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Sekhemib-Perenma'at (or simply Sekhemib), is the horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the 2nd dynasty. Similar to his predecessor, successor or co-ruler Seth-Peribsen, Sekhemib is contemporarily well attested in archaeological records, but he does not appear in any posthumous document. The exact length of his reign is unknown and his burial site has yet to be found. [1]

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.

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.

Second Dynasty of Egypt dynasty of ancient Egypt

The Second Dynasty of ancient Egypt is the latter of the two dynasties of the Egyptian Archaic Period, when the seat of government was centred at Thinis. It is most known for its last ruler, Khasekhemwy, but is otherwise one of the most obscure periods in Egyptian history.


Name sources

Sekhemib's name is known from seal impressions and from inscriptions on vessels made of alabaster and breccia. They were found in the entrance of Peribsen's tomb at Abydos, in the underground galleries beneath the step pyramid of (3rd dynasty) king Djoser at Sakkara and on one excavation site at Elephantine. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Alabaster Lightly colored, translucent, and soft calcium minerals, typically gypsum

Alabaster is a mineral or rock that is soft, often used for carving, and is processed for plaster powder. Archaeologists and the stone processing industry use the word differently from geologists. The former use is in a wider sense that includes varieties of two different minerals: the fine-grained massive type of gypsum and the fine-grained banded type of calcite. Geologists define alabaster only as the gypsum type. Chemically, gypsum is a hydrous sulfate of calcium, while calcite is a carbonate of calcium.

Breccia Rock composed of broken fragments cemented by a matrix

Breccia is a rock composed of broken fragments of minerals or rock cemented together by a fine-grained matrix that can be similar to or different from the composition of the fragments.

Tomb burial place

A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be called immurement, and is a method of final disposition, as an alternative to for example cremation or burial.

Sekhemib's serekh name is unusual, because it is the first in Egyptian history that was extended by an epithet. Beside the first name, Sekhem-ib, several seal impressions and stone vessel inscriptions show the epithet Perenma'at inside the serekh. Sekhemib used both name forms, the single horus name and the double name, at the same time. Egyptologists such as Herman te Velde and Wolfgang Helck think that the double name of Sekhemib came in use when the Egyptian state was split into two independent realms. It seems that Sekhemib tried to stress the peaceful political situation prevailing in Egypt at the time. An increased form of such a double name was created and used by a successor of Sekhemib, king Khasekhemwy. This king also used a double name and even placed Horus and Seth together as protective deities atop his serekh. Khasekhemwy had tried to express peace and reconciliation between Upper- and Lower Egypt with his unusual serekh, too. [5] [6]


A serekh was a specific important type of heraldic crest used in ancient Egypt. Like the later cartouche, it contained a royal name.

An epithet is a byname, or a descriptive term, accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high.

Hans Wolfgang Helck was a German Egyptologist, considered one of the most important Egyptologists of the 20th century. From 1956 until his retirement in 1979 he was a Professor at the University of Hamburg. He remained active after his retirement and together with Wolfhart Westendorf published the German Lexikon der Ägyptologie, completed in 1992. He published many books and articles on the history of Egyptian and Near Eastern culture. He was a member of the German Archaeological Institute and a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences.


Vase of Sekhemib bearing the inscription reproduced on the right. At its right, it reads The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Sekhemib-Perenmaat, at its left it reads administrator of the house of copper, god servant of Kherty, National Archaeological Museum (France). Sekhemib Vase.jpg
Vase of Sekhemib bearing the inscription reproduced on the right. At its right, it reads The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Sekhemib-Perenmaat, at its left it reads administrator of the house of copper, god servant of Kherty , National Archaeological Museum (France).

The historical figure of Sekhemib is the subject of investigation and discussions by Egyptologists and historians to this day. The contradictory findings allow room for plenty of interpretations and theories.

