Horus Bird (pharaoh)

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Horus Bird, also known as Horus-Ba, may have been a pharaoh who may have had a very short reign between the First and Second Dynasty of Egypt.

Name sources[edit]

There are very few reliable name sources for Horus-Bird. The first known attestation of this king may be a serekh with an undetailed bird found by Flinders Petrie in the tomb of Qa'a at Abydos. Another more legible inscription showing a serekh with a bird was later found on a vessel fragment PD IV n.108 in Djoser's pyramid complex at Saqqara. An inscription on a schist vase (P.D. IV n.97) from Djoser's pyramid complex could also refer to Horus-Bird.[1]

Since the hieroglyphic sign is written in such an erratic way, the correct reading remains uncertain. Whilst Egyptologists such as Wolfgang Helck and Peter Kaplony see a depiction of a goose, they read the name as Sa (which would make it a “Son of Horus”) or as Geb(eb) (which would make it an "Heir of Horus").[1] Egyptologist Nabil Swelim instead sees a depiction of a saddle-billed stork and reads Ba (making it a “Soul of Horus”).[2]


Very little is known about King Horus-Bird. The few archaeological evidences point to the existence of one or more ephemeral rulers following Qa'a's death and before Hotepsekhemwy of which Horus-Bird may have been one.

Egyptologists such as Jaroslav Černý and Kaplony think that Horus-Bird could be identical to the likewise sparsely attested King Horus-Ba. Indeed, this ruler wrote his name with the leg sign or the leg and ram signs, which read "Ba". Černý and Kaplony think that the bird in the serekh of Horus-Bird is the goose sign with the same transcription, "Ba".[3] In this case Horus-Ba and Horus "Bird" could be the same historical figure. Černý and Kaplony's theory is not commonly accepted; the presence of the Horus-Bird serekh in the tomb of Qa'a pointing rather to an interregnum with Horus-Bird between the first and second dynasties.

Egyptologists such as Wolfgang Helck and Peter Kaplony believe that Horus Bird and Sneferka fought each other to gain the throne of Egypt. The struggles peaked in the plundering of the royal cemetery of Abydos, which was therefore abandoned. The struggle for the throne was possibly brought to an end by the founder of the 2nd dynasty, king Hotepsekhemwy. A piece of evidence supporting this theory is the Horus name of Hotepsekhemwy which means "The two powers are reconciled", and could relate to a re-unification of the Egyptian realm after a period of discord.[4][5][6]

Horus-Bird's burial site is unknown.


  1. ^ a b Wolfgang Helck: Geschichte des Alten Ägypten. Brill, Leiden 1981, ISBN 9789004064973, page 34-35.
  2. ^ Nabil Swelim: Some Problems on the History of the Third Dynasty. In: Archaeological and Historical Studies, vol. 7. The Archaeological Society of Alexandria, Alexandria 1983
  3. ^ Peter Kaplony: Horus Ba?. In: Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Institut Kairo. Volume 20. von Zabern, Mainz 1965, page 3 & 4.
  4. ^ Peter Kaplony: „Er ist ein Liebling der Frauen“ – Ein „neuer“ König und eine neue Theorie zu den Kronprinzen sowie zu den Staatsgöttinnen (Kronengöttinnen) der 1./2. Dynastie. In: Manfred Bietak: Ägypten und Levante. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien 2006 ISBN 978-3-7001-6668-9; page 126–127.
  5. ^ Dietrich Wildung: Die Rolle ägyptischer Könige im Bewußtsein ihrer Nachwelt. page 36–41.
  6. ^ Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit. (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Vol. 45). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 3-447-02677-4; page 117

External links[edit]

Preceded by Pharaoh of Egypt Succeeded by