period just prior to the unification and this can be King Crocodile showing himself
in the new cylinder style manner.
Also occurring is a male figure (the king himself?) with up-raised arms and two long-necked fantasy
animals (or possibly giraffes) flanking two trees. The latter motif is found on old cosmetic palettes
from before the unification. Crocodiles on the other hand, do not occur on these palettes where
several other types of animals (wild, domesticated and fantasy) often were depicted.
The long necked beasts possibly symbolize the two nations with the growing tree(s) being the fertile
Nile they both live in symbiosis with. Note also the crocodile's head and the object(?) upon it, and
compared to the feather from the nome standard far right. The German Egyptologist Werner Kaiser
has put forward the hypothesis that Crocodile might have been a local high official in the Tarkhan
region during the reign of king Narmer, whose name (in variations) also was found in this tomb.
His countryman Gunter Dreyer takes another view and interprets the mud-seal impression from the
Tarkhan tomb as a mark from a "real" king over some area simultaneously with the rulers from
Hierakonpolis in the south and in This downstream (north). He made his conclusion after studying
infrared photographs and other compara- tive objects. He also estimates king Crocodile's reign to
be contemporary to those of Narmer and Iryhor. Since no tomb of Crocodile has been found at
Abydos among the other early rulers buried there, he might have been an opponent to these kings.
If that's the case king Crocodile's tomb might still await to be found somewhere, possibly around
Dendera in his own province.
The fact that both Crocodile's and Narmer's sealing were found in the same Tarkhan tomb does not
have to be puzzling and plausible explanations can be made.
If the tomb belonged to a nome governor or someone else of high rank, and this is highly prob-
able, surely both Narmer and Crocodile would have paid tribute to the deceased by sending funeral
gifts. Sealings from both kings would in that case be present in the tomb, and exactly this is what
was found. Since Narmer seems to have been the most powerful of the two, it is likely that his gifts
were more in numbers, and just so was the case when the remains from the tomb were analysed.
The historical scenario here described is of course made up, but the physical details are all correct
and fit together. In other words: it's quite possible that something like this once happened and was
revealed 5000 years later when the 6 square meters of tomb 414 at Tarkhan was investigated in
1913.

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There are two other finds from Tharkan (tombs 315 and 1549) found by
Flinders Petrie during the same season (picture right). On two cylin- drical
vases (Petrie Mueum in London) sereks were roughly painted and in 1992
these were considered to be depictions of King Crocodile by the German
Egyptologist Gunter Dreyer.
This interpretation is highly questionable (to this author at least) and the
objects rather look like a plucked goose (left version) than a crocodile with
a figure possibly looking like a stylized water wave (right). The goose was
an "ordinary" hieroglyph and appears in the king lists made half a
millennium later in the cartouche of king Sened from the second dynasty.

It would take over 1.400 years before the crocodile became the insignia
and name of a king in Egypt again. A row of pharaohs took this animal to their hearts and titles
during the troublesome period of dynasty 13 at the end of the Middle Kingdom.

Scorpion I

In the early 1990s an elaborated tomb (right) marked with "J" was exca-
vated in Abydos (picture right). It was found in the oldest part of the burial
site at the so called Cemetery U 150 meters north of the ones from Narmer
and Aha. The construction was built of dried mud bricks and the walls were
rather thin compared to the monuments of the fol- lowers. The size (7,5 x 10
m) told that the owner had been a person of very great importance. The
original structure was the burial chamber in the upper right corner and nine
offering rooms connected to one an- other (and the grave chamber) by
narrow slits, probably symbolizing doors. The tomb was later enlarged with
two rooms built in two stages, at the south long the side. The date of this
extension is not known, but it was probably made close to in time, or even
just when the original monument was finished, and found too small to
contain all the funeral gifts.
The grave goods found within it were remarkable and a big surprise for the
excavators: images of scorpions in a royal fashion and lots of jars imported
from northern Palestine 1000 km to the north-east possibly to have contained
wine. Some were attached with small ivory tags depicting birds and other
animals and one obviously marked with the name of the town Bast (Greek:
Bubastis, see picture left). That town was situated in the mid-east delta in
Lower Egypt 550 km away at the northern end of the Nile Valley. Obviously
parts of the provisions for the owner came from there, stored in these imported
jars. The archaeologists working at the site were from the German
Archaeological Institute in Cairo (DAIK) under the super- vision of Gnther
Dreyer. He put forward the theory that this could be the tomb of a pharaoh he called Scorpion I, due
to the fact that his "name" or rather insignia had been found.
Another thing is that among several depictions and sculptures of a scorpion at the Main Deposit at
Hierakon- polis, nobody can tell if it's made for Scorpion 1 or 2.

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A royal scorpion penetrating into the pro-
vince of Nubia is known from some illu-
startions and a carved similar motif on a
limestone urn is in the picture right. The
crests upon which the falcons (the king) sit
has been a symbol of this province since
earliest times. The three birds at the bottom
seem domesticated and duck-like, possibly
applying to the inhabitants in the region.
They are here flanked by bows from archers.
Other scorpions of glazed pottery, ivory and
limestone were also present in the great find
at Hierkonpolis, and some can be seen here.

Scorpion II

Scorpion II is the king famous for his two


ceremonial mace-heads made of stone, found in
the last decade of the 1800s in the so called Main
Deposit within the old temple area of
Hierakonpolis. Though badly damaged, the visible
parts are extraordinary records from this early
time in Egyptian history. The motif from the
smallest one is shown in picture right with the
animal in question in front of the king's face,
reconstructed by the Egyptologist Arkell from the
remains on the damaged artifact (in picture right).
Looking at the drawing from the original (in
picture below right) the image of a scorpion is
highly disputable and a crocodile's tail hanging
down is another sugg- estion. In that case it can be connected to another shadowy ruler from the
same period of time. (See Crocodile from menu left).

The biggest and most famous is on the other hand of good quality in the parts
remaining of a magnificent big mace head earlier mentioned. It's today
exhibited at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford England.
His tomb has not been detected so far (year 2001) but there is a possibility
that his last resting place was in the four-chamber grave (B 50) just 30 meters
south-west of Narmer's in the old part of the royal cemetery at Abydos, or
identical to the tomb thought to be from his namesake number one. The B 50
monument is placed right in the center of the tombs from the pharaohs of the
first dynasty, but has regrettably not left a single shred of evidence to make
an identification of the owner.
Another possibility is that he was not buried in the area at all because he was
a ruler from Hierakonpolis further to the south, and not connected to kings
from Abydos (This). If so his tomb might still be hidden under the sand in the
Hierakonpolis area.
Other remains of Scorpion II are sparse and only a few names in sereks painted on pots can possibly

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be attested him. An exception is a rather anonymous statuette in a German collection, which is the
only of its kind known where he (or his double number one) is seen in a 3D way.
He has got the regent number II because remains from a supposed older tomb called U-j (see
Scorpion I above) at the same burial ground (Abydos) has brought to light objects with incised
scorpions. The excavator's theory is that the owner could have been an earlier ruler with the same
"name". It might also be the fact that the tomb U-j was the last resting place for the only pharaoh
wearing that name. The mace heads found should in that case originally have been put in his grave
and later transported to the temple area of Hierakonpolis for safe keeping. The content of his tomb
found in the 1990s were thus the leftovers from robbers. This scenario might have been the fact for
the remains from Abydos of Narmer as well. (See Scorpion I from the menu left and text above).

Iryhor
This ruler is the oldest known by name who is buried in the royal cemetery
of Abydos. He is believed to have reigned in around 3100 BC. The picture
right shows what's left of the two chambers from his tomb. The southern
one seems to have been extended in an irregular way with the original
measures left only in the part facing north. Only the substructure of sun
dried bricks remains and it's possible that no superstructure has ever
existed.
The site was axcavated in 1902 by the English
archaeologist Flinders Petrie and in the 1980s an
expedition from the German Archaeology Institute in
Cairo (DAIK) reexcavated the tombusing modern
methods.
New remnants came to light and the there were found
seal impressions and potsherds with Iryhor's
personal insignia. Parts of a bed and a fine ivory
fragment of a bed-foot made like a bull's leg were
also among the new interesting finds.
The big jar with the carved in falcon (picture left), was
unearthed in 1902 from chamber B 1, the supposed
place of king's body. Then in the 1980s it produced
an incised jar fragment and a astonishing eight ink
inscriptions and a seal impression, plus remains holding the names of
Narmer and Ka (JEA 1993). The amount of finds in such a small place was
unexpected and the fragments with Narmer's name means that the tomb was
opened at a later date (and restored?) and new offerings were placed within.

The reading of Iryhor's name is far from certain, and is interpreted by using
the word for falcon god (Hor) who sits upon a sign for mouth (iry). Petrie
interpreted the sign as Ro. No other ruler had the name of the falcon (the icon of the king himself)
as an integrated part of his name, but it works well as an identification for this ancient leader. His
place in the sequence of reign was given after king Ka by Petrie, despite the fact that this king had
his name within a serek. He made the conclusion on mainly three facts:
1) The big jar with the name (above left) is of a later type that did not occur in the tomb of Ka.
2) The seal with the falcon and the mouth was very alike those of Narmer and Aha and not at all like
Ka's more simple one.
3) The seal impression (of clay) was of yellow marl like the ones made in later times, but Ka's was
of black mud.
Some Egyptologists don't recognize him as a real "king" at all mainly because of the absence of a

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serek or hieroglyphs indicating a royal title, the word "king" etc. The sign of the falcon and the
mouth has been taken as the mark for the royal treasury and the jar type mentioned by Petrie occurs
for the first time during the reign of Narmer. But since we now know (after the digging in the 1980s)
that the tomb was reopened, this argument for Iryhor ruling after Ka is no longer valid.
The place and size of his tomb plus the (royal) falcon attribute and the tradition of the burial ground
indicate the opposite though, and the serek might not have been invented yet as a symbol of the
king himself.
Exactly where to put Iryhor's reign in the sequence of rulers is even harder to do today (year 2001)
and an additional ruler from tomb U-j has entered the arena in the 1990s (see Scorpion I from menu
left). The future hopefully will spread more light on this matter.

Ka

King Ka ruled a generation prior to dynasty I, and was buried in a double tomb
at Abydos. where he is considered to have preceded king Narmer as king of This.
This conclusion is based upon analysis of the ceramics and other offerings from
his grave and its building style and position in the cemetery. Its feature (picture
left) was very alike his supposed predecessor's king Iryhor both in position and
shape, with two chambers beside each other in a "row" with pointing short sides
and a gap between of a couple of meters. When it was excavated in 1902 lots of
remains with the king's name came to light and the identification is thus clear.
He is a well-attested king and his remnants have been
found as far north as the northeast delta in Lower Egypt
plus Helwan opposite Memphis and Tarkhan at the level
of the Faiyum basin. Findings connected to him has not
been found south of Abydos (the area of the old capital
of This). This indicates that he had no relationship to the
(earlier?) rulers from Hierakonpolis. Among the finds
from his tomb were several potsherds found with his
"name", two raised arms, a sign later to mean "soul" and pronounced "ka".
He had it written within a "serek", thought to be a depiction of the facade of
the royal palace (picture right). He was the first pharaoh to adopt this sign
and the falcon on its top, in this illustration (picture right) accompanied with
the plant symbolizing Upper Egypt. Of the two chambers he is likely to have
been buried in southern (B7) and the other (B9) was for offerings and
supplies. He could possibly have been the father of Narmer, whose tomb
was built in a similar style and size, and placed just 30 meters away. A small
very realistic ivory statuette showing an anonymous old king might be a portrait of king Ka, but this
is pure guesswork.

Menes

This pharaoh is the legendary king that came from the town of This (Tinis) in Upper Egypt and took
over Lower Egypt (the North) by force. He then became the first king over the whole country and
founded a new capital for the united Egypt - Memphis (egy. Menefer), just where the two states

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bordered on each other. According to archaeology this was supposed to have happened around
3200 BC.
His name was Meni (or Mena) in later Egyptian king-lists and the historian Manetho (200s BC) called
him by the Greek form Menes in his work on the Egyptian history. He only appears by this name in
king lists made over 1000 years later (see below), and not at all in any monuments from his own
time.

Menes (Meni) in red, as written in the Royal Canon of Turin.

Many scholars have tried to point out who he was and the candidates have mostly been Narmer and
Aha. Narmer because he portrayed himself as the ruler of both Upper and Lower Egypt on his
famous green palette found within the temple area of the town of Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt (as
seen above in the chapter "Historical Records").
King Aha, likely Narmer's son, on the other hand, was the first pharaoh who had monuments of
substance over the whole country, and his large tomb constructions (with buried retainers for the
first time) were in dimensions that far overshadowed his predecessors. He has also left a written
sign interpreted by some as the word "men" (meaning: "established") written beside his ordinary
name at one occasion. This once made him the favorite to be "Menes from Thinis" until the last
decade of the 1900s when the old royal tombs in Abydos were re-excavated. Then came to light two
remarkable seal impressions from the tombs of Den and Qaa, the fifth and eighth ruler of the first
dynasty. The motif was a line of kings in a successive order, and both had Narmer as the founder
of the first dynasty, followed by Aha. Analyzing the Egyptian tradition it looks like the deeds of
Menes might be an amalgam of components from several chiefs and legends, and thus it may not
be fruitful to identify him with a single historical person, though Narmer might have been the one
to finished the job by uniting the to kingdoms.
A linguistic possibility for Narmer being Menes is that the two sound elements Nar and Mer might
have been read in reverse order (common in later Egyptian history), making: Mernar, which gives a
similarity to the sounds of Mena - Meni.

The Nile Valley now took the step to be


a united country under one divine king.
This phase in Egyptian history is called:

The Early Dynastic Period

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The Old Kingdom
Dynasties 3-5 2649 - 2134 BC (515 years)

The Age of the Pyramids


By Ottar Vendel

Dynasty 3
Manetho's list

2649 - 2575 BC

During this dynasty Egyptian culture advanced rapidly. The beginning is dusky with
more than one candidate to be the founder. The table of Nabil Swelim below
is based on the opinion that the complex of Djoser was a cultural peak
that had developed for a period of about 60-80 years of the dynasty.
There is no general agreement among scholars on this table.
Khaba and Sa are usually put at the end of the dynasty
topped by Sanakht followed by his brother Djoser.
This era is famous for a new type of tomb
which gave Egypt fame through
of all times - the great
Pyramids.

Table of dynasty III


(after Nabil Swelim 1993)

Egyptian Manetho Years Years


Name (HORUS, others)
lists (Africanus) Swelim Man.
1 KHABA, Nebka, Hornub, Iretdjetef Nebka Necheropes 19 28
2 SA, Sadjeser, Djeser Djeser, -sa Tosorthros 19 29
3 BA, Teti Teti Tyreis 7 7
4 SANAKHT, Yjehnwneb - Mesochris 17 17
NETJERYKHET, Bity
5 - (Djoser) Soyphis 30 16
Sensen

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6 SEKHEMKHETDjesertyankh Djeser -teti Tosortasis 16 19
-ty
7 ?, Nebtawi Nebkare Nebkare Akhes 3,5 42
Neferka, -
8 QAHEDJET, Nebnubhedjet Sephuris 2,5 30
re
9 ?, Huni Huni Kerpheris 24 26
Total years = 138 203

The names from the Abydos list

At the temple of Seti I at Abydos (19th dynasty) five cartouches below hold the names of the
pharaohs from the third dynasty. The Turin canon (on papyrus) made half a century later has also
five names: Nebka, Djoser, Djosertety, (unknown name) and Huni.
Over 1.000 years had passed since dynasty 3 and minor rulers were probably excluded and the
positions and lengths of reigns for the others were probably uncertain.

Nebka Sa Djeser Tety Sedjes Neferkare

Khaba
The correct position of this pharaoh is probably at the end of the dynasty and likely where the
Turin Canon has the entry "Hudjefa" (see menu left). Though the name Khaba appears in second
position (with a reign of 19 years) it is likely that the knowledge about him was wage when the list

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was made more than a thousands years after his death.
He is attested for through archaeology at only four places where his name comes forward twelve
times. These locations are Abusir (see illustration below) and Nagada plus Hierakonpolis and
Elephantine (Aswan) where two sealings with his name have been found.
Practically nothing is known about him with one great exception - a pyramid at Zawiyet-el-Aryan 7
kilometers north of Sakkara.
Though his name has not been found in the monument itself it is thought to be his last resting
place and it's generally referred to as the Layer Pyramid because it was built of thick leaning
accretions with sloping courses of stone, a technique modified and improved at the beginning of
the next dynasty. His name has been found inscribed on eight stone vessels found in a mastaba
tomb a bit to the north. The pyramid itself has given no written remains at all, at least from the
time it was built.
The king probably died before the finishing of his monument and the work on the site was
abandoned for all future.
The construction is a square with a 78,5 m long side at the base, and placed on the highest part of
the area overlooking the cultivated Nile valley. With only 200 metres to the flood plain in the valley
it's the pyramid in Egypt that is placed nearest the cultivated land.

Small relief with Khaba's name twice (blackened).


His name also occurs at a 5th dynasty pyramid
and in tombs by his pyramid at Zawiyet el- Aryan.

With the intended five steps it would have been about 45 meters in height if it had been completed
but today only 17 meters remain above the sand.
Under ground huge galleries (very similar looking those from the pyramid of Sekhemkhet) were
hewn out but the burial chamber did not contain anything, not even a sarcophagus, when it was
entered in the late 1800s.
Facts that indicate that it was built in the middle or at the end of the dynasty is the increasing
ability of the Egyptians to manage to handle larger and larger stones, culminating during the end
of the Old Kingdom. Khaba's monument is built with stones of bigger size (for the pyramid's core)
than Djoser's, indicating it's younger. The construction has also an almost perfect orientation
North-South that most older monuments (including substructures) don't have.

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How the Layer Pyramid of Khaba looks today from the north side.
Visible at the base (left in picture) is where the trench is going in.

If king Khaba is the regent historian Manetho calls Necheropes he is by tradition in the second
century BC said to have been in office for 28 years. This seems to be too long considering how
much (or little) have been finished of his monument.
If on the other hand he is the ruler referred to in Egyptian lists as Nebka, archaeological remains
have made an estimation of 3 to 5 years on the throne as more likely. In the Royal Canon of Turin
the name of the ruler noted before Huni is erased, but a reign of six years is readable.
It's disputable to put Khaba as the founder of the third dynasty and the reigns of his and
Sekhemkhet's were brief ones and generally estimated to be after king Djoser's.
The traditional sequence of kings for the dynasty still is among most Egyptologists: Sahnakht-
Djoser-Sekhemkhet-Khaba-Huni added with those who are only known from names in king lists or
fragments and have left no monuments to history.

<="" a="">
<="" a=""> Sa
This obscure king is another example of the scanty remains that history has provided us with
from parts of the third dynasty. If he was a separate king or just another name of someone better
known we don't know for sure but a strong indication is that he is identical to a Djoser (not the
king with the Step Pyramid) which in the Abydos list has the addition "za" to his name. His sereks
contain a single bird facing right and this is a sign also seen from a king (simply called Bird)
believed to have ruled for a short time during one of the dynasties prior to the third. Swelim puts
king Sa as the second in the dynasty and gives him the other names Sadjeser and Djeser and
identifies him with the ruler named Tosorthos from the list of Manetho (Africanus) or Sesorthos
(by Eusebius). This may be correct, but far from all Egyptologists (probably not even a majority)
will agree on this.

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Serek from king Sa.

One of three names


inscribed on stone
vessels from galleries
under ground in
Sakkara. A falcon
facing right and a sa-
sign below.

For a ruler being on the throne for 19 years (according to Swelim) remarkably little is left of his
deeds as monuments and inscriptions are concerned. All remains are three sereks with is name
marked on stone vessels found in the galleries under the step pyramid of King Djoser.
When looking at these one thing is striking - the identification of the king - the Horus falcon, is
put within the serek and not outside on top as all the other rulers had done in the past. This
design did not appear again from any king in the future and can be an indication that this is
secondary name (Sa) for another ruler better known. Candidates of some Egyptologists are king
Ba (below) and Bird (see this king in table of dynasty 1) whose position is very uncertain and has
been put in late dynasty 1 or in dynasty 2. In his book "Some problems on the history of the third
dynasty" from 1983 page 224, Swelim suggest in a table that the tomb of pharaoh Sa might be
found within the enclosure Gisr el Mudir at Sakkara. After some investigations the past years (up
to 2007) nothing has been found to support this theory.

<="" a="">
<="" a=""> Ba
Nobody knows for sure to which dynasty this obscure king belongs. His sereks were found
already in the first half of the 1800s, but during the end of the 1900s scholars have taken up
the question about when he had his reign.
There is a lack of agreement in this question and Egyptologists' opinions are divided spanning
between the later half of the second dynasty to the end of the third. In the second case he might fit
in to a period not so well known, where historian Manetho has more names on his list than
archaeology has been able to provide so far.
The three known signs building up his Horus-name (within a serek) has a human leg in two cases
and one of them (picture left) has no Horus falcon atop. The third inscription has an additional
sign of a ram and this has confused some Egyptologists and it's not quite sure that it's an
icon of the same pharaoh.
The human leg stands for the letter (and sound value) B and the name of a ram is
pronounced BA making it - BBA a confusing row of letters (possibly read Beba or Baba?). Some
scholars identify this ruler with king Birddue to the fact that the hieroglyphs have more or less the
same sound value. A majority of Egyptologists agree upon that he probably is to be put in during
the third dynasty, likely at the end with a brief period in office. Nabil Swelim and Peter Kaplony
take another view and put him in the first half of the period. Like in the case of pharao Sa above,
Swelim has suggested a place for his tomb and has chosen the so called "Ptahhotep enclosure"
in Sakkara. Nothing has been found (up to 2007) which can verify this theory. (See the table of
Swelim at top at the start of dynasty 3).

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Sanakht
This pharaoh has been considered to be the founder of the third dynasty, but in the last decades
of the 1900s this has been questioned by Egyptologists. A fact is that Sanakht's tomb isn't found
with certainty, but the big mastaba from Beit Kallahf near Abydos (see picture below), has very
strong indicators to pointing out his final resting place. Since historian Manetho has stated that a
ruler from this time was very tall and heavy built, the earthly remains from this mastaba-tomb
makes it even more spectacular since it might be the oldest pharaoh preserved from this early
state of Egyptian history.
His stature (25 cm taller than an average Egyptian at the time) might tell that he had a light
syndrome where an extra growth to the body is marked by expansion of the lower jaw-bone. His
younger brother(?) Djoser was a heavy built too, but not so tall.

Skull from a big ruler (1.86 m)


found in 1902 in the grave chamber
(red) of a brick mastaba at Beit
Khallaf. It might be the remains of
king Sanakht whose name was
found on many seals etc. The never
used additional tomb (right) can if
so, be the one of his first queen.

The 50 m long mastaba (light blue) was enlarged a bit with another (yellow).
The skeleton remains were found in the chamber (red) and big stone stoppers
(green) blocked the passage for robbers, to the owner's final resting place.

The mastaba at Beit Khallaf is almost untouched since 1902 when it was investigated. What is left
above ground today can be seen here in a couple of photos taken from a visit there in December
2006.
Almost nothing is known of his reign and in the king lists he occurs as in the list of Manetho as
Mesochris with a length of reign of seventeen years according to Swelim's list. Most other
Egyptologists agree on that he is the king called Nebka (Khaba) and that follows the tradition that
he was an elder brother of king Djoser.
The Egyptian lists give no indication of him, at least with a name that can be interpreted as him.
Among the very few remains of him are fragments from two depictions in stone found at the Sinai
peninsula, telling that there was active mining there during his reign. These are the only(?) two
depictions known of him up to now (April 2002).
Some fragments with his name have been recovered from various places like Sakkara and Aswan,
and a mud brick structure at Abw Rawash north of Giza has been connected to him on stylistic
third dynasty grounds as a suggestion. Today only fragments are left of what seems to have been
a quite large enclosed area (330x170m) with a 20 m square pyramid like massive structure in the
center. This place has been suggested by Nabil Swelim (1984) to be his tomb, but no names or
objects pointing towards the king have been found in the vicinity though.

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A Sakkara tomb from a fourth dynasty official has left remains telling that the owner once had
been working for the death cult of Sanakht, indicating that his memory was venerated in a
mortuary shrine in that area long after his death.

Djoser
Djoser (Netjerykhet) actually meaning "King Ykhet" since Netjer was the Egyptian word for
king, and written as hieroglyphic sign: a flag on a pole, as seen inside his serek to the
right.
He is one of the most outstanding rulers in the whole Egyptian and human history. The remains
from his reign is of such a dignity that it turns a new chapter in the developing of mankind since
the invention of writing half a century earlier.
He was the first king to have the combination: supreme power - long reign, talent to pick officials
to organize the manpower and use the skills of the whole Egyptian people.
One of these officials was a man by the name of Imhotep (see him on Gods' list). He was of
unknown origin and is of some scientists today considered to be the king's son though he was
never mentioned as a prince. Under his supervision was made a gigantic enclosed area with a
building in great size made of hewn stone for the first time in history. It was the great tomb of his
master, the Step Pyramid, that he erected at the cemetery area of the capital Memphis. Today it's
known as the mortuary complex at Sakkara (see below) and is still standing to a great extant and
partly reconstructed. The monument has gone through many changes during its erection from
being a quite modest mastaba at the beginning. The substructure has lots of chambers where
finds from older kings as well have been found. It was obviously gathered here by orders from the
king himself, possibly to prevent robbers from scattering the remains of his forefathers.

