by  Francesco Raffaele

Click on the Kings' names to enter their pages

Horus Names
Abydos list
Saqqara list
Royal Canon
(Nwbnefer ?)
Wngsekhemwy (?)
(.____s ?)
Aaka or Neferka
Neferkaseker (8)
Peribsen (*)
Sekhemib-Perenmaat (*)
Sekhemjb Perjenmaat
Khasekhemwy - HotepNetjerwyimef
Nebty K. Nwbkhetsen
Bebety (°)

>see also the Table of Stone Vessels inscriptions (Dynasty I-IV)<

Notes to the table and Second Dynasty Overview :

-For possible contemporary reigns (Memphis and Abydos) of the followers of Ninetjer see below.
-Khasekhemwy is a Horus-Seth name; this king' s name had been Horus Khasekhem in the first part of his reign.

Nebwyhotepimef (or Hotep-Neterwy-im.f) is not the Nebty/Neswtbity of Khasekhemwy, but an additional epithet of his Horus name: the name Nebka, always linked to the following dynasty (in which it has many difficulties to be fit) might also have been Khasekhemwy's cartouche name (J.D. Degreef, pers. comm.) [see the page Nebka] even if there are at least three occurrences of "Nswtbity-Nebty Khasekhemwy" on stone vessels inscriptions. Furthermore Nebka is not only a NK list name for it appears also on contemporary documents, which unfortunately don't clarify the exact position and status of this king. But, after the known cartouches for the names of Sened, Neferkaseker and Peribsen, it seems strange that Khasekhem - Khasekhemwy ignored this new device in his titulary; notwithstanding possible contrasts with his predecessors which could have caused him to refuse some innovations of theirs, the cartouche did appear in Khasekhemwy's documents (a well known serie of stone vessels inscriptions) to encircle the name Besh. The suggestion Nebka = Khasekhem will be fully analyzed in the latter king's page. But it must be precised here that this is only an enlargement of the variouis possible positions that the name Nebka could have occupied, which span from Khasekhemwy to the reign before Huni. The terminus ante quem is the Abusir inscriptions in Berlin and the private Saqqara tomb S3345-6 of Akhetaa, in the end Third Dynasty or (more probably) beginning of the Fourth.
The name Nebty Khasekhemwy Nwbkhetsen has, in its second part, not a Goldname, but an additional epithet of the Nebty, like Nebwyhotepimef for the Horus name.

(°) Bbty on NK list of Saqqara and TC and DjaDjatepy on Abydos KL which have been attributed to Khasekhemwy on the grounds of a misinterpretation of the hieratic writing of the two vertical signs for sekhem + t (=kha) is a rather weak a path, for the latter sign is generally placed above (so before) the two vertical ones. On the other hand a better avenue to follow, could be that of Bbty <= Sekhemib: in the hieratic writing, the vertical signs for s and sekhem of this king's name, could have been misinterpreted for two b. But this must have occurred through many intermediate passages, for OK-MK-NK hieratic signs for s, sxm and ib are clearly distinguishable from b b t (and even less probable could have been an equivocal reading of b + b + t from xa + sxm + sxm).
Manetho's Kheneres should come from stg. like *Khenw-Ra/ Kha-n-Ra or, more probably, Ka-n..Ra which can't be satisfactorily applied to Khasekhemwy. The king Manetho places before Thosorthros (Djoser) is a Necherophes (Necherothes) who has been paralleled with Djoser's Horus name Netjerykhet. However Manetho's list is based on birth-names of the kings, not on Horus names. Furthermore Necherophes variant contains a f in its last syllable: could this be associated to an abredged rendering of Khasekhemwy's Horus name epithet Hotep-Netjerwy-im.f [(Htp)NTrw(y)(im).f = *Netjerwf + greek suff. es = Netjerwfes/Necherophes]? In this case Khasekhemwy would have been the foundator of the "Third Dynasty" in Manetho's dynastic system.
But it is highly doubtful that eg. nTr (= neter/ netjer) would have been rendered necher instead of nether, since Manetho's Binothris reprsents Ba(w)neter / Banetjeren = Njnetjer.
On the other hand Khasekhemwy's birth name could have been different from HtpNetrwyimef and Nbwkhetsen which are known for this king, and only if this name was Nebka, should Khasekhem be considered a proper Third Dynasty king (it would be right to consider him the foundator of the 3rd Dynasty, not much owing to his relations with Djoser or other historical/cultural motifs, but mostly for coherence with Manetho's system).
So the question of the birth name of Khasekhem(wy) and his 'dynastic' (in Manetho's sense) placement remains still open to debate.

