First Dynasty of Egypt

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The First Dynasty of ancient Egypt (or Dynasty I[1], c. 3100 – c. 2890 BC) 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 Egyptian historical times. It is one of the two early dynasties of the so-called archaic period, a time at which power was centered at Thinis.


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

First Dynasty
Name Comments Dates
Narmer probably Menes on earlier lists starting c. 3130–3050 B.C.
Hor-Aha starting 3080 ± 30 B.C. (p = 0.32)[2]
Djer c. 3073–3036 B.C. 41 years
Djet 3008–2975?
Merneith the 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.[3] No detailed records of the first two dynasties have survived, except for the terse lists on the Palermo stone. 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."[4]

Human sacrifice as part of royal funerary practice[edit]

Human sacrifice was practiced as part of the funerary rituals associated with all of the pharaohs of the first dynasty.[5] 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.[5] 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.[5]


  1. ^ Kuhrt 1995, p. 118.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Qa'a and Merneith lists", Xoomer, IT: Virgilio .
  4. ^ "Early ship construction – Khufu's solar boat", Egypt (Timeline), IL: Reshafim, January 2001, retrieved October 29, 2008 .
  5. ^ a b c Shaw 2000, p. 68.


See also[edit]

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