King Djoser's Complex at Sakkara

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The area was originally intended to be smaller (green) with a single mastaba tomb (blue). It was
extended to 530 by 270 m (24 soccer grounds) and enclosed by a thick 6 m high stonewall.
Notably is the underground galleries (orange) which probably were at place when the pyramid
complex was built. (See link below).
The entrance hall was roofed with stone supported by pillars halfway built into the walls. To the
right was a row of small buildings for ceremonial purposes and a stand for the canopy over the
royal throne. The almost 400 meters long underground galleries (5) are of older date and the
owner is unknown. They were probably built by a king during the dusky second dynasty.
This burial ground for the royal family and nobility of the capital Memphis should be the prime
cemetery for the next 2.500 years to come.
Most of the structures were unique and had no precedent in Egypt or elsewhere in the world at the
time with its vast quantity of architectural innovations.
Stone cutting as such was by no means new to the Egyptians who had made huge tunneling jobs
and walls earlier (see king Khasekhemwy of dynasty two), but making buildings in stone in such
dimensions had never been made before. Chief architects, prime minister, pharaoh's physician
and poet were among the many skills and titles of the genius behind this - Imhotep. Later in
history he was the only human to be taken up among the gods in Egypt and he was venerated for
thousands of years into the Roman era 2,5 millennia after his death. Stone scul- pturing and
pillars imitating flowers from nature were among his inventions that the world now saw for the
first time.

Two reliefs of the great pharaoh Djoser


presenting him in impressive poses.
At left it clearly shows his broad and heavy
looks like his supposed brother Sanakht
above. To the right he is sitting wearing a
broad necklace and a long wig in the
fashion of a priest. The artist has added an
unique feature to a king though. Besides
wearing his traditional false beard, here he
seems to have a moustache or is it just his
broad lips?

Besides the step pyramid another monumental building was built during Djoser's reign. It is a

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mastaba tomb at Beit Khallaf in Middle Upper Egypt, called K1 and made of sun dried mud-bricks.
This spectacular monument is presented on this site in a big picture report from photos taken
during an investigation of the monument made by the author Ottar Vendel, on Saturday the 9th of
December, 2006. No investigation has been made and hardly any photographs have been taken
here in the last hundred years, but now over twenty fresh ones can be seen in the exclusive Beit
Khallaf Photo Odyssey 2006.
Its huge size makes it outstanding in Egyptian brick architecture. It was the last great tomb
erected in the south before going into the era of monumental buildings of stone in the north.
Very close is the mastaba K2 made during the reign of Sanakht shown and mentioned above and
in the vicinity is the abandoned old capital of This (Tinis), which possibly is today's Girga. As to
foreign politics Djoser was concerned about protecting his country from outsiders and he took a
firm grip of the southern province Nubia, permanently making it the outpost to black Africa
upstream.
One of the reasons that made the country flourish under his rule was the fact that no actual threat
from outside seems to have been at hand. Thus during this period of peace the enormous
progress in practically all sectors of society were made.
His name Djoser first appears many hundreds of years after his death, in a New Kingdom stone
stele on the island of Elefantine at Aswan. In his own time he was always referred to as (Horus)
Netjerykhet on all monuments and inscriptions. From Djoser's reign and onwards the capital
Memphis was the center of the united country and the links to the old royal cemetery at Abydos in
Upper Egypt were cut permanently. After his death there seem to have been some disorder in the
sense that no heir of his could take over the throne, as far as is known today (2002). It is possible
that sons (or sons-in-law) of his, took over, and if so they are presented below.

Sekhemkhet
King Sekhemket appears in the Turin Canon under the name of Djoser-Ti right after Djoser
and in front of an erased entry. His age is not present but the length of his reign is - 6
years. He was totally unknown until 1951 when his monument was excavated at Sakkara,
and after that few new remains of his have been found, the most recent a seal impression from the
remote southern fortified island of Elefantine i Aswan, published in 2005.
By looking at photographs taken from the air archaeologists knew that a long rectangular area
was situated just a couple of hundred meters south west of Djoser's complex. This turned out to
be the remains of the now called "Buried Pyramid". The name is from the title of the book written
by the chief archaeologist who dug it out in the early 1950s. Unfortunately he died before he had
publish a full report of his work.
The pyramid was once intended to be enclosed by a wall, but the whole was abandoned after a
few years of work, obviously because the owner had premature death.
The first one and a half steps were still in place when it was found, and it had a height of eight
meters. Probably it had been twice as high before the work was stopped, and the site had later
been a stone quarry for building material.
The base side was 132 meters and the final height would have been about 70 m, making the
monument larger than Djoser's.
Lots of work had been done to level the topography by a pattern of thick walls in squares filled
with debris. Under ground in the bedrock was a long corridor on three sides of the pyramid, from
which 132 store rooms were connected and exactly under the center was the king's burial
chamber, which held a small sensation.

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The south-west corner of Sekhemkhet's pyramid as found in 1953.

On the way down into the inner constructions in the bedrock under the monument the floor in the
corridor (made of soft clay that had been brought there) revealed a first class treasure. There were
hundreds of stone bowls, many of them deliberately smashed, and above all - a group of
20 golden bracelets and armlets plus a little gold box made in form of a seashell. This is still (year
2002) the oldest finds of golden jewelry of its kind, from dynasty three and older, found in Egypt.
In a couple of places on the way down masonry blocked the passage and it was clearly shown
that the original work had been broken up and remade.
Inscriptions on a group of bowls gave the name of the owner - a until then unknown king called
Sekhemkhet, a name never seen before, and it was puzzling to science. When another name -
Djeserty, came up, the king could be identified from the list of Manetho as the successor of
pharaoh Djoser (see Swelim's table).
Now Egyptologists could reinterpret a stone relief from Wadi Maghara, a mining area in Sinai, as a
remnant from Sekhemkhet. He is seen in the traditional poses striding wearing the two crowns of
Egypt and slaying enemies with a mace.

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Sekhemkhet's complex was intended to be 518 by 183 metres and the "white wall" made of lime
stone masonry in recesses should have enclosed the whole area.

When the grave chamber was reached a sensation waited - a sarcophagus made of white half
transparent alabaster and without a lid on top. Instead it had sliding panel at one of the gavels.
It had been repaired from wounds made by bits of rocks falling from the ceiling in the crude hewn
room that contained nothing else but this big coffin plus fragments of wood placed on it in a
circular form, first thought to be flowers. The entry through the sliding panel was sealed wit
gypsum and the expectations were high to find the mummy of the king inside.
When the sliding panel was lifted in 1954 with the world press and prominent guest present, the
stone coffin turned out to be totally empty. A good guess is that the tomb had been robbed a long
time ago and the mummy and the offerings taken away. The burial place had thereafter been
repaired in later times (probably during the New Kingdom) like other old monuments.

By the south side of the pyramid was placed a minor so-called "south tomb" (see picture above),
with remains of a mastaba construction above ground measuring circa 15x30 meters. The
substructure was - like the one of the pyramid, not finished. It was a single shaft with a chamber
30 m below the surface. When entered in 1967 it contained nothing but the remains of a wooden
coffin and the skeleton of a young boy of about 2-3 years of age. This can possibly be a son of the
king but nothing is sure about Sekhemkhet and his brief reign. Stone vases and gold leaf
fragments from jewelry were also found in this obviously looted tomb.

Nebkare
Archaeologist Swelim proposes that Nebkara was the IIIrd Dynasty king who began the huge
Unfinished Pyramid of Zawyiet el Aryan. On a dozen pieces of wood and ivory names in
hieratic writing within the cartouches have been found (picture right). They have been
proposed to be read as Nefer-ka, Neb-ka plus half a dozen more including Ba-ka and Bik-ka which
was a king probably from dynasty 4 (see him).
Some scholars think he is identical to Neferkare below which shows the lack of agreement (and
finds) regarding this period. The only signs readable for sure is the one without a royal cartouche
(bottom) is Nefer-ka, and it's not sure that this name means the same king as the signs within the
typical royal oval that are unique (beside the clearly ka-sign) and have only been found at this site.
Swelim points out that bones found by the archaeologist Wain- wright in the burial chamber of the
very large Mastaba #17 at Meidum (in map at king Huni below), could be those of Nebkare.

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Mastaba 17 at Meidum contains one of the oldest royal sarcophaguses in
Egypt. Under the lid of the pink granite coffin someone (the robbers?) have
left a mal- let. King Nebkare has been suggested as the owner of this big
mastaba tomb.

The find was rare because the body appeared to have been defleshed and the eyes torn out and
replaced by paste balls. The limbs (including the penis) had been cut off(?) and wrapped in
bandages separately. Wooden models of the royal insignia (mace and crook) were also found in
the chamber (Wainwright: Meidum p. 13 ff and plate XI). The scenario looks like a restoration after
damage made by grave robbers, and the royal insignia is a remarkable piece of evidence that
indicates a burial of a king.
The fact that the big sarcophagus still is in place is due to the fact that it was built into the grave
chamber during the erection of the tomb and impossible to remove without making a huge tunnel
from outside.

Neferkare - Qa-Hedjet
This pharaoh was unknown to Egyptologists as depicted by the name of Qa-Hedjet until the late
1960s when a stele came forward after being hidden for 5.600 years. Instead of hieroglyphs within
the serek with his Horus-name, this pharaoh had a picture of the white royal crown of Upper Egypt
- the Hedjet, (picture below right).
He is embraced by the god Horus, the incarnation of the king's person.
The unusual name can be some sort of expression from the monarch that he descended
from that part of the country. In 1983 Swelim "identified" him with king Huni.
By the artistic style scientists could place the stele as being a work from time of the third
dynasty and today most of Egyptologists think that this is the Horus- name of pharaoh Neferka(-
re) known from several king lists.
The three parts Nefer (beautiful), Ka (soul) and Re (the solar god) were very common at the time
and so were Nub (gold) and Neb. When these parts plus the name of the crown showed up in
writing as "Nebnubhedjet" it could be recognized as probably another form of the name due to the
unique crown.
As for the earthly remains from this ruler, the pages in the history books are blank, or maybe
dusky.
No building has yet been classified as his with certainty. Swelim has stated that Neferka "seems
to have completed the burial chamber of Mastaba 17 at Meidum for the reburial of Nebkare and
filled the trench and pit of the Unfinished Pyramid in the style of architecture that would have
pleased Nebkare". (See text on Nebkare above and picture at Snofru below).

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Looking at the brief reign he had, (Manetho's 30 years seems incorrect), it's quite possible that
someone else overtook the grave he probably had started to build for himself wherever it was
located. Egyptologists still are waiting to find something of substance left from his reign and for
the time being he's a ruler known only from his name written in later times. But the magnificent
stele of his so recently discovered (on the antiques market) hopefully points to the fact that there
still are remains of him to be revealed from this period not so well known. His tomb has not been
found.

Hudjefa
the lost pharaohs
When the Royal Canon of Turin was made during the 1200s BC, a couple of names in the origi- nal
list that it was copied from were illegible.
To mark this fact the working scribe wrote "hudjefa" (erased) inside the cartouche.
Egyptologists in the early times wrongly took it for a name of a pharaoh.
The entries give the kings' so called "newsy-bity" name starting with the title: "He of the sedge
and the bee". These were the symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt and the title thus means "king
over the two countries".

Second last king of dynasty 2.

Second last king of dynasty 3.

Next is the cartouche with the king's name, and a seated falcon marking the end of the name.
Then it's a crooked stick for "time" and the circle and half-circle for "rule", followed by the years
of his reign in years and months. The figures after the second black point tell the age of the king
when he died.
In the second entry most of the hudjefa mark is unreadable, but the two birds tell what was
inscribed. Thus we have two anonymous kings and some facts about them. The one from dynasty
two might be king Khaba (see him) who started a pyramid at Zawiyet el Aryan. Here he is put in
dynasty two instead of three.
The one from dynasty three can possibly be one of two named Akhes and Sephuris by Manetho.
At least the position and duration of their reign according to Swelim (table at top of the page) are
rather well fitting.

1) Second last king of dynasty 2: reign - 8 years and 4 months, age: 34 years.
2) Second last king of dynasty 3: reign - 6 years. The rest of the entry is lost.

The Sakkara list is from a private tomb made during the same era. It has just one hudjefa-notation
like the one from the second dynasty above. It's written in the same position replacing the lost
name of an unknown ruler who died in his early thirties.
It is quite possible that we today know his name without knowing that he should be placed where
a Hudjefa sign was put. Some of the single or rarely occurring names of kings found from the
dusky second dynasty period might be his.

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Huni
Huni was the last Egyptian King of the 3rd Dynasty. His Horus-name, usually written within a
serek, is not known, and unfortunately not so much of his deeds are known despite the fact that
he obviously had a reign of about a quarter of a century. His name is present at the royal canons
of Sakkara and Turin, but not in the Abydos-list. An inscription with the name Nswth or Nswth
Hun(i) is known from Aswan in Upper Egypt. Another form of the name - Swtenh, Nisuteh or Nswt
H(w), is carved on the Palermo Stone by fifth dynasty king Neuserre, who dedicated a monument
to him.
Not a single depiction of him in stone or on papyrus has survived, and no sculpture can be
connected to him with certainty.
A red granite head of a king wearing the crown of Upper Egypt has by some been said to be a
portrait of him, but this is pure speculation. A look at the looks of the face in it rather gives it a
similarity to Snofru and his son Khufu with their fleshy cheeks. It's today to be seen at the
Brooklyn Museum in New York.

The pyramid at Meidum

Huni's great monument has a


characteristic silhouette at the
horizon. The inner core of
three steps is what remains
and practically all the white
lime stones from the casing
are gone. The debris along the
sides is possibly from ramps
when the place served as a
quarry.

He built a pyramid at Meidum close to the northern edge of the Faiyum basin. The identifi-cation of
him as the owner has been made indirectly since his name doesn't appear in the monument itself.
It is very likely that it was finished by his successor Snofru who was either his son or son-in-law.
This pyramid was the first to have straight and smooth sides instead of a number of steps that
was the case of the similar monuments from the earlier period.
Some of the casing of lime stones is still in its original place on one side.
The technique also improved and from now on the stones in the masonry were always placed
horizontally whether the construction was leaning or not. The general assumption up to recently
was that the smooth casing stones put there by Snofru had collapsed a long time ago leaving
what is visible today - the inner core in threes steps looking like a broad tower. However all the
debris surrounding the building are hardly a part of the original construction and thus brought
there later. A guess is that it was a ramp for mining the fine smooth limestone when it was taken

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away already in ancient times for use in other building projects.

The complex at Meidum contains


many mastaba tombs north of the
pyramid (not shown here).

A) The pyramid. B) A small


mortuary chapel. C) Ceremonial
path from the valley temple (not
excavated). D) "Mastaba 17", over
100 m long, and from an unknown
owner.
E) Pyramid of Huni's queen.

The grave chamber does not contain a sarcophagus (today) and there is no trace of a burial, but
this does not mean that Huni didn't have his final resting place here.
The geographical location of the pyramid shows a break of tradition, because he moved the royal
cemetery 90 kilometers to the south from the Sakkara area. North of the pyramid lots of tombs
from his son Snofru's court are placed. Two of them are the largest mastabas in Egypt and one
(number 16) measures 60 x 120 meters and is a double tomb of Snofru's son Nefermaat and a high
ranked official. Number 17 is situated right by the north-east side of the Huni's pyramid enclosure
(marked D in picture above) and is 100 meters long. The owner's name is not known.

The Egyptologist Nabil Swelim suggests that Huni possibly is the builder of a very small and not
so well known brick pyramid within a large enclosure at Abu Roash 8 km north of Giza. It is placed
in the plain a couple of hundred meters south of the pyramid of Djedefre. Built around a rather
large rock formation it has an ascending corridor from the north side and a grave chamber made
in a way typical for the early fourth dynasty. Though built of mud bricks (unique for the period if
dated correctly) Swelim suggests it might be the work of king Huni.

Dynasty 4
Manetho's list

2575 - 2465 BC (110 years)

Dynasty four started the most famous of all epochs in


Egyptian history with the construction of the great pyramids.
All kings were related (father-son-uncle-cousin-nephew) except the last one.
In a dim period a king (or two) had brief reigns. Bika was probably one of them.
Ratoitis can be Djedefre, and if so misplaced and with a too long reign.
The numbers are from Egyptolgy and the order is Manetho's.
Nothing has jet been found which can identify
his last pharaoh - Thamphthis.

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Table of dynasty IV
Name Manetho Reign Manetho Pyramid
1 Snofru Soris 24 29 Dashur
2 Khufu Sophis I 23 63 Giza
3 Djedefre - 8 - Abu Roash
4 Khafre Sophis II 26 66 Giza
6 Menkaure Mykerinos 18 62 Giza
- Ratoisis - 25 -
Zawiyet el-
5 Bikka (Baka) Bicheris 4 22
Aryan
7 Shespeskaf Severkeris 7 7 Sakkara South
- Thamphitis - 9 -
Total years
111 243
=

Snofru

Snofru was the founder of the 4th dynasty and most likely the
son of his predecessor king Huni and one of his secondary
wives - Meresankh I.
His Horus name Neb Maat "Lord Of The Harmony" is seen
within the serek in picture left and his personal namn Snofru
within the cartouche to the right.
By marrying one of his half-sisters Hetepheres I, Snofru
became the pharaoh over the two countries.
His queen seems to have given him only one surviving child -
Khufu, but with two secondary consorts he had: Nefermaat,
Rahotep, Ranofer, Kanofer and Ankh-haf plus one whose
name is unknown. The first two were buried at Meidum.
His internal policy seems to have been focused on
maintaining centralized power and prevent it to spread among high-placed
officials and nobilities. He therefore rearranged the land- ownership nation
wide, probably to prevent these classes from becoming too powerful.
Snofu
Snofru completed the big pyramid at Meidum, a monument presumed to have

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been built by his father Huni (see above).
Then he for some unknown reason, moved the location of the royal burial grounds from the
remote southern Meidum to Dashur a trip of 90 km to the north just 10 km south of the old royal
cemetery of the capital at Sakkara.
At his newly founded cemetery he erected two huge pyramids.
At the southern, believed to be the oldest, the leaning of the sides were changed from an angle of
~54 to ~43 halfway to the (final) top. The result gave a unique silhouette and it's today called the
"Bent Pyramid" that was called "The South Shining Pyramid"
(picture below left).
The alternation was made to reduce the weight and pressure on
the bedrock since the construction was cracking due to settlings
in the foundation and probably also within the monument itself.
It's unique in having two entrances, from the east and north sides
leading to three chambers in which no sarcophagus was found. It's believed that the grave
chamber still might be in there skillfully hidden by the architects and awaiting to be found.

Detail (upper part) from a


stele found in a small cha-
pel by the south side of
Snofru's Broken Pyramid
at Dashur.
The pharaoh sits on his
throne seemingly content
and almost smiling.
He is holding a flail in
right hand and the left is
unusually empty.
Upon his head is seen the
double crown and in front
of him is the cobra and the
vulture - the patrons of
Lower and Upper Egypt.
This carving in high relief
(to be seen in the Egyptian
Museum in Cairo) is one
of few depictions of him.

The inner design was of similar architectural type in both pyramids - sloping corridors ending with
grave chambers and a couple of rooms. Most chambers had corbelled roofs making it look like an
inverted pyramid from inside.

The impressive northern pyramid became the first "real" pyramid with straight sides and is also
called the "Red Pyramid". Its low angle of ~43 is just like the upper part of its bent neighbor 2
kilometers to the south. It was called "The Shining Pyramid" (picture below left).
No cracks disturbed the project and the inner core of local stone was hewn to
fit more accurately than in the Bent Pyramid. All the casing stones have been
removed a long time ago with exception of an area at the bottom of the east
side where it still is in place.
Evidence in writing from a stone in the Northern Pyramid tells that it was
started on before the other one was finished and thus they were built partly simultaneously.
Snofru was considered to have been a good and wise pharaoh by the after living (his son Khufu

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was not), and his cult was still going on well into the Middle Kingdom half a millennium after his
death.

Khufu
Pharaoh Khufu was the son of his predecessor Snofru and
is today best known by the name Kheops.
His Horus name within the serek left means: (He who)
strikes (i.e. crushes the enemies). Old Greek historians gave
him a reign of 50 and 65 years, but these figures are far too
high. The Egyptian Royal canon of Turin gives him 23 years
and modern Egyptologists estimate his reign to be just
about that - a quarter of a century.
He had at least four wives, with whom he had several
children. Queen Henutsen gave him the son Khafre (a king
to be) and another and probably the oldest son was Djedefre
who also was the very next king to take office.
He continued the expansionist policies of his father Snofru
by extending the Egyptian borders to the north-east to Khufu
Medjedu include Sinai and Upper Egypt maintaining mili-tary
presence to protect economic resources like mines. He held economic links
with Syria in the north and Nubia in the south.
Khufu built his funerary monument away from his father's and moved from Dashur 40 km
northwards to the limestone plateau at Giza. There he erected
the Great Pyramid, a monument that has made him one of the most
famous kings of the Ancient Egyptian history. It got the poetic name:
"The pyramid which is the place of sunrise and sunset" (shown in
picture left).
An old misunderstanding is that slaves built the pyramids, but this is
not true. The bulk of the working force toiling on the pyramids were common citizens who had
nothing to do during the flooding of the Nile when the cultivated land was under water. Recent
discoveries (year 2000) from the Giza plateau have shown that they were housed and paid, at least
some of them. They were even buried near the pyramid, and could thus be a part of the king's
eternal life and cult after death.

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A mountain of stone

The 2,3 million blocks of


stone of which the pyra-
mid is built are of a huge
size and having an ave-
rage weight is about 2,5
tons at the base decrea-
sing for every layer going
upwards.
The inner core now visible
was neatly hewn and no
empty space was allowed
between the blocks. If the
accuracy has the same
high standard deeper in-
side the construction we
don't know, but it's likely.
The casing of white smo-
oth lime stone has been
stripped off long ago to be
used for building
mosques in Cairo on the
other side of the Nile.

The pyramid's inner


construction.

A Middle Kingdom story from the Westcar Papyrus, describes Khufu as a cruel tyrant with no
respect for life. Right or wrong we don't know, but a fact is that portraits in any form of Khufu
seem to have vanished and only on tiny statuette made of ivory remains, it was found in Abydos
in Upper Egypt. This is a strong indication that his memory for some reason was delibe-rately
erased after his death.

Like his father before him he had a reign relatively free from threats from outside the country. He
took measures to maintain the positions by military force in economically important regions like
the Sinai Peninsula for its valuable minerals and Nubia for its treasures of fine stone, preferably
red granite used for buildings. His aftermath is dark and he was said to have ignored the gods (!),
an accusation that looks like being a political statement by someone trying to strengthen his own
position at the moment. Anyhow Khufu has gone to history as the builder of the single most
impressive monument of all times.

Djedefre

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Khufu was succeeded by his oldest son Djedefre (his Horus name "Hor-Kheper"
seen within a serek in picture right). He married his half sister Hetepheres II,
probably to get a claim to the throne since his mother was one of his father's
secondary wives whose name is not known.
Beside his half sister Djedefre also had other wives, and with one of them,
Khentet-en-ka, he had at least three sons, Setka, Baka and Hernet and one
daughter, Neferhetepes.
The Turin King-list credits him with a rule of 8 years which is in line with the
estimations made by the Egyptologists today.
Little to nothing is known about his political deeds as to trade and security
towards Egypt's neighbors in the Mediterranean region to the north and Nubia in
the south. He was the first king to use the title "Son of Re" among his others,
which is seen as an indication of the growing popularity of the cult of the solar
god Re from Heliopolis. This god had occurred in a king's name already in the
second dynasty (Nebre/Reneb), and should do so in this new form for 2,500 years to come.
He moved north to build his pyramid to Abu Rawash, some 8 km to the north of Giza, and the
reason can be that there was no proper area left at the site. He named his tomb monument "The
pyramid is a Sehedu-star" (picture below left) and the tomb
was unfinished when he died. Today (2006)
it's substructure is open for visitors who can walk down into
his grave chamber.
The pyramid area was enclosed by a wall and at the south
west corner a smaller satellite pyramid was built, probably
for the king's first queen.
The work stopped when about 20 courses were in place, and some casing of granite is still on the
spot. What kind of pyramid it was supposed to be was not clear for many years and the
reconstructed angle obtained by putting casing blocks in place (in theory) said that it was to be
far steeper than the pyramids at Giza. This theory told that he possibly had a step pyramid in
mind, or a mastaba, but examinations in the 1990s has given the final answer to the question. A
shifting angle of the inner core from one corner (a construction detail of unknown purpose known
from other pyramids) has bewildered earlier scholars and today (2002) the original angle is set to
around 52 degrees, just like the pyramids at Giza. This makes a height of 67 meters calculated
from a base side that was 106 m, which gives a result very similar to the monument of a king to be
- Menkaure, who was his nephew.

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After being used as a quarry Djedefre's pyramid is today reduced to a dozen
layers of cut stone and nothing of the original casing is left in its original
place.

A causeway leading down to the Nile, a stretch of 1.700 meters, is


going in the direction north-east by the monument due to the
topography. It's still intact in some sections and partly hewn out
directly from the rock and rising 10-12 meters above the
surroundings.
His mortuary temple lay at the east side of the pyramid and was a
structure of brick possibly abandoned when the king died, and
not meant as a shrine from the looks of it. An open space in the
yard to the north (striped in the picture left) might have been the
intended place for the permanent structure which possibly never
came to be.
South of the temple remains is a pit for a funeral boat cut deep
into the bedrock, just like his father had at Giza. It's 35 m long
and has a depth of 9,5 m. The breadth is not great: just around 4
m. The question why he moved from Giza has been debated and
one theory is that he came closer to Heliopolis on the other side
of the Nile. A feud within the family about the succession has
also been put forward, but this has not been proved in any way. Looking at his face (if it's a
portrait) he has similar looks as his younger brother Khafre who became the next pharaoh.