(*) It is not certain whether Horus Sekhemib-Perenmaat changed name in Seth Peribsen/Neswtbity Peribsen.
Wildung and Barta identify Horus Sekhemib with Nswtbity-Nebty Wng and Seth Peribsen with Neswtbity Snd (I disagree).
Peribsen's position can indeed more likely considered as corresponding to the 'hudjefa' lacuna of later king lists.
A third chance, the one I do prefer, is that Sened, Sekhemib and Peribsen are three distinct rulers.
(See Dautzenberg in G.M. 96 p. 25-8 for an identification of the lacuna indication 'hudjefa' with the Manetho Cheneres and the name Chaires as a Greek alteration of King Khasekhemwy's). (Cfr. Kaplony 'Steingefasse' p. 69 ff for Sekhemib's position).
-Nefersenedjra's cartouche has been recently found on a brick block from Saqqara (Orientalia 57,1988, 330) in the area near the galleries of the tomb B (Ninetjer). Thus this is not a Horus name.
The cartouche would be the first known to us which was used for encircling a royal name, preceding an example of Nswtbity Neferkaseker and one of Nswtbity Peribsen. But none of the three can be dated to the Second Dynasty out of any doubt .
-Nwbnefer has never been found in relation with Nebra; B.Gunn (A.S.A.E. 28) proposed that this could be the nebty name of Nebra but this remains an hypothesis. According to Kaplony 'Neferneb' reigned between Wneg and Sened.
(stone vessel inscription "Hwt Mnt 'Ankh Nswt-bity NWBNFR").
- Wneg 's Horusname has been suggested by Helck to have been Za (39 times in Pyr.Deg.V ink inscriptions from Saqqara); however Kaplony (Steingefasse, 67) thinks that on Cairo 1 Annals' Fragment there could be the serekh of Wnegsekhemwy.

The second dynasty lasted about 120-150 years (compare c.190 years of the Ist dynasty and c. 75 (?) of the third).
On the Annals (Palermo stone,Cairo stone and related fragments) the supposed reconstructions (see Barta in Z.A.S. 108, 1981 p. 11-23 and bibl. in note 4; Helck 'Thinitenzeit 1987 p.125) agree in the placement of the second dynasty : it should start with Hotepsekhemwy at the beginning of the 4th line, on the right of the original wall, and end on the left side with the ephemeral reigns of the pre-Khasekhem lacunae; Khasekhem(wy)' s reign would occupy the first 30-35 years on the right hand beginning of the fifth line which would go on with Nebka and Djoser on the Palermo stone(see fig.2 below).
The total number of years in these hypothesized collocations of kings on the memphite annal stela would be 151.
The regnal years on the Turin Canon are preserved only for Neferkaseker (8), the lacuna (hudjefa-11), Bebty (27).
One of the main problems in these reconstructions is the period after Ninetjer's reign and before Khasekhem(wy)'s: except for the archaeologically sufficiently attested Sekhemib-Peribsen (probably the same individual),at least 4 other kings' names are known but the informations are very scanty as well as their relative position in the dynasty ; according to the cited reconstructions, extrapolations of the damaged parts of the original stela should have allotted circa 40 years compartment to this period; supposing an 11-20 years reign for Sekhemib-Peribsen (who is for some scholars to be identified with Sened , for others with the lacuna in the lists), other 20-29 years must be fulfilled with reigns of 4 or more short reigning kings.
Given the paucity of the material known for these rulers, it is rather logic to expect that further kings' names might be added in the next decades or at least we can hope that the position and titulary of Wneg, Sened, Aaka, Neferkaseker, Neferkara, Nubnefer will be solved by new findings. There's much to await for particularly at Saqqara from the Tomb B(Ninetjer) and from the still unexplored galleries beneath the Djoser complex's western massif and western side of the North court.
Very tempting is the hypothesis by W. Helck (Thinitenzeit 1987 p.105) that the Egyptian crown could have been voluntarily split into two by Horus Ninetjer who would have put a son to reign in Upper Egypt and another (Wng) in Lower Egypt; there would be therefore a contemporaneity of Memphite neswtbity-named kings and Abydene Horus/Seth-named kings.
In a recent article (KMT 1996) A. Dodson has proposed to shift the position of the Horus Ba and Horus Sneferka (who are known for few inscriptions on Djoser complex stone vessels and have been placed between Qaa and Hotepsekhemwy, as long as with another ruler whose name could be read Sekhet) to the obscure period of the second dynasty : but even the deepest analysis of the epigraphy and of the relevant subjects of their hieroglyphic inscriptions (W.Helck, Z.A.S. 106, 1979; id. Thinitenzeit 1987) such as royal estates and domains,can't assure us about which of the two possible positions in the chronology is the right one, therefore I prefer to consider the three mentioned rulers as Qa'a 's immediate successors. (Nevertheless problems do arise in this latter case for which see Sneferka page).

