Djer

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Djer (or Zer or Sekhty) [1] is considered the third pharaoh of the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt in current Egyptology. He lived around the mid-thirty-first century BC [2] and reigned for c. 40 years. A mummified forearm of Djer or his wife was discovered by Flinders Petrie, [3] but was discarded by Émile Brugsch. [4]

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

The 31st century BC was a century which lasted from the year 3100 BC to 3001 BC.

Contents

Name

Iti, cartouche name of Djer in the Abydos king list. Abydos KL 01-03 n03.jpg
Iti, cartouche name of Djer in the Abydos king list.

The Abydos King List lists the third pharaoh as Iti, the Turin Canon lists a damaged name, beginning with It..., while Manetho lists Uenéphes.

Abydos King List

The Abydos King List, also known as the Abydos Table, is a list of the names of seventy-six kings of Ancient Egypt, found on a wall of the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, Egypt. It consists of three rows of thirty-eight cartouches in each row. The upper two rows contain names of the kings, while the third row merely repeats Seti I's throne name and nomen.

Manetho Egyptian historian and priest from Ancient Egypt

Manetho is believed to have been an Egyptian priest from Sebennytos who lived in the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the early third century BC, during the Hellenistic period. He authored the Aegyptiaca in Greek, a major chronological source for the reigns of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. It is unclear if he wrote his work during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter or Ptolemy II Philadelphos, but no later than that of Ptolemy III Euergetes.

Length of reign

Although the Egyptian priest Manetho, writing in the third century BC, stated that Djer ruled for 57 years, modern research by Toby Wilkinson in Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt stresses that the near-contemporary and therefore, more accurate Palermo Stone ascribes Djer a reign of "41 complete and partial years." [5] Wilkinson notes that years 1–10 of Djer's reign are preserved in register II of the Palermo Stone, while the middle years of this pharaoh's reign are recorded in register II of Cairo stone fragment C1. [6]

Palermo Stone Fragment of a stele known as the Royal Annals of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt

The Palermo Stone is one of seven surviving fragments of a stele known as the Royal Annals of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The stele contained a list of the kings of Egypt from the First Dynasty through to the early part of the Fifth Dynasty and noted significant events in each year of their reigns. It was probably made during the Fifth Dynasty. The Palermo Stone is held in the Regional Archeological Museum Antonio Salinas in the city of Palermo, Italy, from which it derives its name.

Reign

Djer's reign was preceded by a regency controlled by Neithhotep, possibly his mother or grandmother.

Neithhotep Ancient Egyptian queen consort

Neithhotep or Neith-hotep was an ancient Egyptian queen consort living and ruling during the early First Dynasty. She was once thought to be a male ruler: her outstandingly large mastaba and the royal serekh surrounding her name on several seal impressions previously led Egyptologists and historians to the erroneous belief that she may have been an unknown king.

The evidence for Djer's life and reign is: [7]

Saqqara village in Giza Governorate, Egypt

Saqqara, also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English, is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas. Located some 30 km (19 mi) south of modern-day Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of around 7 by 1.5 km.

Helwan (cemetery) archaeological site in Cairo, Egypt

At Helwan south of modern Cairo was excavated a large Ancient Egyptian cemetery with more than 10.000 burials. The cemetery was in use from the Naqada Period around 3200 BC to the Fourth Dynasty and again at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom and then up to the Roman Period and beyond. The burial ground was discovered and excavated by Zaki Saad in 1942 to 1954. Further excavations started in 1997 by an Australian expedition. The excavations of Zaki Saad were never fully published, only several preliminary reports appeared. Helwan was most likely the cemetery of Memphis in the first Dynasties. The tombs range from small pits to bigger elaborated mastabas. Regarding the underground parts of these tombs, two types are attested. There are on one side pits with the burial at the bottom and there are on the other side underground chambers, reached via a pit or via a staircase. The majority of burials are for one deceased. There are some examples of multiple burials. The deceased were mostly place in reed mats or coffins of different materials. Most of the bodies were found in a contracted position. Most tombs were built of mud bricks. Roofs are often made of timber. Some walls in the underground chambers were covered with plaster. In several tombs stones were found, used for roofing the tomb chamber, for blocking the entrance and in rare cases for paving walls. Some of the more elaborate tombs had several underground chambers. These chambers were often reached via a staircase. The people buried here belonged to all levels of society, albeit the highest officials were buried at Saqqara. Over 40 stelae were found belonging to the upper levels of society. They are an important source for early writing in Egypt. A certain Meriiti bears many titles on his stela and dates most likely to the First Dynasty. A few stelae also belong to members of the royal family, such as the king's daughter Satkhnum, the king's daughter Khenmetptah and the king's son Nisuheqet. The stelae date from about the middle of the First Dynasty to the early Fourth Dynasty.

