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Senedj (also known as Sened and Sethenes) is the name of an early Egyptian king (pharaoh) who may have ruled during the 2nd dynasty. His historical standing remains uncertain, as there are no contemporary records about Senedj. The earliest mention of his name appears during the 4th dynasty. The exact duration of Senedj's reign is unknown. The Turin Canon credits him with a reign of 70 years,[1] the ancient Greek historian Manetho suggests a reign of 41 years.[2] Egyptologists question both statements and consider them to be misinterpretations or exaggerations.

Name sources[edit]

The earliest source referring to king Senedj dates back to the beginning or middle of the 4th dynasty. The name, written in a cartouche, appears in the inscription on a false door belonging to the mastaba tomb of the high priest Shery at Sakkara. Shery held the title “overseer of all wab-priests of king Peribsen in the necropolis of king Senedj”, “Great one of the ten of Upper Egypt” and “god´s servant of Senedj”. Senedj's name is written in archaic form and set in a cartouche, which is an anachronism, since the cartouche itself was not used until the end of 3rd dynasty under king Huni.[3][4]

The coffin of an unknown royal female, dating to the beginning of the 18th dynasty, is a further name source. The coffin inscription lists several kings' names, beginning with king Senedj, followed by a destroyed name. Then the list continues with Antef (Intef III), Mentuhotep II, Senusret II, Senusret III, Sekhaenre and Ahmose I. The coffin was found by Luigi Vassalli in tomb T100.2 at Dra' Abu el-Naga'.[5]

Senedj's name is included in the kinglists of the ramesside era, although it is written in different ways. While the kinglist of Abydos imitates the archaic form, the royal canon of Turin and the kinglist of Sakkara form the name with the hieroglyphic sign of a plucked goose.

The latest mention of Senedj's name appears on a small bronze statuette in the shape of a kneeling king wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and holding incense burners in its hands. Additionally the figurine wears a belt which has Senedj's name carved at the back.[6][7]

Egyptologist Peter Munro has written a report about the existence of a mud seal inscription showing the cartouche name Nefer-senedj-Ra, which he thinks to be a version of “Senedj”,.[8]


detail of the false door inscription of Shery mentioning Senedj (left) and Peribsen (right)[9]

The horus name of Senedj remains unknown. The false door inscription of Shery might indicate that Senedj is identical with king Seth-Peribsen and that the name "Senedj" was brought into the kinglists, because a seth-name was not allowed to be mentioned.[10][11] Other Egyptologists, such as Wolfgang Helck and Dietrich Wildung, are not so sure and believe that Senedj and Peribsen were different rulers. They point out that the false door inscription has the names of both strictly separated from each other. Additionally Wildung thinks that Senedj donated an offering chapel to Peribsen in his necropolis.[12][13] This theory is questioned by Helck and Hermann A. Schlögl, who point to the clay seals of king Sekhemib found in the entrance area of Peribsen´s tomb, which might prove that Sekhemib buried Peribsen, not Senedj.[14]


Egyptologists such as Wolfgang Helck, Nicolas Grimal, Hermann Alexander Schlögl and Francesco Tiradritti believe that king Ninetjer, the third ruler of 2nd dynasty, left a realm that was suffering from an overly complex state administration and that Ninetjer decided to split Egypt to leave it to his two sons (or, at least, two chosen successors) who would rule two separate kingdoms, in the hope that the two rulers could better administer the states.[15][16] In contrast, Egyptologists such as Barbara Bell believe that an economic catastrophe such as a famine or a long lasting drought affected Egypt. Therefore, to better address the problem of feeding the Egyptian population, Ninetjer split the realm into two and his successors founded two independent realms until the famine came to an end. Bell points to the inscriptions of the Palermo stone, where, in her opinion, the records of the annual Nile floods show constantly low levels during this period.[17] Bell´s theory is refuted today by Egyptologists such as Stephan Seidlmayer, who corrected Bell's calculations. Seidlmayer has shown that the annual Nile floods were at usual levels at Ninetjer's time up to the period of the Old Kingdom. Bell had overlooked that the heights of the Nile floods in the Palermo stone inscription only takes into account the measurements of the nilometers around Memphis, but not elsewhere along the river. Any long-lasting drought can therefore be excluded.[18]