(Click on the Kings' names in the table above for a king by king history)

This is acknowledged as one of the least known dynasties of Ancient Egyptian History. The meagre consistence of data for this period can be reasonably ascribed to two principal factors: 1) uncertain political situation during the most of the reigns of that period; 2) scarcity of modern researches; thus the obvious result is the relative paucity of material sources.

The political sketch of this dynasty is very uncertain. We notice two periods which appear to have been of great prosperity and power, for the central authority seems to have been in full efficiency: the reigns of Ni-neter and Khasekhemwy, third and last rulers of the dynasty. Their reigns have relatively abundant documentary attestations and must be looked at as moments of splendour and cultural progress. These two were the longest reigns of the Second Dynasty too.
The situation before Ninetjer's reign and from the death of Ninetjer to the accession of Khasekhem is obscure at the best.
If the initial Second Dynasty sequence Hotepsekhemwy-Nebra-Ninetjer is certain (statuette of Redjit Cairo CG 1, stone vessels usurpations), nothing can be said yet about the period between the reigns of Qa'a and Hotepsekhemwy.
In the last decades the presence of ephemeral kings reigning in between the first two dynasties had been interpreted as a sign of possible political troubles after the death of Qa'a; this latter king, with his long reign, seems to have also given an end to other previous dynastic problems which have been supposed to affect the First Dynasty after Den at the time of kings Adjib and Semerkhet. This last was, perhaps too easily, considered a possible non royal usurper of Adjib's throne.
Now, all these considerations, as well as the epigraphical and comparative study of the scanty material of the ephemeral kings Sneferka, Bird and Sekhet (??) (especially by Peter Kaplony and Nabil Swelim) (cfr. above and in Sneferka's page) pointed to an abrupt but brief crisis which had as one of its effects, the shift of the royal necropolis from Abydos to Saqqara.
But the point of view seems to have been suddenly changed again after the finding of seal impressions of Hotepsekhemwy at Umm el Qaab tomb Q (Qa'a) in 1995, providing a similar evidence as that for Khasekhemwy-Netjerykhet direct succession.
This finding, in fact, would witness the presence of the Second Dynasty founator at the funerals of Qa'a, apparently leaving no space or occasion for intermediate reigns. But this is, in my opinion, not a proof of the absence of Sneferka & co.: instead it only shows Hotepsekhemwy 's will to erase those surely local rulers whose power could have had the opportunity to arise in the aftermath of the end of a royal line with the death of Qa'a.
Therefore the period pre-Hotepsekhemwy is far from being a well defined one.
We must also remember that kings Sneferka, Bird* and Sekhet (?) are known by few sources : those of Sneferka and Sekhet are only from Saqqara, while 'Bird' is attested on the vessel inscription P.D. IV n.108 (Djoser's complex) at Saqqara and perhaps also in R.T. II pl. 8A6, which is from Abydos (Tomb of Qa'a) !
* [We must rehearse here that there's no connection between this Horus name (a simple bird with no particular characteristics) and that of Ba (for this latter see N. Swelim 'Horus Ba' Grenoble Congress 1979 and id. 'Some Problems ...' p.182-3, 185) which is instead written with the hieroglyphs B (leg) + B3 (ram)].
The reasons for placing at least Sneferka and Bird after Qa'a are mainly the epigraphical similarity and the occurrance of the memphite palace name Hwt Za-Ha-Neb (common for Qa'a, Sneferka and Bird) and the official name Swdj Khnemw (on Qa'a and Sneferka's stone vessels inscriptions).
The middle of the Second Dynasty is an even harder (and longer) period to deal with.
Leaving apart Manetho's names and T.C. Aaka (?), as well as the indication of lacuna (hudjefa), we have 5 or 6 kings here (but more could have been): Wneg (probably but not surely at all = Horus Za), Sened, Nwbnefer (Nebnefer), Neferkara, and Neferkasokar. They 're analyzed one by one in their pages (click on their names in the table above).
No royal tomb has been found for any of these rulers, but see below the point 2).
These are shadowy figures, known by few if not unique contemporary sources, and recorded in the later king lists of the NK. The most valuable source for this period are the inscriptions carved on stone vessels which were found gathered in galleries of the Djoser's complex at Saqqara. Some of these inscriptions (Za, Nwbnefer) produced royal names which were previously unknown. Other inscriptions (Wneg) have been found on materials from private tombs in the North Saqqara cemetery and in later lists and papyri (Neferkara, Neferkaseker).
