Ka (pharaoh)

Last updated

Ka, also (alternatively) Sekhen, [1] [2] was a Predynastic pharaoh of Upper Egypt belonging to Dynasty 0. He probably reigned during the first half of the 32nd century BC. The length of his reign is unknown.



The correct reading of Ka's name remains uncertain. [3] There are vessel inscriptions which show a serekh with a typical Ka-symbol, both written upright correctly, but there are also inscriptions presenting an upright serekh with an upside-down Ka-symbol inside. The second form of that writing indicates a reading as Sekhen (meaning ‘to embrace s.o.’) rather than Ka. [4] It was also thought to be the birth name of Narmer. [5] Because the reading of the name is so uncertain, Egyptologists and writing experts such as Ludwig David Morenz prefer a neutral reading as ‘King Arms’. [6]


Map of the locations where Ka's serekhs have been found. Map of ka serekh.png
Map of the locations where Ka's serekhs have been found.

Ka ruled over Thinis in the first half of the 32nd century BC and was buried at Umm el-Qa'ab. He most likely was the immediate successor to Iry-Hor and was succeeded either by Narmer or by Scorpion II. [7] He is the earliest known Egyptian king with a serekh inscribed on a number of artifacts. This may thus be an innovation of his reign. [8] Ka is one of the best attested predynastic kings with Narmer and Scorpion II. Beyond Abydos, he is attested in the predynastic necropolis of Adaima in Upper Egypt [9] and in the north in Tarkhan, Helwan, Tell Ibrahim Awad, Wadi Tumilat and as far north as Tel Lod in the Southern Levant. [10]

The number of artifacts bearing Ka's serekh found outside Abydos is much greater than that of his predecessor. [10] This may be the sign of an increasing influence and perhaps conquest of larger portions of Egypt by the Thinite kings. [10]


Two underground chambers, B7 and B9, in the Umm el-Qa'ab necropolis of Abydos are believed to be part of the tomb of King Ka. Each chamber is 1.90 m deep, B.7 is 6.0 × 3.2 m while B.9 is slightly smaller at 5.9 x 3.1 m; the two chambers are 1.80 m apart. [10]

Ka's tomb was first excavated by Petrie in 1902. The excavations yielded fragments of flint knife and pottery. In the southernmost chamber B7, more than forty inscriptions have been found on tall jars and cylinder vessels as well as a seal impression. [10] [11] The tomb of Ka (B7, B9) is close to that of Iry-Hor (B1, B2) and Narmer (B17, B18). Furthermore, it is located within a sequential order linking the older "U" cemetery with the First Dynasty tombs, thus suggesting that Ka succeeded Iry-Hor and preceded Narmer on the throne. [12]

Related Research Articles

Narmer Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period

Narmer was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period. He was the successor to the Protodynastic king Ka. Some consider him the unifier of Egypt and founder of the First Dynasty, and in turn the first king of a unified Egypt. A majority of Egyptologists believe that Narmer was the same person as Menes.

Qaa Egyptian ruler

Qa'a was the last king of the First Dynasty of Egypt. He reigned for 33 years at the end of the 30th century BC.

Djer ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty of the Middle Empire

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

Hor-Aha Egyptian pharaoh

Hor-Aha is considered the second pharaoh of the First Dynasty of Egypt by some Egyptologists, others consider him the first one and corresponding to Menes. He lived around the 31st century BC and is thought to have had a long reign.

Scorpion II Protodynastic Egyptian king

Scorpion II, also known as King Scorpion, was a ruler during the Protodynastic Period of Upper Egypt.

Umm El Qaab Ancient Egyptian necropolis

Umm El Qaʻāb is a necropolis of the Early Dynastic Period kings at Abydos, Egypt. Its modern name means "Mother of Pots" as the whole area is littered with the broken pot shards of offerings made in earlier times. The cultic ancient name of the area was (w-)pkr or (rꜣ-)pkr "District of the pkr[-tree]" or "Opening of the pkr[-tree]", belonging to tꜣ-dsr "the secluded/cleared land" (necropolis) or crk-hh "Binding of Eternity".

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 and the earlier royal wife Neithhotep never ruled as an independent regent, Merneith 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. Iry-Hor is the earliest ruler of Egypt known by name and is sometimes cited as the earliest-living historical person known by name.