Khafre
Khafre was the son of king Khufu and queen Henutsen, and
followed his elder half-brother as pharaoh. He was married
with his (half?) sister with whom he had the son, Menkaure,
the king to be. At least six more off springs of his are known
by name.
It's not known why he succeeded by his half-brother on the
throne, but it is possible that none of his former king's sons
had survived and that Khafre thus was the oldest surviving
male descendant of their father Khufu.
The Turin canon records a rule for him of more than 20 years
and according to Manetho and Herodotos it was 66. (The two
Greek historians took out "maximum" of years for most of the
pyramid builders to help them to finish their monuments).
Today it's generally accepted however, that he ruled for about
Weserib 26 years, possibly a few more.
In the picture upper left his Horus name is shown within a serek, meaning "Strong of Heart".
During his reign the solar-religion grew in importance and like his brother before him he adopted
the title "Son of Re", a tradition that lasted for over a millennium.
He built his pyramid at Giza a bit south of his father's great monument and in a
loftier position making it look bigger, but it's a bit smaller in all directions. The
humble name it was given was "The Great Pyramid" (hieroglyphs in picture left).
The interior is much simpler than the structures shown within his father's
monument. Down at the Nile he erected an impressive Valley Temple of red
granite that's still standing to a great extent. Just outside alongside the ceremonial path up to the

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pyramid he had cut out the famous Sphinx out of the rock. This gigantic lime stone sculpture is
still very well preserved as far as the head is concerned, but the stone layers of the body is of
poorer quality and heavily eroded.

The Great Ruler


This magnificent statue of
king Khafre is exposed in the
Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The material is the very hard
stone diorite and it was found
by his great Valley temple
where recesses show that
lots of statues once were
erected of the pharaoh.
The king sits on his throne
with a slightly dreamy look in
his eyes. In his right hand he
once had a flail, the symbol of
the harvests coming from the
soil of the Nile valley.
In his left hand was once a
herdsman's crook, the
symbol of cattle breeding.
(photo: Jon Bodsworth gizaview)

In front of its paws are the remains of a contemporary building called the "Sphinx Temple" where
10 colossus statues of the king once had stood. It was probably never finished and has a court
yard similar to that in the Mortuary Temple a bit uphill by the pyramid. The present state of this
construction is poorer than his Valley Temple.
Khafre had a reign similar to his father with great prosperity in Egypt and almost no disturb- ance
from the outside. The central power was maintained and stability and continuity were factors that
were put forward. Despite the seemingly conservative society, progress in all sectors were
constantly going on.

Bikka (Nebka)
An unknown pharaoh with a great unfinished monument

Pharaoh Bikka is a shadowy ruler though he is placed right in the middle of the most famous of all
dynasties in Egyptian history - the fourth. His brief reign is the reason to his anonymity among
archaeologists but he is named Bakare (like in the cartouche below right) in later king lists by his
countrymen, and put between Khafre and Menkaure (see picture below).

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Theories about his kinship to the other kings have put forward suggestions of
feud and rebellion, but his way to office can also be explained in more peaceful
and not so dramatic way.
If the oldest living male of the family inherited the throne it all fits. Khufu was
followed by his son Djedefre succeeded by his brother Khafre who was followed
by his nephew (Djedefre's son) Bikka who was a mature man by then. After his
death his younger cousin Menkaure (Khafre's son) became the new king in his
middle age.
The tricky reading of the hieratic name in the cartouches found at the remains of
his pyramid (see the picture below left) has been read as Ba-ka or Bik-ka and
thus it fits with the son of Djedefre's - Baka and Manetho has a king in his list by
the Greek name Bicheris. Other suggestions are:
Ba-Ka-R (Canon of Turin and a tonb at Sakkara), Neb-Ka (Kurt Sethe, J. Cerny)
Baef-R, Schena-Ka (Kaplony), Nefer-Ka (Maspero) and Hor-Ka (Mller) In any
case he has left a remnant that surely has the traditional grandeur and size for a
monument from the fourth dynasty.
It is situated at Zawiyet el-Aryan 4 km south of the royal cemetery at Giza and is today called the
"Unfinished Pyramid". It was planned to be a pyramid of great size begun by a ruler confident in a
long reign ahead of him, but due to the king's premature death all that was made were parts of the
foundation and enclosing walls. It was excavated in the first years of the 1900s by the Italian
Barsanti and revealed both interesting and confusing finds. To be a very obscure ruler like Bikka
an irony is that the sole remnant of his is of such huge proportions. There are still remains from
the great enclosure but none from a ceremonial road to the Nile.
A rounded sarcophagus made of red granite was found sunken into
the floor paved with huge stones at the bottom of a big shaft reached
by a steep ascending corridor with stairs. Big blocks of granite were
stored around it, obviously meant to be building material for the free
standing grave chamber over the stone coffin. The lid was intact and
sealed with gypsum, but when it was opened it turned out to be
totally empty.
The parallel to the white alabaster coffin of Sekhemkeht from the
third dynasty is striking and a very likely explanation is that this
The sign BA (the leg) have tomb also was robbed already during the disorderly days after the
made Egyptologists read collapse of the Old Kingdom. It was then restored in later times and
the name Ba-ka. Reading projects like this were carried out in the New Kingdom when one of
of second sign within the the sons of Ramses II was a dedicated restorer of older temples,
cartouche is very difficult. tombs and artifacts.
An architectural likeness was that it was built exactly like king Djoser's last resting place under
his pyramid at Sakkara and the tomb of Djedefre at Abu Roash - a free standing granite grave
chamber at the bottom of an open shaft.

Menkaure

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King Menkaure entered office as a mature man after the
death of his older cousin Baka. His name is cut in to the
Abydos king-list (see picture right) where his cousin was
omitted for some reason.
His Horus name Kau khet (the bull with divine power) is seen
within a serek in picture left.
He did not want to repeat his cousin's mistake by starting
the work of a big tomb and not live to see it be completed.
He thus built a pyramid beside his father's and grandfather's
on the Giza plateau and named it: "The Divine Pyramid"
(picture below left). Though it was considerably smaller and
Menkaure's reign has been estimated to at least 25 years, he
was unfortunate not to see the final state of it - he died
shortly before.
Khau khet His tomb is the most technically advanced of the Giza group
and its interior is more elaborated and was altered from
an original structure of more moderate size.It's not known if only the
lowest part of the building was intended to be cased by granite and today
rests of seven layers remain. Around today's entrance on the north side
some are cut in the right angle and smooth, while the others are in their
original crude state.
At the west side his large Mortuary Temple was erected and it was also planned to be cased by
granite. Some of it is still in place but the construction was incomplete when his reign terminated,
and finished rather hastily by his successor. From here a straight causeway leads down to the
Valley Temple of which almost nothing is left today.
In the first decade of the 20th century a group of statues were found in a trench of the temple
ruins and they are among the most perfectly made sculptures ever seen in world art. They are
today on display in Egypt and the USA and two of them can be seen in the pictures below.

The King
and his women

Menkaure is shown as a
healthy well built and
rather young man as he
poses with the goddess
Hathor (left) and a deity
guarding a province. It is
today in the Egyptian Mu-
seum in Cairo.

In picture right he is seen


with his supposed first
queen, but more likely a
godess since she is a bit
taller. This masterpiece is
today to be seen in the
Metropolitan Museum of
Art in New York, USA.

Menkaure is the king from the Old Kingdom that Egyptologists have the best knowledge about as
far as his physical appearance is concerned. This is due to a lucky strike made by American
archaeologist Reisner in 1910 when he found half a dozen undestroyed statues of the king

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together with goddesses or his queen (see picture above). These depictions have made science
able to reconstruct his looks since they seem to be portraits rather than idealistic depictions. The
body was made in an athletic way though he was in his middle age when he came into office.
When his days were over the fourth dynasty in reality came to an end. For some reason none of
his sons ever reached the throne, and his follower was a man from outside. If this break was due
to intrigues within the palace or even a rebellion is not known, but the royal bloodline on the male
side was hereby broken.

Shepseskaf
Shepseskaf was probably not of royal stock and if so had
to marry in to the royal family to get hold of the throne.
When he came to power there are indi- cations of some
disorder in Egypt. His first years seem to have been quite
difficult with confron- tations with various groups of
priests and probably parts of the nobility as well. The
most serious was when provinces rebelled against his
authority. If the conflict escalated beyond civil obedience
we don't know, but it probably did not. He restored order
in the country and could to some degree complete his
predecessor Menkaure's monument at Giza.
His Horus name meaning "Horus whose Body Is Noble" is seen within a serek in
the picture left.
The only depiction possibly to be of him is a head of white alabaster (above
right), but its identification is very disputable since it was found in the Valley
Shepseskhet Temple of Menkaure whose characteristics it seems to have.
Shepseskaf is unique in Egyptian history by making an invention of his own for
his grave monument, today called "Mastabat el-Faran" - Pharaoh's
Mastaba.
It was called "the Purified Pyramid" though the hieroglyph in the name (in
picture left) was of another shape. This construction was formed as a
sarcophagus-like mastaba with a slightly vaulted roof, and placed 20 km
south of Giza 3 km south of the old cemetery of Sakkara. If this new
design (never to be repeated) was a sign of some shifting religious beliefs is uncertain, but by this
he broke the building tradition accepted by the pharaohs in the past. The superstructure was of
simple design with the grave chamber placed asymmetric to the geometrical center of the
construction.

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The original tomb of Shepseskaf was a mastaba-like structure.

An overview of the building shows its great size (100x74x19 m) and it was once cased with white
limestone now long since gone. The whole area was enclosed with two stonewalls in a rectangular
shape as the monument itself. Much of it has been quarried away a long time ago. The stone
blocks in the construction were generally larger than those used in the pyramids at Giza showing
that the Egyptians gradually learned to handle block of greater size.
Nothing much is known of his deeds and when his brief reign of about seven years came to an
end, it closed the dynasty. Never again should the glory like dynasty four repeat itself and no king
should have the means to make similar monuments in the future. When Egypt once again became
a mighty power in the Middle East a great deal of the recourses were put outside its borders to
maintain this strength. The time of divine ruling and gigantic project made in a religious belief of a
living god was ended for good.

Dynasty 5
Manetho's list

2465 - 2323 BC (142 years)

Under this dynasty the art and craftsmanship reached its peak.
Eight pyramids from nine rulers are known up to now and most of them
are placed at the new royal burial ground at Abusir.
The faith in the country took a new path with the solar cult as dominant.
The real power was slowly going over from the kings
to influential classes in society.

Table of dynasty V
Name Manetho Reign Manetho Pyramid
1 Userkaf Ogserkeris 7 28 Sakkara

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2 Sahure Sehpris 12 13 Abusir
3 Nefererkare Neferkeris 20 20 Abusir
4 Shepsekare Sesiris 7 7 Abusir?
5 Neferefre Chaires 3 20 Abusir
6 Niuserre Rathoris 24 44 Abusir
7 Menkauhor Menkeris 8 9 ?
8 Djedkare Tankeris 32 44 Sakkara South
9 Unas Jaunnos 33 33 Sakkara
Years = 146 218

Userkaf
King Userkaf was related to the royal house from more than
one side. He was the grandson of king Djedefre and he
married a daughter of king Menkaure.
His Horus name Userkaf (within the serek left) means "Horus,
Who Does What Is Right", and his personal nomen Userkaf
(within the cartouche right) means "His Ka Is Strong". He
moved to the very heart of the Sakkara cemetery for his tomb
and had the nerve to erect his tomb monument only fifty
meters from the enclosure wall of the mortuary complex of
Djoser, then over 200 years old and probably with his cult still
in action.
Beside the planning of his tomb, Userkaf began a totally new
type of building project at Abusir a couple of kilo- meters to
the north, where most of his followers should erect their
Irimaat pyramids. This was something quite unique - a construction
of a Sun Temple separated from is tomb. Userkaf
This cult center of the sun god Re, had a gigantic stone obelisk as the totem,
symbolizing the sun. An altar was placed for offerings and the Palermo stone (made later in this
dynasty) states that two oxen were sacrificed here every day. This faith had by now grown to a
national cult and from now on the king had as one of his titles: "Son of Re".
When this site was excavated in the 1950s it turned out to be in a severe state of ruin since it had

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been a stone quarry in ancient times. The ground plan and different
stages of construction was able to measure out though, and the
conclusion was that more than one pharaoh had contributed to the
building over the years. It is presumed that king Neuserre (100 years
later) added the inner enclosure wall and chambers of limestone.
At the end of the causeway down by the Nile was a Valley Temple, and
the whole concept was similar to the pyramids of the pharaohs, with the
difference that the tomb was changed for a shrine to the solar god Re.
Written sources tell that six sun temples were built during the fifth
dynasty, but only four have been found. A black stone head of the king
(picture left) was found at the site. Some doubts about if it really is the
king have been put forward since he is looking so young considering he
became pharaoh as a middle aged man. Nonetheless this is an example
of how sculpturing and art in general stood at its peak in Egyptian
history at this point. Thereafter a general decline was clearly visible and never again in Egyptian
history did it reach the standard of dynasty five.
Userkaf's tomb was built at Sakkara as a pyramid. Its name was "The Pyramid Which is Pure in
Places" (picture below left). The temple by the pyramid had a floor made of black basalt stone and
so was the foundations of the walls. The rest was made of white limestone from Tura and carved
with relief scenes of offerings, decorations of animals etc.
Foundations for six statues of the king were found in a
recess behind four pillars to the south in the courtyard (red
in picture below) and this design was copied by his
followers. In the vicinity was found a colossal head of the
king, made of red granite, the oldest of its kind. The pyramid
itself was of inferior quality compared to the Giza constructions. Never again should the ruler of
Egypt have the power and ability to make such monuments. The inner core was crudely hewn and
gaps in-between stone blocks were filled with rubble and mortar.

Userkaf's pyramid
at Sakkara

The complex had an


unusual solution with
the Mortuary Temple
and two small satellite
pyramids at
the southside, (perhaps
due to a weak
bedrock).
The pyramid once
was 74 m square
and 49 min height. To
the east was an offering
chapel.

The effort taken on the inner construction was high and huge blocks were used with great
precision for the grave chambers throughout the dynasty. When the fine casing blocks were taken
away many years later, parts of the core collapsed leaving all the Abusir pyramids in a state of
ruin.
The causeway entered the enclosure wall at the southeast corner, but today nothing is left of it. Its
destination by the Nile - the Valley Temple, is also yet to be found.
Userkaf was a great inventor with his sun temple and great obelisk that became standard for the
rest of the dynasty. This has given him a special position in the Egyptian history though his reign
was only about seven years.

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Sahure
The second pharaoh of dynasty five was Sahure and his
deeds are rather well known from his well preserved pyr-
amid complex at the new royal burial ground at Abusir.
His name (within the cartouche right) means "He who is
close to Re". When the remains of his tomb was exca- vated
in the first years of the 1900s a great amount of fine reliefs
were found to an extent and quality superior to those from
the dynasty before. Some of the low relief-cuttings in red
granite are masterpieces of its kind and still in place at the
site. Among the scenes we see boats coming with big trees,
probably cedars from Lebanon where his name has been
found. The crew was mixed with also Asians sailors
onboard.
His dozen of years in office seem to have been concen-
Nebkhau trating upon peaceful trade rather than military actions,
Sahure
though a raid into Libya capturing livestock is recorded. He
worked the turquoise quarries in the Sinai as well as mining diorite in the southern Nubia. And
some of these events do occur on the Palermo stone made half a century after his death.
Inscription tell that he built a sun temple named Sekhet-Re, "the Field of Re", as well as a palace,
called Uetjesneferusahure "Sahure's splendor goes up to heaven" but these monum- ents are still
to be found. His pyramid complex on the other hand shows a decline in both size and quality as
were the rest of the pyramids from this dynasty. They had an inner core of roughly hewn stones in
a step construction held together in many sections with mortar of mud.
While this was under construction a corridor was left into the shaft
where the grave chamber was erected separately and later covered by
left over stone blocks and debris. This working strategy is clearly
visible from two unfinished pyramids and was the old style from the
Ruler for stability and life: Sahure
third dynasty now coming back after being temporarily abandoned by
the builders of the five great pyramids at Dashur and Giza during dynasty four.
His Horus name Nebkhau (within the serek in picture upper left) means "Horus, The Lord Of
Apparitions", and his own personal nomen Sahure (within the cartouche in picture upper right)
means "He Who is Close to Re".
Few depictions of the king are known, but in a sculpture he is shown
sitting on his throne with a local nome (province) deity by his
side. The picture above left shows his throne name within the
cartouche (in order: hu-sa-re) made in relief taken from a red granite
column outside his pyramidwhich had the name "The pyramid where
the Ba-spirit rises" as shown in hieroglyphic writing in the picture
right.
Today only the inner construction remains partly visible in a pile of rubble originating from the
crude filling of debris and mortar behind the casing stones taken away a thousand years ago. The
whole inner construction is badly damaged and not possible to access today (year 2002).
The entrance at the north side is a short descending corridor lined with red granite followed by a
passageway ending at the burial chamber. It has a gabled roof made of big limestone layers and
fragments of the sarcophagus were found here when it was entered in the early 1800s.

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Nefererkare Kakai
Nefererkare Kakai was probably the son of Userkaf, the first
king of the 5th Dynasty and thus younger (half-?) brother to
his predecessor king Sahure. His Horus name Weserchau (The
Force That Has Appeared) is seen with- in a serek left.
He was the first king to employ both a prenomen and nomen
(he had two names and two cartouches), a cus- tom that later
kings would follow. In the picture right is shown one of thhem -
Nefererkere, meaning "Beautiful is the Soul of Re".
His pyramid complex at Abusir was unfinished during his
lifetime, but obviously finished by his successors.
About fifteen years after his death king Neuserre incorp-orated
both his valley temple and causeway into his own complex (as
seen in view over Abusir). Somewhere in the vicinity he built a
solar temple, because the written historical texts say so, but
nothing of this shrine has so far been found and still waits to be dug out from
the sand.
Egyptologists do not agree on the length of his reign and figures between fourteen and twenty-
four years have been suggested. Nefererkara is notable for an innovation in the long row of royal
names (titles). He was the first ruler to give himself two names within a cartouche - one as the son
of Re and one as his personal name. All his followers in Egyptian history took up this custom. At
his pyramid complex hundreds of fragments of papyrus were found in the late 1800s and the
writing was in a new "shorthand" type of hieroglyphs, the so-called hieratic type of signs used for
practical reasons rather than decorative.

Today four of the original six steps of the core are visible in
Nefererkare's pyramid when the casing stones are gone. The
design was later altered and the sides were made straight.

This first example of this sort of text surely had a long time of development and is this king's most
notable contribution to Egyptology. When decrypted and published in the 1960s it turned out to be
parts of the royal archive at the site. It contained details of the administration for guarding the
temples, taking care of the daily offerings like bread, beer, meat, fowl, corn and fruit. It also
showed tables for regular inspections and records of the equipment in the cult of the dead
pharaohs.

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The name of his pyramid was: "The pyramid of the Ba-spirit".

Documenting the deeds of king Neferirkara Kakai is tricky, and one of his officials named Ty is
more known about. Thus we do not know anything about his political affairs within the country
and abroad, nor do we know how he held the borders against nomad tribes. He is likely to have
followed the "scheme" made by his predecessors, and the general impression is that his reign
was a peaceful period.

Shepseskare
Little to nothing is known about king Shepseskare apart from his name.
Almost all Egyptologists agree on that he ruled for a short period between
Neferirkare and Neferefre, but a few think he ruled after these two.
His kinship (if any) to the other kings of the 5th Dynasty is not known. The
Royal Canon of Turin and Manetho (who calls him Sesiris) notes him for a
reign of seven years, and this seems to be a plausible figure.
In the Abydos list he is omitted but his name is present in the Sakkara list.
His Horus-name within a serek (seen in picture right) is "Sekhemkhau"
meaning "The Power Has Appeared" where the club stand for power and the
rising sun for appearance. This was found in the mortuary temple of king
Neferefre.
Very few remains from his time have been found at Abusir. It's seal
impressions dated to his reign and these are almost the only contem- porary
finds from his brief time on the throne so far (2004).

There is a large remnant at Abusir that probably is from him though - what is left
of a big pyramid. It is situated north of the complex of Sahure and was found as
late as in the 1980s. The work on the monument was hardly begun before it was
stopped and consists only of earthwork. The area had been leveled and a
foundation was made for the lowest part of the construction - the burial
chamber. It's possible that the pyramid was intended to be the biggest of all at
Abusir, with a base side measuring just over 100 meters, similar in length to
king Nefererkere's pyramid.
His title (nomen) in his roll as "Son of Re" is seen within the cartouche left. The
duck is a homonym for the word "son" and the sun disc symbolizes his "father"
- the solar god Re.
His name is put together of the components: flag on a pole (or axe), quail, staff,
folded cloth and a mouth and maybe it makes "Netjer-weserw".
Since the kings of dynasty five were completing the buildings of their
predecessors (if they were almost finished) it's likely that Shepseskare just had
started on his own monuments when he passed away and sailed to "the land in
the west". The planned size of his pyramid indicates that he wasn't an old man
when he reached office hoping for a long reign, but obviously he had not.

Neferefre (Raneferef)

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Until the 1970s practically nothing more than his name was known to science,
but then excavations were begun in 1976 on an anonymous ruin in the
southernmost part of the royal necropolis at Abusir. This monument turned out
to be the unfinished pyramid of king Neferefre (Horus-name: Nefer-khawand in
picture right). At the east side an elaborated mortuary temple was dug out. It
was constructed of mud bricks and obviously made in haste shortly after the
death of the king. Here archaeologists found parts of the temple archive on
papyrus, stone vessels, mud seals, and faience inlays. Small statuettes of the
king also came to light in the temple ruins and one showing the ruler seated on
a throne without the traditional nemes headdress. He is shown to be a very
young man, hardly more than twenty years of age and with fleshy cheeks giving
a childish impression to his face.

Other statuettes (made in a crude more nonportray- ing form)


were also found as well as glazed ceramics making the king's
name.
After the excavation of the mortuary temple the archaeologists turned to the
pyramid itself and the central constructionwith the burial chamber. It had been
robbed already at the collapse of the Old Kingdom but was not totally empty of
finds. A lot of interesting objects were found and frag-ments of pharaoh's red
granite sarcophagus came to light plus pieces of mummy wrappings and
bones, and parts of canopy jars. This indicated that the king (or at least
someone) once had been buried here sometime in history. Huge portcullises
(stoppers) of granite was intended to block the corridor leading to the grave
chamber, but everything was found as it once had been abandoned - in
an unfinished state.
The mummy material was examined and probably was from a young man in his
early twenties, which fits well to what has been known of the king. Only the first step of a pyramid
was completed and it was covered by pebbles and mud mortar on the surface before the dead
king was installed in the funerary apartments. He would have rested in his sarcophagus for about
300 years before chaos broke out in Egypt and many royal tombs
were ransacked for their goods.
His name within a cartouche is seen in picture above left and his
unfinished pyramid also had the name in hiero- glyphs: It means:
"The Pyramid which is Devine of the Ba-spirits", and the spirits
are symbolized by three storks.

Neuserre Izi

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King Neuserre was the sixth king of the 5th Dynasty. His name had the meaning
"Possessed by the Power of Re" (picture below left). His Horus name was
probably pronounced Setibtawy (seen within a serek in picture right). It's not
known exactly how long he ruled Egypt because the Turin Canon is damaged at
this very place, but an asumption for around 24 years is general among
scholars. Manetho's 44 years looks far too long. There are indications of a more
than 30-year reign from his solar temple at Abu Gurab (northern Abusir) where a
Sed-fetival is mentioned.
Egyptologists have figures between 11 and 31 years. A fragment from a statue
in his valley temple states that his first queen had the name Reput-Nebu.
Though written remains are scarce we have reason to believe that he was active
in all the fields as the other kings from this period. That is - mining in the Sinai,
making military campaigns against Libyans and Nubians,
trading with Punt for malachite, myrrh, spices etc.

The last expedition of trade to the area around the


southern part of the Red Sea is attested for and
remains with his name have also been found in
Byblos in Syria as well on the island of Elefantine in
Aswan at the southern border of the country facing
Nubia.
Neuserre built his pyramid complex at Abusir and
added a great solar temple 1.500 meters to the north
at a place today called Abu Gurab. The construction
was totally made of stone and was a masterpiece in
Egyptian architecture. In front of a huge obelisk a big
altar stone was placed for offerings and it's still in
place today after almost 4.500 years.
Fine reliefs were made showing the solar god Re creating the world and
being venerated by his son - the king. This was the time in Egyptian
history when the cult of Re was at its peak. All kinds of craftsmanship
reached its climax at this point of Egyptian history, never to be achieved
again. Double statue
The picture above left shows the king's throne name within a cartouche of king Neuserre
- Izi, a short name like some others kings of the time picked for practical
reasons.
His pyramid also had a name and in hieroglyphic writing it
looks like:
It was called:
"The Pyramid which is Established of Places" and the three
green objects are thrones.

Menkauhor

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Pharaoh Menkauhor ("Eternal are the Souls of Hous") had a similar Horus-name
Menkhawu, shown within a serek right. He has left very few remains from his
brief reign and efforts have been made to identify his pyramid which is known
from written documents. One candidate is situated in north Sakkara 800 meters
north west of Djosers pyramid complex and 200 east of the sixth dynasty
pharaoh Teti's pyramid. Due to its ruined state it's known as the "Headless
Pyramid". Some scholars think it's from the First Inter- mediate Period built by a
king named Merykare, who ruled in dynasty 10.
A priest from Menkauhor's funerary cult who lived in the 12th dynasty has been
found interred in this pyramid, but the significance of this in not clear.
This monument has been examined many times during the 20th century with
diverted conclutions from the archaeologists about its age and owner.