Most of the inscriptions painted in red or black ink on stone vessels from Djoser's complex galleries (a far more numerous corpus that that of thinite inscriptions engraved on the same supports) has been ascribed by Helck (Z.A.S. 106, 1979) to the reign of Ninetjer. The German egyptologist hypothesized that the bulk of vessels was formerly gathered by Ninetjer, from other royal and private tombs of the Saqqara cemetery, and later reused by Djoser who in turn appropriated the funerary offerings from Ninetjer's (Tomb B ?) storerooms and galleries. The names of Ninetjer's officials (Khnwmenii, Ruaben) in ink inscriptions, leave few doubts on the verisimilarity of Helck's theory.
The same author (in the same article) also dared a more advanced and not as provable hypothesis about Ninetjer's followers: this king would have willfully split the reign in two, for some unknown reason, originating a Lower Egyptian royal line (Nswt bity - Nebty Wng, Sened, Nwbnefer a.s.o.) and an Upper Egyptian one (Horus Sekhemib, Seth Peribsen and Horus- Seth Khasekhem). The occasion for such a hard-to-believe expedient could have been Ninetjer's will to give a crown to each one of two sons of his, or maybe the need to face serious problems emerged at the end of his long reign. But a circumstance like this, is really hard to suppose as having really happened, or at least to have been decided by a king: this is an impossible act, out of ancient Egyptians' culture, beliefs and mythology. But this might have been indeed happened as a result of other major events, as usurpations or lack of authority of the crown on the whole Egyptian territory owing to unknown reasons.
An important source is the inscriptional evidence from the Saqqara Mastaba (Mariette) B3 of Shery (see A. Moret Mon.Piot 25 p. 273ff, Grdseloff A.S.A.E. 44 p. 294 and W. Kaiser in G.M. 122); the inscriptions refer to this IVth dyn. official's employ as 'overseer of the funerary priests of Peribsen in the necropolis of Sened...' : this must entail the presence of these kings' funerary monuments somewhere in the central Saqqara plateau, aroun (or beneath) Netjerykhet's complex.
Linked to Shery is therefore Peribsen too. So we come to survey the End of the Second Dynasty.
The main problem for this period is the reign of Peribsen and his relationship with the predecessor Sekhemib- Perenmaat. The usually poor archaeological and epigraphical evidence hasn't yet made it possible to estabilish with a good degree of certainty if these two were separate individuals or the same one who changed his royal names and titulary.
Petrie claimed for the presence of a seal impression with the names Sekhemib-Peribsen, but this has been already disproved long ago as being indeed the common Sekhemib-Perjenmaat name.
The nature of possible popular (?) upheavals or religious reforms is yet to be fully studied, as their possible consequencies.
The danger here, is to believe that the evidence we have (i.e. Seth cult) must perforce have been the cause of some sort of political breakdown (owing to the speculations made in the past about the argument). It could have been instead the contrary: the prolonged weakness of the central authority could have favoured the arise of new beliefs and traditions so that what we have always acknowledged as causes of rebellions or 'heresies', could have been the effect of deeper crises.
Don't forget that, as P. Bell showed in 1970, the study of the Palermo Stone Nile floods' levels' recordings did evidence a sudden and marked debate already during the first half of the apparently flourishing reign of Ni-neter. Thus enviromental factors must not be overlooked in a research of the causes of the troubles which the Egyptian state faced in this period.
Finally there' s the double faced reign of Khasekhem(wy): once some scholars believed that the two names were those of 2 different individuals. This is untenable, but the archaeological evidence of Horus Khasekhem and Horus Seth Khasekhemwy, particularly that of Hierakonpolis and Abydos, needs to be reanalyzed in order to find the reasons for the name/title change and, even recalling the epithet 'Nebwyhotepimef', we must clarify the relationship of this king with his predecessor(s) and the reality of his claim at the Unification of Egypt; is this the common accession ceremony or, as for Narmer, a very event?

