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Merneith
Merneith

Tomb stela of Merneith from the Umm el-Qa'ab.

Dynasty 1st Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) Djer
Djet
Den
Titles King's Mother
Foremost of Women
Father Djer (?)
Spouse(s) Djet (?)
Issue Den
Burial Tomb Y at Umm el-Qa'ab

Merneith ("Beloved of Neith")[1] was the possible wife of Djet and the mother of the Pharaoh Den and was originally thought a male Pharaoh, given the name Merneith.[2] The idea of her marriage to Djet is yet unproven.[3] She held the Titles of King's Mother and Foremost of Women and is known to have been buried in Tomb Y at Umm el-Qa'ab.[2][4] There are some that believe Djer could have been her father due to artefacts linking her to Djer, Djet and Den.[2]

Reign[]

Merneith is not mentioned on the later King Lists compiled during the Eighteenth Dynasty however she is mentioned on the Palermo Stone as Kings Mother and it is due to this that consensus is that after the death of Djet she ruled on behalf of her infant child Den until he was old enough to rule. Her name is also found within a serekh from Tomb S3503 at Saqqara which held on of her officials.[2][4]

We know that she is definitely the mother of Den as a necropolis (Umm el-Qa'ab) seal from the tomb of Den names her as his mother[4] and another seal from the necropolis shows all of the rulers of the First Dynasty and included Merneith in its list, however again she is listed as King's Mother and not directly as a Pharaoh.[3]

Her tomb does not mention the Royal Domain of Ḥr-sḫnti-ḏw which is known to have existed into Den's reign. However she is known to have established the domain of Tpi-t-w and Ḥr-tpi-ẖt. Sealing from her tomb mention the estate Ḥwt iḥw, overseen by Amka. More seals from her tomb dating to the beginning of Den's reign mention 'pr-ḥḏ' (White House) which is an early, and the first attestation of the treasury. Another seal mentions a department responsible for raising and maybe slaughtering pigs. Another mentions for the first time the position of Mayor 'ḥ3ti' with the name Sekhka attributed with it. It is thought the domain of W3ḏ-ḥr was disbanded by her after the death of Sekhemkasedj, possibly replaced with Ḥr-tpi-ẖt. Yet more sealing's bears an Egyptian name with an early mentioning of the god Khnum, Khnumhotep. Sealings have also been found with early depictions of Wepwawet.[3]

Notable Artefacts[]

  • Sealing's of Amka were found in her tomb.[3]
  • Two raised relief with her name were found near her tomb.[3]
  • Un-provenanced alabaster cylinder vessel bearing name.[3]
  • Three vessel fragments and a small ivory vessel from Saqqara bearing her name.[3]

References[]

  1. Tyldesley, J. (2011) Myths & Legends of Ancient Egypt Glasgow: Ellipsis Books Limited.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Tyldesley, J. (2006) The Complete Queens of Egypt Cairo: American University Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Wilkinson, T.A.H. (2001) Early Dynastic Egypt London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Dodson, A & Hilton, D. (2005) The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 9774249577
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