Egyptologists such as Walter Bryan Emery, Kathryn A. Bard and Flinders Petrie believe that Sekhemib was the same person as king Peribsen, a ruler who had connected his name with the deity Seth and who possibly ruled only Upper Egypt. Emery, Bard and Petrie point to several clay seals that were found in the tomb entrance of Peribsen's necropolis. Sekhemib's tomb has not yet been found. [2] [7] [8] [9]

Walter Bryan Emery British egyptologist

Walter Bryan Emery, was a British Egyptologist born in Liverpool, England. Before his career in Egyptology began, he was introduced into the study of marine engineering where he became an excellent draftsman, which resulted in the brilliantly executed line drawings that permeated his later published works on Egyptology. With the exception of six years in the British Army during the Second World War, followed by four years in the Diplomatic Service at Cairo in Egypt, his entire life was devoted to the excavation of archaeological sites along the Nile Valley.

Flinders Petrie English egyptologist

Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, FRS, FBA, commonly known as Flinders Petrie, was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artefacts. He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, and excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt in conjunction with his wife, Hilda Petrie. Some consider his most famous discovery to be that of the Merneptah Stele, an opinion with which Petrie himself concurred.

Upper Egypt strip of land on the Nile valley between Nubia and Lower Egypt

Upper Egypt is the strip of land on both sides of the Nile that extends between Nubia and downriver (northwards) to Lower Egypt.

In contrast, Egyptologists such as Hermann Alexander Schlögl, Wolfgang Helck, Peter Kaplony and Jochem Kahl believe that Sekhemib was a different ruler to Peribsen. They point out that the clay seals were only found at the entrance area of Peribsen's tomb and that none of them ever shows Peribsen and Sekhemib's names together in one inscription. They compare the findings with the ivory tablets of king Hotepsekhemwy found at the entrance of king Qaa's tomb. Therefore, Schlögl, Helck, Kaplony and Kahl are convinced that Sekhemib's seals are merely proof that Sekhemib buried Peribsen. [6] [10]

Peter Árpád Kaplony was a Hungarian-born Swiss egyptologist.

Hotepsekhemwy Egyptian pharaoh

Hotepsekhemwy is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who was the founder of the 2nd dynasty. The exact length of his reign is not known; the Turin canon suggests an improbable 95 years while the Ancient Egyptian historian Manetho reports that the reign of "Boëthôs" lasted for 38 years. Egyptologists consider both statements to be misinterpretations or exaggerations. They credit Hotepsekhemwy with either a 25- or a 29-year rule.

Qaa Place in Baalbek-Hermel, Lebanon

Qaa, El Qaa, Al Qaa or Masharih al-Qaa is a town in Baalbek-Hermel Governorate, Lebanon. It has a mainly Greek Catholic population.

Egyptologists such as Toby Wilkinson and Helck believe that Sekhemib and Peribsen could have been related. Their theory is based on the stone vessel inscriptions and seal impressions that show strong similarities in their typographical and grammatical writing styles. The vessels of Peribsen for example show the notation "ini-setjet" ("tribute of the people of Sethroë"), whilst Sekhemib's inscriptions note "ini-chasut" ("tribute of the desert nomads"). A further indication for a relationship between Peribsen and Sekhemib is the serekh-name of both, as they both use the syllables "per" and "ib" in their names. [11] [12]

Egyptologists such as Helck identify Sekhemib with the ramesside cartouche name “Wadjenes” and equate Peribsen with a king named Senedj. Egyptologist Dietrich Wildung thinks alike and identifies Sekhemib with the nebty name Weneg-Nebty and Peribsen with Senedj. [6] [13]


Clay seal of Sekhemib Sekhemib retouched.jpg
Clay seal of Sekhemib

There seems to be archaeological evidence that Sekhemib ruled only in Upper Egypt. His realm would have extended down from Ombos up to the Isle of Elephantine, where a new administrative centre called "The white house of treasury" was founded under Peribsen. [14] It remains the subject of discussion by Egyptologists and historians as to if, why and when it was decided to split the state.

