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Volume 14 issue 6 June 2014





This month NETFISHING continues its look at the history of Egypt by seeing what the World Wide Web has to say about the Kings of Egypt’s Second Dynasty.


The origins of Egypt’s Second Dynasty are lost to us and indeed the whole period is open to interpretation due to the lack of surviving evidence. Even the names of the Second Dynasty kings, and their proper order, is still not fully understood as some king’s names only appear in Lower Egypt whilst other names are only found in Upper Egypt. This may be just the result of historical survival, or it may indicate that the country was once again split and had two different ruling lines of kings. The short answer is that we have no firm evidence to judge. Even the burial places of the kings appears uncertain, as during this period some kings appear to have been buried at Abydos whist others may have been buried at Saqqara. One of the few things we can be certain of is that the role of the city of Memphis became increasingly important and became the nation’s capital – the Balance of the Two Lands’ as it is often referred to. Refer:






The first king of the Second Dynasty was called Hetepsekhemwy, a name which means ‘The two powers are satisfied’ and so the name may indicate that there was some form of civil unrest at the end of the First Dynasty and the new king, Hetepsekhemwy, was able to successfully resolve the conflict and establish himself on the throne. Refer:


Hetepsekhemwy: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/Hotepsekhemwy.htm


The succession for the next two kings of the Second Dynasty also appears to be established, as an inscription upon the shoulder of a statue of a priest Hetepdief mentions, in order, kings Hetepsekhemwy, Raneb, and Nynetjer. Refer:


Priest Hetepdief: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/picture04012004.htm

Raneb: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/Raneb.html

Nynetjer: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/Nynetjer.html


At this point scholars disagree as to the succession, and several other kings are mentioned in different king lists and inscriptions. Weneg, Sened (or Sendji), Neferkara, Nefersokar, Hudjefa and Nebnefer are all mentioned in one form or another, but it is possible that these are simply different names for the ‘known kings’ of the period – but the situation is confused, and so I list all of them below. Refer:


Weneg: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/weneg.html

Sened: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/Sendji.html

Neferkara: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/Neferkare.html

Nefersokar: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/neferkasokar.html

Hudjefa: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/hudjefa.html

Nebnefer: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/nubnefer.html


The end of the Second Dynasty is marked by unrest between Upper Egypt and the conquered Delta region. King Sekhemib appears to have tried to appease the citizens of Lower Egypt by adopting their deity, the ‘Seth animal’, on his serekh (the forerunner of the cartouche) in place of the hawk deity of Upper Egypt. He even changed his name from Sekhemib (‘Powerful in heart’) to Seth-Peribsen (‘Hope of all hearts’) in the hope that these changes would be inclusive enough to satisfy his subjects in the Delta. Refer:


Sekhemib: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/Sekhemib.html

Seth-Peribsen: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/peribsen.htm


The period of calm was not to last, however, and in the reign of the last king of the Second Dynasty, Khasekhem, unrest appears to have resurfaced once again. During this reign an army from the north marched southwards and attacked the southern capital city of Nekheb (modern El Kab). The battle was an extensive and violent one with 47,209 northerners being killed as they attacked the city. King Khasekhem was victorious, but appears magnanimous in victory as he adopted, on his serekh, the hawk & the seth animals, the symbols of both his lands. He also appears to have changed his name from Khasekhem to Khasekhemwy (‘The two powerful ones appear’) – an obvious reference to both the gods of The Two Lands’. Refer:









The country was, therefore, unified under the strong rule of Khasekhemwy, and was ready for the stability and progress that was to come with the advent of the Old Kingdom.

Victor Blunden

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