Ancient Egypt: The Old Kingdom , Second Dynasty

Last Updated on December 7, 2020 by admin

During the Second Dynasty of ancient Egyptian history, about five pharaohs ruled over the land. Each ruler that was recognized during this time period enjoyed lengthy stretches on the throne. In this article, you learn about the accomplishments and background on Second Dynasty pharaohs, such as Djoser, who is still one of the most well known of Old Kingdom rulers.

The Second Dynasty (2890 to 2686 BC)

The end of the First Dynasty saw many different claims for the throne. However, it was Hotepsekhemwy who was successful in taking rule of Egypt to become the first pharaoh of the Second Dynasty. During his reign, the political rivalry never fully resolved and over time , the conflict worsened.

Usually, rulers of Egypt took the title of Horus, but when it came time for the fourth pharaoh of the Second Dynasty, Peribsen, to rule , he chose the title of Seth instead. However, the last the last ruler of the dynasty (Khasekhemwy) accepted both titles. The end of the Second Dynasty also saw increasing disorder. Records also suggest that civil war may have erupted amongst the people. Kings that ruled during the Second Dynasty include:


Although Hotepsekhemwy ruled for about 38 years (according to historian and Egyptian priest Manetho), not much is known about the first ruler of the Second Dynasty. It was not a direct bloodline that brought the pharaoh into power. He had gained claim to the throne by marrying a princess. Evidence suggests that he may have been related to the old Thinite line of rulers, but it is not known so he is mostly regarded as the Qa’a’s son-in-law.

Hotepsekhemwy was highly respectful of his father-in-law and made offerings in his memory. Historians also suggest that he may have been responsible for arranging his funeral. This is why sealings found outside of Qa’a’s tomb at Abydos bore the name of “Hotepsekhemwy”.

Although Hotepsekhemwy had a son named Perneb, he did not become the pharaoh’s successor and Rabeb took claim of the throne after his death.


Raneb (sometimes referred to as Kakau or Nebre)was either the brother or son of Hotepsekhemwy. According to Manetho, he ruled Egypt for 39 years, but some debate whether this is true since not many contemporary objects have come from his reign. The importance and longevity of a ruler is often marked by the number of artifacts left behind after a rule. If he were a high figure, archeologists would have found more object that commemorated the pharaoh. During his rule, Manetho believes that he introduced the worship of the sacred goat Mendes to the ancient Egyptians.

To learn more about pharaohs that ruled ancient Egypt during the Second Dynasty, read the article titled “Ancient Egypt: The Old Kingdom , Second Dynasty II”, which mentions rulers Nynetjer, Peribsen, and Khasekhem (who may have been two separate rulers or called something different during the later part of his rule).


During ancient Egyptian times, there is some debate to the names and number of pharaohs that ruled during the early Dynasties. This is because some rulers may have changed their names following a significant event in history. The late Second Dynasty saw this in the existence of Khasekhem and Khasekhemwy, who may or may not have been the same pharaoh.


There is a possibility that the next pharaoh was the son of Raneb. Evidence of Nynetjer’s rule has been captured on the Palermo Stone , a record of kings that served from the First to Fifth Dynasty. Mud seals were also located on an underground gallery at Saqqara, which may have served as his tomb. Since many objects from his reign have survived, it is thought that he enjoyed a rather lengthy and victorious rule.


Peribsen ruled Egypt for 17 years and has a bit of controversy surrounding his existence. For some, they are not sure if he was one person or represented two different people listed in ancient records. There is evidence to suggest that he may have been called Sekhemib-Perenmaat in Egyptian records because the two names were created at the same time to refer to a single king. Another theory is that the king took on a different name when he became older (Horus Sekhemib versus Seth Peribsen).

Archeologists uncovered Peribsen’s tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab in Abydos, where a seal impression offered a full sentence written in hieroglyphs. Today, you can see Peribsen’s burial stelae, which is on display at the British Museum. This object shows a Seth-creature , breaking from the most traditional Horus images. Some believe that this indicates that the king did not rule over Egypt as a whole.


Khasekhem (also known as Khasekhemwy) is known as the fifth and last king of the Second Dynasty. While the pharaoh is responsible for leading several important military campaigns and was responsible for constructing many different monuments, not much is recorded of Khasekhem’s rule.

Historic records typically place Khasekhem as the successor to Seth-Peribsen, but there is some debate to this. Some Egyptologists feel that another pharaoh ruled in between the two kings. Others believe that Khasekhem and Khasekhemwy were the same person and not two separate pharaohs. There is a possibility that Khasekhem changed his name to Khasekhemwy following the reunification of Upper and Lower Egypt. A civil war had broken out during that time that involved the followers of the gods Horus and Set.

Khasekhemwy has an interesting place in Egyptian history because he wore both the symbols of Horus and Set. Some researchers feel that this was a move to unify Upper and Lower Egypt during times of conflict. However, after his death, Set was permanently dropped from the serekh. Another milestone regarding the pharaoh was that he was the earliest Egyptian king known to have erected statues in his own likeness.

When Egypt was once again unified, Khasekhemwy made it his business to build many monuments and other structures. Stone construction attributed to his rule has been found at el-Kab, Hierakonpolis, and Abydos.