The archaeological researches for Second Dynasty cemeteries have yielded less material than for the First and Third Dynasty.
Pieces of evidence are sparsely attested at the sites of Abu Roash, Giza, Zawyiet el Aryan, Saqqara, Tarkhan, Naga ed Deir, Beit Khallaf, Abydos, Gebelein, Hierakonpolis, Elephantine but only those from Saqqara and Abydos have a profound 'royal' relevancy, being of a consistent number and variety. Also for this dynasty there are pieces (i.e. royal and private statuettes, seals and stone vessels) of unknown provenance now in private collections (Michailidis), and others from unsatisfactorily conducted and/ or published excavation campaigns (A.Mariette, E.Amelineau, J.Quibell). The fact is that many of these period's tombs were dug when the average of scientifical excavations techniques was still too low for the modern urges, and the dealers of antiquities had much more free-hand in spoiling sites and selling pieces to foreign museums.
But if we consider the most promising sites, Abydos and Saqqara, the situation is not so poor in possible objects of research.
Moreover the past and modern explorations of Hierakonpolis (i.e. the city of Nekhen and the 'Fort'), and the recent decades starting of new excavations at Buto and particularly at Elephantine, are bringing new data, some of which related to 2nd dyn. kings' names (Khasekhem and Peribsen) and, above all, have added to the common source of the funerary monuments a new scenario that is the one of templar and civil architectures, and possibly of a King's palace (HK).
Abydos is currently excavated by the German and American archaeologists who still make interesting findings after a hundred years of archaeological expeditions at that site; regarding the Second Dynasty me must perforce mention the campaigns of David O' Connor at the northern site of the funerary enclosures (and boats, which perhaps seem to date from the First Dynasty) and those which were undertaken at the end of the 70ies by Werner Kaiser and Gunter Dreyer comprehending the reexcavation of the tomb of Khasekhemwy and the cited Hotepsekhemwy's findings in that of Qa'a (both excavations are still in progress).
The situation at Saqqara is also getting better; the potential of this site is greater than Abydos'. But it has remained a bit too static for many years. The most of the 2nd Dyn. private tombs were rapidly explored at the beginning of 1860s and in the early twenteenth century (respectively by Mariette and Quibell), and a fairly accurate complement was the study of G.A. Reisner in 1936; we have sufficiently good maps of the western, central and mid-eastern North Saqqara cemetery in which a number of Second Dynasty mastabas are known. We have already mentioned the findings from Neterykhet's complex' galleries.
More sources of knowledge of IInd dynasty date are the inscribed private stelae (especially from the necropolis of Helwan) and some private and few royal statues; these latter (Ninetjer's and the two of Khasekhemwy) are almost unique, while there are more examples of private character which, for the mentioned question of the unprovenancedness, are harder to differentiate as of Second or instead of Third Dynasty date. Finally the royal stelae and stone blocks' representations found with names of Nebra, Peribsen and Khasekhem and naturally the cited relative abundance of clay seal impressions with the royal serekhs of Hotep - Hotepsekhemwy, Nebra, Ninetjer, Sekhemib, Peribsen and Khasekhemwy (from Saqqara, Abydos but also from elsewhere) complete the picture of the material sources.
Two more categories of archaeological findings remain to be discussed:

The first one consists in the Royal Enclosures west of Djoser's and Sekhemkhet's complex.
At least one of these monuments was known by De Morgan's 'Carte de la Necropolis Memphite' (Gisr el Mudir) but for many years they remained untouched. W. Kaiser pointed the attention onto the 'Talbezirke' which became object of deeper and deeper researches: we only mention B.J. Kemp in JEA 52 (1966), W. Kaiser in MDAIK 25 (1969), R. Stadelmann in B.d.E. 97,2 (1985), David O' Connor in JARCE 26 (1989), Nabil Swelim in MDAIK 47 (1991) and the recent remote sensing and magnetometry based surveys by the Scottish archaeologists directed by Ian Mathieson and Ana Tavares (JEA 79, 1993, JEA 83, 1997). There's not yet a complete accordance among the scholars in the datation of these structures. The problem is that, unlike the Abydos enclosures, which were surrounded by 'courtiers' tombs producing seal impressions and other inscriptional objects allowing a clear attribution of the structures to the kings (or some of them) of the Ist dynasty (included Merneith's so called 'Western Mastaba') and to the Second Dynasty's Peribsen (Middle Fort) and Khasekhemwy (Shunet ez Zebib), few pots and vessels have been found in the Saqqara counterparts (Petrie 'Tomb of Courtiers... 1925; O' Connor op.cit.; N. Swelim 'S.P.'1983; Mathieson - Tavares op. cit.).
The Abydos structures, with panelled facades, although built with mudbrick are also better preserved than the Saqqara walls, built in local stone masonry. This depends on the relative isolation of the Abydos site, whereas Saqqara monuments have much more heavily suffered the funerary structures' overcrowding in that area.
The datation is, as said, uncertain. N. Swelim (op. cit. end. plate) appeared more inclined for a datation to the reigns after that of Khasekhemwy (Khaba, Sa and Ba), but there are some criticable points in his picture of the Third Dynasty chronology.
Rainer Stadelmann (op. cit. p. 304 ff and fig.3) and more recently Ian Mathieson, seem to propend for an earlier date.
Stadelmann was the first, to my knowledge, to evidence two more possible walls courses, one between Gisr el Mudir's and Sekhemkhet's, and another west of Djoser's complex (op. cit; cfr. also id. 'Die Aegyptische Pyramiden' 1997 p. 30 fig.9).
The picture shows Stadelmann's attributions of the monuments in object. The recent excavations instead are inclined to credit Gisr el Mudir as the royal enclosure of Khasekhemwy. The walls size is enormous for extension and thickness (more than 15 m, covered by two parallel stone masonry embankments filled with rubble and sand ; the enclosure is about 650 x 350 m -compare Netjerykhet's 544,9x 277,6-).
Only Second and Third Dynasty broken pottery and later burials have been found on these monument's area; moreover the great 'Wall of the Boss' and the Ptahhotep enclosure seem to have at least some parts of the walls never completed, therefore we must expect that these might be unfinished constructions.
At Abydos the Shunet ez Zebib and the Middle Fort (although not surrounded by as many pits of the retainers as in the Ist dyn. structures) bore traces of a collapsed central mound which O'Connor correctly interpreted, by the place it occupied, as a forerunner of the Mastaba M1 in the Saqqara complex of Netjerykhet. Not to mention the possible presence of Second Dyn. funerary boats in the surroundings of those already found not far from the Shunet.

