Biography of Semerkhet


According to Cairo Fragment CF1 of the Annals Stone, Horus Semerkhet was the son of a woman named Batirset. As this name is not attested by any contemporary sources, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the identity of the king’s mother and thus also about Semerkhet’s father. 
Assuming that succession went from father to son, Semerkhet may have been the son of his predecessor, Anedjib. There are, however, no sources that confirm this hypothesis.
As was the case with Anedjib, the names of any wives or children of Semerkhet are not known.

According to Manetho this king ruled for 18 year, while the Turin King-List credits him with as much as 72 years.
Cairo Fragment CF1 leaves no doubt as to the length of the reign of Semerkhet: 9 year cells record the primary rituals or events that occurred under this king, from his ascension to the throne to his death, leaving him a reign of about 8 and a half years.

It has often been assumed that Semerkhet may have been a usurper, but there is no evidence to support this theory, neither in archaeological nor in historical sources. On the contrary, several sources list him along with Anedjib and his successor Qa’a, showing that his successors accepted him as the rightful king.

A year label from the reign of Horus Semerkhet.

A year label from the reign of Horus Semerkhet.

Semerkhet was buried in Tomb U, a relatively small tomb built to the south of the tomb of Den. That he chose a burial next to Den rather than Anedjib, who built his tomb to the west of Djet’s, may indicate that he was related more closely to Den than to Anedjib.

© Jacques Kinnaer 1997 - 2017