Ancient Egypt
Khasekhemwy The Unifier Image Credit: Ancient Egypt
Khasekhemwy The Unifier Image Credit: Ancient Egypt

Khasekhemwy, The Unifier

Jan Summers Duffy reveals what we know about one of the key characters in the formation of the ancient Egyptian state.

Jan Summers Duffy

The very beginnings of ancient Egypt are obscure, with few surviving records and a limited number of excavations producing little in the way of supported evidence. Following the Prehistoric Period, c. 3150 BC, we find the names of First Dynasty kings such as Menes (identified with Narmer), Aha, Djer, Djet and Den. The Second Dynasty, based in the Upper Egyptian province of Thinis (ancient Tjenu) appear to have ruled during a time of war and unrest. We know of the names of the kings Hetepsekhemwy, Raneb and Nynetjer, but other rulers are obscure. This was a time when Egypt’s kings fought one another in competition for control of Egypt. The country, first unified under Narmer, had split again into two states, North and South. But this period of the Second Dynasty was also a time of renewal and attempts to unify ancient Egypt once more.

By this time, the concept of absolute rule had emerged, with the king considered a god, set above the common people: ‘he who was identified with Horus’. An inscription by the New Kingdom Vizier Rekhmira, shows how little changed over the intervening millennia:

“What is the king of Upper and Lower Egypt? He is a god by whose dealings one lives, the father and mother of all men, alone by himself, without equal.”

The scant evidence we have for the events of this period comes mainly from priest and historian Manetho and fr

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