Egyptian History

Early Dynastic Kings ( Second Dynasty )

Second Dynasty

Hetepsekhemwy: Manetho is credited with organizing the kings into dynasties. He recorded this king’s name as Bokchos or Boethos (his nomen can be transliterated as Bedjau) and gives him a reign of 38 years..  There seems to be little doubt that Hetepsekhemwy succeeded to the throne after Qa’a. According to jar sealings, he was involved in the burial (or at least commemorating the funeral of) his predecessor, as was the responsibility of the successor to the throne. He may not, however, have been Qaa’s son, hence the start of a new dynasty according to Manetho. Hetepsekhemwy’s name translates as “The Two Powers are at Peace,” which may refer to some social, or political, problem which he had to overcome. Some of the royal tombs at Abydos were robbed and burned at about this period. Perhaps a usurper attempted to, or actually did, take over power even briefly and Hetepsekhemwy had to quell the rebellion. See the above discussion about the ephemeral king Seneferka for more on this theory.

     His tome at Saqqara (not at Abydos) was discovered in 1901. It contained many jar-sealings bearing his name as the tomb’s owner, and numerous jar-sealing of Nebra who was his successor. Apparently his tomb has not been extensively studied; and moreover, it is not known if his body lies therein.

     Hetepsekhemwy’s name appears on inscribed stone vessels from the Step Pramid, on two inscribed stone bowls found in the pyramid complex of 4th dynasty king Menkaure, and on stone vessel fragments from the Abydos tombs of 2nd dynasty rulers Peribsen and Khasekhemwy. An alabaster vessel fragment found in an Early Dynastic-period grave at Badari is inscribed with his serekh, the name of an estate, and the title of a mortuary priest. The most important place wherein his name appears is on a pink granite statue of a priest named Hotepdief, who apparently was responsible for the mortuary cults of Hetepsekhemwy and his two immediate successors, Nebra and Nynetjer. The names of all three kings are inscribed on the statue, in order.

Nebra: Manetho records his name as Kaiechos or Khoos (his nomen can actually be transliterated as Kakau) and gives him a reign of 39 years. Nebra’s tomb has not yet been discovered, although it is likely at Saqqara, probably south of the Step Pyramid complex near the tombs of Hetepsekhemwy and Nynetjer. A funerary stelae bearing his name sign in serekh now rests in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.  It is noted that his name has also been written as Raneb, because the sign that could represent the god Ra is written first. But in honorific transcription that does not require that the god’s name precede the rest of the name. It also does not require that the form Nebra then requires that “ra” simply denote the sun, rather than the god.

    A hoard of jar-sealings with Nebra’s name was found in the tomb of Hetepsekhemwy, which again seem to indicate his involvement in the funerary arrangements for his royal predecessor. Nebra may also have simply appropriated the tomb for himself. His name also appears on stone vessels from the Step Pyramid complex (one bears the serekh of Nynetjer but refers to an estate of Nebra). Evidence of his reign does not extend much beyond the Memphis area. A stone bowl from Peribsen’s tomb at Abydos was originally inscribed with the name of Nebra’s palace, but was erased and replaced with the name of Nynetjer. It might be mentioned right here that it is not necessary to read too much into the tendency to “usurp” items already inscribed by previous kings. As will be noted in the New Kingdom, this was done, perhaps as a matter of course and may signify nothing at all.

    The name “Nebnefer” is attributed by some scholars like Edwards, Gardiner and von Beckerath to be the nws-bity part of Nebra’s titular, but there is no evidence to support this. Nubnefer is known from fragments of two schist bowls from the Step Pyramid, which bear the inscriptions King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebnefer, and the Mansion Enduring of Life. That does of course still leave a question as to what king the inscription refers.

Nynetjer: Manetho records his name as Binothris or Biophis. His nomen is translatered at Banetjern. He is considered one of the best known kings of Dynasty 2, and considering the extent of knowledge of the others that is not saying much. The entire fourth register of the Palermo Stone is devoted to 16 years of his reign, and another 9 years comes from the Cairo Fragment. Since a stone vessel from the Step Pyramid indicates a 17th occasion of the biennial cattle count, he ruled at least 34 years and may have ruled for about 40 in total. An otherwise unprovenanced alabaster statuette in the George Michailides Collection shows him wearing the Heb-Sed festival robe. This statuette is the earliest identifiable example of three-dimensional royal statuary from Egypt.

     Nynetjer’s tomb was discovered at Saqqara near the tomb of Hetepsekhemwy. Although it was sealed, it was entered at some time in the past and used as a cache for Late Period mummies and mummy cases.  His name is not much attested to outside the Memphis area, leading some scholars to theorize that the earlier 2nd Dynasty kings were all centered in Lower Egypt, and that this led to a dynastic struggle. But there is no other evidence to support any such chaos.


[…]: NB the break here is from Baker. He names Peribsen among his list of five “unplaced” kings, fourth after Neferkare, Neferkaseker, Nebnefer, and just before Sened, all before Khasekhemwy. Dodson/Hilton and the OHAE include Weneg and Sened as Kings 3 and 4, then Peribsen, then Khasekhemwy. O’Connor/Silverman exclude Weneg and Sened.

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