Vessel found at Tarkhan bearing the serekh of king Ka. Petrie Museum, London
|Pharaoh of Egypt|
|Reign||32nd century BC, Dynasty 0|
|Successor||Narmer (most likely) or Scorpion II|
|Burial||Chambers B7, B9, Umm el-Qa'ab|
Ka, also (alternatively) Sekhen, was a Predynastic pharaoh of Upper Egypt belonging to Dynasty 0. He probably reigned during the first half of the 32nd century BCE. The length of his reign is unknown.
The correct reading of Ka's name remains uncertain. There are vessel inscriptions which show a serekh with a typical Ka-symbol, both written upright correctly, but there are also inscriptions presenting an upright serekh with an upside-down Ka-symbol inside. The second form of that writing indicates a reading as Sekhen (meaning ‘to embrace s.o.’) rather than Ka. It was also thought to be the birth name of Narmer. Because the reading of the name is so uncertain, egyptologists and writing experts such as Ludwig David Morenz prefer a neutral reading as ‘King Arms’.
Ka ruled over Thinis in the first half of 32nd century BCE and was buried at Umm el-Qa'ab. He most likely was the immediate successor to Iry-Hor and was succeeded either by Narmer or by Scorpion II. He is the earliest known Egyptian king with a serekh inscribed on a number of artifacts. This may thus be an innovation of his reign. Ka is one of the best attested predynastic kings with Narmer and Scorpion II. Beyond Abydos, he is attested in the predynastic necropolis of Adaima in Upper Egypt and in the north in Tarkhan, Helwan, Tell Ibrahim Awad, Wadi Tumilat and as far north as Tel Lod in the Southern Levant.
The number of artifacts bearing Ka's serekh found outside Abydos is much greater than that of his predecessor. This may be the sign of an increasing influence and perhaps conquest of larger portions of Egypt by the Thinite kings.
Two underground chambers, B7 and B9, in the Umm el-Qa'ab necropolis of Abydos are believed to be part of the tomb of king Ka. Each chamber is 1.90 m deep, B.7 is 6.0 × 3.2 m while B.9 is slightly smaller with 5.9 x 3.1 m; the two chambers are separated by 1.80 m.
Ka's tomb was first excavated by Petrie in 1902. The excavations yielded fragments of flint knife and pottery. In the southernmost chamber B7, more than forty inscriptions have been found on tall jars and cylinder vessels as well as a seal impression. The tomb of Ka (B7, B9) is close to that of Iry-Hor (B1, B2) and Narmer (B17, B18). Furthermore it is located within a sequential order linking the older "U" cemetery with the First Dynasty tombs, thus suggesting that Ka succeeded Iry-Hor and preceded Narmer on the throne.
Seal impression with Ka's serekh. Note the absence of the Horus falcon. British Museum.
Ka's tomb in the Umm el-Qa'ab
- Michael Rice, Who's Who in Ancient Egypt, Routledge 1999, p.86
- Toby Wilkinson: Early Dynastic Egypt. page 57–59.
- Peter Kaplony: Kleine Beiträge zu den Inschriften der ägyptischen Frühzeit. In: MDAIK No. 38, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Orient-Abteilung (Hrsg.). von Zabern, Berlin 1982, page 221 & 229.
- Elise Jenny Baumgartel: Some remarks on the origins of the titles of the Archaic Egyptian Kings. In: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. No. 61, Egypt Exploration Society, London 1975, page 31.
- Ludwig David Morenz: Bild-Buchstaben und symbolische Zeichen. page 106–108.
- Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, p.71
- Toby A. H. Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge 1999, pp.57f.
- N. Grimal, BIFAO 99, 1999, 451
- Raffaele, Francesco. "Dynasty 0".
- Thomas Gilroy: Forgotten" Serekhs in the Royal Ontario Museum. In: Göttinger Miszellen. Nr. 180. Ägyptologisches Seminar der Universität Göttingen, Göttingen 2001, ISSN 0344-385X, S. 67–76, Fig. 2, Tafel I b.
- Winfried Barta, Zur Namensform und zeitlichen Einordnung des Königs Ro, in: GM 53, 1982, 11–13.
- Toby A. H. Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge, London/New York 1999, ISBN 0-415-18633-1