Explore / Articles


The early kings of Egypt (2920-2649 BC)

The earliest kings of Egypt were those of the First and Second Dynasties. Menes is the first king to be recorded in Egyptian kinglists. Although there is no archaeological evidence for him, he is perhaps a mythical mixture of several of the earliest kings, such as Scorpion, Narmer and Aha. Little is known of Narmer and his successors, due to the lack of substantial texts. The high point of the First Dynasty came under king Den, who led many campaigns and established a flourishing foreign trade. It seems that Egypt again became divided during the Second Dynasty, but was reunited by Khasekhemwy. He built two huge enclosures (one at Abydos and one at Hierakonpolis), which are the oldest standing mud brick structures in the world and the use of bronze may have been introduced during his reign.

Most of the evidence for the early kings of Egypt comes from the royal cemeteries at Abydos and Saqqara. Each royal tomb consisted of a burial pit surmounted by a rectangular brick structure. The structure held the burial equipment of the king: pottery vessels containing food and drink, clothing, jewellery and other possessions. Some of the earliest examples of writing in Egypt are on small ivory labels used to identify these items. The labels often included a reference to an event in the reign of the king.

Shop Online

Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99

Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99