Similarities to the pyramid of Teti do exist both in the building


Menkhawu
and the surrounding structures. Observations also seem to
connect the Teti complex with the cult of Menkauhor and a final solution to the
question who the owner is, may come from an investigation which started in the
early months of 2008.
The entrance corridor descends from the north side and is not on a north-south
axis. Two granite portcullises were used as stoppers and were found in "locked"
position, indicating that a burial once had occurred. The path leads to an
antechamber and then to the burial chamber in which a broken lid of a
sarcophagus was found.
No pyramid texts were discovered and this can point to a period prior to king
Kaiu Unas (who came into office a couple of decades later) and was the first to make
such texts at the very end of dynasty five.
In the cartouche above left we can read Menkauhor's short prenomen Kaiu and the name of his
pyramid is known from hieroglyphic text with the meaning (in the picture below) "Divine are the
(cult) places of king Menkauhor" and the pharaoh himself
is sitting in front of his tomb.
Nothing is found outside Egypt that has any conn- ection
to him but from text we know that he built a sun temple
just like some of the earlier kings of this dynasty had done
at Abusir. Its name was Akhet-Re (The horizon of Re) but
its location is not mentioned and no remains of it has been found to date (year 2008). A small
statuette in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is showing him, and his best depiction is from a private
stele from an official named Tjutju, where the king is seen wearing the traditional royal head cloth,
Nemes, instead of a crown (link through his name in menu left). This piece is among the
possessions of the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Though we today consider Menkauhor a minor and insignificant pharaoh the Ancient Egyptians
might have thought otherwise because his memory cult was still going on in the New Kingdom at
least 800 years after his death. He was probably a man in his middle age when he died and he
obviously left no son to take his place as the ruler of Egypt.

Djedkare Isesi

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Djedkare, was the eighth ruler of dynasty five and there are no
signs that make him a relative of any kind to his predecessor
Menkauhor.
His Horus-name Djedkhawu (meaning "Horus Firm Of
Apparitions") is shown in picture right and the prenom- en
Isesi (written with the hieroglyphs I-S-S-I) to the left. He had a
son and heir named Remkuy who unfortuna- tely died before
him. Though he had a long reign of about 30 years,
surprisingly few facts about him has come forward. Like the
pharaoh before him he probably did not build a sun temple
and chose his tomb to be placed in the traditional royal burial
ground in Sakkara.
Two expeditions are recorded going to Sinai and one
expedition to the mystical country Punt is also noted for in
graffiti. He kept both the commercial and diplomatic contacts
with the important trade centres in Syria. A few officials from his time are known and he is
mentioned in contemporary letters as well as royal ones from the next dynasty. The papyri
records found in the funerary temple of the older king Neferirkare are dated to his time.
Djedkare's pyramid is situated at South Sakkara and today it's called "The Sentinel Pyramid". A
mummy found within it is believed to be Djedkare himself, and estimated to be from a man about
fifty years old, which corresponds well to scientific calculations.

Djedkare's pyramid complex had two big massive pylons at the


entrance (green). The valley temple still awaits a real investigation.
At upper right corner (outside picture) was the Oueen's pyramid.

After several more or less professional diggings over the years the pyramid was examined in the
1980s and found very damaged and difficult to excavate. The valley temple has had just a few brief
investigations and some remains of walls with reliefs from the causeway have been found. At the
Nile side the topography is a heavy slope and great efforts have been taken to make the
foundation to the mortuary temple. Flanking the entrance were two square massive, tower-like
pylons. The entrance hall had very massive walls, perhaps to support a vaulted roof. The entrance
was once paved in alabaster all the way into the temple courtyard.

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The name of his pyramid was: "The Beautiful Pyramid" (picture left) sometimes
written with the king's name in front, to spread a little beauty over the owner too. The
hieroglyph for "beautiful" (nefer) was by tradition an image of a animal's belly and
windpipe (the blue sign).

Unas
King Unas is in many ways a shadowy ruler in
Egyptian history. His Horus name (picture
right) was Wadj-tawy, meaning: "Horus, the
flourishing one of the Two Lands". Science
has not obtained much of the activities during
his long reign and his death seems to have
started some sort of confusion and instability
at the tran- sition into the next dynasty. This
might be due to an estimation that he left no
heir to take over his throne, but his two first
queens are known by name - Khenut and
Nebit. The knowledge about Unas comes to a
great extant from his pyramid at Sakkara,
which he built just outside the south enclosure
wall of Djoser's pyramid complex. It is the smallest but most
technically advanced of all from the Old Kingdom. Its grave
One of few depictions of Unas when chamber is decorated with religious spells cut into the walls, the
he is breast fed by goddess Isis. so-called Pyramid Texts, and it was the first royal tomb to
contain such hieroglyphic writing.
From the well preserved causeway down to his valley temples reliefs have been found from the
walls of this once roofed pathway. Boats are coming with granite columns from the south
quarries, people working in markets places, nomad hunters at the edge of the desert etc.

The pyramid complex of Unas was built in a traditional way but the
building was the smallest of those from the fifth dynasty, 43 m high.

Some reliefs show the effect of famine with poor people looking like skin and bone. Asiatic traders
are seen arriving in Egypt by boat and nomad living at desert edge is illustrated by naturalistic

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hunting scenes.
Unas probably maintained Egypt's policy of diplomatic contacts with both Syria in the north and
Nubia beyond the southern border. Findings at the island of
Elephantine at Aswan show exotic animals apparently brought to
Egypt during his reign. A vase from the same location is deco- rated
with battle scenes, though the reign of Unas seems to have been a
peaceful period. He obviously reached a level of high respect among
the Egyptians, because the cult of his memory was going on in the
Sakkara region for a long time after his death. The name of his pyramid (seen in picture left) was:
"The Pyramid which is Beautiful in Places", or "The places of Unas are beautiful".
Parts of what is believed to be Unas' mummy was found in the late 1800s and are now pre- served
and stored in the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

After these three dynasties lasting for half a millenium


the Old Kingdom ended and was followed by a period of decline.

Dynasties 6-11

Dynasties 6-8
2323 BC. - c.2134 BC.
and
The First Intermediate Period
Dynasties 9-11 c. 2134 - 1991 B.C.

by Ottar Vendel

Dynasty 6
Manetho's list

2323 - 2150 BC (173-181 years)


Turin Canon notes this dynasty with eight Memphite kings
and Netjerkare and Menkare from dynasty seven
might possibly belong to this 6th dynasty.
Manetho ends with queen Nitokris
and the dynasty saw four
pyramids.

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Table of dynasty VI
Name Manetho Reign Manetho Pyramid
1 Teti Othones 32 30 Sakkara North
- Userkare - 3? - ?
2 Pepi I Phios 34 55 Sakkara South
3 Merenre Methosophis 9 7 Sakkara South
4 Pepi II Phiops 94 94 Sakkara South
- Merenre II? - 1,1? - ?
- Name lost - - - -
5 Nitokris Nitrokis 2-4 12 ?
Years = 169 198

Teti
Teti's Horus name, Seheteptawy, (picture right) means "He who pacifies the Two
Lands". Most of the court officials from king Unas were still in power during his
reign and through them some of his deeds are known.
We know that he started quarry work in Upper Egypt, and that he maintained
commercial and diplomatic relations with the trade center of Byblos in Syria,
valuable for import of timber. He also may have initiated expeditions like his
predecessors, towards the land Punt and Nubia. As for the latter he is attes-ted
for as far south as the town of Tomas.
At a temple at Abydos we can read about his generous ex- empting from taxes,
probably after a bad season of agriculture
There is only one statue found of him, found by his tomb. He is portrayed as a
middle aged man with fleshy cheeks and big piercing eyes.
The historian Manetho states that Teti ended his life in a very unusual way for a
pharaoh - he was murdered. The men behind the possible asassination are not
mentioned, but an assumption is that the next king to be, who was of obscure Seheteptawy
origin, might have had something to do with his death. No evidence is present
today (2002) though to confirm such a conspiratory theory.

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The pyramid complex of Teti was built in a traditional manner.
The mortuary temple had no pylons and was roofed all over,
except for the open big pillar hall in the centre (light-blue).

His pyramid was built at south Sakkara a couple of hundred meters northeast of Djoser's
complex. It contains pyramid texts, written on the limestone-covered walls of the burial- and
antechambers. This tradition was begun by his prede- cessor and followed by most pyramid
builders after him. When the burial ch- amber was entered an unfinished decorated sarcophagus
(now gone) was found and an arm and shoulder of a mummy, presumed to be the king's, was
found on the floor. This looks like a grave robbery executed in haste.
The valley temple and causeway are located to the southeast and have not been properly
investigated. Outside the main complex are small pyramids of his con- sorts and tombs of his two
viziers Mereruka and Kagemni known for their well preserved tombs with many fancy reliefs and
paintings.
Modern Egyptians call for some reason Teti's monument "The Prison Pyramid" and name
in hieroglyphs was a pillar of strength (Djed), three thrones and a pyramid (picture
below) meaning - "The Pyramid which is Enduring of Places". The places are the green
thrones and the pillar was the symbol of stability and continuity, which the Egyptians were
keen on maintaining.
About 90 meters north of Teti's complex are situated two small pyramids (c. 20 x 20 x 20 meters)
from his first queen Iput (I) and another of his favorites called Khuit. Their remains were
discovered in the beginning of the 20th century and no valley temples, cult pyramids or
causeways seems to have been built. In 2008 investigations started at the site and hopefully new
information on these tombs will come to light.

Userkare

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Userkare's name means: "The Soul of Re is Strong" and is shown within a
cartouche in the picture right. Notable is that he, who usually is left out of most
modern lists of kings, is better attested for than one would think. Besides the
Turin canon (which has an empty row where he's supposed to be) and Abydos
king's list (giving his name within a cartouche) there are other records with his
name which have survived. Among them is a script where workers at Qau el-
Kebir south of Asyut in middle Egypt are mentioned. Maybe they were eng-aged
with mining stone material for the king's tomb or another monument of his.
Userkare may have been a surviving claimer for the throne from the fifth dynasty
and a rival to Teti for accessing the kingship. Since Manetho tells that pharaoh
Teti was killed by his bodyguards, theories of conspiracy have been put forward
advocating that Userkare was the man behind, but after a short reign was put out
of office by the murdered king's son Pepi, the next king to be. There is a very
slight possibility that he (Userkare) became pharaoh for a while because the
crown prince was too young and left office when the heir had reached a proper Userkare
age to rule himself. But in that case he would hardly have cal-led himself "king",
as he did.
No monuments of Userkare's have bee found and remains of his tomb (pyramid?) are possibly yet
to be found. This lack of substantial remains is the backbone in the theory that he was a usurper
who was overthrown from the leadership and thus his remains have all been deliberately
destroyed or taken over by the fol-lowing kings. Future finds will hopefully bring knowledge about
Userkare's deeds, who he really was and where he came from.

Pepi I
One of the names of Pepi I was "The Ka (soul) of Re is power- ful" (in
picture left) and reflects back on the traditional solar cult from Heliopolis
that was slowly loosing its grip as the most imp- ortant manifestation of
the diver- ted religion of Egypt.
When he ascended the throne he had the name of his predecessor king Userkare
removed wherever possible, indicating a feud in the royal family.
Many building projects of his are known from Bubastis in the delta to Aswan in
the south, but little of it remains. Some of it was possibly incorporated into later
projects made by other rulers, but he did leave behind many inscriptions from
his time telling about his deeds during his three decade reign.
He organized expeditions to Sinai and Nubia and has left rock carving in Wadi
Hammamat, a 120 km long path between the Nile valley and the Red Sea.
One most remarkable find from this king was made in Hierakonpolis in Upper
Egypt. It was a large copper statue of him and his little son Merenre, which is
Pepi unique in Egyptian history. The head in the picture above in from this piece of
art.
He built his pyramid complex at south Sakkara four kilometers south of Djoser's complex and a
couple of hundred metres from the pyramid of fifth dynasty king Djedkare Isesi. During the 19th
dynasty it was restored and text from this occasion tells that it was in good condition at that time,
though it by then had been standing for almost a millenium.

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The pyramid complex of Pepi I as seen from northeast.
The entrance to the pyramid was by the mini chapel and
the mortuary temple had no pylons flanking its entrance.

When early Egyptologists entered the subterranean rooms from the north side entrance in the late
1800s, they found pyramid texts incised in the walls, spreading light over the builder of the
monument and more. The valley temple and causeway are still to be investigated, but the remains
of them seem to be very few. The mortuary complex was almost a duplicate of Teti's and the
pyramid was of six dynasty standard size: a 79 m square with a height of 53. It also had a
name of its own: "The Established and Beautiful Pyramid" (picture below).
Today this beauty is a twelve-meter high ruin.
In a single papyrus document an officer tells about his participation in the king's five
campaigns into Palestine reaching as far as up to mount Carmel. These military actions were
made both on land trough infantry and cavalry, and by the Egyptian navy at sea.

Merenre I
(Nemtyemsaf I)

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King Merenre was the fourth king of the sixth dynasty.
His personal name within a cartouche right is Nemtymsaf meaning "Nemty is his
protection" and his Horus name Ankh- khaw "Horus living of apparitions" is in
the serek left.
His remains are few but Egyptologists know that in the 5th year
on the throne he visited Aswan by the 1st cataract and re-
ceived tribute from the Nubian chiefs.
It looks like during his reign the society "apparatus" followed in
the old scheme of protecting the country from foreigners and
consolidating the inner strength, stability and economic
wealth.
His pyramid complex was built at the old south Sakkara burial
ground, and it app- ears not to have been fully completed, pro-
bably due to his premature death.
Today it's hardly noticeable but in the late 1800s the mortuary
temple, 250 m pathway and enclosure wall of mud brick were
still visible. The valley temple has not been mentioned yet and Nemtyemsaf
the whole area has never been extensively investigated.
Ankhkhaw The events during his reign that are attested for are the campaigns to Nubia and
further south. The goods were wood for constructions and also soldiers for
hiring into the army. The Egyptian governor of Aswan has written in his tomb that he was
responsible for four expeditions during Merenre's reign and his brother's.

The mummy of Merenre?


When the pyramid of Merenre was
entered in 1881 the black granite
sarcophagus contained a mummy of
a very young man. The wrapping
made Egyptologists decide this was
an intrusive burial from dynasty 18.
A modern test would perhaps give a
final answer, if the mummy is still
available in the Egyptian Museum.

The relationships within the royal family were more complicated than usual during Merenre's time
and his younger half brother (the Pepi II to be) was also his cousin, stepson and son-in-law(!).
This plus the fact that several persons wore the same names makes it tricky to make a table to
make a grip of the royal family structure.
A most valuable find of his is and totally unique for Egypt and the Middle East region as well, is
a copper statue found at Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt.
Other remains from his time are:
1) A small sphinx of him in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.
2) A box made of hippopotamus ivory in the Louvre Museum in Paris France.
3) An inscriptions on ivory found at his pyramid temple at Giza.
4) Notes in biographies from owners of private tombs in Abydos (2 notations), Elephantine, Deir
el-Gabrawi, Edfu and Sakkara.
His name has also been found in rocks carvings in the Wadi Hammamat path between the Nile
Valley and the Red Sea, and in alabaster quarries.
The name of Merenre's pyramid was: "The Shining and Beautiful Pyramid". The sign for
shining (at far left) was the red sun with its yellow beams by the horizon folowed by the
sign "nefer" standing for beauty.

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Pepi II
King Pepi II continued foreign relations from his predecessors and maintained
diplomatic and commercial relations with Byblos in Syria. Campaigns of
"pacification" went into Nubia and he also continued the long established
mining practices in the Sinai and elsewhere.
He had a number of queens, most of them related to him, and one of his sons,
Merenre II, who may have succeeded him, perhaps for only one year.
His throne name in cartouche right holds the hieroglyphs Nefer-Ka-Re (Beautiful
is the soul of Re) which was the most common combination among all phataohs
over the years.
His pyramid and mortuary complex was built at South Sakkara and the pyramid's
name was "The Established and Living Pyramid" (picture at bottom left).
It was built and decorated in a much poorer manner then his predecessors and
power and wealth of high officials spread all over Egypt dragging control away
from the capital Memphis. Administration of the country became difficult and he
appointed one vizier each for Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt to regain control, Neferkare
but in vain.

Pyramid complex of Pepi II and two stauettes possibly of him.

Except for finds at his burial ground the mayor remains of Pepy II are:
1) A statuette made of calcite with the young king sitting on his mother's lap.
2) A stone head found in a shrine at Koptos can possibly be a depiction of him.
3) A big (58 cm) brown stone relief fragment with his name, found at Koptos.
4) Five written decrees found at Giza, Abydos, Koptos (3) plus another (now
in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo) recording one of his many Sed festivals.
5) Inscription found in the mortuary temple of Ipwet II, Merenre I's daughter.
6) The king mentioned in tombs of Djau at Abydos and Ibi at Deir el-Gabrawi.
7) Smaller items like - a calcite vessel, faience plaques, an ivory headrest with
his name and titles written on it and various objects found at Byblos in Syria.
8) A small shrine at Abydos may have been a Ka-chapel built during his reign.

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During his very long reign of 94 years (Manetho) and 64 by most
scholars, foreign relations such as military expeditions into Nubia,
drained the state treasury and some foreign relations were even broken
off. The central administration for taxation was ignored by governors
around the country. Towards the end of his reign, the central power was
weak and out of means and local rulrs so strong, that the government of Egypt simply collapsed.
His two noted succsessors were mearly puppets in the hands of the real rulers, and had no power
what so ever.

Merenre II
(Nemtyemsaf II)

Merenre Djefaemsaf

The sixth dynasty was coming to an end in many ways, and civil disorder and lack of central
power speeded up this process.
Pharaoh Merenre Nemtyemsaf II (whose whole nomen and prenomen "Merenre Djefaemsaf" is
seen in the cartouche above) had not reign but a year when he was murdered, and this is quite
unique in Egyptian history despite several periods of decline and civil war.
Both the historian and the Royal Canon of Turin agree on the facts that his reign was little over a
year, not long enough to leave any material remains. Thus we do not know where his tomb is, nor
do science have any depictions in any form to tell what he looked like.
This lack of information can be partly compensated by his better known and more written about
sister/widow Nitokris below which contains a history told by a Greek historian how he ended his
days by being murdered.

Nitokris

Nitekreti

Romantic myths have been told in later times about Queen Nitokris (in Egyptian: Neitkrety or

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Nitokerti) but little to nothing can be confirmed through old records.
Historical facts clearly state her name as a female pharaoh, one of three in the Egyptian 3000-year
history - one in every millennium.
The Turin Papyrus places her (as seen in the cartouche above as Nitekreti) after Pepi II and
possibly Merenre II and an unknown pharaoh towards the end of the 6th dynasty. She has gone to
history in a romanticized way due to tales told by Greek historians. Manetho writes that she
succeeded her brother on the throne after that he had been slain. Herodotos states that she took
revenge on the murd-erers by inviting them to a banquet in a basement hall in her temple and then
let in the water from the Nile by a secret huge pipeline and drowned them like rats!
After this she ran in to a room full with embers and fried herself to death rather than meet the
vengeance of the others from the murder conspiracy.
The historical tales might have a few fragments of truth though the stories have not
been historically verified besides the king lists made a thousand years after her reign.
The brother of hers who was assassinated and whom she succeeded could have been
Merenre II who must have had a very brief reign.
She cannot be identified by remains from any historical records but there are a few
inscriptions indicating that a pharaoh by the name of Neterkare (cartouche left from
the Abydos king list #40) may have ruled during the dusky period at the end of the
sixth dynasty. The names are rather alike sounding and there's a probability that it's
the same ruler, but far from sure, and this triggered egyptologists to go further into the
Neterkare matter.
In the year 2000 the Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt thus put forward questions about the identity
of Nitokris and a possible error made in the Canon of Turin.
A general standpoint since then is that the notation in the Turin Canon is instead a similar name
of another obscure king by the name Neitiqerty (Neterkare) Siptah. Most probably, he is the ruler
behind the catrouches in the king lists as he app- ears in the same place (alone) in the Abydos list
of kings. His name is seen within a cartouche above left, and nothing more from him remains.

Where to put Nitokris instead is now anybody's guess, and maybee she's just a ro- mantic
fabrication by people to tell by the camp fire in the evenings. This tale was later taken as a
description of real historical events by scholars like Manetho and has been carried on as such
well into the 20th century.

Dynasty 7
2150 - 2134?

During this period chaos ruled the country and civil disorder split the nation into different centers
of power. Thus the names of the pharaohs can be many since at times three of them had their
reign simultaneously over unknown areas. The Turin Canon has few entries and notes this was
955 years after the unification by king Menes, a semi mythical event that likely happened around
3150 BC.

Manetho uses a metaphor to discribe the state in which Egypt was during this period: "70 kings
ruled for 70 days". The Abydos list has 17 kings (see below) for dynasties 7-8. Other minor
sources have given the names: Menkamin I-II, Nefer- kare V-VI, Ibi I, Sekhemkare, Iti, Imhotep, Isu
and Iytenu. No one of these rulers has been attested for by archaeological remains of substance
except their names.

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Neterkare & Menkare
These two kings are the first to be mentioned in the Abydos list after the
break down of dynasty 6. Manetho says that Nitokris (last pharaoh of
dynasty six) built the "third pyramid" probably meaning at Giza confused
by Menkaure of the fourth dynasty.
It's possible that Nitokris' throne name was Men-ka-re. No physical
evidence has been found of Neter-ka-re and the duration of his reign is not
known.

Neferkare II & Neferkare III Nebi


NEFERKARE II ("Beautiful is the Ka (soul) of Re") is from the Abydos list
solely. The common name might be an entry for another better-known
ruler. No remains from him have been found. Neferkare NEBI ("The
protector") was a son of King Pepi II. He is present in the Abydos list and
twice mentioned in the tomb of his mother - queen Ankhesenpepi II. No
remains from him have been found.

Djedkare Shemu & Neferkare IV Khendu


from the Abydos list only comes king Djedkare SHEMU ("Permanent is Ka
(soul) of Re) and his birth name Shemu (or Shemai) possibly "nomad",
shown by the hieroglyph of a man with a stick over his shoulder.
No contemporary remains from his reign has been found to verify king
Neferkare KHENDU (meaning "stri- ding"), known only from the Abydos list
too.

Merenhor & Sneferka


MERENHOR has cartouche number forty-six on the wall in Abydos and
doesn't have solar god Re in his throne name. His name (from the bottom
in the cartouche left) is water waves, a mouth, a hoe and the old falcon god
Hor (Horus). SNEFERKA comes only from the Abydos list cartouche
number 47. His name doesn't contain a god and can possibly be read: The
beautiful Ka (soul). No remains have been found from these kings.

Nekare & Neferka Tereru


Abydos list number forty-eight notes the king NEKARE.
He's a otherwise unknown ruler and no remains have been found from him
anywhere in his supposed king- dom. Neferka TERERU is in position
number forty-nine from the Abydos list. His personal name TERERU (or
possibly Tererl), are the four hieroglyphs starting at the bottom and the
meaning is possibly: "Respected by". Like his predecessor he has left no
remains at all.

Neferkahor

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This king ruled in the break between the seventh and eighth dynasty and he obviously
praised the old falcon god Hor(us).
The parts tell that "the Ka (soul) of Horus is beautiful" instead of the solar god Re.
Horus from the Upper Egypt was the older of the two and represented pharaoh himself
but since dynasty four Re (as a sun disk) had been within the cartouches marking the
king's title as "Son of Re". Neferkahor and a few other rulers of this period temporarily
broke this tradition. No remains of his have been found.

Dynasty 8
2150 - 2134 BC ?

By this time Egypt had been divided into at least three parts. The capital Memphis had no longer
power over Upper Egypt (Herakleopolis) and parts of the delta.
Aboute a dozen kings from Memphis are known, just by their names
at the Abydos list and have left no traces from their reigns. From
what's possibly dynasty 8 and onwards the Turin Canon has
two notations similar to the Abydos list. The color of
the numbers below indicate where the entry
comes from. The Abydos list only (blue
numbers) or from the Turin
Canon as well (black).

1 2 3 4 5 6

Neferkare Sneferka- --- iw- Nefer- Nefer- Neferer-


Pepisneb re Annu kaure kaure kauhor kare II

Wadjkare
King Wadjkare (meaning: "Prosperous is the Soul of Re") is known from a written
remain from his exemption decree with a cartouche containing his throne name. A very
long birth name (Demedjibtawy) has by some scholars been considered his, and
others claim that he (Wadjkare) actually was a king from dynasty ten or nine with the
possible name Neferkare II.
His residence was probably located in the capital Memphis and he is one of few kings
from this dusky era (dynasties 7-10) who has left archaeological remnants confirming

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his existence. His name (in the chartouche right) is taken from the Abydos King List.

Qakare Ibi
The ruler stands out from others during this period and is
confirmed by the Turin Canon and the temple wall of Abydos,
plus a quite substantial amount of graffiti in a remote place in
Nubia called Tomas.
Nothing about his deeds during his short reign (possibly just a
few years) is known. His throne name as pharaoh: Qakare Ibi
means, "Strong is the Soul of Re" (in the picture left) and his
birth name was the shorter Ibi (picture right). He built a
small pyramid located at South Sakkara, near the same type of
monument from Pepi II. It was the last to be built on this
classical burial ground (see its plan in the illustration below).
It was investigated already in the early 1800s by the German
Egyptologist Lepsius who found it to be a true pyramid though
it by then looked more like a mastaba in its ruined state. The
identification of the builder has been made through reading
hieroglyphic writings on the walls inside the grave chamber, the latest so called "pyramid texts"
known. Today the inscriptions are protected by concrete con-structions within the monument,
which is just a pile of rubble, three meters high.

The pyramid of king


Ibi is of a modest
size compared to
the monuments
from the pyramid
era.
An entrance from
the north side leads
to the (red) burial
chamber and the
serdab - side
chamber, (green).
A small mortuary
temple was built
at the east side.

The whole complex was not oriented in the cardinal directions (see picture above) and the
mortuary temple was built of bricks and hardly more elaborated in size than a small chapel. No
causeway has been detected leading from it and there possibly never was one, and the same goes
for a valley temple.
The measures of the pyramid are roughly estimated but the sides are likely to have been 31,5
meters and the height of the building about 21 meters.

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Dynasty 8 concluded the Old Kingdom and a period of social disorder followed. This dusky era is
called:

The First Intermediate Period


(FIP)

<="" a="">
Dynasties 9 and 10.
c. 2134 - 1970 B.C.

