the last king of second dynasty, Early Dynastic period. According to the Turin Canon, he ruled for twenty-seven years. During the first part of his reign as Hor Khasekhem (“Appearance of the Power”) he controlled Upper Egypt only—like his predecessor Peribsen—and he resided at Hierakonpolis. A large funerary enclosure (the “fort”) indicates that he intended to be buried there, but no tomb has been located. In the temple area, a fragment of a stela showing a victory over Nubia, three stone vessels with year names (“victory over the papyrus people, unification of Egypt”), as well as two statues (now in Cairo and Oxford) were discovered (Quibell et al. 1900–1902). The scenes on the base of the statues also refer to the victory over Lower Egypt mentioning 47,209 slain northeners (probably a census number). Following this victory, Upper and Lower Egypt became reunited, the king altered his name to Hor-Seth Khasekhemwy (“Appearance of the Two Powers”), and changed his residence to Memphis.

Rainer Stadelmann suggests (Die Ägyptischen Pyramiden, 3d ed., 1997, p. 37) that Khasekhemwy's tomb is actually to be identified with the western massives of the Djoser complex at Saqqara. It is more likely, however, that he was buried at Abydos where he built another large funerary enclosure, Shunet el-Zebib, near the cultivated area, and a tomb with fifty-eight chambers at Umm el-Qaab (Petrie 1901). During the first excavation of this tomb in 1896/97 Émile Amélineau found two skeletons in the vicinity of the central limestone chamber. As there are no subsidiary burials, one of these might be the remains of the king.

Investigations by the German Institute show Khasekhemwy's tomb to have undergone several building stages. The first was a copy of the tomb of Peribsen, which was later enlarged by storeroom galleries similar to the second dynasty tombs at Saqqara. A stela from the tomb was discovered at the modern village.

Khasekhemwy's wife was Ni-maat-Hapi. Her name “the maat belongs to [the Memphite] Apis [bull],” points to her origin from Lower Egyptian. She outlived him and contributed to his funerary equipment at Abydos together with their son Djoser (Hor Netrj-khet), who succeeded as first king of the third dynasty (Dreyer 1998).



  • Dreyer, Günter. “Der 1. König der 3. Dynastie.” In Fs. Rainer Stadelmann. Mainz, 1998.
  • Petrie, W. M. Flinders. The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, vol. 2. London, 1901; reprint, Oxford, 1975.
  • Quibell, James E., et al. Hierakonpolis. 2 vols. London, 1900–1902; reprint, London, 1989.

Günter Dreyer