The word pharao [ pərro ] ( the ‘h’ was added by the translators of the King James Bible which used “Pharaoh” with “h” from the Hebrew) , is first recorded in English in 843 ;and was not used widely until the annexation of Egypt by the Romans in 3150BCE.
Between the 19th dynasty and the 18th Dynasty ‘King’ was used. In earlier dynasties ancient Egyptian kings used to have three titles. Horus, Sedge and bee [nswt-bjtj] and Two Ladies or Nebty [nbtj]
Pharao means “Great House” and the hieroglyph below shows the form from the New Kingdom ( 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties).
Sometime during the era of the New Kingdom, ‘pharao’ became the form of address for a person who was king. The earliest confirmed instance used specifically to address the ruler is in a letter to Akhenaten (reigned c. 1353–1336 BCE)
In Egyptian society religion was central, and the pharao owned ALL the land in Egypt, officiated over laws, collected taxes and defended Egypt from invaders as the commander in chief of the army . The Pharao was responsible for maintaining ‘Maat‘. or cosmic order, balance and justice (part of this including going to war when they though this would maintain the ‘Maat‘. such as to obtain resources). The red and white crown shown on paintings and objects represented lower and upper Egypt respectively. After unification the ‘Pschent‘ – a combination of the two crowns was the official crown of kings was used sometime during the era of the New Kingdom.
In the Beginning.. Magic
The ancient creation myth that the Egyptians believed told of the god Atum who created the world out of chaos using his own magic. Now we get a little ‘Harry Potter’ here because the Ancient Egyptians believed the earth was created using Magic, and they thought it therefore follows that there was magic in the world; and magic was imbued on every living thing.
This is perhaps why they valued the wonder of flowers- they were indeed magical. They also believed when humans were created that magic, took the form of the soul; an eternal force which resided in and with every human being.
” The Egyptians believed that the human personality had many facets—a concept that was probably developed early in the Old Kingdom. In life, the person was a complete entity, but if he had led a virtuous life, he could also have access to a multiplicity of forms that could be used in the next world. In some instances, these forms could be employed to help those whom the deceased wished to support or, alternately, to take revenge on his enemies”.Rosalie David, Egyptologist, University of Manchester
Magic Menes – The First Pharao
Around 3100 BC Menes (or Narmer ) united the regions of upper and lower Egypt firstly from Thini near Abydos (about 11 kilometres west of the Nile near the modern Egyptian towns of El Araba El Madfuna and El Balyana).
In the ancient Egyptian language, the city was called Abdju near the palace at Memphis, built during the period 3150 – c. 2890 BC . Here it was believed to be the place where Osiris was buried. Osiris from Egyptian is the god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation in ancient Egyptian religion. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned deity and first worshiped around Abydos one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt.
Menes is credited with introducing papyrus and writing. some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found were on the Narmer Pallete. When you were a god-king you had a Cartouche. Cartouches are ovals with a line at one end at right angles to the oval, indicating that the text enclosed is a ‘royal name’. In a long gallery in the palace near Abydos , leading to other rooms is a relief showing Seti and his son Ramses making offerings to the cartouches of 76 of their dead predecessors, -beginning with Menes. This is the so-called Abydos list of kings. Menes’ cartouche is shown above on the second slide. together with the kings list and painting from the Seti tomb.
The First Dynasty
Menes married the princess Neithhotep of Naqada in an alliance to strengthen ties between the two cities she was named after Neith (Nit, Net, Neit) who was an ancient goddess of war and weaving. She was the patron goddess of the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and the city of Zau, and was often considered to be the mother of Sobek, the crocodile god. In the Pyramid texts in Unas’ tomb she is given the epithet “Nurse of Crocodiles”. Neithhotep was the first Pharao to be named after this Goddess; the name Neithhotep , Neith means – ‘ is satisfied’.
Often in Ancient Egyptian culture whoever is written about or writing the history harks back to the person who the piece was honoring. So often its difficult to pin down authorship and separate individual histories, persons or biographies.
Perhaps Menes was a real Pharao, a personification of Menes and Narmer or perhaps they were two names for the same person.