Little is known about these two dynasties


ruling simultaneously to dynasty 11.

Dynasties 9-10 from Herakleopolis in the north saw around 18 kings during almost a century and
for a period the north seem to have control down to Abydos area just before Thebes conquered
the whole country. Seven kings were called Khety it's the same name as Akhtoy in Greek:
Achtoes. Beneath are the entries from the Turin Canon (damaged just there) and probably all
kings are from Herakleopolis.

Neferkare Khety, ..., Senen..., Meribre?, Shed...y, H... Meribre, Khety (four kings), Neferkare
Ankhtify, Kaneferre, Merikare, Neferkare Khety, Wahkare Khety, Meryhathor, Iytjenu.
The division into two dynasties is not from contemporary text, but added later.

<="" a="">The two kings closing dynasty 10 have been rather well known:

Meribre Khety VII

Meribre Khety VII has left a famous document in which he gives his son (below) instructions how
to deal with disobedient nobilities and social crisis and explains how to strengthen the power of
the state (i.e. the king) during troublesome times.

Merikare

Merikare has been known to the afterworld mainly for two reason:

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1) He was the addressee of the famous moral/political instrucions from his father (above) whom
he succeded, and
2) Contemporary texts say that he built a pyramid in Sakkara called "Places of Merikare enjoy
prosperity" but its exact location is not known. He has been sug- gested as the owner of a
pyramid also claimed by some Egyptologists to be a monument built by king Menkauhor from the
fifth dynasty (see him). It is quite ruined and called "The headless pyramid" and is now (year 2008)
investigated for the at least the forth time in an attempt to establish its true owner.

Closing this period is a mysterious king from Middle Egypt by the name:

Khui
An obscure ruler with a big monument

The name of pharaoh Khui means "protector" (seen within the cartouche right)
and has been found just once under rather odd circumstances. It was in
connection to the investigation of quite an object for this unstable period of
disorder and a weak central power. This king possibly built (or at least worked
on) a very big tomb at the otherwise unknown site of Dara located 35 km
downstream (north of) the town Asyut in Middle Egypt.
It was probably intended to be a pyramid or mastaba of some sort, and it still
stands clearly visible in its ruined state today.
The first notation of substance of it comes from a digging there in the early
years of the 1900s, resulting in a short article in the Egyptian Museum magazine
ASAE in 1912.
Some forty years later it was investigated again for two sea- sons (1946-1948) by
the French archaeologists Raymond Weill who wrote about the digging in a 12
page article in the same publication in 1947. He concluded his work by an adding
up in a thin book of around 130 pages in 1958, and regrettably just published in Khui
French.

The tomb is located on the western bank around 300 meters from the flood plain and the remains
of the construction makes it unclear whether it was a pyramid or some kind of stepped mastaba,
because the remnants of the mud brick walls have sloping sides and are built in steps. This has
left the door open for ideas about what it once could have looked like and thus it has generated
some more or less plausible theories.
As expected opinions among Egyptologists are divided about its original (or inten- ded) design as
wella as its age. The plan is slightly rectangular with the impres- sing measurements 146 by 136
meters, the far largest since tombs of mighty rulers from the Old Kingdom times.
It's also turned slightly counter clockwise from a north-south direction, just like many Old
Kingdom tombs are. In addition a very exclusive detail was found when trying to determine its
outer limits - the corners were heavily rounded (diameter: c. 23 m) and this is a very rare feature in
ancient Egyptian architecture.
Today (year 2008) it's in a ruined state and it's difficult to say if it was dismantled after once being
finished, or if it was finished at all, which it probably wasn't.

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The simple design of the superstructure has a striking resemblance to those from the Old
Kingdom mastabas, like the great one at Beit Khallaf (see link to this monument from the intro
page) which was built during the reign of king Djoser in the third dynasty. Both monuments have
straight sloping corridors from the north, built with a vaulted roof and ending directly to the grave
chamber. They are both founded on the natural unworked gravel and do not reach down to the
bedrock. The corridor of Khui is at first horizontal and open and then becomes a sloping tunnel
supported by eleven transverse brick arches and ending at the burial chamber about nine meters
below ground surface. The chamber is lined with roughly hewn limestone blocks, probably taken
from dynasty six tombs nearby.
The room itself is very small (around 3,5 by 7 meters) and is totally empty and if there ever was a
burial taken place here (or not) cannot be substantiated by any finds or observations on the site

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and elsewhere. The outer walls were made of mud brick
masonry and the sloping sides are still visible and were
possibly intended to be cased by stone or being smoothed
with clay plaster.
The material making the core was just fil-ling of gravel and
sand, held in place by the surrounding brickwork which has a
thick- ness up to almost 40 meters (see pictures). This
"budget" way of making his last resting place tells that the
owner, despite the great size of his tomb project, was a ruler
of lim-ited means and power.
What seems to have been a mortuary tem- ple has also been
detected on the north side facing the Nile, but its general plan
can't be determined. The remains found was a part of a
massive mud brick outer wall with a length of about 35 meters
which today is bu- ried under the houses of a modern village.

What makes Khui the supposed builder is a single inscription


on a block of stone which possibly once was a part of the
building itself or placed within the area.
It was found nearby to the south and has an offering scene in relief carved into it and his name
written within a cartouche to mark that he was a pharaoh. This is the only evidence telling that a
ruler bearing this name has ever existed. Thus it's not possible to settle which dynasty he
belonged to (if any), but for practically rea- sons he is mostly put into dynasty 10.
Khui may have been a local ruler despite his depiction of himself as the king of Egypt. The site he
choose for his tomb is located midway between the two main political centers at the time -
Herakleopolis in the north (near the Faiyum) and Thebes in the south, possibly making some local
independence here during peri- ods when the central power was weak and the country divided.

A strong possibility, not to say a likely explanation, is that Khui's building origi-nally was an
unfinished Old Kingdom monument, which has been taken over by local leaders during history.
An examination using modern methods might give results complementing those from the 1940s
and dates from more than one period are not excluded but rather to be expected.

Dynasty 11
c. 2134 - 1991 B.C. (c. 143 years)

Some charts put this dynasty into the Middle Kingdom and most have six rulers
starting with Antef I. The kings called Mentuhotep can be three or four depending
on which one is concidered the first "real" pharaoh. Their throne names is the
best way for an identification. After 85 years of ruling just the area of Thebes, a
king from there started a war and reunited Egypt after 15 years of struggle. The
lifestyle and local gods of the south were then introduced to the whole country.

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Antef
"Prince of the South"

The earliest known leader from Thebes before this dynasty


was formed was a curtain "Antef - son of Ikui". (Antef can
also have the spellings Intef and Inyotef).
He must have lived around 2130 B.C. and is mentioned as
predecessor of Mentuhotep (I) from the "Hall of an- cestors"
in the Karnak temple from the 18th dynasty built by
Thotmes III. He is there given the unusual title: "Count and
Hereditary Prince." A stele from Drab Abu Naga calls him:
Prince Antef "the Hereditary Price, Count of the Great Lord of the Theban
Nome - Antef." A stele from Dendera describes him in a
similar way as: "The Great Prince of the South - Antef". Possibly he was related to
the old royal family as he was given a prince-title, but the origin of his parents are
unknown and a remark- able fact is that just his father's name is mentioned
(several times) and not his mother's from whom he (if so) had inherited his title.
There are no records telling if the following pharaohs were descendents of his,
but since three of them were called Antef it may be the case.

Mentuhotep (I)
Chief of Thebes

This leader called himself "Supreme chief of Upper Egypt" and he


is in some modern king lists numbered as Mentuhotep I and as
such he is recognized as the founder of dynasty 11.
It is not known who his father was, but it might be the Antef
mentioned above. No contemporary remains tell that he ever
claimed to be pharaoh over Egypt and his name has not been
found written within sereks or cartouches from his own time. His
son and follower on the other hand (below) called himself "King
over the Two Lands", which was a fine title though not entirely
correct. The Canon of Turin has for the 11th dynasty a row (first of
six) where the name is lacking and this might indicate that he was Mentuhotep

at his point in history considered a king and had a throne name of


his own, which now is lost. Whether he was the first "real" pharaoh named
Mentuhotep is therefor just a question of taste. By the total years given for the
whole dynasty (just six rulers in the canon) his reign is estimated to have been

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around seven years. The place of his tomb has not been located, but may be
found in the mountain side of Western Thebes, where the other coming six rulers
of the dynasty are buried.

Antef I
King Antef I was the founder of the 11th Dynasty
and son of the local tribe chief of Thebes -
Mentuhotep (above).
His Horus name Sehertawy (within a serek right)
had the meaning: "The one who makes the Two
Lands satis- fied". When he entered office the
two lands were divided and he set the task to
reunite them and make the Nile Valley a
prosperous land once again after a couple of
decades of anarchy and chaos in the
administration and finances. History tells he
made a good job, and one of his offsprings
finally succeeded a century later.
He started to subdue the towns in the neighborhood such as Hierakonpolis and
el-Kab to the south and Nagada, Koptos and Dendera to the north. The land
further downstream (north) was held by the kings of Herakleopolis, a town by the
border of the Faiyum basin in a distance of 600 km from Thebes.

The "Saff tomb" made by the Antefs I-III and the last kings of dynasty 11.
A courtyard was cut into the hillside ending with several tombs for the royal

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family hewn in to the bedrock. The length varied from 75 to 150 metres.
Remains indicate that a small pyramid might have been placed in the yard.

During his reign of about 16 years of civil war (though with separated areas and a
visible front/border) Antef didn't manage to extend his small kingdom further and
this was the task and challenge he left for his son and successor. Since this son
of his had a reign of almost half a century, it's quite likely that Antef I died rather
young, hardly reaching his middle age.
He (and the two Antefs to come) was buried in a long, narrow rock cut tomb a so
called saff-tomb or row tomb (picture above). They were placed at the west bank
of Thebes at today's Dra Abu el-Naga 3 km east of Deir el-Bahri. The design was
unique with no known forerunner as prototype. It consisted of a big open "row"
or courtyard going in to the mountain side where it ended with several chambers
cut in to the sides.
They were probably made for the king's closest family members like consorts,
sisters, brothers, sisters in law etc. A notable fact is that the king's tomb (burial
chamber) was not significantly bigger than the others. A question is if the small
pyramids placed within the yards (indications tell of such buildings) could have
been the final resting places for the kings, but this is just a theory.

Antef II
Antef II was the second king of the 11th
dynasty and his Horus name Wah-ankh
(in the serek right) means "Strong in
life".
His mother was a certain Neferu, and
his reign was, according to the Turin
king list, 49 years long and dur- ing this
period he manage to consolidate his
territory to a great extent.
The rulers of the contempo- rary 9th
and 10th dynasties in middle and
northern Egypt were joining forces and
tried to take back the territory they had lost previously
to Antef I, and started to moved south towards Theban
dominated areas.
Antef II, who was ruling the 7 provinces in the south of the country, struck back,
and the front was moving many times from north to south before he finally
manage to drive his oponents as far north as a good stretch of valley north of
Abydos up to the 13th province right at today's Asyut. By doing so half of Upper
Egypt was in his hands, and the rest of his reign was peaceful. In the south he

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broke through to the first cataract at Aswan early in his reign. By this he regained
Egypt's traditional southern
border to the south and built a
temple to the goddess Satet on the
island Elephantine at the very
same location.

After his earthly deeds he was put


to rest in a rock cut tomb next to
his predecessor's in the Theban
necropolis.
In his mortuary chapel was
retrieved a magni- ficent limestone
stele with high reliefs of the king's
favorite dogs (picture left),
standing by their master.
Curiously this fine work of art was
known to Egyptologist before it
was found, because it had been
written about in other records
from the twentieth dynasty a
thousand years after it was made.
A necropolis inspector had come
across it and considered it s very
re- markable old work of art worth
reporting to his chief about, and
so he did which was a lucky strike for Egyptology.
Two of the dogs can be identified by the hieroglyphs beside them telling their
Libyan names with the Egyptian translation at the side. The one in the middle
probably had a name common for the two languages.
From the top they are:
1) BEHEKAY (Egyptian: Mahedj) meaning "gazelle".
2) ABAQER (no translation) meaning "greyhound", probably in both languages.
3) PEHETEZ (Egyptian: Kemu) meaning "Blackie".
The last name has the same root for "black" (kem) as Kemet (the black land) which
was the Egyptians' name for their country.
These three dogs (slightly adjusted in the picture) are probably the oldest in
human history known by their names. Notable is the artists practical aim to get a
straight vertical right end to his work, and this was achieved by ordering Blackie
to sit down on his master's foot!

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The inner part of the saff tomb
complex of Antef II with a total
length of c. 150 meters. From the
open court ("row") about twenty
tombs were made in the bedrock
for the royalties (and the king?).
They were all of modest size as
was the one of the king himself
(someone left of the double row
of columns?). An elaborated form
of this tomb design was later to
be the big temple of Mentuhotep
at Deir el Bahri (see below).

Antef III
Antef III was the third king of the 11th Dynasty and very little is
known about what happened in the country during his brief reign of
around eight years. He is thereby the one less known about of the
three Antefs.
His long Horus name Nekhet-neb-tep-nefer (shown within a serek
at picture right) has the humble meaning: "Horus, The Victorious
One, Lord Of The Good Beginning".
The Royal canon of Turin gives him a reign of at least eight years,
though his name is lacking but fragment of a title is visible at the
row. It seems that during his reign a sort of status quo was at hand
in the country, because he did not gain nor lose any territory to his
northern enemies in the civil war, the kings of the 9-10 dynasties
from Herakleopolis.
He was probably buried in a narrow rock cut saff-tomb at Western
Thebes next to Antef II, 3 km east of Deir el-Bahri, the site where
his famous son and successor built himself a famous mortuary
complex. No proof has been found at the site to clearly identify the
tomb as his and the only real archaeo- logical evidence from him,
is a door jamb with his name within a royal cartouche found at Abydos.
He made his most resolute contribution to Egyptian history in cooperation with a
woman named Iah. Whether she was his first queen, a secondary consort or had
another status, we don't know. Anyhow - they produced the next king to be,
Mentuhotep II (below), one of the most distinguished kings ever in the Nile
Valley.

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Mentuhotep II
Mentuhotep II (throne name: Neb-hetep-Re "pleas- ed is
the lord of Re" is seen within the cartouche right) is one
of the most prominent and outstanding rulers in
Egyptian history. He was lucky to have a long reign of
about fifty years and the first decade is little known
about. His 14th year on the throne has been referred to
as "the year of the crime of Thinis", a strong indication
Mentuhotep that the opponents from Herakleopolis in north were
reaching that far south (Abydos area) in the civil war that
had been going on (more or less over periods) for about 85 years
pushing the military front up and down the Nile valley.
Mentuhotep then took action and moved downstream (north- Neb-hetep-Re
bound) with his army and managed to reach middle Egypt.
After a good 30 years on the throne he manage to conquer the enemies' capital
and became the sole ruler from the southern Nubia to the Medi- terranean Sea. He
was thereby the first pharaoh from Thebes who could rightfully adopt the fancy
title "King of the Two Countries".
To consolidate his nation he followed up his victory by campaigns along the
coast in both directions crushing the fleeing part of the Egyptian opposition and
weak-ening disturbing tribes in Libya and southern Palestine.
He lived for another twenty years and left a restored, rebuilt and wealthy nation,
and this was the foundation upon which the next glorious period in Egyptian
history - The Middle Kingdom - was to be built.

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Reconstruction of the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep at Deir el Bahari in West Thebes. His tomb
was cut deep into the bedrock behind and underneath the building. Right: an over life size
painted sandstone statue (2,52 m) of the king from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Even during the re-conquest of Egypt, Mentuhotep had built or restored several
monuments in Upper Egypt like those of Dendera, Abydos, el Kab and Elephan-
tine at Aswan. He paid special homage to Thebes's war-god Mentu, who had
helped him to accomplish his task, by adopting his name and build temples to
him at Medamud, Armant and Tod.

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Overshadowing all other monuments was his own
great mortuary temple at Deir el Bahari in the north
of Western Thebes. It was built against the
mountain side and designed in two terraces with
280 solid stone columns supporting parts of the
construction - a quite eye catching view. This was
partly taken from the tombs of his three
predecessors - the Antefs and the rest was a brand
new architectural design.
On top was erected a symbolic burial mound of
massive stone, probably in form of a pyramid or a
mastaba. The real tomb with the king's burial
Relief of the king found chamber was cut into the rock behind and
in his mortuary temple.
underneath the temple in a way that would be the
proto-type for royal tombs in the future.
At the ground level sycamore trees were planted on both sides of the entrance
stairway in a regular pattern, and the remains of the holes with fertile soil in
which they were standing, is clearly visible today.
Unfortunately we don't know the name of the architect of this complex, but he
surely must have been a man of fantasy and imagination. It's quite possible that
Mentuhotep himself was partly responsible for the design, as the genius he was
in organizing official projects and administrating the country.
Of all pharaohs during the long history of Egypt, he surely place among greatest
with his outstanding character and personality.

Mentuhotep III

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When Mentuhotep III took over
from his father he was fortunate to
have a very prosperous country to
rule. Since his father had a reign of
a good 50 years and he was the
oldest son (stated in his fathers
mortuary temple), it's likely that he
was a middle aged man when he
entered office.
The depiction to the left is of a
stone relief found at Armant, and
depicts him looking like a young,
strong and capable ruler. The inner Sa-ankh-ka-re

stability was solid and he could finish all monu-


ments initiated by his father, and send an
A young looking selfconfident expedition of 3,000 men to the land of Punt, going
king shown in a stone relief. the route from Koptos through the mountains to
the Red Sea. This shows that he had control of
the finances and could afford such a task, which was a proof of national wealth
and a tradition among those pharaohs capable of making a surplus from an
smooth working taxation system.

Architecture and works of art were characterized by innovation during his reign
and the reliefs are known to have a quality not to be seen even during the Middle
Kingdom to come. At Medinet Habu he built a triple sanctuary for triads of gods.
At the "Thoth Hill" nearby he erected a small temple to the god Thoth (see picture
below) on the ground where a sanctuary from the first dynasty once had stood. In
its quite remote location it wasn't found until 1904. The crude quality complex is
made of mud brick and had once an entry with pylons and surrounding walls.
He began building his tomb near his father's monument at Deir el Bahri, but it was
unfinished when he died. It consists of a causeway and a sloping passage ending
a bit into the bedrock. Graffiti inscriptions in the vicinity indicate that his last
resting place still might be to be found nearby.

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A reconstruction of the plan of Mentuhotep
III:s very small Thoth temple (or rather a
chapel) in Western Thebes. The entrance
(yellow) with the pylons (red) and an open
courtyard (gray) with a small sanctuary. It was
recognized as late as in the beginning of the
1900s, probably due to its unusual location in
a lofty position in the mountains overlooking
the traditional burial ground in the valley.

Considering the rather short time king Mentuhotep III had on the throne he must
have been a very ambitious ruler with monuments built all over the country, and
some of them were no doubt initiated by his predecessor, his father.
In one of the few depictions of him (a relief from Armant in picture above) he is
depicted as a young man wearing the traditional head-dress - the nemes, a
striped cloth which was worn exclusively by kings. In another depiction of him
(through menu left) he i wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt.
His throne name (within the cartouche at top right) means "The One Who Feeds
The Ka Of Re".
In the late 1990s was made an archaeology discovery which might solve the pro-
blem about where he was buried. A tomb which likely is his was found placed
right below the peak of the hill upon which his small sanctuary stood atop.

The fact that his tomb wasn't finished, though it ought to be if efforts had been
made, and the fact that very few depictions of him remain, and possibly never
was to be, makes one think that he was a ruler not eager to put his person at
front. He rather, it seems, at first hand saw to the results of his deeds and got
satisfaction through all building projects he fulfilled all over the country.
This gives the impression that Mentuhotep III was a modest man of great
wisdom.

Mentuhotep IV

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Mentuhotep IV was the last king of dynasty eleven. He was
the son of his predecessor and father Mentuhotep III and a
secondary consort named Imi who had the title: "the
king's mother".
His throne name (cartouche below) says: "He of the sedge
and the bee" (symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt
respectively). His reign only lasted about seven years and
we know nothing of his age when he took office. For some
reason he is missing in most king lists.
The Royal Canon of Turin has an empty row with seven
missing years at the end of this dynasty where he
possibly might fit in.
King Mentuhotep IV He may have been considered to be an usurper who had
carved into a relief. navigated to his position in a way not approved of by
some of the ruling and upper classes. He had an opponent in a curtain Antef
(possibly a member of the royal family) who adopted a royal title thereby perhaps
stating that he was first in succession to the throne. Notable is that access to the
highest office was inherited strictly through mothers of royal stock to prevent
struggle among all offsprings of the pharaoh.
Another theory is that the early kings of the 12th Dynasty rewrote history to
justify their claims to the throne since they clearly were not of royal stock.
During the second year of Mentuhotep's reign, he organized an expedition to the
quarries between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea at the path of today's Wadi
Hammamat 50 km down stream (north) of Thebes.
In this search for suitable material for buildings and his sarcophagus, texts say
that during a rare occasion of a heavy rain storm a fine block of suitable stone
was exposed.
Unfortunately we do not know if it
became the coffin to house his
mummy, nor do we know (year
2006) where his last resting place
is.
Following the theory that he was The King of Upper and Lower Egypt - Neb-tawy-Re
historically erased after his death,
the tomb of his would have been re- used with all visible tracks of him removed. A
fact is that no depictions of him are known today and the only true testimony
from his reign (since the official records seems to have vanished) are nearly
twenty inscriptions with his name cut into the rocks by members of his mining
expedition which was lead by his prime minister named Amenemhet. Most
Egyptologists today agree on that this was the next pharaoh to be, a none-royal
military leader and the founder of the next dynasty and era in Egyptian history -
The Middle Kingdom.
If Mentuhotep IV was overthrown from his throne or ended his reign by natural
causes we don't know, and in the latter case it's possible that he died without
leaving an heir to succeed.

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Antef, Ibkhenetre, Segerseni

obscure rulers in the south

At the very end of the eleventh dynasty the central power of Thebes seems to
have declined for a while, at least where the authority over the province of Nubia
was concerned. In nine cities an otherwise unknown "king" made his presence
known by recording his name on rocks. He had both a throne name - Kakare, and
a personal nomen - Antef. Maybe he was heading for the throne in Thebes but he
obviously did not reach that far.
Another ruler manifesting himself in Nubia was probably called Ibkhenetre and he
only showed himself with a fancy cartouche (below).
A third chief is known during the same period and he was called Segerseni with
the throne name Menkhkare. He is attested for only in rock inscriptions near the
town of Umbarakab in Lower Nubia.
We don't know if these local chiefs ruled simultaneously or if they succeeded
each other. Egyptologist von Beckerath advocates that their reigns were at the
same time ruling different parts of Nubia.

Kakare Antef Ibkhenetre Menkhkare


Segerseni

When the eleventh dynasty was coming to an end


Egypt had been at peace for 40 years.
The last ruler had a short reign
and a general took over
and founded:

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The Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom


Dynasties 12-14
c. 1991 - 1640 BC (c. 470 years)

By Ottar Vendel

Dynasty 12
Manetho's list

1991 - 1783 BC (208 years)

This dynasty should bring back the values from the Old Kingdom with
divine kingship, but all in the minds of the pharaohs themselves.
Its glory lies in the fact that the rulers were able leaders
developing agricultural methods and exploiting
the Faiyum. They all tried to imitate the
great pharaohs from the passed.
Egypt was prosperous and
the era saw at least
seven more
pyramids.

Amenemhet I

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Amenemhet (meaning: "Amon is at the Head") was vizier and
first military commander under king Mentuhotep III whom he
probably overthrew in a peaceful coup to access power.
Thus he was not of royal stock, and this had effect on the
historical documents he and his offspring produced for the
next couple of hundreds years to come, where reaching royal
status was an com- mon objective in texts.
As pharaoh he took the odd Horus name Wehem- mesut (in the
serek right) meaning "Repeated of Births" probably hoping for
a row of ruling periods in the afterlife. His ancestry is dusky
and surely non royal. An inscription at Thebes tells that he
probably was the son of the woman Nofret from Elephantine,
and the priest Senwosret, a name he gave his son, who was
Egypt's first co-regent as pharaoh and was given practice in
Amenemhet military matters and other duties, like getting a grip of the
prieshood and local leaders. Wehemmesut
He restored the broken diplomatic contacts with big trade center of Byblos in
today's Lebanon, reintroduced conscription to the armed forces and reorganized the admin-
istration of the country to a centralized ruled state with himself at the rodder.
A remarkable event was that he abandoned his home town and capital Thebes in the south and
built a new one at the edge of the Fayum in the north to get better control of the country by ruling
from its center. It was named "Itj-tawy", meaning "Seizer of the Two lands", meaning himself. Its
exact location has not been found but it's probably to be found in the area of the modern town of
el Lisht between tha Faijum and the Nile.

The pyramid complex of Amenemhet I at Lisht also has five mastabas


(brown), underground galleries and 22 burial shafts (left) for royal
women. Pharaoh's grave chamber (red) was placed at the bottom of a
vertical shaft (green) in the very center deep under the monument.

Few monuments of his are located at Thebes and he abandoned his completed tomb there for a
pyramid at the new capital. The reason for this is a mystery to Egypto- logists and would later in

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history have a partial parallel during the New Kngdom.
His pyramid (name: Amenemhet is high and pleasant) imitated the architecture from the ones of
the Old Kingdom, but his means were far from those of the great pyramid builders. Thus his
monument was a construction with a core of rough cut stone with filling in between of rubble and
then cased with smooth limestone. To some extent the material was taken from older ruined
monuments in Giza and Sakkara. Only the inner core is left today.
After campaigning the people in the Middle East in his first years, he built the so called "Walls-of-
the-Ruler", as series of fortifications along Egypt's north-eastern frontier. But as late as in his 24th
year of rule, inscriptions tell of his protective expeditions to the north against the "sanddwellers"
in southern Palestine.