Wadi Halfa Place in Northern, Sudan

Wādī Ḥalfā is a city in the Northern state of Sudan on the shores of "Lake Nubia". It is the terminus of a rail line from Khartoum and the point where goods are transferred from rail to ferries going down the lake. As of 2007, the city had a population of 15,725. The town is located amidst numerous ancient Nubian antiquities and was the focus of much archaeological work by teams seeking to save artifacts from the flooding caused by the completion of the Aswan Dam.

The inscriptions, on ivory and wood, are in a very early form of hieroglyphs, hindering complete translation, but a label at Saqqarah may depict the First Dynasty practice of human sacrifice. [12] An ivory tablet from Abydos mentions that Djer visited Buto and Sais in the Nile Delta. One of his regnal years on the Cairo Stone was named "Year of smiting the land of Setjet", which often is speculated to be Sinai or beyond.

Ivory material derived from the tusks and teeth of animals

Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusks and teeth of animals, that consists mainly of dentine, one of the physical structures of teeth and tusks. The chemical structure of the teeth and tusks of mammals is the same, regardless of the species of origin. The trade in certain teeth and tusks other than elephant is well established and widespread; therefore, "ivory" can correctly be used to describe any mammalian teeth or tusks of commercial interest which are large enough to be carved or scrimshawed.

Human sacrifice Killing one or more humans, usually as an offering to a deity, as part of a ritual

Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more humans, usually as an offering to a deity, as part of a ritual. Human sacrifice has been practiced in various cultures throughout history. Victims were typically ritually killed in a manner intended to please or appease gods, spirits or the deceased, for example, as a propitiatory offering or as a retainer sacrifice when a king's servants are killed in order for them to continue to serve their master in the next life. Closely related practices found in some tribal societies are cannibalism and headhunting.

Abydos, Egypt City in ancient Egypt

Abydos is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, and also of the eighth nome in Upper Egypt. It is located about 11 kilometres west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of el-'Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana. In the ancient Egyptian language, the city was called Abdju. The English name Abydos comes from the Greek Ἄβυδος, a name borrowed by Greek geographers from the unrelated city of Abydos on the Hellespont.

Manetho claimed that Athothes, who is sometimes identified as Djer, had written a treatise on anatomy that still existed in his own day, over two millennia later.

Family

Stone vase bearing the serekh of Djer, National Archaeological Museum (France). Djer Stone Vase.jpg
Stone vase bearing the serekh of Djer, National Archaeological Museum (France).

Djer was a son of the pharaoh Hor-Aha and his wife Khenthap. His grandfather was probably Narmer. Djer fathered Merneith, wife of Djet and mother of Den. Women carrying titles later associated with queens such as Great One of the Hetes-Sceptre and She who Sees/Carries Horus were buried in subsidiary tombs near the tomb of Djer in Abydos or attested in Saqqara. These women are thought to be the wives of Djer and include:

Tomb

Similarly to his father Hor-Aha, Djer was buried in Umm el-Qa'ab at Abydos. Djer's tomb is tomb O of Petrie. His tomb contains the remains of 318 retainers who were buried with him. [16] During later times, the tomb of Djer was revered as the tomb of Osiris, and the entire First Dynasty burial complex, which includes the tomb of Djer, was very important in the Egyptian religious tradition.

Several objects were found in and around the tomb of Djer: [17]

In the subsidiary tombs excavators found objects including stelae representing several individuals, ivory objects inscribed with the name of Neithhotep, and various ivory tablets. [17]

Manetho indicates that the First Dynasty ruled from Memphis – and indeed Herneith, one of Djer's wives, was buried nearby at Saqqara.

See also

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Nynetjer Egyptian pharaoh

Nynetjer is the Horus name of the third pharaoh of the Second Dynasty of Egypt. The length of his reign is unknown. The Turin Canon suggests an improbable reign of 96 years and Egyptian historian Manetho suggested that Nynetjer's reign lasted 47 years. Egyptologists question both statements as misinterpretations or exaggerations. They generally credit Nynetjer with a reign of either 43 years or 45 years. Their estimation is based on the reconstructions of the well known Palermo Stone inscription reporting the years 7–21, the Cairo Stone inscription reporting the years 36–44. According to different authors, Nynetjer ruled Egypt from c. 2850 BC to 2760 BC or later from c. 2760 BC to 2715 BC.

Djet Egyptian pharaoh

Djet, also known as Wadj, Zet, and Uadji, was the fourth pharaoh of the First Dynasty. Djet's Horus name means "Horus Cobra" or "Serpent of Horus".

