The Second Dynasty of ancient Egypt (or Dynasty II, c. 2890 – c. 2686 BC) is the latter of the two dynasties of the Egyptian Archaic Period, when the seat of government was centred at Thinis. It is most known for its last ruler, Khasekhemwy, but is otherwise one of the most obscure periods in Egyptian history.
Second Dynasty of Egypt
|c. 2890 BC–c. 2686 BC|
|Common languages||Egyptian language|
|Religion||ancient Egyptian religion|
|Historical era||Bronze Age|
|c. 2890 BC|
|c. 2686 BC|
Though archaeological evidence of the time is very scant, contrasting data from the First and Third Dynasties indicates important institutional and economic developments during the Second Dynasty.
For the first three pharaohs, sources are fairly close in agreement and the order is supported by an inscription on the statuette of Hetepdief, who served in the mortuary cults of these three kings.
But the identity of the next few rulers is unclear. Surviving sources might be giving the Horus name or the Nebty name and the birth names of these rulers. They may also be entirely different individuals, or could be legendary names. This might never be resolved.
The following list contains various king names from different sources:
|Weneg / Wadjenes||Listed as the fourth king of the dynasty on the Turin, Saqqara and Abydos king lists.|
Only attested in Lower Egypt.
Weneg is generally accepted as a nebti (or throne) name and it is unknown what his horus name was.
Theorised to be the same person as Raneb, Sekhemib-Perenmaat or a completely separate king from the others of the Second dynasty.
|Senedj||Listed as the fifth king of the dynasty on the Turin, Saqqara and Abydos king lists.|
Horus name unknown.
May be identifiable with Horus Sa.
|Neferkara I||Only attested in later documents dated long after the time period of the Second dynasty.|
Listed as the sixth king of the dynasty in the Saqqara and Turin King lists, but omitted from the Abydos King List.
May have only ruled Lower Egypt.
|Neferkasokar||Only attested in later documents dated long after the time period of the Second dynasty.|
Listed as the seventh king of the dynasty in the Saqqara and Turin King lists, but omitted from the Abydos King List.
May have only ruled Lower Egypt.
|Hudjefa I||Name literally means "erased" or "missing", showing that this king's name was unknown or lost by the Nineteenth Dynasty.|
Listed as the eighth king of the dynasty on the Saqqara Tablet, but omitted from the Abydos King List.
May have only ruled Lower Egypt.
Theorised to be the same person as Peribsen and may have been deliberately omitted.
|Seth-Peribsen||Name connected to Seth deity rather than the traditional Horus.|
Attested by contemporary inscriptions, but not on later king lists.
Only attested in Upper Egypt.
|Sekhemib-Perenmaat||Attested by contemporary inscriptions, but not on later king lists.|
May be the same person as Seth-Peribsen or his immediate successor.
|Nubnefer||Birth name of a king, unknown placement.|
Name does not appear on any known official king lists.
May be birth name of Raneb or a completely separate ephemeral king who ruled at some point following Nynetjer's reign.
With the last ruler, the sources return to an agreement:
Manetho states Thinis was the capital, as in the First Dynasty, but the first three kings were buried at Saqqara, suggesting the center of power had moved to Memphis. Beyond this, little can be said about the events during this period as the annual records on the Palermo stone only survive to the end of the reign of Nebra and for parts of Nynetjer's. One important event, the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, might have occurred during the reign of Khasekhemwy as many Egyptologists read his name as "the Two Powers arise".
- Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. p. 480. ISBN 0-19-815034-2.
- Romer, John (2013) . "Chapter 18 – The Lost Dynasty". A History of Ancient Egypt. Vol. 1. London, ENG: Penguin Books. pp. 221–222. ISBN 978-1-8-4614377-9.
Whatever else was taking place at the court of the Second Dynasty of kings, it is clear that the fundamental institutions of pharaonic government, its systems of supply, not only survived throughout that century and a half, but flourished to the extent that, when the kings emerge into the light of history again with the pyramid builders of the Third Dynasty, the state on the lower Nile was more efficient than it had ever been: that there was, therefore, strong institutional continuity.
- Bard, Kathryn A. (2002) . "Chapter 4 – The Emergence of the Egyptian State". In Shaw, Ian (ed.). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (paperback) (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-19-280293-4.
There is much less evidence for the kings of the 2nd Dynasty than those of the 1st Dynasty until the last two reigns (Peribsen and Khasekhemwy). Given what is known about the early Old Kingdom in the 3rd Dynasty, the 2nd Dynasty must have been a time when the economic and political foundations were put in place for the strongly centralized state, which developed with truly vast resources. Such a major transition, however, cannot be demonstrated from the archaeological evidence for the 2nd Dynasty.
- Wilkinson, Toby A. H. (1999). Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge. p. 83. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
- Nicolas Grimal: A History of Ancient Egypt. Wiley-Blackwell, Weinheim 1994, ISBN 978-0-631-19396-8, p. 55.
- Wilkinson, Toby A. H. (1999). Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
- Wilkinson, Toby A. H. (1999). Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge. p. 87. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
- Kahl, Jochem (2007), "Ra is my Lord", Searching for the Rise of the Sun God at the Dawn of Egyptian History, Wiesbaden
- Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit. Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 978-3-447-02677-2, pp. 103–107.
- Von der Way, Thomas (1997), "Zur Datierung des "Labyrinth-Gebäudes" auf dem Tell el-Fara'in (Buto)", Göttinger Miszellen, 157: 107–111
- Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit: Ägyptologische Abhandlungen., Volume 45. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 3-447-02677-4, p. 125.
- Wilkinson, Toby A. H. (1999). Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
- Walter Bryan Emery: Ägypten - Geschichte und Kultur der Frühzeit. Fourier, Munich 1964, p. 106.
- Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thintenzeit. (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Volume 45), Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 3-447-02677-4, pp. 104–111, 183.
- Hermann A. Schlögl: Das Alte Ägypten. Geschichte und Kultur von der Frühzeit bis zu Kleopatra. Verlag C. H. Beck, München 2006, ISBN 3-406-54988-8, p. 78.
- I. E. S. Edwards: The early dynastic period in Egypt; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1964; p. 25.
- Wilkinson, Toby (1999). Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 0-415-26011-6.