Ancient Egypt: The Old Kingdom , First Dynasty I

Thanks to the historian Manetho (270 BC), a lot of what we know about the history of Egypt comes from what he has written. From the number of dynasties to the various kings, he kept track of their names and how long each ruler reigned. In this article, you will learn about the dynasties of the Old Kingdom, which began in 3100 BC.

The First Dynasty (3I00 to 2890 BC)

Egypt was actually two different lands before the First Dynasty was established. Folklore states that the separate lands (referred to as Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt) were brought together by a man named Menes (or Narmer), who is cited as the first mortal king of Egypt. Records written by the Greek historian Herodotus state that this king was also responsible for founding the capital of Memphis.

The historical records of the First Dynasty were made possible with the invention of papyrus, which allowed the government to carry on administrative tasks in writing. During this time, the artifacts that are studied today were made possible by the advancements during this Dynasty.

Kings that ruled during the First Dynasty include:

Hor-Aha (or Aha)

When Hor-Aha turned 30 years old, he became pharaoh of Egypt. It is said that he continued to rule until he was 62 years old. It was Hor-Aha’s father Narmer who is credited with uniting Upper and Lower Egypt. In some records, Hor-Aha is referred to as the Menes of legend. He is also associated with a hippopotamus, which supposed carried the ruler away or killed him during a hunting trip.

Controversy does surround the details concerning Hor-Aha. Some believe that he is the one responsible for bringing together all of Egypt. Others simply believe he was the son of the man who unified Egypt, Narmer. It is not uncommon for one person to have many different names and over time, individuals take on personalities of their own. The majority of evidence uncovered by researchers suggest that Narmer was the pharaoh who first unified Egypt and Hor-Aha was his son and the heir to ruling Egypt.  


The Egyptian priest Manetho stated that Djer ruled Egypt for 57 years, while other evidence states his reign at 41 years. Interestingly, a piece of Djer was able to survive throughout time , a mummified wrist that had been found and then later lost. Some speculate that the wrist could have also belonged to his wife.


Not much is known about the pharaoh that followed Djer’s rule. However, tomb steles linked to the ruler have become well known in archeological circles because they were able to survive for such a long time. Djet’s Horus name is carved in relief and gives a look at the distinct Egyptian styles that existed during this time period.