Who was the first pharaoh of Egypt?

Asker: Maud, 9 years old


According to Egyptian tradition, Menes was the first king of Egypt. We know this, among other things, from the king list of Abydos, on which we see Seti I (ca. 1290-1280 BC) and his son Ramses II in worship before a long list of names of their predecessors. The first name is Mni, which corresponds to Menes. We also have the king list of Manetho, a Greek-Egyptian priest who lived in the 3rd century BC. wrote a history of Egypt. The book itself has not been preserved, but the king list that Manetho drew up, divided into 30 dynasties, was adopted by Roman authors. Manetho lists Menes as the first king of the first dynasty.

But this does not solve the problem. The tombs of the kings of the 1st dynasty were found at Abydos (Umm el-Qaab) at the end of the 19th century. The names of the kings found there do not match those of Manethon. The reasons for this are complex and, among other things, the language difference – Manetho wrote in Greek – plays a role. About twenty years ago seal impressions were also found at Abydos on which the list of the kings buried there is given. This list begins with Narmer and does not include the name Menes. At the moment the specialists disagree whether Narmer should be regarded as Menes or his successor Hor-Aha (also read Aha). However, the question has only limited importance. The excavations at Abydos have made it clear that there were already kings before the 1st dynasty. After all, the tomb of Narmer (ca. 3050 BC) follows that of several other kings (Ka, Irj-Hor). These kings are now placed together in “dynasty 0”. But we can trace the series of tombs of kings at Abydos even earlier in the late Predynastic period, at least from 3300 BC.

Answered by

dr. Stan Hendrickx

Art History Archeology of Egypt

PXL University of Applied Sciences
Elfde-Linestraat 24 3500 Hasselt



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