It is also unclear if Senedj already shared his throne with another ruler, or if the Egyptian state was split at the time of his death. All known kinglists such as the Sakkara list, the Turin canon and the Abydos table list a king Wadjenes as predecessor of Senedj. After Senedj, the kinglists differ from each other in respect of the successors. While the Sakkara list and the Turin canon mention the kings Neferka(ra), Neferkasokar and Hudjefa I as immediate successors, the Abydos list skips them and lists a king Djadjay (identical with king Khasekhemwy). If Egypt was already divided when Senedj gained the throne, kings like Sekhemib and Peribsen would have ruled Upper Egypt, whilst Senedj and his successors, Neferka(ra) and Hudjefa I, would have ruled Lower Egypt. The division of Egypt was brought to an end by king Khasekhemwy.[19]


It is unknown where Senedj was buried. Toby A. Wilkinson assumes that the king might have been buried at Sakkara. To support this view, Wilkinson makes the observation that mortuary priests in earlier times were never buried too far away from the king for whom they had practised the mortuary cult. Wilkinson thinks that one of the Great Southern Galleries within the Necropolis of King Djoser (3rd dynasty) was originally Senedj's tomb.[20]


  1. ^ Alan H. Gardiner: The Royal Canon of Turin. Griffith Institute of Oxford, Oxford (UK) 1997, ISBN 0-900416-48-3; page 15 & Table I.
  2. ^ William Gillian Waddell: Manetho (The Loeb Classical Library, Volume 350). Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.) 2004 (Reprint), ISBN 0-674-99385-3, page 37–41.
  3. ^ Auguste Mariette: Les mastabas de l’Ancien Empire. Paris 1885, page 92–94
  4. ^ Werner Kaiser: Zur Nennung von Sened und Peribsen in Sakkara, In: Göttinger Miszellen, no. 122, (1991), page 49–55.
  5. ^ F. Tiradritti: Luigi Vassalli and the Archaeological Season at Western Thebes (1862-3), In M. Marée (editor): The Second Intermediate Period (Thirteenth-Seventeens Dynasties), Current Research, Future Prospects, Leuven, Paris, Walpole, MA, 2010, ISBN 978-90-429-2228-0, page 334
  6. ^ Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit. (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Volume 45), Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 3-447-02677-4, page 103-106
  7. ^ Dietrich Wildung: Die Rolle ägyptischer Könige im Bewusstsein ihrer Nachwelt. Part I (Münchener Ägytologische Studien 17). Deutscher Kunstverlag, München/Berlin 1969, page 45
  8. ^ Peter Munro: Nefer-Senedj-Ra, In: Orientalia; Band 57 (1988); page 330.
  9. ^ Auguste Mariette: Les mastabas de l' ancien empire. S. 92-94; (online).
  10. ^ Kenneth Anderson Kitchen: Ramesside Inscriptions. page 234–235
  11. ^ Jürgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen.. Deutscher Kunstverlag, München/Berlin 1984, ISBN 3-422-00832-2, page 171.
  12. ^ Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit. page 105-106.
  13. ^ Dietrich Wildung: Die Rolle ägyptischer Könige im Bewusstsein ihrer Nachwelt. page 45.
  14. ^ Hermann Alexander Schlögl: Das Alte Ägypten. page 77-78 & 415.
  15. ^ Nicolas Grimal: A History of Ancient Egypt. Wiley-Blackwell, Weinheim 1994, ISBN 978-0-631-19396-8, page 55.
  16. ^ Francesco Tiradritti & Anna Maria Donadoni Roveri: Kemet: Alle Sorgenti Del Tempo. Electa, Milano 1998, ISBN 88-435-6042-5, page 80–85.
  17. ^ Barbara Bell: Oldest Records of the Nile Floods, In: Geographical Journal, No. 136. 1970, page 569–573; M. Goedike: Journal of Egypt Archaeology, No. 42. 1998, page 50.
  18. ^ Stephan Seidlmayer: Historische und moderne Nilstände: Historische und moderne Nilstände: Untersuchungen zu den Pegelablesungen des Nils von der Frühzeit bis in die Gegenwart. Achet, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-9803730-8-8, page 87–89.
  19. ^ Hermann Alexander Schlögl: Das Alte Ägypten: Geschichte und Kultur von der Frühzeit bis zu Kleopatra. Beck, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-406-54988-8, page 77-78 & 415.
  20. ^ Toby Wilkinson: Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge, London/New York 1999, ISBN 0-415-18633-1, page 88 - 89.

External links[edit]

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Pharaoh of Egypt Succeeded by