Amenemhet I shown on a relief from his mortuary temple.


He is wearing a short wig, false beard and carrying a flail.

In his 29th year in office he strengthened trading and quarrying in Nubia to get raw materials and
metals and drove his army possibly as far south as the second cataract. He founded a fortress at
Semna in the same region.
Amenemhet started several building projects. Besides the fortresses he also built or restored
religious monuments at Babastis, el-Khatana, Tanis, Karnak, Koptos, Abydos, Dendera and at the
old capital Memphis, where he built a temple to the local god Ptah.

He appears to have been a wise leader, though hard, eager to protect Egypt's borders from
intruders. A literary work from the time of his successor tells that he was brutally murdered in a
harem plot. If ths is a tale without any connection to real history, is not known. Anyhow, this way
to depart from earthly life was unique for Egyptian pharaohs and he must have been a rather old
man by then, at least in his sixties.

Senwosret I

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King Senwosret took office by the Horus name Ankh-mesut
meaning "Living Of Births", as seen in the serek in picture
right, He went to swift action right after his father's
assassination by executing the plotters and making his will
public for every- one to see, an unusual way of addressing
ordinary people.
It was called "Instructions of Amenemhet" and is a classic
piece in Egyptian literature.
He captured Lower Nubia and built over a dozen fortresses as
far south as the second cat-aract like the large stronghold
at Buhen whose remains now are forever lost under the water
of Lake Nasser.
The economic importance of the region lay in its mineral mines
with quarrying of gold, amethyst and gneiss. Expeditions were
Senwosret also sent through the path Wadi Hammamat to the Red Sea
during his reign which was a time of stability and Ankhmesut
development.
From surviving letters we know that a famine took place during his reign and along with
this news we also are got increased insight into the life of the common Egyptians. He
expanded the cult of Osiris making him the god of the people. He set up a program to build
monuments in every main cult city in Egypt and remnants are stated from over thirty sites from
the Mediterr- anean Sea in the north to Lower Nubia in the far south.
He remodelled the temple of Khentiamentiu and Osiris at Abydos and constructed two new
shrines at Karnak and Heliopolis. In the latter he erected two 20 meter (121 tons) red granite
obelisks for the jubilee of his 30th year in office and one is still standing as the oldest obelisk in
Egypt (see also drawing left).
He built his pyramid at Lisht close to the Fayum basin (name: "Senwosret Looks Down on the Two
Lands") and today it's just a ruin. Local lime- stone was used in the core and it was built as a
framework of walls radiating from all corners and filled with stone debris, sand and waste
material.

The valley temple is not exactly located and the long causeway, now hidden under the
sand, still (year 2010) awaits a proper investigation.
The inner enclosure wall was built of limestone and had panels every five meters decorated
with reliefs. A total of 150 were originally pre-sent topped with the king's names. The mortuary
temple was almost completely ruined when excavated in 1894. Its court yard had 24 pillars and
there was found a granite altar with inscriptions and reliefs. In its rear came to light the feet of a
statue that originally had shown the king about 2.7 meters tall.
Eight standing large statues, and a catch with ten more than life-size statues of pharaoh sitting on
a square block, have been found here.
The entrance to the pyramid's interior is located below the pavement of a little chapel on the north
side where a corridor made of granite goes down to the grave chamber passing a barrier of huge
blocks weighing 20 tons a piece.
This construction is today below ground water level and has never been entered by modern
archaeologists. In parallel corridor made by robbers, some items were found in the 1880s
including parts of wooden boxes, alabaster containers, a gold dagger sheath etc.

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The complex of Senwosret I at
Itj-tawy (Lisht) was built within
two enclosed areas with ten
minor pyramids of which nine
were tombs of his consorts.
The interior was simple and the
single burial chamber was
entered from the north side by
a corridor starting from a little
chapel. The mortuary temple
was constructed very close, a
style from the fifth dynasty.

All subsidiary pyramids did not receive burials because some lack a grave chamber. These tombs
probably all belong to members of the royal family and some cases the owner has been identified.
One of these - Nofret I, the king's first queen and sister, had her name written within a cartouche.
This was the first time in Egyptian history that another person but the pharaoh had this privilege.

Amenemhet II
Amenemhet II started his reign by taking the Horus name
Hekenenmaat, meaning "The One Who is Praised By Maat" seen in
the serek in picture right.
He chose to build his pyramid at Dahshur in a lonely pyramid field
from the 4th Dynasty.
His monument was called "The Mighty Pyramid" and was placed
east of the Red Pyramid of Snofru. Today it's called "The White
Pyramid" and is in a ruined state and the side is estimated to have
had a length of about 53 meters.
Amenemhet The broad causeway is probably not investigated at all and the
valley temple is yet to be found at the old bank of the Nile just 250
meters from the complex. The mortuary temple is almost completely de- stroyed
and has not been properly examined.
Two tower-like structures like pylons are visible in the temple's east facade (see
picture below). The core of the pyramid was built much like that of his father's
but here the filling in-between the rough blocks was only sand. Hekenenmaat

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The construction is a mixture of Old Kingdom archi- tectural
design and contemporary fashion. The inner- most rooms are
built in different levels and at the west wall of the burial chamber
was found a sarcophagus made of quartzite.
West of the pyramid were found tombs of the king's children,
one son and four daughters. In two tombs of the females were
found magnificent jewelry in 1895 by the French archaeologist
De Morgan and today this treasure can be seen in the Egyptian
Museum in Cairo.
No military campaigns are recorded from Amenem- het's reign,
but he sent an expedition to the Red Sea thru the east
Great phinx of Amenemhet II mountains and from there southbound to the land Punt, a
length: 4,8 m. (The Louvre). tradition held by many kings.
He was also a pioneer in developing the Faiyum marshlands to
something more pro- ductive, a task which many of his predecessors would continue work on.

The pyramid of Amenemhet II at Dahshur was built within a narrow rectang-


ular enclosure wall of third dynasty style. The massive pylons (green) were of
fifth dynasty fashion and west of the building are underground tombs for his
wifes and children (grey i the picture above and all plundered long ago).

His trade with foreign countries reach all over the known parts of the Wadj-wer (Great Green) as
the Egyptians called the Mediterranean Sea.
Pottery and commodities coming all the way from Crete and the Minoan islands are thus found
from his time in tombs and temples.
Though he wasn't making any military actions northwards, he kept his army in shape and had a
good watch for potential hostilities from Mesopotamia. Lucky for him the Babylonian state was
engaged in a prolonged conflict to the north with a growing warrior tribe later to be a real threat to
Egypt - The Assyrians.

Senwosret II

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King Senwosret II called himself Seshemutaui, which means
("Horus) Who Leads The Two Lands", seen in the serek in the
picture right.
The reign of is considered to have been a peaceful period of slightly
over a dozen years. A main task of his was to keep the balance of
power between the regional leaders (governors) and the central
government. If loyal to him these provincial leaders could gain a
consider- able wealth and political influence.
He was interested in carrying out practical matters within Egypt and
Senwosret used diplomacy rather than war-making whe dealing with matters
concerning his neighbors. In short - he was a peacful ruler
concentrating on wealth for Egypt rather than expanding its borders.
In the Faiyum basin his projects of development turned large areas of marshes
into land for cultivation by building dams and digging canals. These vast
commitments spent over generations and became a tradition for the kings, in
which he paricipaded with great interest. Seshemutaui
He built his pyramid at Lahun (Illahun) close to the Faiyum and it differed
in some ways compared to similar monu-ments. Its innermost core is an adjusted natural
limestone rock which was completed with masonry of mud brick. The entrance was not at
the traditional north side (see picture below), but hidden under the pavement to the south. At the
same side are four shaft tombs belonging to members of the king's family. Three of them were
found robbed when excavated in 1914, but the fourth revealed a first class sensation.
When digging down the vertical shaft a recess came to light at one side. It was one meter high,
going in to the bedrock and sealed with mud. When this was removed it was found to be a
treasury of unexpected wealth.
It belonged to the king's daughter princess Sit-Hathor-Unut and this was the intact storage of her
personal jewelry of bracelets necklaces and finger rings.
In total the archaeologists found: 9.500 beads of different stone material, 110 rings of gold,
bracelets and anklets of gold, a golden crown and her toilet razor of copper.

Pyramid of Senwosret II
at Lahun
Eight mastabas (brown) and
a minor pyramid was
situated by the north side
and instead of a mortuary
temple to the east a small
chapel was placed there.
Causeway and valley temple
have not been found so far
(2002) but may have once
been there and was later
dismantled for reusing, like
the pyramid's casing of fine
smooth white limestone.

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Another unique find was made when a place by the river bank 1 km east of the pyra- mid was
excavated. It turned out to be the location of an ancient so called pyra- mid-town just north of the
kings mortuary temple by the Nile shore. These sites were built during the construction and were
communities of workmen, craftsmen, admin- istrators etc. who were involved in the ongoing
pyramid project.
Its name was Hetepsenwosret (Senwosret is at ease) and was the first of its kind to be found and
it was not abandoned when the work was done, but flourished for another almost two centuries
hosting a mayor and the priesthood working in the cult of the dead pharaoh. Today it's known
as Kahun.
The place had remarkably many objects left in the houses and seems to have been abandoned in
a haste. Science was here provided with a lot of information about daily life and housing
conditions of different classes.

Senwosret III
Senwosret III took office with the Horus name which means "Horus
Divine of Shape", seen in the serek in picture right. He had a long
and prosperous time on the throne and he was military active
during most of his reign. He is well attested for in many surviving
statues that during the Middle Kingdom were realistic how the king
should be portrayed. Thus we can se the pharaoh like he really was
- a mature man with an introvert and somewhat arrogant look on his
face seeming almost tired of all the responsibility his high position
has put on his shoulders (picture below left).
Senwosret He initiated a series of five campaigns into Nubia and protected the
trading routes and mineral resources and to make transport-ation
easy he extended an Old Kingdom bypass canal around the first cataract at
Aswan. In Semna he erected a stele bragging about how he killed the male
population, enslaved their women and children, burnt their crops and poisoned
their wells.
Neterikheperu
He personally lead a campaign into Syria, described on
a private stele by a participant as an invasion of plunder.
Senwosret III built a temple to the old Theban war god Mentu north of
Karnak and divided the country into three adminis- trative regions. This
was to weaken the power of the local governors who were a constant
threat to central power during most all the Middle Kingdom. As a side
effect of this the middle class grew larger and more politically
influential.

He built his pyramid at Dahshur. It was the largest of the 12th dynasty
pyramids and had a mud brick core cased by limestone. The entrance
was hidden under the courtyard pavement west of the pyramid and the
burial chamber does not lie close to the vertical axes (see illu- stration
below). Due to its position (like the one in his father's pyramid) there is a slight possibility that the
found chamber was for the first queen and the king's is yet to be found. When entered in the
1890s it contained a big empty granite sarco-phagus by its west wall and the only objects found
were a few vases and pieces of a bronze dagger with an ivory handle.
The location of the valley temple has never been retrieved and the causeway ap-proaching from
the southeast, has not yet been investigated (year 2002).

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The pyramid of Senwosret III at Dahshur. At first a mortuary temple was built by
the east side (top) later to be replaced by a new and bigger within the expanded
enclosured area to the south. Its plan has not been reconstructed.

In the lower galleries under the small pyramids to the north 300 pieces of jewelry were found
belonging to princess Sit-Hathor, probably the king's sister and possibly also his wife. From the
western most of the tombs at the south side a tunnel leads to a burial chamber with a granite
sarcophagus under the corner of the king's pyramid (see illu- stration above). This was found in
1994 and belonged to his mother Weret.
If Senwosret ever was buried in his pyramid is doubtful because he also had a tomb at Abydos
with a similar layout as a pyramid complex. From a valley temple a 900 metre long causeway leads
to the mortuary temple within an enclosure area. The huge underground tomb was once
considered the largest in Egypt. To the south a town was built to support this huge funerary
complex.

Amenemhet III

Amenemhet

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Amenemhet took the Horus name Aabau, meaning "(Horus) Great Of Power",
seen within the serek in the picture right.
He continued the irrigation program of the Faiyum by building dams and
canalling water from the Nile to Egypt's only real lake - Qarun. An estimated area
of 620 square km (153.000 acres) of new fertile land was reclaimed in this way.
He erected two colossal 12 metre high statues of himself at today's Biyahmu and
statues of Sobek, Hathor and an unusual palm goddess have also come to light.
His long 44-year reign was peaceful and perhaps the peak of the Middle
Kingdom with growing wealth and quarrying for minerals and metals all over the
country.
Three major construction works of his, besides two pyramids were, in the
Fayum: a Temple to Sobek at Shedet and a chapel to Ernutet (the goddess of
harvest) at Medinet Madi. In the Nile Valley: an expansion of the temple of Ptah at
Memphis.
He kept good foreign relations without too much
military force and was said to be praised by
commoners from Nubia in the south to Syria in the Aabau
north.
This might be true because he welcomed many foreign workers,
peasants, soldiers and craftsmen to Egypt and once he provided the
Nubians with food to appease the effects of a famine. However, by
possibly a series of low Nile floods the fragile economic back-bone
was damaged and standard fell rapidly by the end of his reign.
Amenemhet III built two pyramids and the first one at Dahshur was a
disaster. Today it's sometimes called the "Black Pyramid" and it's
surely a dark chapter in the his- tory of pyramid building. For some
reason his architects built it on the hard subsoil, not the bedrock and
further- more in a low spot that made the groundwater leak in and
damage the structure.
Amenemhet III Soon after the pyramid was completed (after about fifteen years of
as a young man work) cracks appeared in the chambers and corridors.
Its inner architecture is very elaborated and differs totally from earlier
pyramids of the Middle Kingdom (picture below). Besides the king's burial chamber are others
and one them was for the burial of his first queen.
The now destroyed mortuary temple was relatively small and its original layout is hard to
establish. A broad causeway flanked by two brick walls led to the valley temple that was a simple
construction, with two open courts built in terraces.
At the north side of the causeway just outside the pyramid was found mud brick settlements for
priests participating in the cult of the dead pharaoh.

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The Dahshur pyramid has two entrances. The grave chamber (red) was never
used for a burial and held the king's empty pink granite coffin. Two queens were
buried within the pyramid (blue) and the other family members had tombs by the
north side. One of them (green) was later used by king Hor from the 13th dynasty.

The king decided to build another pyramid to replace the cracked one, and chose the location
Hawara just at the entrance to great Faiyum basin.
It was also built in typical 12th Dynasty fashion with a mud brick core and a casing of white
limestone but was technically different to the one at Dahshur.
The whole complex was oriented north-south and surrounded by an enclosure wall covering some
28,000 square meters, the largest from the Middle Kingdom. The valley temple and the causeway,
have not been investigated seriously.
The huge mortuary complex (now gone) was once called "the Labyrinth" and well known to
tourists during the Greco-Roman era and is said to have been the prototype for its namesake later
built for king Minos in Crete. Historian Strabo tells the halls were as many as the provinces in
Egypt (42), each honoring its main god. Underground galleries for the local crocodile deity Sobek
is also mentioned, but they have never been found.

Pyramid at Hawara
After the dismantling of the fine
white casing stones the whole
Hawara pyramid has decayed
to a pile of mud brick rubble.
Under the sand are the scanty
remains of the attraction that
brought tourists here already in
Roman times - The Labyrinth.
This was the mortuary temple.

In 1889 the burial chamber was entered, but was found only to contain an empty sarcophagus.
Within the nearby antechamber was found duck shaped bowls, a wooden coffin and an alabaster

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offering table inscribed with the name of a princess. Slabs of quartzite were placed to prevent
intrusion to the king's mummy and could be put in position by the first known sand lowering
device. The construction has great similarities to those of two later pyramids at Mazghuna.

Amenemhet IV
Amenemhet IV had the Horus name Kheperkheperu which means
"Horus (is) the Multiple Transformer", seen within the serek in
picture right.
He was probably a son of his predecessor and had a brief period
as pharaoh of about ten years at the most.
He was married to his half sister (below) and possibly built a
pyramid at Mazghuna. No name of his has been found at the site
and the estimated age of the monu- ment has been made by
looking at the architectural and technical details.
Amenemhet We do not know anything about his relatives like the names of his
mother, sisters and brothers, or for that matter the true confirm- ation of the
identity of his father. There is a possibility that his pre- decessor on the throne
was his uncle or even his grandfather.
He is known to have completed several temples and other buildings which were
under construction when he entered office. In Nubia rock inscriptions confirm Kheperkheperu
that he was able to hold the territory that was captured by the Egyptian army almost a hundred
years earlier, during the reign of king Senwosret III.
Nothing is known of a heir of his (if there was one) and the fact that he was suc-ceeded by his
widow indicates that he had no son to put on the throne.
An example from the sparse remains of his is a magnificent piece of jewelry shown in the
illustration below.

A small golden plaque of unknown


provenance showing Amenemhet
IV (to the right in the picture) off-
ering to the creator god Atum.
It is a so called openwork cutting
made from a single sheet of gold.
It measures only 3 by 2,8 cm and
the details are made with a bril-
liant technique showing even the
tiny feathers of the owl sitting in
the center.
Its purpose is not known but it
was likely for decoration on a
small jar containing ointment or
perfumed oil or on the lid to a
jewelry box.

Up to now (year 2002) no depictions in paintings and reliefs etc. has been found showing the
looks of Amenemhet IV. Nor is there any statue or statuette that can be attested to him with

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certainty. His tomb has not been found but it's possible that a pyramid at Mazghuna South (one of
a pair) is a monument of his. The location is 100 km north of the Faiyum and 15 km south of
Sakkara.

Sobeknefrure
Sobeknefrure (sometimes Neferusobek) had the Horus name
Merire which means "Horus, [who is] Beloved by Re", seen in
the serek in picture right. Her throne name (seen within the
cartouche left) means "Three times Beautiful is Sobek", by this
praising the crocodile god from the Faiyum. The two
hieroglyphs at the bottom mark that this is a name of a woman.
She was most likely a daughter of Amenemhet III and is
mentioned in Manetho's text, in the Karnak and Sakkara lists
but not noted in the canon from Abydos temple wall.
She was probably the sister or half sister to her husband
Amenemhet IV whose title and occu-pation she took over
shortly after his death. Often her name app- ears with the
addition Shedty, meaning "from Shedet" and this might indicate
that she was involved in a religious movement in this town in Meritre
Sobeknefrure Faiyum. This cult praised the crocodile god Sobek and it's
possible, though not confirmed, that priests of this old local deity were the ones
who backed her up as a national leader though their power (and hers) obviously was limited. This
would also explain her break of tradition by taking the name aof the crocodile god Sobek as
pharaoh for the first time in Egyptian history. After her a row of kings did so due to the upraise of
this animal from the swamps of Faiyum where it was more common than along the shores of the
Nile itself.

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The economic importance of Faiyum had been increased since
much land for cultivation had been reclaimed from the
marshes during the reigns of several kings.
Physical evidence from her reign are scant but inscriptions at
the second cataract, a cylinder seal with her names and texts
associating her with her father, have survived. She completed
her father's mortuary temple where her name appears many
times (and that of Amenemhet IV - not at all).
An apparent remain are three fragmentary life-size basalt
statues of her found at the site Tell el Dab'a (former Avaris) in
the eastern delta. One of them is shown in the picture left with
a fictive addition giving an impression of what it once might
have looked like. Note that the statue fragment has breasts
and does not have a false beard and thus once clearly showed
Sobeknefru as a real female pharaoh.
Her tomb has not yet been found, but there is a hardly begun
pyramid at Mazghuna North that might be a remnant of hers.
If this is the case she seems to have left the Faiyum area for
the more traditional administra- tive and religious centres up
north like Memphis and Heliopolis. Where she actually had her
residence is not known.
So far (year 2002) no depiction of her has appeared in
paintings or 3D form. A possible exception is a small statue
from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York mentioned
Sobeknefru reconstructed in an article edited by C.J. Eyre published in: Orientalia
Lovaniensia Analecta, nr. 82 (p 227-236). It is an intact
depiction of a female pharaoh with an unusual crown on her head and wearing a Hebsed cloak.
The assumption that it is of her is made purely on stylistic grounds and without written
(hieroglyphic) backup.
Her reign concluded the 12th dynasty, a prosperous period in Egyptian history.
She was one of very few women (probably one of two in 3000 years) to achieve the rank of
pharaoh over Egypt.

Post Scriptum to dynasty 12


The kings of the 12th dynasty tried to bring back the old values from the times of the great
pyramid builders. They could not reach the status of gods like the old pha-raohs, but in some
fields they were successful, like in arts, where the quality in paintings and sculpture became just
as good as during the Old Kingdom, or almost.
With time their pyramids became technically more advanced and showed a great variety in
their substructures like positions of the grave chambers, entrances etc.
The written language reached its peak and the "Middle Kingdom language" was to set standard
for all future and fine pieces of literature have survived.

Dynasty 13
1802 - 1649 BC (Ryholt) (c. 140 years)

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Dynasty 13 started the Second Intermediate Period (SIP) (some makes the start at dynasty 15) and
this era bears many unsolved problems.
The first two kings were sons of the last male monarch of dynasty 12 and Upper Egypt was under
control at least through the reign of Sobekhotep IV some 120 lyears later. The capital was Itj-tawy
and a traditional belief is that after half the dynasty they kings were forced to move south, but no
evidence confirms this. The territory reached north to Bubastis and the borders does not seem to
have been changed over the years to the parallel dynasty 14 which controlled the rest of the delta.
In the south dynasty 13 seems to have control as far as the second cataract though- out its
existence. Dynasties 13 and 14 seem to have been getting along quite well but a big question is
how all entries for dynasty 13 in the Turin Canon should be explained (around 60 kings) making
an average reign of 1,5 years for the first couple of dozen rulers. One of many theories is that the
ruling class apointed marionette-kings and sacked them when they felt like it. Turin Canon has 57
rows with names and fragment of 50 rulers plus 12 possibly to be put in the rows 15-19 and 49-55.
The duration for the dynasty is estimated to c. 150 years (1802 to 1649 BC) making an average rule
for all kings of about three years.
This curious fact goes for dynasty 14 as well with around 56 kings over 150 years.

Known only from Upper Egypt and NOT present in the Turin Canon are:
Mentuhotep VI, Djehuty, Neferhotep III, Nebiryraw I, Smenre, Bebiankh, Snaaib, Monthemsaf,
Senwosret IV, Nebmaatre, Dedumose I-II, Wepwawemsaf, Pantjeny.

Based upon the Canon of Turin and other sources the


Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt has in 1997
published a suggestion for a
chronology.

Sobekhotep I
The founder of the dynasty is well attested for and he was the
first (male) pharaoh to include Faiyum's crocodile god into his
name. He was the son of king Amenemhet IV of dynasty 12 and
is incorrectly noted as king number 19 in the Turin Canon,
obvious interchanged with king Wegaf in position #21 who was
ruling in about forty years later.
The duration of his reign is not to be seen in the damaged list,
but a probable figure is estimated for at least three a period of
years around 1800-1797 BC. His prenomen (seen within the
cartouche in picture right) means: "Life of Re is Appearing",
made thru the three hieroglyphs: sunrise (mean- ing "appear"),
ankh ("life") and the sun, standing for the solar god Re. His
name occurs on at least a dozen remnants from buildings of
stone plus some papyrus inscriptions and an axe blade of
Sobekhotep unknown provenance. Khaankhre

Sekhemkare Sonbef
King Sekhemkare Sonbef was a son of Amenemhet III and by some considered identical to

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Amenemhet V (see below) and confusion is at hand ordering these insignificant rulers correctly
with one thing in common: short periods in high office.

Amenemhet Sonbef

This king is listed as number two in the Royal Canon of Turin,


where he possibly succeeded his paternal brother Sobekhotep
I.
He thus was the son of the king Amenemhet IV of the dynasty
before. His nomen was Sonbef, as written by the last three
hieroglyphs at right in the cartouche above.
His throne name was "Mighty is the soul of Re", (within a
cartouche left), and his Horus-name in the serek right means:
"Horus, the one who makes the Two Lands live".
Another find is a stele (below) with his names (center and left)
and at right the Nile god Hapi kneeling with offerings on a plate.
A cylinders seal with his name (right) was used during his
short reign of about 3 years around 1795 BC.

Sekhemkare Seankhtawy

Amenemhet V

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King Amenemhet V had a reign of about three years at least
and possibly identical to king Sekhemkare Sonbef above. His
reign would have started around 1783 BC. and according to
the Turin Canon he was the third king of the dynasty and is
noted for a reign of 5-6 years. His throne name was "Sekhem-
ka-Re" in the cartouche to the right and means: "Powerful is
the Soul of Re", which was a quite common name. His Horus
name is seen in the serek to the left and it means: (Horus is)
the one who makes the two lands live". There are no mon-
uuments found from his reign, nor are there any scarab-seals
or cylinder seals with his name. The only remain of him is his
name written on papyrus and a statue (3/4 of man size) divided
into two parts. They are today (year 2002) on exhibition in Das
Kunsthistorische Museum (The Art History Museum) in
Mesh-eb-tawi Vienna, which holds fragments Sekhemkare
from the body, and the Nubian Museum at
Aswan (in the picture left). In the latter place this statue, made of
hard grey-green stone, was once found in the temple area on the
old fortified island of Elephantine in the modern town of Aswan. A
positive identifi-cation was made as late as in the 1990s when his
name was found written on some of half a dozen fragments from
the body which were found fitting the upper part. The artistic style
adopted during dynasty twelve is clearly visible in this
fragmentary statue (with the exception of the normally big ears).
His expression seems also to be more joyful than the grim faces
of some of the giants from the dynasty before. Excluding the
reconstructed part (in brown) the measures are - height: 35 cm
and width: 17,5 cm.