Nebra (pharaoh) the Horus name of the second early Egyptian king of the 2nd dynasty

Nebra or Raneb is the Horus name of the second early Egyptian king of the 2nd dynasty. The exact length of his reign is unknown since the Turin canon is damaged and the year accounts are lost. The ancient Greek historian Manetho suggests that Nebra's reign lasted 39 years, but Egyptologists question Manetho's view as a misinterpretation or exaggeration of information that was available to him. They credit Nebra with either a 10- or 14-year rule.

Seth-Peribsen Ancient Egyptian ruler

Seth-Peribsen is the serekh name of an early Egyptian monarch (pharaoh), who ruled during the Second Dynasty of Egypt. His chronological position within this dynasty is unknown and it is disputed who ruled both before and after him. The duration of his reign is also unknown.

Anedjib Egyptian pharaoh

Anedjib, more correctly Adjib and also known as Hor-Anedjib, Hor-Adjib and Enezib, is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the 1st Dynasty. The Egyptian historian Manetho named him "Miebîdós" and credited him with a reign of 26 years, whilst the Royal Canon of Turin credited him with an implausible reign of 74 years. Egyptologists and historians now consider both records to be exaggerations and generally credit Adjib with a reign of 8–10 years.

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.

Naqada III Last phase of the Naqada culture of ancient Egyptian prehistory

Naqada III is the last phase of the Naqada culture of ancient Egyptian prehistory, dating from approximately 3200 to 3000 BC. It is the period during which the process of state formation, which began in Naqada II, became highly visible, with named kings heading powerful polities. Naqada III is often referred to as Dynasty 0 or the Protodynastic Period to reflect the presence of kings at the head of influential states, although, in fact, the kings involved would not have been a part of a dynasty. In this period, those kings' names were inscribed in the form of serekhs on a variety of surfaces including pottery and tombs.

Horus name

The Horus name is the oldest known and used crest of ancient Egyptian rulers. It belongs to the "great five names" of an Egyptian pharaoh. However, modern Egyptologists and linguists are starting to prefer the more neutral term: the "serekh name". This is because not every pharaoh placed the falcon, which symbolizes the deity Horus, atop his serekh.

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.

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.

Crocodile (pharaoh) Provisional name of an Egyptian predynastic ruler

Crocodile is the provisional name of a predynastic ruler, who might have ruled during the late Naqada III epoch. The few alleged ink inscriptions showing his name are drawn very sloppily, and the reading and thus whole existence of king "Crocodile" are highly disputed. His tomb is unknown.

Elephant (pharaoh) provisional name of the first known predynastic Egypt ruler (existence disputed)

Elephant is the provisional name of a Predynastic ruler in Egypt. Since the incarved rock inscriptions and ivory tags showing his name are either drawn sloppily, or lacking any royal crest, the reading and thus whole existence of king "Elephant" are highly disputed.

Hedju Hor was a ruler in northern Egypt from the Predynastic Period. His existence is controversial.

Ny-Hor Egyptian ruler

Ny-Hor was a possible Pharaoh from the Predynastic Period. His name means "The Hunter". He may have ruled during the 31st century BCE.


  1. Rice, Michael (1999), Who's Who in Ancient Egypt, Routledge, p. 86.
  2. Jürgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen, Münchner ägyptologische Studien, Heft 49, Mainz : P. von Zabern, 1999, ISBN   3-8053-2591-6, available online Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine see p. 36-37
  3. Wilkinson 1999, pp. 57–59.
  4. Kaplony, Peter (1982), "Kleine Beiträge zu den Inschriften der ägyptischen Frühzeit", MDAIK (in German), Berlin: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Orient-Abteilung (Hrsg.). von Zabern (38): 221, 229.
  5. Baumgartel, Elise Jenny (1975), "Some remarks on the origins of the titles of the Archaic Egyptian Kings", Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, London: Egypt Exploration Society (61): 31.
  6. Morenz, Ludwig David, Bild-Buchstaben und symbolische Zeichen (in German), pp. 106–8.
  7. Shaw, Ian, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, p. 71.
  8. Wilkinson 1999, pp. 57f.
  9. Grimal, N (1999), BIFAO, p. 451.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Raffaele, Francesco. "Dynasty 0" (PDF).Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. Gilroy, Thomas (2001), ""Forgotten" Serekhs in the Royal Ontario Museum", Göttinger Miszellen, Göttingen: Ägyptologisches Seminar der Universität Göttingen (180): 67–76, Fig. 2, Tafel I b, ISSN   0344-385X .
  12. Barta, Winfried (1982), "Zur Namensform und zeitlichen Einordnung des Königs Ro", GM (in German), 53: 11–13.
  13. Wilkinson 1999.


Preceded by
King of Thinis Succeeded by
Scorpion II?