Ni-neter 's reign was the longest (40-45 years) of the Second Dynasty and one of the few (with Khasekhemwy's one) to be relatively well known. It must have marked the apogee of the first half of the dynasty (as far as quantity of sources documented, but see below). The death of this king was followed by a very obscure period of about 20-30 years after which Khasekhem(wy)'s authority took the country back to a more prosperous age, thus opening the way to the Third Dynasty/Early Old Kingdom huge developments.
The material from Ninetjer's reign comes almost exclusively from Lower Egypt (Saqqara, but also some attestations from Giza and Helwan); only a few inscriptions reporting his royal name(s) on stone vessels fragments are known from Upper Egypt (Abydos- Umm el Qaab tomb P and V).
The great bulk of inscriptions dated to N. are those written in ink on the inner surface of stone vessels (and fragments) from the Step Pyramid complex of Djoser at Saqqara. Hundreds of them have been dated to his reign by internal criteria as explained in an important article by W. Helck (ZAS 106, 1979, 120-132) whose conclusions have been recently questioned by I. Regulski (see below). Royal names never appear in these ink inscriptions (except perhaps for some temples/tomb names Hwt-Ka-...). On the other hand a score of vessels from the same site had Ninetjer's Horus/Nswt-bity name incised on the exterior.
N. tomb (B) was found in 1938 at Saqqara by S. Hassan: its entrance lies about 150 meters east of the tomb (A) of Hotepsekhemwy in the area south of Djoser's complex. Only ten years ago it was someway more adequately explored (see below). W. Helck (op. cit) proposed that nearly all of the thousands of stone vessels found in the galleries of the Step Pyramid complex of Djoser had been originally placed in the (superstructure of ?) Ninetjer's tomb from which they would be subsequently removed until they would find their definitive collocation where archaeologists C.Firth, J.Quibell and J.P. Lauer discovered them in the first half of '900.
The Palermo Stone reports a part of the reign of Ninetjer (15 years) and the beginning of his titulary.
The statuette Cairo CG1 reports a brief inscription on the shoulder, the Horus names of Hotepskhemwy-Nebra-Nynetjer.
Finally we must mention a statuette of Ninetjer, the first non-fragmentary sculptural representation of an identified Egyptian king (the Horus name is carved on it), but its antiquity has been recently debated (see below).
This king's name was spelled Neterimw or Neteren until the article of Grdseloff (ASAE 44, 1944, 187) who introduced the reading 'Nineter'.
Horus Ninetjer was undoubtedly the third king of the Second dynasty (but note that possible interreigns after the First Dynasty, known in the form of stone vessels inscriptions naming Horus Sneferka, Ba and Sekhet (?) are found on Saqqara vases and sealings) and his name is the third one on the Statuette Cairo CG1 (Redjif or Redjit, once named Hotepdief) dated some reigns later.
The name is preserved as Binothris by Manetho (Africanus; Eusebius gives Biophis) that surely comes from the New Kingdom lists' Ba-Ninetjer or Baw-netjerw (see fig. >) . This personal name is not attested in contemporary documents wherein Ninetjer appears to be both Horus name and Neswtbity - Nebty one. Much debated has been the Palermo Stone occurrence of part of this king' s titulary (D. Wildung 'Die Rolle', 42-43); there are at least three possible interpretations for this short series of hieroglyphs (Palermo Stone recto, over line 4):
1) the sitting king statue could be a determinative of the Horus name and the following 'rn (n) nbw' would mean 'the son of the golden one' (Seth of Ombos); this might also be a forerunner of the Golden Horus name known only from the Fourth Dynasty onwards -with a possible exception attestated in the reign of Khaba/Dynasty 3.
2) the determinative would mean 'twt' (image, statue), the reading would therefore be 'flowering form of the Golden one'.
3) 'Rn (ny) Nwbw' would be an independent name between the Horus name and the following Neswt-bity / Nebty cartouche.