Amenyqemau
King Amenyqemau had a brief reign of a few years
around 1790 BC. By coincident he was re- discovered and
came to be known better some 3,750 years later - in 1957.
While working at South Dashur an American expedition tried
their luck by excavating a low structure of mud brick rubble
never worked on before. Soon they discovered a substructure
that made them determine that this was a true pyra- mid, until
then unknown to science.
The owner was soon identified as king Ameny Kemau (usualy
today written Amenyqemau), a little known ruler from the 13th
dynasty, and hard to place in the long line of minor regents
from this dusky period. In the Turin Canon appears a pharaoh
called Se-hotep-ib-Re with a noted reign of just one year,
which may be him. Another suggestion is that he was the son
of (and perhaps predecessor to) pharaoh Amenemhet V, but
this has not been confirmed, but it might be possible.
Ameni Kemau His name (in the picture right) clearly confirms his status by Nefer-netjer
the signs at the very bottom (the goose and the sun) which neb-tauy
says: "Son of Re", meaning nobody but the king. And in the picture left his
personal name is seen within a royal cartouche.

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Today (year 2002) the place of his pyramid is hard to determine as man made, and looks more
like natural formation in the landscape.
The details of the superstructure have almost totally vanished, but it likely was a construction
made of a mud brick core cased by limestone. The complex probably didn't have an enclosure
wall and any subsidiary tombs has not been found.
The remains below surface have been preserved in a better way and are well docu- mented from a
second investigation made in the late 1960s.

Pyramid of Amenyqemau
The entrance to the substructure
was made in a fashion well known
from the mid dynasty 13.
A huge block of stone (green) was
a stopper at the threshold of the
buri- al chamber (red).
Nothing was found of any mortuary
temple, causeway or valley temple.
It's doubtful if there ever were any
built and if the pyramid itself was
ever finished.
The base side was originally about
52 meters and the height about 35.

The entrance corridor (picture above) was at the east side, and had two stairways before entering
the large antechamber outside the grave chamber holding a huge block of quartzite stone. Into
this craftsmen had cut two niches for the storage of the king's mummy coffin and the chest
containing four jars with his embalmed inner organs. After the burial a big stone slab outside the
door was put into place blocking the entrance to pharaoh's final resting place.
Despite these precautions taken by the architect, the monument was entered by grave robbers
who ransacked it of its valuable things leaving only fragments of the canopy chest behind. Luckily
for the afterworld it was on these pieces of stone that the king's name was found some 3,700
years later (the serek-pictures above left).
The pyramid of Amenyqemau was one of the last monumental pyramid for a king's final resting
place to be built in Egypt, and as such it is a valuable object for studying the long development of
this famous type of tomb.

Sobekhotep II

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King Sobekhotep II was possibly the pharaoh in
office just before the brief reign of king Hor and
may have been the son of his namesake
Sobekhotep I who had ruled about a dozen years
earlier. He was the second in a row of at least seven
kings to bear this crocodile name with the meaning:
"Sobek is Beautiful and Pleasing". The duration of
his time in office is today generally agreed on to
have been two to four years around 1778 BC.and he
is identified in the Turin Canon as listed between
the little known about king Amenemhet VII
(Sedjefkare) and the far better known king
Khendjer.
At Deir el Bahri (western Thebes) and Medamud
Sekhemre eight km northeast of Luxor, he made additions to
suadj-taui the old temples of Mentuhotep I, which were built
almost two centuries earlier.
A statue (picture right) made of red granite, shows him sitting on his
throne and this piece is today (year 2002) at exhibition in the British
Museum. His throne name (within the cartouche in picture upper left)
means: "The Powerful Re Rules and Protects the Two Countries".
His name has also been found on a block of stone from a chapel and
an altar from Abydos. At Karnak a fundament from a statue of his is
known and in the Petrie Museum in London his name is present on a fragment from a column.
Where and in what sort of tomb (pyramids were on their way out) he was buried is yet (year 2008)
to be found.

Hor I

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King Hor I has been very well known and his throne name is
shown here written within a cartouche in the illustration right.
It means: "Re Succours the Heart".
At Hawara by the north side of the pyramid of Amnemhet III
a small tomb was found to be his last resting place in 1894.
Among other things it also contained a wooden statue of him.
This life size (1.70 m) sculpture is a masterpiece of its kind
and today exposed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (left).
The statue is depicting the king's Ka (an invisible follower)
which walked beside every human being in life as well as after
death. It was thought to take possession of the mummified
body and was symbolized and shown in hieroglyphic writing
as two up-reached arms, and now placed upon his head.
The eyes are made of white and blue glass, a rare color of the Au-bri-Re
eyes of the Egyptians. The tomb was by a lucky strike
untouched by robbers and also contained his mummy within a wooden coffin
plus some items of the funerary equipment including a wooden chest.
Some indications in the tomb may point to the fact that a later king - Khendjer,
took part in his funeral, but opinions among Egyptologists are divided in this
matter. Pharaoh Hor had a brief reign (opinions vary from 7 months up to 2-3
years) around 1776 BC and nothing of his deeds during his pharaohship has
been recorded just half a dozen minor things like small jars and scarabs with
his name. A king called Sekhemrekhutawy Khabaw is by some placed as his
succsessor but scholars have various places for this shadowy king.

King Hor

Wegaf
Pharaoh Wegaf (also spelt Ugaf) is in most lists put in first
position of the dynasty with a reign of about a good two years
around 1765 BC. The Turin Canon gives him - two years, three
months and twenty-seven days on the throne.
He is likely to have ruled from the capital Itj-tawy as the first in
a row of about ten kings who had rather stable rules. His throne
name (within cartouche right) means: "Re Protects the Two
Lands", and sometimes the signs at row three and at the
bottom are left out. At left his per-sonal name Wegaf is seen
written with phonetic hieroglyphs.His remains are rather few (7)
and just a single scarab-seal is documented from his time as
the senior commander of Egypt's military forces before he
became pharaoh.

Wegaf Khwitawyre

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He is also known from two stelae in Karnak and Lower Nubia in the vicinity of the
second cataract (drawing in picture left) and from a statuette in the Museum of
Khartoum in Sudan.
In the early 1980s a former anonymous statuette on display in the Egyptian
Museum was reattributed and determined as being his.
A find of an Ostracon (single piece with temporary drawing/writing) from the island
of Elephantine in Aswan shows his name together with the nomen of king
Senwosret, (which one is unclear). In total half a dozen physical remnants of his
are known including a statue (a the Egyptian Museum in Cairo) plus a stele and a
statuette (stele seen in drawing left), now both in the museum in Khartum, Sudan.

Khendjer
Nothing is known of the deeds of this pharaoh. His fame comes
from his mortuary complex with his pyramid which was
discovered at far south in the burial ground of Sakkara in 1929,
and was identified as his two years later.
His name was known before, from a stele, but here another
throne name was used. For some time the question was if there
were two kings called Khendjer, but soon scientists agreed on
that it was one and the same pharaoh from the stele found at
Sakkara and the one possibly mentioned in the Canon of Turin.
His Horus name "Djed Kheperu" (firm is Kheper) is seen within
a serek right, and his reign would have lasted circa 4 years
around 1750 BC.
The whole pyramid area of his had once been enclosed by two
walls, the outer made of mud brick. The inner one was of
limestone and had niches and panels and remains indicated it Khendjer
apparently had replaced an unusual wavy wall, just like the one surrounding the
pyramid at Mazghuna South from king Amenemhet IV around half a century earlier (see above).
The mortuary temple was located on the east side between the walls and the only remains were
bits of reliefs and parts of the pavement from the court yard. Luckily fragments from columns
were inscribed with his name, and thereby identifying the constructions as his. Investigations of
the fragmentary pyramid lead to the conclu-sion that it once had a base side of 53 meters and a
height of about 37. After having been quarried away over the years it is considerably reduced in
height today (2002). Compared to what it once had looked like in its prime. Many fragments of the
black granite pyramidon (capstone) was found in a rather well preserved condition at the east side
and is now reconstructed (put together). It's inscribed with the king's throne name - Userkare. A
chapel to the north was built against the pyramid's facade. It stood on a platform and was reached
by two stairways.

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The pyramid complex of Khendjer once had two enclosure walls
and the mortuary temple was placed in between (striped area).
Huge stoppers (green) blocked the way to the grave chamber (red).

Fragments of reliefs that once adorned the walls have been found, depicting scenes of offerings
and other well known motifs. The entrance was at the west side (picture above) with a stairway
leading down to a portcullis that never was engaged and 39 steps further down was a room with
stopper number two. Prior to the superstructure the grave chamber was built in a shaft cut out in
the bedrock. Huge blocks were sealing it from the top and lowered to their final position by a
devise making them fall into place when the sand they temporary lay on was drained out from
below through small channels. This technically advanced method is also known from the pyramid
remains at Mazghuna South attributed to Amenemhet IV (see above).
Just outside the inner wall at the north west corner are the underground remains of a small (c. 20
m square) subsidiary pyramid possibly built for his first queen. Within the area are also shaft
tombs most likely belonging to other family members. All of it was found in an unfinished state
when it was discovered in the late 1920s, and poss-ibly never used for burials. An inscription on
the sarcophagus in the grave chamber below the queen's pyramid, gives an indication of the
duration of the king's short reign - four years. Apart from his tomb all remains left of pharaoh
Khendjer are three statuettes of him, three cylinder seals with his name, a few scarab seals and a
stele.
If Khendjer was coming from outside Egypt (and his Semitic name indicates this) he may have
been the first recognised Pharaoh of non-Egyptian origin.

Sobekhotep III

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Pharaoh Sobekhotep III is placed in The Royal canon of Turin
as number 19 in the long row of rulers. His reign is noted in the
kings' to have been three years and two months, but the two
marks for "years" are so separated that another in the mid- dle
is likely to once have been written there.
His reign was thus possibly 3-4 years starting around 1749 BC.
His throne name Sekhemre (right) have the sign for divine
power "sekhem" as a staff of a commander on top under the
solar symbol of the god Re.
The whole meaning of the name is: "Powerful is Re, Who
Makes Two Lands Flourish".
He was not of royal stock and his parents (noted in a temple
inscription) were commoners. Despite his quite short reign a
lot artifacts from his reign are know and among them over 30
Sobekhotep I scarab seals, but regretably no statues. Sekhemre
Sewadjtawy
His (none royal) family is well attested for and the
names of two of his queens are known - Senebhenas
and Neni. From the latter he fathered the daughter
Jewetibaw whose name has been found within a
cartouche, an honour given a princess just once before
in Egyptian history. If this indicate that she was to come
after him as he had no son to be the next king, we do Scarab seal
not know. of Sobekhotep
Remnents of monuments of his are found in el Kab (a
small chapel) and Lisht. A few cylinder seals are known and many
scarab seals (see picture right). An altar on Sehel Island at Aswan
bears his name, and so does an axe handle and a small gold ball,
possibly from a necklace. He can be seen as a stone sphinx (Egyptian
Sebekhotep III in low relief. Museum) and has a statue dedicated to the creator god Khnum
exhibited in the Medelhavsmuset in Stockholm Sweden.

Neferhotep I
Neferhotep is the first king in a row of several bearing this
rather odd name meaning "Beauty and satisfaction" and he
was an elder brother to the next king: Sobekhotep IV.
The hieroglyph for satisfaction is a loaf of bread on a reed mat
(cartouche left) indicating the serious- ness the Egyptians had
in their relation to food.
He is listed as number 27 in the Turin Canon and noted to have
been in office almost a dozen years around 1742-1731 BC. His
throne name (within the cartouche in the picture right) means:
"Mighty is the Appear-ance of Re". Neferhotep I came from a
military family of none royal stock (at least on his father's side)
and possibly from Thebes. The name of his first queen is
known as Senebsen and they likely resided in the main capital
from witch the king ruled the country - Itjtawy, situated near
Neferhotep Lisht by the Fayum basin in Middle Egypt. Khasekhemre

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Statuette and statue of pharaoh Neferhotep I from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (pictures 1-2).
Pictures 3-4 shows a newly discovered well preserved statue from Western Thebes in 2006.

Knowledge about his deeds could be better but artifacts from his reign are many and on Sehel
island at Aswan his name is cut into the rocks in seven occasions. He has left two stelae from
Abydos made in his second and forth year in office and another has been found at Byblos in
Lebanon. His scarab-seals are more than 60 and two cylinders seals are known. Three statues of
him have survived - one at Elefantine in Aswan and two from the Karnak temple area at Thebes.
His successor was his younger brother Sobek- hotep IV (below) and they might also have ruled
together because many monument have both their names inscribed.

Sobekhotep IV
In the Turin Canon Sobekhotep IV is listed in position 21.
His throne name (within the car- touche in the picture
right) was Kha- ineferre meaning: "The Beautiful
Appearance of Re".
He was one of the most powerful kings of the dynasty and
is known to have secured the southern frontier by
sending troops down into Nubia, i.e. below the Egyptian
south border.
His reign (and his brother's before him) can be considered
as the peak of the 13th dyna- sty, which was a rather
shaky and politically troublesome period. Luckily there is
a fine unbroken statue left of him showing his looks
(picture left). He is sitting on his throne and his face is
made in typical Middle Kingdom style with big ears
pointing out. This unique piece is today to be seen at the Kha inefer re
Louvre Museum in Paris.
He was a younger brother to Neferhotep I whom he succeed- ed on the
throne. Their father was a priest and their mother was possibly of royal
stock and if so possibly a (grand?) grandchild of Amenemhet III from
dynasty 12. His queen was called Tjan and has left an inscription (probably
made after her husbands death) where she tells how he went to Heliopolis
and studied the old scripts and took a statue of the god Osiris in a
procession. It ended in the old capital down at Abydos in the so called
"Osiris' Tomb", where the priests performed the well known story of his
deeds. The duration of his reign is not noted in the Turin Canon, but is
estimated to have been a dozen years around 1732-1720 BC. During his
reign the Hyksos made their first appearance, and took control of the town

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of Avaris in the Delta around 1720 BC, and started their conquest of the week and split up Egypt.

Sobekhotep VI
Pharaoh Sokbekhotep VI had the throne name Khahotep
Re (within the cartouche right), with the meaning: Perfect
In Appear- ence is Re". He was a ruler from Thebes and
probably the son of his predecessor with the same name
(and number 5) who is known to have a son bearing this
name.
His time in office was not very long and his reign as ruler
number 25 of this dynasty is estimated to a period of
about five years (the Turin Canon says four) around the
period 1720-1715 BC.
Little to nothing is known about his deeds and the only
remnant of substance left from his time on the throne
besides some (10) scarab seals, (including impressions
and a cylinder ditto), is a statuette found in Kerma in Nubia, now in the Museum
in Berlin (seen in picture left). This find indicates that Egypt though week, had Khahotepre
influence possibly next to control over this remote region known for its own
identity and struggle for independence throughout the long Egyptian history.

Wahibre
Pharaoh Wahibre (meaning "Re Is Strong Of Heart") had the
personal nomen Iaib (also Ib- iaw) as seen in the cartouche
right. He is noted in the Turin Canon as the 29th ruler and with
a possible additional four king in a damage part of the papyrus
earlier in the dynasty, he may have entered the throne as
number 33 in suc-cession.
With his successor Aya he is ending a line of kings with well
attested rather long reigns and the followers all are estimated
for very short periods on the throne.
From his almost eleven years in office (10 years, 8 months and
29 days in Turin Canon) around the years 1712-1701 BC. some
remains are left that confirms his existence and they are: 1)
Nine scarab-seals of
which one was found in Byblos (Lebanon). 2) Three cylinder-
Iaib (Ibiaw) seals. 3) A bead and stamp seal(?) with his name found at Wahibre
Lisht. 4) A cup from Kahun. 5) A stele of unknown provenance
now in the British Museum.

Seal of Wahibre

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Aya (Ay)
The throne name of king Aya was Merneferre (seen within the
cartouche right) meaning: "Beautiful is the Desire of Re".
The Turin Canon has Aya in position 33 and he is the king from
the dynasty with the longest reign noted - almost 24 years. One
theory says that the Hyksos rulers expanded southwards and
had captured Memphis by then, making Aya flee to the south
from his capital Itj-twy, (which hasn't been found for sure by
modern archaeology).
Ryholt claims 1997 that nothing of this scenario can be proven
by substantial evidence and on the contrary the border
between the two neigh- boring dynasties 13 and 14 seems to
have been quite stable throughout the times.
His reign was for 23 and 3/4 of a year (according to the Royal
Canon of Turin) and it likely occurred during the years
Aya (Ay) around 1701-1677 B.C. He has left a lot of remains, among them Merneferre
over 60 scarab-seals (one of them shown in picture left), one
cylinder seal, a stone jar with his name and the capstone (top) from his pyramid,
found at Khatana (in the north east delta). It's likely to have come from Sakkara
where this tomb probably was situated, but today it's not identified with certainty.
A candidate for his last resting place might be an unfinished rather
big anonymous pyramid (today in a ruined state) situated south west of Khendjer's
tomb in South Sakkara. No hard evidence are found for a clear identification of its
Seal of king Aya owner, but it's no doubt one of the last pyramids to be built. Traces of a mortuary
temple or a procession road to a valley temple are lacking.

Dedumes I (Dedumose I)
Pharaoh Dedumose I had the throne name: Djed-hotep-Re
(seen within the cartouche left) meaning "The One Bringing
Lasting Peace".
He is known from Manetho's historical work as the king who
had to give up his country to the attacking Hyksos people. In
this chronicle he is given his Greek name Totemaios.
For some unknown reason he is not present in the Turin Canon
and is only attested for by remains from Upper Egypt, but this
doesn't mean that the invasion scenario told about him
(starting in Lower Egypt) is not a fact. There might have been
more than one ruler at the time and a king with the same name
and given the number II (two) has initiated a discussion about
his true position in the 13th dynasty.
Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt has (1997) in his work about
Djedhotepre this period put him in the 16th dynasty in a place not to be Dedumes
determined in the sequence of names. This lack of agreement
among the experts is due to the fact that at least three (by some scholars up to five) dynasties
were operating at the same time in the split up Egypt. (See textlink "Second Intermediate Period"
at dynasty 13 above).

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One possibility might be that Dedumose had to capitulate to the foreign enemies and
his followers were marionette rulers, but this is just a suggestion of many from this
politically very complicated period.
Remnants of his are scant and apart from his names and titles found in single
inscriptions, a remarkable stele has been found at Edfu made by an unnamed official
giving himself the title "the king's son", and tells Dedumose's all titles and names and
among them his Horus-name within a serek (left). It was Wadj-chau, meaning "Fresh at
feature" underlining his physical fitness necessary to do his job properly in the eyes
of the people. This stele is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Dynasty 14
1750 - c. 1670 BC. (c. 85 years)

Egypt was now split up and dynasty 14 (parallel at least to the mid 13th) was ruling from Xois in
the north eastern delta and was (at least indicated by some names) of Asiatic (Hyksos) origin. The
Canon of Turin note 32 names in a list which has space (rows) for about 60. Several lists and
theories are at hand, like suggestions that they were province leaders, vassals, made up, or
ancestors(!) to the living pharaohs.
Schloars of today (year 2002) distribute some names among all dynasties 13-15.
Manetho (through Africanus) writes that 76 kings ruled for 184 years.
The duration of their reigns indicate about two years each on the throne in average, and these
unlikely figures still awaits an explanation.

Based upon the Canon of Turin and other sources the


Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt has in 1997
published a suggestion for a
chronology.

Just a few kings from dynasty 14 are known from seals in shapes of scarabs (see picture), and
besides Nehesy's below the only remain of substance is a stone stele.

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Nehesy

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Nehesy From Nehesy's reign are left documents where he states that he is
the son of a pharaoh, but curi-ously he doesn't say who his father
was, which possibly indicates that his statement isn't true. One theory advocates
that his father might have been an Egyptian civil servant or a military commander
who usurped royal rule in the delta. The throne name of his - Aa-seh-Re (the
cartouche in picture right) means: "Great in Council is Re".
Nehesy has left a row of remnants from his reign: 1) An obelisk at the temple of
Seth at Raahu (in the north east delta). 2) Two stelae at Tell Habwe. 3) A column at
Tanis holding his mother's name: Peret. 4) At least 23 seals mostly being scarab
amulets with his name carved into the flat bottom. In the Turin Canon he is listed
as the first pharaoh of dynasty fourteen, but a great gap in the papyrus indicates a
row of about five kings (see list above) who probably ruled before him.
Estimations have been made indicating that these had rather long periods in office
compared to most later kings, which makes the time when Nehesy was in charge Aasehre
to have possibly occurred around the year 1705 BC.
The damage Turin papyrus cannot give him more than half a year in office, at most.
His name Nehesy means "Nubian" in the Egyptian language and may indicate his origin and
background, since soldiers from the south by tradition were a great part of the Egyptian military
forces. Despite this he seems to have belonged to the ex- treme opposit part of Egypt - the Delta
in the far north.

The next dynasty (15) started


the so called

Hyksos Period

Second Intermediate Period (SIP)


Dynasties 15 - 17
c. 1655 - 1547 BC (108 years)

By Ottar Vendel

A century of foreign rule

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At the end of dynasty twelve a people, later to be known as
the "Hyksos," settled down in the eastern delta.
The name originates from the Egyptian "heqa-khase", which
means "rulers of foreign lands". They were basically living
on cattle breeding and in Egypt they had to be used to the
annual inundations which made them adopt agriculture.
After a good hundred years another Hyksos wave came
from the coast areas of Palestine and established
themselves in a more organized way and founded the 15th
dynasty. They made the fortified town of Avaris (Egyptian:
Hatuaret) their capital (see map right).
The Egyptian dynasties 13 from Xois and 14 from Itj-tawy
(se map) were now ended and the new rulers of Avaris were
acting in a more expansive and military way and met just
weak recistance from the Egyptians.
A big advantage in combat was the Hyksos introduction of
horses, which was a new animal to the Egyptians.
At most the Hyksos had full control down to the town of
Hermopolis (exept for a very short military raid reaching
down to Thebes) and thus divided the country into two parts
with the Egyptian dynasties 16 and 17 ruling the south.
They brought their own gods but never imposed these on
the indigenous people and the language in the
administration continued to be Egyptian. The only Egyptian god they took in to
their religion was Set, who they identified as their own god of storms.
They seem to have adopted Egyptian manners and laws, and had trade relations
with the Minoans and Babylonians. They were recognized by later Egyptians and
listed as legitimate kings, but no tombs from these half a dozen rulers have been
found and their names were all non-Egyptian. The few remains of graves from
Hyksos-people have revealed their custom of the dead be followed by parts from
cattle (bones and horns) in a crude shaft with no visible signs above ground. The
six kings claimed themselves pharaohs with all the tradition attached to that title
and for one hundred years they ruled in peace and prosperity.
No open hostility seems to have occured between the two parts of the country
until the last 20 years of a century when the Egyptian kings from Thebes started
a liberation war and drove out the Hyksos from the Nile Valley.

Dynasty 15
Six Hyksos kings ruled for 108 years c. 1655 - 1547 BC.
This is the pure Hyksos dynasty also called "The Great". Turin Canon has six
lines with only fragments of figures from their reigns and a summation of 108
years. Manetho (Africanus) has also six names: Saites, Bnon, Pachnan, Staan,
Archles and Aphophis. They are noted for very long reigns and a duration for the
dynasty for 250 years, but today a figure around 100 years is generally agreed
on.
One theory states that at least 3 of the first kings ruled for almost 30 years and
were followed by Khyan and Apepi who hade reigns of about 40 years each. At
the very end Khamudi should have been just a year on the throne before he was
defeated by the Egyptian army and driven out of the country. The text below is a
general proposal based upon conclusions from scholars over the years. In 1997
the Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt suggested a short chronology for the

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dynasty.

A small amulet of ivory showing


an unnamed Hyksos(?) king with
a hooked nose holding a small
lying figure by the head.
This has been interpreted by
some as meaning the occupants
holding the Egyptians in slavery.

Salitis
Manetho writes that king Salitis (also called
Saites) conquered Egypt when it was ruled by
pharaoh Tutimaios, that is Dedumose I of
dynasty 13. A king with the name amu- qenu
appears in the Canon of Turin and he might be
the same ruler, possibly.
When they founded the first Hyksos dynasty it
is clear that this Asian people had been
nomading in the country (the Delta) for a good
many years. He resided in Memphis and is
credited for making Avaris the new capital and
fortified stronghold. This event was at hand at
the ver middle of the 1600s BC, when he had
been in office for about five years. The
Sark (Salk) northern part of Egypt was now to be ruled by Sehaenre
Hyksos until the end of their era some 110
years later. His reign is estimated to have been about 8 years around 1655-1647
BC.
Manetho gives him 19 years on the throne and he is usually identified with a king
called Sark (or Salk) mentioned only once in a list made by priests from Memphis
(cartouche above left). An attached throne name, Se-ha-en-Re (cartouche above
right), means - "The one introduced by Re", might be his. Remnants from his
reign are few, only his name written on three occasions on blocks of stone taken
from larger monuments. Where these originally stood is not known.

Sheshi

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Obscure king mentioned by Manetho and also
called Beon, Baion and Bnon.
His throne name Maa-ib-re (seen within a
cartouche in picture right) and meaning -
"Seeing in the Heart of Re". Hundreds of
physical evidence of his existence have been
found throughout the Middle East: 394 scarab
seals and 2 seal impressions. He is noted in
Manetho's list as the second king of dynasty
15 and for a reign of 44 years, a duration that
has been rejected by modern scholars. Today
these figures are adjusted to a period in rule
of 3 to 14 years depen- ding on who has come
up with the theory.
Sheshi A suggestion is Maa-ib-re
around:1646-1635 BC.
He is also put among the first kings of the 14th dynasty
together with Ahotepre and Quare (Ryholt 1997). These
two latter are also well attested for and have left dozens of
scarab amulets from their reigns. Despite all remains none
of the three rulers can be put in place with a hundred
percent accuracy.