The other important set of Saqqara monuments of the Second Dynasty is the series of Underground Galleries, the only remains of giant mastaba tombs which were built south of Djoser's southern temenos and beneath the same complex Western Massifs. The galleries can be divided for convenience in I) those south of Netjerykhet's complex and II) those within its plan.
I) It has been advanced that more than 2 royal tombs might have been built south of Djoser's complex. Some may lay still undiscovered in the NK cemetery east of the complex of Sekhemkhet. The only two known are the so called Tomb A and B (PM III2 p.613) which had to be two huge parallel mastabas with N-S long axis (same orientation as Djoser's complex) distant 120- 150 meters from each others. These tombs' superstructures were destroyed by the construction of the complex of Unas, but the labyrinthic substructures of tomb A were found and explored at the beginning of the 1900 by Barsanti (ASAE 2 and 3), and those of the tomb B by S. Hassan in 1937-8 (ASAE 38 p. 521) who only briefly noticed their presence; the map of tomb A, which was thought to have belonged to Hotepsekhemwy and Nebra by seal impressions found inside it, was provided by J. P. Lauer (see Hotepsekhemwy's page) in 1930, while only the works of the last two decades of 1900 have given the first impression of the layout of Ninetjer's tomb B substructures (Peter Munro in G.M. 63, S.A.K. 10, 1983, D.E. 26, 1993; Kaiser in bibl.1992) as well as interesting suggestions about the eventual shape of the superstructures.
The tomb A contained seal impressions of Hotepsekhemwy (Gaston Maspero in ASAE 3, 1902 p. 185-90) but also with the name of Nebra, so that some scholar thought the latter could have usurped his predecessor's tomb.
But Nebra might have had a separate monument of his own, yet undiscovered, as the presence of a stela with his name points out (it was found reused as a modern house threshold, and surely was from the nearby Saqqara necropolis) (Henry G. Fischer in Artibus Asiae 24, 1961 p. 45-56 and Jean Philippe Lauer in Orientalia 35, 1966 p. 21-7).
II) The galleries under Djoser's complex Western Massifs and in the north-west sector of the Northern Court have had only a rapid survey which estabilished their plans (Lauer, Pyr. Deg. I p. 180-6); the rock in which they're dug is particularly tender so further explorations are prevented by the risk of falls. The superstructure is not with absolute certainty by Djoser (Massif I appears laid on the Pyramid's (PI) western lower step) but it seems sure that the long galleries, which were reused by the third dynasty king as storerooms of his complex, had to belong to a previous ruler's funerary monument, similar to those a little south (tombs A, B). See below.
As we have seen, Djoser's erection of the Western Massif could be questioned (also for comparison with the structures in the eastern part of the complex); there is a clear indication in the vertical stratigraphy of the Western Massif I eastern wall and Pyramid P2 western side stratum, which shows that the last stage in the pyramid's enlargement is later than the Massif' s building; P2 lays in fact over the Massif's terrace, at more than 4 meters of height. (Lauer P.D. I, 180; Stadelmann op.cit. 301). We can therefore advance that the Western Massifs' building might belong to a later stage* in the development of Djoser's complex (because they seem at least partially unfinished in the north and for they seem later than P1), but they surely preceed the last transformation which brought the Pyramid to the final 6 steps form. *(Kaiser, MDAIK 25, thought that WM was contemporary with the initial phases of Djoser's complex development, if not even earlier than the beginning of Djoser's reign).
Nothing can be said for certain about the subterranean apparatus' datation, for which we can only attempt cross-comparisons with contemporary tombs' substructures in order to estabilish a sequence. The same original ownership of these galleries will reamain doubtful (even if Khasekhemwy is the first candidate) until more complete explorations of those impressively extended ambients. This could be result in new findings (especially seal impressions and stone vessels fragments) capable to shed new light on the early purpose and period of construction; but we must also remember that, even if the sheer extension of the corridors and rooms makes it very possible to gain such pieces of evidence, we can't nonetheless espect anything in number and quality alike what was found in the galleries beneath the pyramid: these last remained in fact much more difficult to be reached, whereas under the Western Massifs Firth and Lauer found traces of bones which had been brought there by hyaenae (as their excrements demonstated). Thus this part of the Step Pyramid Complex must not have been unreachable at all.
Another tomb which was probably overbuilt by Djoser is represented by a gallery beneath the Northern Massif; alike the same complex' Southern Tomb, it has a west-east long axis, instead of North-South as the others.
It could be hypothesized that this could have been part of the tomb of Sened or Peribsen: in fact the mastaba B3 (Shery) in which Peribsen's and Sened' s funerary cults are mentioned, although now lost in its exact location, must have been not far north from Djoser's northern wall (Firth found clay seals of Khasekhemwy and Djoser in it; cfr. Lauer Pyr.Dg. I, 184 fig.208).
Many more shafts and pits are located in the Step Pyramid Complex (see the fig. of page 64 in N. Swelim 'Some Problems' 1983) as i.e. a gallery with N-S direction which is in the western half of the North Court, between that under the North Massif and that under the Western Massifs I and II.
It doesn't seem that the Western Massif III (the most external, near the western wall of the temenos) hide any further galleries.