Proponents of the divided-realm-theory

Egyptologists such as Wolfgang Helck, Nicolas Grimal, Hermann Alexander Schlögl and Francesco Tiradritti believe that king Ninetjer, the third ruler of 2nd dynasty and a predecessor of Peribsen, left a realm that was suffering from an overly complex state administration and that Ninetjer decided to split Egypt between his two sons (or, at least, his two successors), in the hope that the two rulers could better administer the two states. [15] [16] Since the artefacts surviving from his lifetime seem to prove that he and his contemporary Peribsen ruled only in Upper Egypt, it is the subject of investigation as to who ruled in Lower Egypt at that time. The Ramesside king lists differ in their succession of royal names from king Senedj onward. A reason may be that the royal table of Saqqara and the royal canon of Turin reflect Memphite traditions, which allow Memphite rulers to be mentioned. The Abydos king list instead reflects Thinite traditions and therefore only Thinite rulers appear on that list. Until king Senedj, all posthumous king lists accord with each other. After him, the Saqqara list and the Turin list mention three kings as successors: Neferkara I, Neferkasokar and Hudjefa I. The Abydos king list skips these kings and jumps forward to Khasekhemwy, calling him “Djadjay”. The discrepancies are considered by Egyptologists to be the result of the partition of the Egyptian state during the 2nd Dynasty. [1] [10] [15] [16]

A further problem is the Horus names and Nebty names of different kings in inscriptions found in the Great Southern Gallery in the necropolis of (3rd Dynasty) king Djoser at Saqqara. Stone vessel inscriptions mention kings such as Nubnefer, Weneg-Nebty, Horus Ba, Horus "Bird" and Za, but each of these kings is mentioned only a few times, which suggests to Egyptologists that each of these kings did not rule very long. King Sneferka might be identical with king Qa'a or an ephemeral successor of his. King Weneg-Nebty might be identical with the Ramesside cartouche name Wadjenes. But kings such as "Nubnefer", "Bird" and "Za" remain a mystery. They never appear anywhere else in the historical record other than at Saqqara where the number of objects surviving from their lifetimes is very limited. Schlögl, Helck and Peter Kaplony postulate that Nubnefer, Za and Bird were the corresponding rulers to Peribsen and Sekhemib and ruled in Lower Egypt, whilst the latter two ruled Upper Egypt. [1] [10] [15] [16] [17]

In contrast, Egyptologists such as Barbara Bell believe that an economic catastrophe such as a famine or a long-lasting drought affected Egypt at that time. To help solve the problems of feeding the Egyptian population, Ninetjer split the realm and his successors ruled two independent realms until the famine was successfully brought to an end. Bell points to the inscriptions of the Palermo stone, where, in her opinion, the records of the Nile floods show consistently low levels. [18]

The administrative titles of the scribes, seal-bearers and overseers were adjusted to the new political situation. For example, titles like "sealer of the king" were changed into "sealer of the king of Upper Egypt". The administration system since the time of Peribsen and Sekhemib shows a clear and well identified hierarchy; an example: Treasury house → pension office → property → vine yards → private vine yard. King Khasekhemwy, the last ruler of 2nd Dynasty, was able to re-unify the state administration of Egypt and therefore unite the whole of Ancient Egypt. He brought the two treasury houses of Egypt under the control of the "House of the King", bringing them into a new, single administration center. [19] [20]

Fragment of a diorite vase inscribed with part of the name of pharaoh Sekhemib Perenmaat from the Pyramid of Djoser and now in the Egyptian Museum. The inscription reads (from right to left): "King of Lower- and Upper Egypt, Sekhemib-Per(enma'at), tribute of the foreigners, provisions to...". Sekhemib Perenmaat.jpg
Fragment of a diorite vase inscribed with part of the name of pharaoh Sekhemib Perenmaat from the Pyramid of Djoser and now in the Egyptian Museum. The inscription reads (from right to left): "King of Lower- and Upper Egypt, Sekhemib-Per(enma'at), tribute of the foreigners, provisions to...".

