Ancient Egypt Wiki
Preceded by:
Pharaoh of Egypt
1st Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Hellenized: Semempses
8½ years
Father Anedjib
Mother Betrest
Burial Umm el-Qa'ab

Semerkhet was the sixth pharaoh of Egypt's First Dynasty who ruled around 2925-2916 BC. Although little is known of his reign, Semerkhet seems to have had a difficult time as king judging by the records of Manetho. Semerkhet's name means "Thoughtful Friend."[1]


Semerkhet was a son of Pharaoh Anedjib and Queen Betrest[2] (also named Batirytes)[3][4]. It is possible that Semerkhet's successor Qa'a was his son, but another possibility is that Qa'a was a brother of Semerkhet and, therefore, Anedjib's son.


Manetho states that there were numerous disasters in Semerkhet's reign but he alleges that this was because Semerkhet was a usurper to the throne. It is considered that Semerkhet deliberately erased Anedjib's name from numerous artefacts, but Semerket's own name was later omitted from the Saqqara King List. He did, however, manage to build a much larger royal tomb than Anedjib despite his short 8 1/2 year reign. Semerkhet is only otherwise known from one or two contemporary artefacts and, more importantly, from the Palermo Stone Annals.


Although the third century BCE Egyptian priest Manetho records that this king ruled Egypt for eighteen years, and the Turin Canon (where he is called Semsem) suggests a reign of 72 years, these figures are considered less reliable than those in the 5th dynasty Palermo Stone. Toby Wilkinson, in his analysis of the Palermo Stone in Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt, specifically notes that Cairo Fragment One register III of this document gives: "Semerkhet 8 1/2 years (this figure is certain, since the entire reign is recorded [here]."[5]

Semerkhet's royal name, written in a serekh, was also preserved in this section of the document; hence, the nine-year reign can only belong to him. Wilkinson concludes that Semerkhet had a reign of 9 full or partial years.[6]

The only events listed on the Palermo Stone for his short reign appear to be religious observances. There is an ivory seal mentioning his name as well as that of Henuka, a dignitary who seems to have ministered to Semerkhet as well as to his successor, Qa'a.

Semerkhet is buried in Tomb U of the royal necropolis at Umm el-Qa'ab, near Abydos.


  1. Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd., p.16
  2. Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson
  3. Tombs at Abydos
  4. Betrest, 1st dynasty
  5. Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt: The Palermo Stone and Its Associated Fragments, (Kegan Paul International), 2000. pp.78 & 258
  6. Wilkinson, Royal Annals, p.80

Pharaoh of Egypt
First Dynasty