The reciprocal nature and confrontation of these galleries in and around the Step Pyramid complex will be analyzed in a more specifical study.
Some considerations can be expressend since right now:
The plans of tomb A and B substructures (although partial) show a marked difference in the way they branch off; Hotepsekhemwy's galleries have a more rectangular and straightforward course in the N-S direction and, albeith with a wider breadth (c. 120 x 50 m) than those under the Western Massifs I and II, they both show a relatively ordered nature (but see also below); the WM galleries have an extremely marked development along the North-South axis (c. 400 m by only 50 in the W-E extension) which can't escape to an easy comparison with the unusually elongated shape of Khasekhemwy's Tomb V at Umm el Qa'ab (Abydos); but the analysis of the shapes of the stone vessels fragments found in the W.M. galleries has been judged more fitting for a Third Dynasty date than for a late Second Dynasty's.
Additionally, in contrast with the sharply and right angled form of these substructures' rooms and corridors, Ninetjer's galleries (the known portion is 'only' c. 70 x 50 meters wide ?) have a fairly different plan, because the corridors and chambers seem to spread off the main central gallery in a quite more confused way, with apparently less respect for the perpendicular angles which Tomb A and West. Massifs' galleries do show. It could also be dared that we would expect a reversed situation (considering the probable reign length and the relative importance of Hotepsekhemwy and Ninetjer) i.e. to attribute the (still uncompletely known) tomb B to an earlier stage of development than Tomb A and Western Massifs' galleries.
But there is also another important aspect to consider for the correct analysis of this problem: as Aidan Dodson indicates (see KMT 9:2, 1996 p. 21-2) Lauer's maps are only sketchy (and probably quickly drawn) plans of complexes which would have certainly required a lot of additional time to be more fully understood and outlined; Munro's recent excavations and planning should therefore suggest that also tomb A and Western Massifs' corridors and apartments must have a much less regular and right angled course than it appears in their up to now still unique plans publications.
The clay seal impressions finding is a weak proof to estabilish the ownership of a tomb, but it must be taken into account as the only determining one until further proofs; and we must also consider that the total extension of the sub- and super-structures of Nineter's tomb B might also reveal to be larger than tomb A's (as it was hypothesized) with new discoveries; as already noted, the harder consistence of the rock in the eastern area than that around the Unas Pyramid, could have forced Ninetjer's architect to adapt themselves to the nature of the rock in executing the excavations for that substructure: "... when explored, it was seen that the intended basic regularity of the corridors and flanking storerooms had not been maintained, probably owing to the poor quality of the bedrock. Additionally, the area covered by these passageways and chambers was much broader and larger, with an additional 5000 square meters covered by this amazing labyrinth". (A. Dodson loc. cit.)