Opponents of the divided-realm-theory

Other Egyptologists, such as Michael Rice, [21] Francesco Tiradritti [16] and Wolfgang Helck, believe that there was no division of the Egyptian thrones and that Sekhemib and Peribsen were each sole and independent rulers. The suspected division may have been of a mere bureaucratic nature, including changes in the titles of high-ranking officials. It is possible, that king Nynetjer (or Peribsen) decided to split the whole bureaucracy of Egypt into two separate departments in an attempt to reduce the power of the officials. Such an act was not surprising and occurred several times in Egyptian history, especially in later dynasties. The scholars also point to the once palatial and well preserved mastaba tombs at Saqqara and Abydos belonging to high officials such as Ruaben and Nefer-Setekh. These are all dated from the reign of Nynetjer to that of Khasekhemwy, the last ruler of the Second Dynasty. Egyptologists consider the archaeological record of the mastabas' condition and the original architecture as proof that the statewide mortuary cults for kings and noblemen successfully operated during the entire dynasty. If true, their preservation is inconsistent with the theory of civil wars and economic problems during Peribsen's reign. Rice, Tiradritti and Helck think that Nynetjer decided to leave a divided realm because of private or political reasons and that the split was a formality sustained by Second Dynasty kings. [16] [21] [22]

Scholars such as Herman TeVelde, [23] I. E. S. Edwards [24] and Toby Wilkinson [25] believe the inscription of the famous Annal stone of Fifth Dynasty, a black olivine-basalt slabstone displaying a very detailed king list, also argues against the division of the realm. On the stone, the kings are listed by their Horus name, their gold name, their cartouche name, and, finally, with the name of their royal mother. The lists also contain rectangular windows presenting year events from the day of the king's coronation to his death. The most famous fragments of the Annal stone are called the Palermo Stone and the Cairo Stone. On the Cairo stone, in line IV, the last nine years of king Nynetjer are preserved (but most of the year windows are illegible now). [25] The Annal stone however, gives absolutely no indication of a division of the Egyptian realm. Barta, TeVelde, Wilkinson and Edwards argue that the theory of state division is untenable. A mere administrative reorganization of the bureaucracy or a split in the priesthood sects seems more likely. [25]

Bell's theory of a famine or drought is refuted today by Egyptologists such as Stephan Seidlmayer, who corrected Bell's calculations. Seidlmayer has shown that the annual Nile flood was normal during Ninetjer's time up to the period of the Old Kingdom. Bell may have overlooked that the height of the Nile floods in the Palermo stone inscriptions only takes into account the measurements of the nilometers around Memphis, and not elsewhere along the river. Any long-lasting drought at that time can therefore be excluded. [26]

Three officials from Sekhemib´s reign are known to Egyptologists by seal impressions: Nebhotep, Inykhnum and Maapermin. However, Inykhnum might also have held office in later times, under kings such as Djoser and Sanakht. [27]


The location of Sekhemib's tomb is unknown. If he was actually the same person as Peribsen, he was buried in tomb P at Abydos. If not, his burial site may be located at Saqqara. [2] [7] [9]

Related Research Articles

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.

Khaba pharaoh of Ancient Egypt

Khaba was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, active during the 3rd dynasty of the Old Kingdom period. The exact time during which Khaba ruled is unknown but may have been around 2670 BC.

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. According to different authors, Nebra ruled Egypt c. 2850 BC, from 2820 BC to 2790 BC, 2800 BC to 2785 BC or 2765 BC to 2750 BC.

Weneg (pharaoh) Egyptian statesman

Weneg, also known as Weneg-Nebty, is the throne name of an early Egyptian king, who ruled during the second dynasty. Although his chronological position is clear to Egyptologists, it is unclear for how long King Weneg ruled. It is also unclear as to which of the archaeologically identified Horus-kings corresponds to Weneg.


