Biography of Merneith

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The name of Merneith is linked to that of three kings of the 1st Dynasty: Djer, Djet and Den. Her relationship with the latter is clear, as some sources grant her the title of “King’s Mother”, one of the oldest known attestations of this title.
She is assumed to have been a wife of Djet, who may also have been her brother or half-brother if both were children of Djer. The name of her mother is not known.

She is the only queen buried in a tomb indistinguishable from the king’s tombs at Umm el-Qa’ab. The impression of a seal dated to the reign of Den or his immediate successor, Anedjib, which lists the kings buried at this site, includes Merneith, along with her title “King’s Mother” just after Horus Den. 
Another seal impression also found at Umm el-Qa’ab places her name inside a
serekh, evidence that at one point in her life, it was she who actually ruled the country.

She attained royal power as queen-regent after the death of Djet when her son Den became king at a very young age. As queen-regent who ruled in the place of her son, she would not be included in the later king-lists, yet Den honoured her role by granting her a burial and funerary cult worthy of a king.


© Jacques Kinnaer 1997 - 2017