Seal of Sheshi

Yakub-Her
King Yakub-Her's throne name (seen within a
cartouche in picture to the right) means -
"Strong is the Love of Re".
Practically nothing is known from the reign of
this king (sometimes called Yakobner) and it's
doubtful if he has left any remain beside being
mentioned in king list written 1500 years after
his time on the throne.
His Aramean name is related to the biblical
Jacob, and has made some groups see this as
"evidence" that the Hyksos people were the
Israelites. This theory has of course no
scientific value. He is by some thought to fit
into one of the gaps in the 14th dynasty along
Yakub-Her with some 11 other rulers with Hyksos names Meruserre
not present in the Canon of Turin. He seems in
that case to place at the end of that dynasty, and if he is from dynasty 15 his
reign might be 8 years around 1634-1626 BC. His remains are from scarab-seals
only (about two dozens) found mostly in Egypt, but also a few from Palestine and
a single one from Nubia in the south.

Khyan

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King Khyan's throne name (within the car-
touche in the picture right) means - "[I am]
Powerful Like Re", a self confident name.
His influence reached beyond the kingdom in
Northern Egypt and his name is known from a
wide area in the eastern part of the
Mediterranean region. Greek name forms
were: Yannas, Jannis, Iannes, Joannis etc. His
reign: 25 years around 1625-1601 BC.
Manetho ascribes him a 50 year period. His
name (in his own Hyksos language) means
"Born in (the month of) Khiyar" and other
forms are: Khiyaran, Khajran, Khayan.

Khyan Seuserenre

His name with the title "Ruler over the


foreign lands" has be- en found on at
least 38 seals from scarabs plus
some pieces of artefacts from
remote places like Knossos in
Crete, Bagdad in the great flood plain
of Mesopotamia and Bogazkoy
(capital of the Hittite Lion statuette and seal with Khyan's name. people) in the
mountains of Anatolia in today's
southern Turkey.

Apepy (Apophis)
This ruler is well attested for and he was
probably the one who had the longest reign of
all Hyksos kings. Manetho (by Flavius) gives
him a reign of a good 36 years and today's
Egyptologist up to 42 around 1600-1559 BC.
His personal nomen Apepy (Greek: Apopis)
was possibly taken from the wicked Egyptian
god Apep (a gigantic mean ser-pent) and his
throne name (seen within a cartouche in the
picture right) can be read - [I am] "Great and
Powerful Like Re".
Apepi is mentioned in two papyri, a list from
priests in Memphis and many pieces of
architecture which give the names of his
Apepy sisters Tani and Tcharydjet and daughter Auserre
Harta. There is strong indications pointing to
the fact that he was an usurper with no relation to the rulig line of Hyksos kings
(his name was Egyptian) or domestic royalty. He is believed to have been a well
educated ruler who got into war in his older days, possibly tricked by forces
within his own government. He didn't improve his relationship with his southern
neighbor the Egyptian king Tao II in Thebes by sending him a very provocative
letter (today in the British Museum) where he has a complaint which was, so say
the least, really odd.

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He wrote that he couldn't sleep at night because he was
disturbed by the snoring and roaring from pharaoh Tao's
hippopotami in Thebes 800 km to the south! After this
message king Tao is believed to have taken up arms
against him in a small scale and if the letter was intend
as a provocation - it worked. Thereby the hostility was
initiated and later escalated (when Apepy was dead) to a Seal of Apepy
massive confrontation.
During his reign a change to the worse was probably at hand for the Egyptian
public and the peaceful times ended. There are evidence that he (Ryholt 1997, pp.
145-148) looted pyramid tombs from the 12th and 13th dynasty and took the
goods to Avaris. Furthermore, when retreating downstream his troops seem to
have practiced the tactics of "the scorched earth" and by this turning the
Egyptian population against the Hyksos for good.
It's possible that his power at the late state of
his reign had shifted over to others and the
rebellious attitude was a product of their will
rather than his own.
For some unknown reason he changed all his
titles three times during his long reign. Thus
it's believed that he also is the ruler behind
the name Neb-khepesh-re "Re is the lord of
strength" (in the cartouche left), be-lieved to
be from his first period in office, and (right)
Aqenenre "The strength of Re is great" as
being taken later during his reign. This made
some scholars think some of these titles was
from another Apepy (they called the 2nd), but
Nebkepeshre it was the same ruler. Aqenenre

Khamudy
Khamudy was the king who concluded the
Hyksos period in Egypt. Manetho calls him
Assis (Aseth) or Archles, and gives him a rule
of 49 years but today (2006) his reign is
estimated to have been a period of 10-12 years
around 1558-1547 BC.
He was militarily defeated and eventually had
to withdraw his people from the Nile Valley
after living there for generations.
His possible throne name was Ib-Hetep-Re,
(as seen within a cartouche in picture left) and
is not connected to him with certainty.
The Egyptian king Ahmose from Thebes
started a full scale war against him in year 11
Ib-hetep-re of his reign and after that the big town of Khamudy
Heliopolis was captured. He then saw the
beginning of the end to the long Hyksos rule. In the year after Khamudy
negotiated with the Egyptians about the withdrawal of the Hyksos army from his
capital Avaris and most of the Delta, but the determined Egyptians didn't take his

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terms and concurred the town after a siege and three attacks.
Khamudy had foreseen what was coming and had moved his people along the
coast up to southern Palestine in advance and the Egyptian military forces
raided that area for several years afterwards to prevent a Hyksos comeback.
Many details from this dramatic scenario are found in contemporary documents
and many of them (not to say all) were probably written under supervision of the
victorious Egyptian king himself. Therefore a dose of skepticism is handy when
valuing them.
Few large remains are left from Khamudy's reign, but an exception is an obelisk
which he erected near Avaris where it was discovered under the sand.

Dynasty 16
1663 - 1555 BC (108 years)
alt. 1660 - 1580 BC (80 years)

This dynasty is either thought to have been ruling as vassals to the Hyksos
dyna-sty 15 and then located around the town of Pelusium in the eastern Delta
(the traditional theory), or being an independent line of Egyptian kings ruling
from Thebes in the far south and finally taken over by the Hyksos for a short
period, (the more recent theory). The latter point of view combined with a parallel
dyn-asty at the neighboring Abydos makes it possible to deal with more known
kings as possible candidates. If the latest theory is correct the two rulers with
foreign sounding names presented below should be put in another dynasty.
In 1997 the Danish scientist Kim Ryholt suggested a choronology for dynasty
16.

The Canon of Turin has 15 lines for this dynasty with 7 names partly visible and
large gaps. Those readable are considered to be, in sequence:
Sekhemresementawy Djehuty, Sekhemresewosretawy Sobekhotep III, Sekhem-
resankhtawy Neferhotep III, Sankhenre Menthotepi, Sewadjenre Nebiryraw I,
Nebiryraw II, Semenre, Sewoserenre Bebiankh, Sekhemreshedwaset.
Then follow five rows with lost names and in this position fits a group of kings
well known but not placed. These are (according to the Abydos theory):
Dedumose I-II, Mentuemsaf, Mentuhotep VI, Senwosret IV.
These five names are pressed into the last less than ten years of the dynasty
thought to have been around the 1560s BC. Manetho writes that the Hyksos
invaded Egypt when king Tutimaios (Dedumose I) sat on the throne. When he
studied the old files, 1 300 years had passed since the Hyksos era.

Kings with mixed names difficult to put in a curtain dynasty:

User-anat, Semqen, Zaket, Wasa, Qar, Pepi III, Nebmaatre, Nikare II, Aahotepre,
Aaneterire, Nubankhre, Nubuserre, Khauserre, Khamure, Yoam, Amu
and possibly others.

Two rulers are presented below and they both have hyksos names.

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Anat-Her
The text in square right says: Heqa Khaswt
Anat-Her, meaning "Ruler of the foreign
(desert) lands - Anat-Her, (also Anat-Har).
The staff is the sign for rule and the three-
topped mountains were for foreign (desert)
countries. The two hieroglyphs at the far right in picture above mean "moun-tain"
("harru") in the Canaanite language transcribed to "her". It was common in
Canaanite names in Egypt from the 12th dynasty through the first Intermediate
period. It had a divine significance in the aspect of "great".
This inscription has only been found once on a scarab and his reign has been
estimated as a short period perhaps 1585-1580 BC.
It's not quite sure if dynasty 16 is right place he should be put in to, because the
title was used by kings in both the 14th and 15th dynasties. Possibly he can
place into the gap in the Turin Canon right at the beginning of dynasty 14, where
four rulers with similar name forms (among them Yakbim below) are thought to
fit in. One name found has a similarity to his - Aper-Anati, possibly from the early
dyna-sty 15 (Ryholt 1997).

Yakbim (Yacobaam)
This king had a West Semitic (Ammorite)
name like his predecessor and there are
different ways to transcribe the sounds. Two
other suggestions: Yakbemu and Jacbaam.
His name has not been found on bigger
artifacts like stelae or rests of buildings, only on small scarab-seals. On the other
hand they are as many as at least 112 with his name written on them and found
in a wide geographical area from deep down in Lower Nubia in the south (2) to
Palestine in the north (7). The remaining 103 are all of unknown provenance like
the only cylinder seal known of him. A fair guess might be that the bulk of them
have their origin in Egypt itself.
He's not on Manetho's list and has been identified, with rather fair accuracy, by
the throne name (prenomen) Sekhaenre. His reign was of unknown duration in
around 1560-1565 BC.
According to the modern theory that dynasty 16 was an Egyptian line of kings
from Thebes, Yakbim with his foreign name must be placed elsewhere, maybe
among the first five kings in the 14th dynasty where the Turin Papyrus seems to
have a large piece missing.

The Abydos Dynasty


c. 1650-1630 (1575) BC.

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This dynasty is suggested by the Danish Egyptologist
Kim Ryholt in his study of SIP from 1997.
When the Hyksos captured Memphis around 1650s BC.
and founded the 15th dynasty, the regions of Abydos
and Thebes had their own (Abydos dynasty and 16).
After 20 years records tell about clashes between
Hyksos and Thebes indicating that the Abydos was
conquered by the Hyksos just as Thebes later was, for a
brief period.
Marionette kings might still have been in office there
when Thebes (now as the 17th dynasty) started the libe-
ration war against the Hyksos in about 1575 BC. This
would have given the 16 presumed rulers short reigns
just like indicated in the Turin Canon below.
Earlier works have usually ignored these kings, finding
no proper place to put them, but three have left crude
stelae in the Abydos area and their names clearly point
to a local connection.
None of their tombs has been found so far (year 2002).

Abydos kings from the Turin Canon.


(line - name - reign)

1 Woser(...)re ...
2 Woser(...)re ...
3-10 Names lost. ...
11 (...)hebre ...
12-14 Names lost. 2, 2, 4 years
15 (...)hebre? 3-4 years
16 (...)webenre 3-4 years

Kings known from archaeology


in the Abydos region.

1) Wepwawemsaf Sekhemreneferkhaw
2) Pantjeny Skhemrekhutawy
3) Snaaib Menkhawre

Dynasty 17
c. 1660-1560 BC. or c. 1580-1550 BC.

Dynasty 17 from Thebes probably started at the collapse of dynasties 13 and 14


when the Hyksos established their dynasty 15 in the delta and captured most
parts of northern Egypt.
Manetho's (Eusebius) has 104 years and 4 kings: Saitis 19, Bnon 40, Archles 30

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and Aphophis 14. Accordng to Africanus the time was 151 years and 43(!) kings,
probably taking up rulers from other dynasties by mistake.

From Thebes the kings controlled southern Egypt independent of the Hyksos in
the north. Between them might have been another line of rulers for some time
(the Abydos Dynasty). It seems to have been peaceful period for most of a
century until a 17th dynasty king started a war to "liberate" the rest of the
country. This was achieved after campaigns in periods over about 20 years.
The pharaohs had new designed so called saff- or row-tombs in the hillside at
Dra Abu el-Naga in Western Thebes, possibly with small (8-15 meters square)
sharp agled pyramids built in the enclosed yards. Today (2001) almost nothing is
left but crude remains of their grave chambers in the hillside. In 1997 the Danish
Egyptologist Kim Ryholt suggested a chronology for dynasty 17.

The nine kings below written in blue text are the ones most known.

Rahotep, Sobekemsaf I, Skehemre Sementowy Thuty, Sankhenre, Djehuti,


Mentuhotep VII, Nebiryerawet I-II, Mentuhotep VI, Nebirau I-II,
Semenenre, Suserenre, Shedwast, Antefs VI-VIII,
Sobekemsaf II, Tao I, Tao II, Kamose.

Rahotep
Rahotep (his throne name is seen within the
cartouche left) was likely the one who found- ed
the seventeenth dynasty at Thebes, when Egypt
was ruled by multiple kings and dyna-sties
governing different areas. The political situation
was (simplified) that different weak Egyptian
kings tried to maneuver against the recently
invaded Hyksos. At the far south the area
controlled by Thebes stood firm while the
others gradually were overrun.
Rahotep is well known in this respect as the one
who restored the damaged walls of the Temple
of Abydos to increase the city's capa-bility to
Sekhemrewahkhaw repel the expect attacks from the Hyksos Rahotep
advancing upstream from the north. A stele from Koptos tells that he also made
restorations of the local Min temple. A private stele bears his name as do some
scarab amulets. Historians have agreed on that this period, though its unstable
politically situation, was a peaceful and rather flourishing period de- spite what
some kings may have stated. This is probably following the tradition to make
themselves great leaders (and bold warriors) like the kings from the past.

Sobekemsaf I

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King Sobekemsaf the first
(his throne name within a
cartouche left) was one of
the first kings of the 17th
dynasty and likely to have
ruled a good fifteen years
around 1570 BC. He was the
father of two kings to be -
the Antefs VI-VII and
grandfather to Antef VIII, a
son of his daughter (whose
name is not known).
Besides the truly great red
granite statue at right from
Sekhemenre the British Museum, a
Shedtawy fine statue of him is also at
ex- hibition in the Egyptian
Museum in Cairo.
In addition a fine stele from Karnak in Thebes
and two private ones from Thebes are from
his reign and bears his name, and so does a
relief from Abydos. In all a dozen remnants.
These objects are by far the most prominent
finds of any king from this period which
mostly has left questions intended for those
studying this dusky part of Egyptian history.
Pharaoh Sobekemsaf was buried at Dra abu
el-Naga in Western Thebes in a saff-tomb
(see the Antefs of dynasty 11) and by coincidence we know a lot about it though
it was empty (and with time reused by others) when it was entered in the late
1880s.
A papyrus referring to a trail in court concerning the Egyptian state against tomb
robbers a good 450 years(!) after the king had died, gives a statement from one
of the accused. He tells the court how he and a friend tunnelled through the bed-
rock with their copper tools and finally reached the grave chamber where they
robbed the king's and queen's mummies for gold items weighing 14.5 kg (32
lbs). The text with the verdict is regrettably lost, but the robbers were likely to
have been decapitated.

Antef VI (the Great)

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Antef VI was a son of Sobek-
emsaf I and reigned under the
name Sekhemre Wep-maat (at
bottom right) for probably just
a few number of years
around 1565 BC.
The brothers Antefs VI and VII
both had small pyramids made
at the west bank of the Nile
right across the Karnak temple The capstone from the pyramid of Antef
at Thebes. Judging from the VI from Dra Abu el-Naga in Western
very steep angle from the Thebes.
found capstone (in the picture
above right) the monuments would have had a base of just
Antef the Great eight to nine meters. They were placed in the yard of their saff-
tombs going into the mountain side, where a handful of kings
were buried at the end of the 17th dynasty, a tradition originating at the end of
the 11th dynasty 400 years earlier.
None of these small pyramids
had any sub-structure since the
tombs with the burial chambers
of the kings were cut into the
rock at the end of the yard,
where the rest of the royal
family also had their tombs in a
Sekhemre Wepmaat
rather si- milar size as the
pharaoh's.
This tradition of chambers in the bedrock was passed on to the next dynasty
when royalties made their tombs hidden in uninhabited valleys in the wilderness.
Though very few remains (around six) of Antef's have survived, half of them are
quite substantial. Besides his pyramid capstone (above), both his sarcophagus
and canopy chest are today at the Louvre Museum in Paris. He may have been
just the second oldest son to Sobekemsaf I since his follower (and brother) on
the throne called himself (or was called by others) "The Elder".

Antef VII (the Elder)

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Antef VII was a son of king
Sobekemsaf I and brother to
Antef VI. The mummy coffin of
his from the Luovre Museum
in Paris France is shown in the
picture left.
His throne name Nubkhep-erre
(seen within the car-touche
right) says: "Golden is the
Manifesta-tion of Re".
The middle sign is a neck-lace,
meaning gold and the scarab
at the bottom (cre-ator god
Kheper) was to be very
popular and used by almost Nubkheperre
every king in the dynasty to
come next. Using the throne name is the best
way to separate all Antefs since there are
different ways of numbering them.
His burial coffin is today seen in the British
Antef VII's mummy coffin. Museum transported from his saff-tomb at Dra
Abu el-Naga in West Thebes, where he also had
a small pyramid for decoration in the courtyard. His reign would have been five
years around 1571-1566 BC.
His name has been found on several architectural elements in Abydos cut in as
reliefs in columns, stelae, and blocks. Two obelisks from a small pyramid outside
his tomb were lost in the Nile while transported, but his sarcophagus was saved
and is now in the British Museum.
During this short period of time the royal family included Sobekemsaf I and his
sons Antefs VI-VII plus Antef VIII who was a son of a sister to those whose name
isn't known. The Egyptologist Beckerath suggest that Antef VII could have been
murdered, but by whom and or for what reason we do not know. If a struggle for
the throne was the motif we can expect his namesake below (a son of his
sister's) to be among the suspected, but this is pure speculation.

Antef VIII

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Pharaoh Antef VIII is attested for just
twice, and one of them is his well pre-
served rather simple made mummy
coffin which today is on display in the
Louvre Museum in Paris France (see
picture left).
His long throne name Sekhemre Her-
whor Maat, meaning The Powerful Re
Who Is Satisfied, Maat", is seen within
the cartouche right. This was added to
the coffin text in an different hand
writing after the personal no-men,
indicating that the box original-ly had
belonged to another Antef.
He might thus have been buried in a rock
cut tomb made for someone else at Dra
Antef VIII? Abu el-Naga in west Thebes.
Knowledge about his reign is almost
nothing except that he clearly had a short period of around a
year on the throne.
The Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt has put forward that he
possibly was a co-regent to his predecessor (and uncle) Antef
VII since an inscription on a block of stone from Koptos seems
to contain both their names in a pharaohnic fashion. The Egyptologist Beckerath
tells that he might have been murdered, if so a rare way of death for a pharaoh. In
short: he was an insignificant ruler and the brief remains of his are subject for a
debate among scholars and interpreted in diff-erent ways.

Sobekemsaf II

Sekhemre
Shedtawy

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This king's birth name Sobekemsaf (in the picture right)
means: "His Protection is Sobek". It can also spelt with
ending -zaf and the beginnings Sebek- or Sobk-.
His throne name, Sekh-em-re Shed-tawy (seen within a
cartouche in the picture right) means: "Powerful is Re,
rescuer of the Two Lands".
When he sat on the throne is uncertain, but an estimation
from scholars of today points to a period in office of about
six to seven years around 1566-1559 BC.
He is very well attested for from around twenty remnants
and among others is a fine small statue(tte) of him
(headless but reconstructed in picture left). A relief at the
base of a temple in Karnak is depicting him paying tribute
ny making offerings to the war god Mentu-Re.
He has several rock inscriptions at the Wadi Hammamat
passage in the Eastern Mountains, plus scarabs and two
small obelisks of which one has an unknown location
today (year 2002) and the other one is at exhibition in the
Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
At the same place can
also be seen a small
statue of the king with
his small son (having
Sobekemsaf II his father's first name)
(head reconstructed)
standing between his
legs. There is a possibility though that it is
Sobekemsaf
his namesake (# 1) who is depicted here,
because no text for true identification (like his Horus name) is present on the
sculpture.

Tao I (Siamun?)
The birth name of king Tao (in picture left) is
by some scholars questioned to be his, but
his throne name Sa-nakht-en-re (within the
cartouche in the right picture) is clearly
established. It means: "[I am] Perpetuated like
Re".
The name form Ta is used by Egyptolo-gists
since the 1980s but if it's proper for this king
is far from sure, but the name sound-ing like
Siamun plus his name to the right is clear.
Thus it's quite possible that there never was a
Tao the 1st and the only pha- raoh who held
this name is the well att- ested follower below.
If this ruler was re- lated (some say father) to
Tao I the king Tao II coming next, is anybody's Senakhtenre
guess. Those in favor have a queen to him
called Tetisheri who then would be the mother to a new ruling family, unrelated
to the Antefs.
Not very much (i.e. nothing) is known from his rule but three remnants are known

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where two are giving his name:
1) A stamp seal found at Abu el-Naga. 2) His throne name Senakhtenre within a
cartouche written on an offering table from Thebes and now exhibited in the
Archaeological Museum in Marseilles. 3) A depiction of him within a tomb at
Thebes and probably from after his time.
The duration of his reign is not clear, but his time in office is likely to have taken
place around the years 1559-1558 BC and possibly lasted for about a year.

Tao II (the Brave)


Tao II is a well known king from the late 17th
dynasty. His throne name right, Seqen-en-re,
[He] Who Strikes Like Re" is well found as he
was a warrior king who started a rebellion
against the Hyksos in Avaris. Maybe he was
provoked by a letter from their old king Apepy
who complained and stated that his sleep was
disturbed by the snoring from king Tao's
hippopotami down in Thebes 800 km to the
south(!).
He was foolish enough to take this bate (if it
was meant to be) and thus started a military
campaign northwards up the Nile, though it
seems that he was not at all prepared for such
Tao II a bold task. He was just ruling a short strip of Sekhenenre
the Nile north and south of Thebes, and the
rest of the country was under the administration from Avaris in the delta, and in
the south Nubia was indepen-dent. The Egyptians have had a prosperous time
for generations back with no wars, and the cities had military garrisons loyal to
the government up north. Thus Tao's military ambitions to be the pharaoh over
the whole of Egypt wasn't a success and he obviously was killed during a battle
within the first two years of this struggle.
He (or more likely his son) had put the additional "the brave" to his name, and he
surely was in a way, with a big dose of presumption.
His mummy was found at Thebes and shows that he had a violent dead in some
way. King Tao's about four years in office are rather well known and positioned
in time around the years 1558-1554 BC. The military struggle was continued by
his son who became the next pharaoh. Remnants from his own life time are
about a dozen and the best known are his sarcophagus from Thebes and a
statue of him, now in the Louvre Museum in Paris. From after his death his name
has been found on stelae and literary remains which all tell about his (in reality
very modest) deeds as supreme commander in the start of the war against the
Hyksos.

Kamose

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King Kamose's throne name Wadj-kheper-re
(the picture right) means: "Flourishing is the
Manifestation of Re". He picked up the battle
axe from his supposed father Tao's war
against the Hyksos king residing in the delta
up north as the Nubians had power south of
Aswan. Motivating the people to break this
condition was a hard task and the fighting
spirit was low among the Egyptians who did
not clearly see the "re- pression" they were to
be liberated from and had gradually adopted
the Hyksos rule.

The old Hyksos king Apepy tried to make an


Kamose alliance with the Nubians in the south and Wadjkheperre
engage Kamose in a two-front war but it didn't
work out as planned since his letter was picked up by the Egyptians. By this time
there were Hyksos military garnisons in towns south of Thebes, and these were
probably captured by the Theban liberation forces before advancing nortbound.
Khamose's progress in his military maneuvers was substantial as territory was
concerned, and he reach as far north in the Nile Valley as the Faijum after three
years. There he halted and sent the snatched letter back to the Hyksos king, and
withdraw back to Thebes for some reason. Maybe his own health was the reason,
because he died the next year in about 1550 BC after just four years in power. He
was buried in a simple tomb at Thebes and the course of his death is not known.
The war of "liberation" was hard to fulfill since the Egyptians in general north of
the Theban territory, above the modern town of Quena, were satisfied (or at least
accepted) there life under the Hyksos king far up north. This might explain why it
took at least a further 12 years before it all was over during the next pharaoh, and
"partly civil war" may be a better term for this twenty year long atrocity.

A valuable historical record for understanding this period is the fact that Kamose
made several stelae telling about his victories on the battlefield and is attested
for by items in his secondary tomb at Dra Abu el-Naga. Among the objects are a
famous ceremonial axe head, scarabs seals, pedants and jewelry.
His follower on the throne was his brother (or possibly nephew) Ahmose I who
"liberated" Egypt after an additional dozen years of combat.
This ruler was the founder of a new dynasty (the 18th), and he would start the
golden era in Egyptian history called - The New Kingdom but that's another
story.

Comments
on dynasties 13-17
This period is by far the most dusky in Egyptian history and many attempts have
been made to stow all kings (names) from dynasties 13-14 into the limited space
of time available. It's tempting to suggest more parallel dynasties to swallow
them all up like Ryholt in 1997 suggesting an Abydos dynasty. But he claims
dynasties 16 and 17 to have been in succession and no exra space is thus given.
Many names are still (year 2008) not possible to put in sequence or dynasty, and
various king lists made by scholars have their own solutions. Suggestions
(mostly from early Egyptology in the late 1800s) have tried to eliminate many

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kings by claiming them to be fictional, or dead ancestors(!) to the invading
Hyksos.
Notable is that later Egyptians (even in he very next 18th to follow) for some
reason accepted these names as real kings alongside the great pharaohs of the
past and put them into the official king lists.
In the dynasties 13 and 14 put together, the last 45 years are shared by 50(!)
kings, making their reigns an average 10 months. This is of course not
believable, and no theory has so far given an explanation to this odd fact.
A plausible explanation to this (among many) might be that when a central power
wasn t at hand local leaders (Egyptian or/and Hyksos) could call them- selves
pharaohs. They were obviously ruling simultaneously (presumably in the
middle and west Delta) and therefore the numbers were high. An additional
component might be that Hyksos tradition made them list ancestors too in the
king lists.
Hopefully coming archaeology, computerized calculations etc. will spread more
light over this shadowy period which didn't span over more than a good century
at the most.

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