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First Dynasty of Egypt

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Title: First Dynasty of Egypt  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Pharaoh, Menes, Anedjib, Den (pharaoh), Qa'a
Collection: 3Rd-Millennium Bc Disestablishments in Egypt, 4Th-Millennium Bc Establishments in Africa, Dynasties of Ancient Egypt, First Dynasty of Egypt
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First Dynasty of Egypt

The First Dynasty of ancient Egypt (or Dynasty I[1]) covers the first series of Egyptian kings to rule over a unified Egypt. It immediately follows the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, possibly by Narmer, and marks the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt, a time at which power was centered at Thinis.

The date of this period is subject to scholarly debate in the context of the chronology of Ancient Egypt. It falls into the Early Bronze Age and is variously estimated to have begun anywhere between the 34th and the 30th centuries BC. In a 2013 study based on radiocarbon dates, the beginning of the First Dynasty (accession of Hor-Aha) was placed close to 3100 BC (3218–3035 with 95% confidence).[2]


  • Rulers 1
  • Human sacrifice as part of royal funerary practice 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • See also 5


Known rulers in the history of Egypt for the First Dynasty are as follows:

Name Dates Notes
Narmer/Menes(?) c. 32nd century (?) Mainstream opinion identifies Narmer with Menes, however a minority of scholars identify Menes with Hor-Aha.[3]
Hor-Aha starting 3080 ± 30 B.C. (p = 0.32)[4]
Djer c. 3073–3036 B.C. 41 years
Djet 3008–2975?
Merneith (mother of Den) 3008? 2946–2916 B.C.
Den 2975–2935 or 2928–2911 B.C. 19 to 50 years (40 years B.C.)
Anedjib 2916–2896 B.C. 20 years
Semerkhet 2912–2891 B.C.? 20 years
Qa'a 2906–2886 B.C.? 30 years

Information about this dynasty is derived from a few monuments and other objects bearing royal names, the most important being the Narmer palette and macehead as well as Den and Qa'a king lists.[5] No detailed records of the first two dynasties have survived, except for the terse lists on the Palermo stone. The account in Manetho's Aegyptiaca contradicts both the archeological evidence and the other historical records: Manetho names nine rulers of the First Dynasty, only one of whose names matches the other sources, and offers information for only four of them.[6] The hieroglyphs were fully developed by then, and their shapes would be used with little change for more than three thousand years.

Large tombs of pharaohs at Abydos and Naqada, in addition to cemeteries at Saqqara and Helwan near Memphis, reveal structures built largely of wood and mud bricks, with some small use of stone for walls and floors. Stone was used in quantity for the manufacture of ornaments, vessels, and occasionally, for statues. Tamarix – tamarisk, salt cedar was used to build boats such as the Abydos Boats. One of the most important indigenous woodworking techniques was the fixed Mortise and tenon joint. A fixed tenon was made by shaping the end of one timber to fit into a mortise (hole) that is cut into a second timber. A variation of this joint using a free tenon eventually became one of the most important features in Mediterranean and Egyptian shipbuilding. It creates a union between two planks or other components by inserting a separate tenon into a cavity (mortise) of the corresponding size cut into each component."[7]

Human sacrifice as part of royal funerary practice

Human sacrifice was practiced as part of the funerary rituals associated with all of the pharaohs of the first dynasty.[8] It is clearly demonstrated as existing during this dynasty by retainers being buried near each pharaoh's tomb as well as animals sacrificed for the burial. The tomb of Djer is associated with the burials of 338 individuals.[8] The people and animals sacrificed, such as donkeys, were expected to assist the pharaoh in the afterlife. For unknown reasons, this practice ended with the conclusion of the dynasty, with shabtis taking the place of actual people to aid the pharaohs with the work expected of them in the afterlife.[8]


  1. ^ Kuhrt 1995, p. 118.
  2. ^ Michael Dee, David Wengrow, Andrew Shortland, Alice Stevenson, Fiona Brock, Linus Girdland Flink and Christopher Bronk Ramsey, 'An absolute chronology for early Egypt using radiocarbon dating and Bayesian statistical modelling' in Proc. R. Soc. A (8 November 2013) vol. 469 no. 2159, doi: 10.1098/rspa.2013.0395.[1]
  3. ^ Dee et al. (2013) note: "For this study, we take the foundation date to refer to the accession of king Aha of the First Dynasty, although his predecessor, Narmer, most probably held political control over the whole state. Historical foundation dates vary widely and recent estimates range from 3400 to 2900 BCE."
  4. ^ Dee et al. 2013: " our analysis generates a chronometric date for the foundation of Egypt (accession of king Aha) of 3111–3045 BCE (68% hpd range; median 3085 BCE) or 3218–3035 BCE (95% hpd range)."
  5. ^ "Qa'a and Merneith lists", Xoomer,  .
  6. ^ Manetho, Fr. 6, 7a, 7b. Text and translation in Manetho, translated by W.G. Waddell (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1940), pp. 27-35
  7. ^ "Early ship construction – Khufu's solar boat", Egypt (Timeline),  .
  8. ^ a b c Shaw 2000, p. 68.


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See also

Preceded by
New creation
Dynasty of Egypt
c. 31002890 BC
Succeeded by
Second dynasty
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