Senedj was an early Egyptian king (pharaoh), who may have ruled during the 2nd dynasty. His historical standing remains uncertain. His name is included in the kinglists of the ramesside era, although it is written in different ways: While the kinglist of Abydos imitates the archaic form, the Royal Canon of Turin and the kinglist of Sakkara form the name with the hieroglyphic sign of a plucked goose.

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.

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.

Neferkara I ancient Egyptian ruler

Neferkara I is the cartouche name of a king (pharaoh) who is said to have ruled during the 2nd dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The exact length of his reign is unknown since the Turin canon lacks the years of rulership and the ancient Greek historian Manetho suggests that Neferkara's reign lasted 25 years. Egyptologists evaluate his statement as misinterpretation or exaggeration.

Thamphthis is the hellenized name of an ancient Egyptian ruler (pharaoh) of the 4th dynasty in the Old Kingdom, who may have ruled around 2500 BC under the name Djedefptah for between two and nine years. His original Egyptian name is lost, but it may have been Djedefptah or Ptahdjedef according to William C. Hayes. Thamphthis is one of the shadowy rulers of the Old Kingdom, since he is completely unattested in contemporary sources. For this reason, his historical figure is discussed intensely by historians and egyptologists.

Djeseretnebti is possibly the name of an Ancient Egyptian queen. Since this name appears without any queen‘s title, Egyptologists dispute the true meaning and reading of this name.


Neferkasokar was an Ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) who may have ruled in Egypt during the 2nd dynasty. Very little is known about him, since no contemporary records about him have been found. Rather his name has been found in later sources.


Wadjenes, also known as Wadjlas, Ougotlas and Tlas, was an early Egyptian king who may have ruled during the 2nd dynasty. Since the name form "Wadjenes" is not contemporarily attested as the name of a king, but frequently appears in Ramesside kinglists, Egyptologists to this day are trying to connect Wadjenes with contemporary Horus-kings.

Hudjefa is the pseudonym for a 2nd dynasty pharaoh as reported on the Turin canon, a list of kings written during the reign of Ramses II. Hudjefa is now understood to mean that the name of the king was already missing from the document from which the Turin canon was copied. The length of the reign associated to Hudjefa on the canon is 11 years. Because of the position of Hudjefa on the Turin list, he is sometimes identified with a king Sesochris reported in the Aegyptiaca, a history of Egypt written by the Egyptian priest Manetho in the 3rd century BC. Manetho credits this pharaoh with 48 years of reign. Egyptologists have attempted to relate Hudjefa with archaeologically attested kings of the period, in particular Seth Peribsen.

Sneferka Egyptian pharaoh

Sneferka is the serekh-name of an early Egyptian king who may have ruled at the end of the 1st dynasty. The exact length of his reign is unknown, but thought to have been very short and his chronological position is unclear.

Horus Bird (pharaoh) sovereign

Horus Bird, also known as Horus-Ba, is the serekh-name of a pharaoh who may have had a very short reign between the 1st dynasty and 2nd dynasty of Egypt.

Horus Sa

Horus Sa was a possible early Egyptian pharaoh who may have reigned during the 2nd or 3rd dynasty of Egypt. His existence is disputed, as is the meaning of the artifacts that have been interpreted as confirming his existence.


Inykhnum was an ancient Egyptian high-ranking official who worked and lived during the transition time between 2nd dynasty and 3rd dynasty. The king(s) under which he served are not known for certain, the subject being currently highly disputed.

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.


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  20. Christian E. Schulz: Schreibgeräte und Schreiber in der 0. Bis 3. Dynastie. GRIN, Munich 2007, ISBN   3-638-63909-6, page 9–15
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  25. 1 2 3 Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Royal annals of ancient Egypt: The Palermo stone and its associated fragments. Taylor and Francis, London 2000, ISBN   978-0-7103-0667-8, p. 200–206.
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