Den (pharaoh) Horus name of an early Egyptian king

Den, also known as Hor-Den, Dewen and Udimu, is the Horus name of a pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period who ruled during the First Dynasty of Egypt. He is the best archaeologically-attested ruler of this period. Den is said to have brought prosperity to his realm and numerous innovations are attributed to his reign. He was the first to use the title "King of Lower and Upper Egypt", and the first depicted as wearing the double crown. The floor of his tomb at Umm El Qa'ab near Abydos is made of red and black granite, the first time in Egypt this hard stone was used as a building material. During his long reign he established many of the patterns of court ritual and royalty used by later rulers and he was held in high regard by his immediate successors.

Sekhemkhet Egyptian pharaoh

Sekhemkhet was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the 3rd dynasty during the Old Kingdom. His reign is thought to have been from about 2648 BC until 2640 BC. He is also known under his later traditioned birth name Djoser-tety and under his Hellenized name Tyreis. He was probably the brother or eldest son of king Djoser. Little is known about this king, since he ruled for only a few years. However, he erected a step pyramid at Saqqara and left behind a well known rock inscription at Wadi Maghareh.

Umm El Qaab Ancient Egyptian necropolis

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Merneith ancient Egyptian queen

Merneith was a consort and a regent of Ancient Egypt during the First Dynasty. She may have been a ruler of Egypt in her own right, based on several official records. If this was the case, she may have been the first female pharaoh and the earliest queen regnant in recorded history. Her rule occurred around 2950 BC for an undetermined period. Merneith’s name means "Beloved by Neith" and her stele contains symbols of that ancient Egyptian deity. She may have been Djer's daughter and was probably Djet's senior royal wife. The former meant that she would have been the great-granddaughter of unified Egypt's first pharaoh, Narmer. She was also the mother of Den, her successor.

Iry-Hor Egyptian pharaoh

Iry-Hor or Ro was a predynastic pharaoh of Upper Egypt during the 32nd century BC. Iry-Hor's existence was debated, with the Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson contesting the reading and signification of his name. However, continuing excavations at Abydos in the 1980s and 1990s and the discovery in 2012 of an inscription of Iry-Hor in the Sinai confirmed his existence.

Semerkhet Egyptian pharaoh

Semerkhet is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the first dynasty. This ruler became known through a tragic legend handed down by the ancient Greek historian, Manetho, who reported that a calamity of some sort occurred during Semerkhet's reign. The archaeological records seem to support the view that Semerkhet had a difficult time as king and some early archaeologists even questioned the legitimacy of Semerkhet's succession to the Egyptian throne.

Benerib Queen Consort of Egypt

Benerib was a Queen Consort of ancient Egypt from the First dynasty. Benerib's name means "sweet of heart".

Khenthap was allegedly a queen of Ancient Egypt. She is said to have lived during the 1st Dynasty. Her historical figure is very obscure, since there are no contemporary sources for her name. She appears only once in a much later inscription.

Nebty name

The Nebty name was one of the "great five names" used by Egyptian pharaohs. It was also one of the oldest royal titles. The modern term "Two-Ladies-name" is a simple derivation from the translation of the Egyptian word nebty.

References

  1. Trigger, Bruce (1983). Ancient Egypt: A Social History. Cambridge University Press. p. 70. ISBN   978-0521284271.
  2. Grimal, Nicolas (1994). A History of Ancient Egypt. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 528. ISBN   0-631-19396-0.
  3. W. M. Flinders Petrie: The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, 1901, Part II, London 1901, p.16-17
  4. Salima Ikram and Aidan Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity, Thames & Hudson, 1998, p. 109
  5. Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt: The Palermo Stone and Its Associated Fragments, (Kegan Paul International), 2000. p.79
  6. Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt, p.258
  7. King Djer page from digitalegypt.
  8. Saad 1947: 165; Saad 1969: 82, pl. 94
  9. Kaiser 1964: 103, fig.3
  10. Petrie 1925: pl. II.8; XII.1
  11. tomb 461 in Abydos, Petrie 1925: pl. III.1, IV.8
  12. Rice, Michael The Power of the Bull Routledge; 1 edition (4 Dec 1997) ISBN   978-0-415-09032-2 p123
  13. 1 2 3 W. Grajetzki: Ancient Egyptian Queens: a hieroglyphic dictionary
  14. 1 2 3 Dodson and Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004
  15. W. M. Flinders Petrie: The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, 1901, Part II, London 1901, pl. XXVII, 96
  16. Thomas Kühn: Die Königsgräber der 1. & 2. Dynastie in Abydos. In: Kemet. Issue 1, 2008.
  17. 1 2 B. Porter and R.L.B. Moss. Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings, V. Upper Egypt: Sites. Oxford, 1937

Bibliography

Preceded by
Neithhotep
(regent)
Pharaoh of Egypt Succeeded by
Djet