Second Dynasty of Egypt

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The Second Dynasty ruled ancient Egypt from c. 2890 to c. 2686 BC[1] It is the second dynasty of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt. During this time the seat of government was centred at Thinis. Very little is known about this period in ancient Egyptian history.

There is very little archaeological evidence of the time. But to compare the differences between the First and Third Dynasties shows that there must have important institutional and economic developments during the Second Dynasty.[2][3]

Rulers[change | change source]

The names of the rulers of the Second Dynasty is not known exactly. Most sources agree on the names of the first pharaohs. These are:

Name Years Reigned
Hotepsekhemwy 38
Nebra (maybe identifiable with Weneg)[4] 10–14
Nynetjer 40
Senedj (maybe identifiable with Horus Sa[5]) 20

The names of the next two or three rulers is unclear. We may have both the Horus-name or Nebty (meaning two ladies) name and their birth names for these rulers, however they may be entirely different individuals; or they may be legendary names. On the left are the rulers most Egyptologists place here; on the right are the names from Manetho's Aegyptica:

Proposed Ruler Manetho's List
Seth-Peribsen Kaires
Sekhemib-Perenmaat Sesokhris

With the last ruler, we return to an agreement:

Name Years Reigned
Khasekhemwy 17–18

Manetho wrote that the capital was at Thinis, the same as during the First Dynasty. However, at least the first three kings were buried at Saqqara. This could mean the center of power had moved to Memphis. Beyond this, little can be said about the events during this period. The annual records on the Palermo Stone only survive for the end of the reign of Nebra and for parts of Nynetjer's. One important event possibly happened during the reign of Khasekhemwy: many Egyptologists read his name ("the Two Powers arise") as commemorating the union of the Upper and Lower Egypts.

References[change | change source]

  1. Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. p. 480. ISBN 0-19-815034-2.
  2. Romer, John (2013) [2012]. "Chapter 18 — The Lost Dynasty". A History of Ancient Egypt. Vol. 1. London, ENG: Penguin Books. pp. 221–22. ISBN 978-1-8-4614377-9. Whatever else was taking place at the court of the Second Dynasty of kings, it is clear that the fundamental institutions of pharaonic government, its systems of supply, not only survived throughout that century and a half, but flourished to the extent that, when the kings emerge into the light of history again with the pyramid builders of the Third Dynasty, the state on the lower Nile was more efficient than it had ever been: that there was, therefore, strong institutional continuity.
  3. Bard, Kathryn A. (2002) [2000]. "Chapter 4 — The Emergence of the Egyptian State". In Shaw, Ian (ed.). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (paperback) (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-19-280293-4. There is much less evidence for the kings of the 2nd Dynasty than those of the 1st Dynasty until the last two reigns (Peribsen and Khasekhemwy). Given what is known about the early Old Kingdom in the 3rd Dynasty, the 2nd Dynasty must have been a time when the economic and political foundations were put in place for the strongly centralized state, which developed with truly vast resources. Such a major transition, however, cannot be demonstrated from the archaeological evidence for the 2nd Dynasty.
  4. Kahl, Jochem (2007), "Ra is my Lord", Searching for the Rise of the Sun God at the Dawn of Egyptian History, Wiesbaden{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link).
  5. Von der Way, Thomas (1997), "Zur Datierung des "Labyrinth-Gebäudes" auf dem Tell el-Fara'in (Buto)", Göttinger Miszellen, 157: 107–11.