Our general impression is that a new planning of the tomb A (and possibly of the Western Massif substructures) as well as a new and more careful survey are needed to be able to attempt surer conclusions by their comparative study.
Finally another important aspect, would be to search for an interpretation of the behaviour of the following rulers in respect of their predecessors' funerary monuments: not much Unas' complex and late OK - Saite period private burials, too distant in time from the tombs in object, but Djoser's treatment and adaptation to/of them. This latter could have wanted to incorporate his father 's monument (if West.Mass. Galleries were really an effort of Khasekhemwy's architects and workmen) into his own funerary enclosure; also the equal orientation and other matters must be considered.
Not last, the attempt by Munro's equipe to reconstruct a possible model of the two Early Second Dynasty tombs in their complex, including superstructures and surroundings [see Hotepsekhemwy's and Ninetjer's pages for a description], is another point to investigate, along with the role of the so called 'dry moat' trench which runs between Djoser's southern wall and Unas' causeway (N. Swelim in Baines et al. 'Pyramid studies and other essays' 1988 p. 12-22; A. Tavares' 1993 lecture).

* This is part of the subject of my Degree Thesis entitled "The Second Dynasty : Historical and Archaeological Problems"

To see the pages of each Second Dynasty King, click their names in the table above


New Kingdom Kings' Lists and Old Kingdom Annals

2 nd DYNASTY in Saqqara - Abydos King lists and Turin Canon
Fig. 1A

The Second Dynasty in the XIXth Dyn. Kings lists
(click the image to view full-size)

Turin Canon section of Dynasty 2
Fig. 1B
The Second Dynasty in the Turin Canon
(click to enlarge)


ANNALS reconstruction by W. HELCK (Nebka reign -n.16 here- is very likely corresponding to Khasekhemwy's own one;  Helck's positioning of  K3 is surely wrong: must be at the left-end of line 8)

Thematic Bibliography of the Second Dynasty

: The main articles and books for the History of the Second Dynasty of Egypt: R. Weill 'La IIe et la IIIe Dynasties' 1908; B.Grdseloff 'Notes d' Epigraphie archaique' in A.S.A.E.44 (1944) p.279-306; A.Gardiner 'Egypt of the Pharaohs' (1961); E.Drioton-J.Vandier 'L'Egypte' (1961); W.B.Emery 'Archaic Egypt' (1961); I.E.S. Edwards 'Cambridge Ancient History' I, 3rd ed. 1971 p. 1-70; W. Helck 'Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit' (1987); A. Dodson 'The Mysterious Second Dynasty' KMT 7:2 (1996) p.19-31; T.A.H. Wilkinson 'Early Dynastic Egypt' 1999.
Stan Hendrickx 'Analytical Bibliography of the Prehistory and the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt and Northern Sudan' 1995.
Inscriptions : Kaplony 'Die Inschriften der Agyptischer Fruhzeit' 1963,1964,1966; id. Z.A.S. 88,1962 p.5 ff; id. M.D.A.I.K. 20, 1965; id.'Steingefasse...' (1968) p. 65-72; W. Helck in Z.A.S. 106, 1979 p.120 ff; id. 'Untersuchungen zu Manetho'; Lacau-Lauer 'Pyramide a Degrée IV, V (1959, 1965); Saqqara Tombs A and B (recent publications) : Rainer Stadelmann 'Die Oberbauten der Konigsgraber der 2. Dynastie in Sakkara' B.d.E. 97,2 (Mel. Mokhtar II) 1985 / 295-307; Werner Kaiser 'Zur Unteririrdischen Anlage der Djoserpyramide und ihrer entwicklungsgeschichtlichen Einordung' in Wallert- Wolfgang Helck eds. ' Gegengabe - Festschrift Emma Brunner Traut' 1992/ 167-190; Peter Munro 'Archäologische Untersuchungen des Grabbezirks des Königs Ni-neter im Unas-Friedhof Saqqara' (Hannover); id. G.M. 63, 1983; id. S.A.K. 10, 1983; id. et al. D.E. 26, 1993; Saqqara Tomb C and general review of the Second Dynasty Royal necropolis at Saqqara: SAQQARA - TOMB C -
The Royal Cemetery of the Early Dynastic Period at Saqqara and the Second Dynasty Royal Tombs (Joris van Wetering) in: press (see the abstract of paper HERE); On-line Summaries (J. van Wetering) in preparation at
For the excavation reports and other particular discussions see the bibliography for each king...
Francesco Raffaele

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