Ancient Egypt: The Old Kingdom , First Dynasty II

From long reigns that lasted more than 30 years to relatively short reigns with little to no information on their actions, this article highlight some of the pharaohs that ruled towards the end of the First Dynasty.


Den actually ascended to the throne when he was only a child. At this time, his mother Merneith (who may have been regarded as a pharaoh) served as a regent until he was old enough to take on his responsibilities. During Den’s rule, he established an array of court rituals that pharaohs after him would embrace. It is believed that Den ruled for more than 33 years.

Den was different from other rulers before him because he was the first that was depicted wearing the double crowns (red and white). Archeologists also encountered his tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab at Abydos and remarked that the floor was comprised of red and black granite. This would mark the first time that this kind of hard stone would be used in building a structure in Egypt. His tomb was also the first to have a flight of stairs that led to it. Tombs of earlier pharaohs were filled using access directly above their roofs.


Although Anedjib ruled for 10 years, the history of this ruler (whose name meant “The Man with the Bold Heart”) is poorly recorded and unclear. It is believed that Den was most likely Anedjib’s father as he had many different wives. To make matters more confusing, all of the children that Den fathered are unknown, as well as the identity of Anedjib’s mother.


Ruling around 2950 BC, Semerkhet (whose name translates into ‘Thoughtful Friend’) was the son of Anedjib and Queen Betrest. The Egyptian historian Manetho suggests that Semerkhet did not have a smooth-sailing rule over Egypt. Not much is known of his reign but Manetho mentions that a handful of disasters took place during his rule. However, since Semerkhet was a usurper of the throne, it was only natural that he faced resistance.

Some records say that Semerkhet went about removing the name of his father from artifacts. However, he would later have his own name left out of the Saqqara King List. While he only reigned for nine years, he managed to construct a larger royal tomb than his father.


Qa’a is known as the last king of the First Dynasty. When his remains were uncovered, he was laid to rest in a rather large tomb in Abydos. Qa’a ruled over Egypt for approximately 26 years (according to Manetho). Evidence that supports his long reign is that he was allowed a large burial site. German archaeologists came across the pharaoh’s tomb in 1993 and excavated it. 26 sacrificial burials had been found contained within the tomb.

During this time period, there is evidence to suggest that Egypt was rather prosperous and stable when Qa’a reigned. A handful of royal steles (of high-quality) depicting the king also indicate that he was well received during his reign. A seal impression found at the tomb serves as proof that Qa’a was buried and then succeeded by Hotepsekhemwy , who is acknowledged as the founder of the Second Dynasty.