The Menes Family Tree
Great Grandfather – King Crocodile The motif of the seals that bear his name is water and a crocodile. Several seal impressions found show a crawling crocodile and a rope curl beneath it and reads Shendjw (“the subduer”).
Grandfather – Iry-Hor the oldest ruler of Egypt his tomb was excavated by Petrie in 1902. Iry-Hor’s name is written with the Horus falcon hieroglyph.
Father – Ka (Soul) Ka was the first king to put his name in a serekh as a signal of kingship His tomb was excavated in 1902, where burial goods were found with the pharaoh’s name on them.
The Book of the Dead, ( the collection of spells which aided a person in the afterlife), had the Egyptian name The Book of Coming Forth by Day or Book of Emerging Forth into the Light. “Book” is the closest term to describe the loose collection of texts consisting of a number of magic spells intended to assist a dead person’s journey through the Duat. Perhaps Menes is walking among his flowers in his garden as I write.
In the End
Our first Earthly Pharao, Menes received the throne from Horus, the sky god and protector and patron of the pharaoh. Menes was the first Earthly pharao of the first dynasty, with whom the human history of Egypt began; he had been ‘implanted’ directly by the gods unifying Lower and Upper Egypt. He brought writing, art, agriculture and craft techniques and he diverted rivers:
According to the Turin Papyrus and the History of Herodotus, he is also the founding father of Memphis—the capital of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom; Herodotus claimed that Menes was responsible for the draining of the plain by building a dam in order to build Memphis. His Kings record was an impressive one.
(Click here for another impressive ‘Kings Record’ from Memphis ! )
Here the history of Egypt’s first pharao began with a god and ended with a hippopotamus. Because according to Manetho, Menes reigned for 62 years and was probably killed by a hippopotamus. Hippopotami were seen as extremely dangerous and yet endowed with many positive qualities -maybe a fitting end for a god-king,
However Menes died is part of his legend, with the hippopotamus version being only one possibility.
The death of Pharaoh Menes after a wasp sting in 2600 BC is reported to be the first account of an anaphylactic reaction This, now largely unchallenged, truth is supposedly documented by hieroglyphs on his sarcophagus and tomb….Krombach, J.W., Kampe, S., Keller, C.A., & Wright, P.M. (2004). Pharaoh Menes’ death after an anaphylactic reaction – the end of a myth. Allergy, 59.
There are no written records that King Menes shouted:
An EpiPen !,n EpiPen! , my kingdom for an EpiPen!
Diodorus Siculus wrote that Menes’ reign of 62 years was so prosperous that the Egyptians did not have to work as hard as they used to and so developed hobbies; such as carving sculpting, sports, brewing beer, cultivating private gardens and living in luxury. In fact that he claims Menes invented the whole concept of ‘Luxury’, Diodorus Siculus also recorded a story of Menes related by the priests of the crocodile god Sobek at Crocodilopolis, in which the pharaoh Menes, attacked by his own dogs while out hunting, fled across Lake Moeris on the back of a crocodile and, in thanks, founded the city of Crocodilopolis
A.Waddell, an interpreter of hieroglyphs, wrote a book where Menes is said to have travelled very widely and had tremendous influences on many cultures. On one of these voyages was to the British Isles.
Whether a wasp or a hippopotamus ended Egypt’s first Pharao he lives on in the myths and legends of ancient Egypt’s writings.
To the Egyptians, the heart was the key to the afterlife, therefore, was considered the most important organ in the body. They believed it was the source of wisdom, emotion, and memory.
With Valentines day fast approaching maybe you would like to have a cartouch of your loved ones name or just like the Ancient Egyptian couples in love did ; use nicknames such as :
- ‘The cat-like one’, ‘
- The much sought after one’,
- ‘She (who is) hot-tempered like a leopard’.
But remember the Ancient Egyptian saying
“If you marry a monkey for his wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains as is.”Ancient Egyptian Saying
If you would like your loved ones name written in hieroglyphs,
‘invented’ by Menes the god-king check out our
Personalised Hieroglyphs Valentines Card
Click below on our logo to go to our shop