HOTEPSEKHEMWY, THE 1ST KING OF EGYPT'S 2ND DYNASTY
by Jimmy Dunn
Perhaps because it does not have the prestige of the 1st
Dynasty, or the great monuments built during the 3rd
Dynasty, Egypt's 2nd Dynasty seems almost an interlude. It
is doubtful that Egyptologists have put the effort into this
era that they have the dynasties before and after it.
Regardless, it would seem that the 2nd Dynasty must have
been a time when the economic and political foundations were
put in place for a strong centralized state, though our lack
of archaeological evidence does not support this conclusion.
Basically we know the names of the first three rulers of the
2nd Dynasty, Hotepsekhemwy, Raneb and Nynetjer, from
inscriptions on the back of a statue (now in the Egyptian
Antiquities Museum) of a priest named Hotep-dif (or perhaps,
more accurately, Redjit. Of the first of these rulers,
little is known. Hotepsekhemwy (Hetepsekhemwy) was this
king's Horus name, which means "Pleasing in Powers". His
birth name was Hotep which passed in the royal titulary as
both Nesut-bity and Nebty name of the Horus Hotepsekhemui.
We are told that his nebty name meant, "the Two Mistresses
are at peace", which implies that perhaps Upper and Lower
Egypt was once more united after a period of trouble. On the
other hand, it may have also been a proclamation of desire,
wishing the two powers to be at peace. It is fairly clear
that later in the dynasty, some troubles might have existed
between northern and southern Egypt. Manetho gave him a
reign of 38 years, though little has been found to
substantiate this claim, and there is little to show for
such a long reign. According to some modern sources, his
reign may have lasted for 15 to 25 years, with the absolute
dates being 2845 until 2825 BC. Evidence exists that
Hotepsekhemwy probably developed somewhat subtle and
reasonable changes in both religion and the administration
of Egypt. Seals bearing his name have been found near the
5th Dynasty pyramid of Unas at Saqqara, that may indicate he
had a tomb nearby, but it has not been specifically
identified. The seals are associated with two enormous
series of underground galleries. Two of the first three
kings of the dynasty may have been buried here, with the
third possibly in a substructure over which Djoser's Step
Pyramid was built.
Neither has a tomb for Hotepsekhemwy been found at Abydos,
nor any evidence to support a tomb there, though his
processors of the 1st Dynasty built tombs in that location.
Interestingly, however, seal impressions of Hotepsekhemwy
were discovered in the tomb of his predecessor, Qa'a,
leading the German Archaeological Institute at Cairo, the
team that excavated Qa'a's tomb to believe that Qa'a was
probably Hotepsekhemwy's father. Hence, there would not be a
break in the Dynasties for family reasons. However, some
scholars believe that there were rulers in between Qa'a and
Hotepsekhemwy, which would change the above assumptions.
While Manetho provides no reason for the dynastic change
between Qa'a and
Hotepsekhemwy, it may have been the result of a shift in the
royal power center to Memphis. Almost as a trivia note, we
will add that an earthquake took place in the vicinity of
Bubastis in the Nile Delta during this king's reign
according to Manetho.
Other items attesting to this king include a bone cylinder,
perhaps from Helwan, now in the Brooklyn Museum. It displays
the serekh of Hotepsekhemwy in simplified form but in sharp
detail. Two stone bowls inscribed with the name of
Hotepsekhemwy were also found by Reisner in Menkaura's
pyramid complex at Giza, while an alabaster vessel fragment
bearing his name was found in grave 3112 at Badari.
Hotepsekhemwy was succeeded by Reneb, where we first find
the inclusion of the sun god into the kings name. From
there, the religion of Egypt would transform into the basis
for the great pyramids.
Hotepsekhemwy (in Greek known as Boethos), was the first
of the Second dynasty of Egypt. His name means "Pleasing in
Powers." Little is known about his reign.
Pharaoh Hotepsekhemwy became ruler of Egypt through his
marriage to a daughter of the first dynasty king, Qa'a.
However it is not known whether he was related to the old
Thinite line of rulers. After Qa'a's death, Hotepsekhemwy
made offerings in his memory and was possibly responsible
for Qa'a's funeral. Seals with the name of "Hotepsekhemwy"
have been found outside the tomb of Qa'a at Abydos.
His tomb has been identified in Saqqara; the substructure
has survived, however nothing remains of the superstructure.
In Manetho's account, a chasm opened at Bubastis, causing
many to perish during the 38 year reign of Boethos. While
this may refer to a major earthquake, as Manetho wrote in
the third century BC, over two millennia after the king's
reign, the reliability of Manetho's information is
Hotepsekhemwy's son was Perneb, but Hotepsekhemwy's
successor was Raneb, who was his brother or another male
relative. - Wikipedia