This queen is one of the most disputed persons of the archaic period.
Not all the scholars agree with the eventuality that she could actually
It is sure that she was Horus DEN 's mother
as shown on a seal impression recently discovered in the Tomb T of Umm el
Qa'ab: she is 'mwt nswt' beside the name of Den thus it is also probable
that she was the Horus Djet 's wife (Lauer, 1966, speculated a further parentage
as Horus Djer' s daughter, but tha's not provable).
Her Abydos tomb (Y) is close to that
of the husband Djet (Z);the stela here drawn,now in the Louvre, was found
outside the tomb by Petrie in 1900.
The excavator first thought it belonged to a male ruler.
At Abydos there's also Merneith's funerary enclosure; it's the easternmost
of the group built N.E. of Peribsen's Western Mastaba and S.E. of the enclosure of
The Saqqara mastaba 3503 is the only one that can be attributed to her;
it's just north of S 3504 (Sekhemkasedj) of the reign of Djet. The seal impressions are named to Den.
The reign of a female ruler, already before the middle of the first dyn.,
must not seem too strange: her husband Djet could have died after a brief reign of about
10 years (probabily he began to reign-and married- when he was already old because his predecessor Djer had a very long reign) and her son Den could have been too young for the
Anyhow there is no title or serekh which could clarify the position she
held. The mentioned seal impression of Den did name Merneith but the similar piece dated to Qa'a omits this queen.
Therefore only the two tombs and the two stelas induce to think she was
a person of a status fairly comparable to that of a King. Indeed it is probable that in the mentality of the ancient
egyptian her condition of rulership was never accepted or recognized, surely not like it was for Nitokerty,Nefrwsobek,Hatshepswt and Cleopatra.
Merneith's name is almost wholly attested in Abydos except from the following
few pieces: it appears on a stone vessels(unknown origin) and on some vessels fragments
(from Saqqara),on an ivory vessel (Saqqara), and on a beautiful unprovenanced Pavian statuette (Kaplony
K.B.I.A.F. p. 91 ff., plates XX-XXIII)