My opinion is that this line could have much importance for the study of the Golden-Horus name; but it's difficult to understand if after the Horus name we have a complete Hr Nbw 'Ren' or instead the title Ren (n) Nwb followed by the missing name in the cartouche (as I think it could be); whether the cartouche was the beginning of a third name (either Nebty or Neswt-bity or both together) it would be very strange, because in the verso of Pal. Stone we have Neswt-bity (Wsrkaf) iri.f m mnw.f ...with the Nswt bity title outside of the cartouche, as it traditionally recurs. (See below for the Pal. Stone years' chronicle). Another (remote) possibility is that the r+n would mean 'name', so the reading ' Golden Name, Rn ' would result. Anyhow the evolution of ED titularies is still only partially comprehended, and also the Nebty name seems to have originated after the use of this compound as a recurrent infix of Nesut-bity names.
I have already mentioned that in some documents 'Ninetjer(-Nebty)' is the Neswt-bity name.
The first piece we discuss is a statuette of the king which, as told, would be the earliest tridimensional portrait of an egyptian king fully preserved and certainly attributable, for the presence of the name of the king (other pieces as the 'Narmer' ivory or parts of wooden statues of Djer, Den Qa'a are uninscribed or fragmentary or the name cannot be discerned with certainty, as on the Min Colossi, or the München Mus. Statuette).
The piece belongs to one of the most important private collections of Early Dynastic objects, Georges Michailides'. It was published by W.K. Simpson in 1956 (JEA 42, 44-49) but recent observations by G. Dreyer (Elephantine VIII, 1986, 65, n. 164) have casted some shadows on its authenticity (Kahl, Das System, 1994, 12, n.9).
The statuette is 13,5 cm. high and the base is cm 8,8 x 4,8; the stone was identified by Simpson as an alabaster- like 'hard stone with greenish-yellow sheen'. The surface is polished, the state of preservation sufficiently good.
The King sits on a throne which has on the two sides the inscriptions 'Neswtbity Nebty Ninetjer'. This seat curves just behind the top of the white crown. Ninetjer is portrayed wearing the Heb Sed long robe, the Upper Egyptian white crown and he holds in his hands the crook and flail, which are carved in relief on the breast. A long beard ends just above the right hand. The general posture resembles that of the Khasekhem statues in Cairo and Oxford but these are much more refined and polished and lack the plumpy face and feet of the Ni-netjer example. This latter is fairly closer to the Khwfw ivory statuette from Abydos and especially to the Brooklyn red quartzite head of Huni-Khwfw; the author of the article also cites the strong resemblance in the pose and costume with a statue of Menkawhor (V th dynasty) from Mit Rahinah.
It cannot be excluded that thestatue and the Horus name itself were fashioned in the Old Kingdom or later as a tribute or cultual offering to this king, but ED statuary is still too fragmentarily known to give plain judgements.
Fifth Dynasty Royal Annals preserve 15 years of Ninetjer' s reign. The proposed reconstructions of the original slab accordingly devide Ninetjer' s reign in 5 years (missing) at the right hand of the Palermo Stone, 15 years preserved on the Palermo Stone, other 15 or 16 years (missing) on the left and finally the last 9 years preserved (but very faintly and nearly illegible) on the Cairo 1 fragment; the total would sum up to c. 45 years (cf. Barta, ZAS 108, 11-23; Helck, MDAIK 30, 31-5; Kaiser, ZAS 86, 39-61; for recent translations see T. Wilkinson, Royal Annals, 2000, 119-129; 204-206; A. Jimenez Serrano, La Piedra de Palermo, 2004, 43-48).
The preserved part shown in the figure starts with the sixth year of reign (half erased) Shemsw Hor ; [sixth occurrence of the (biennal) count (of cattle)]. Year 7 : Appearance of the King of Upper Egypt; stretching the cord for the 'Hwt Hrw Rn' (commonly read as [Ntr] r-n this could instead refer to the 'Golden Name' of the upper register); the name of the building has been proposed by Helck as that of the Saqqara tomb B (east galleries). Year 8 : Shemsw Hor ; eight time of the cattle census . Year 9 : Appearance of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt ; Race of the living Apis (?) (Helck has simply 'round-race of the Apis' cfr. 'Thinitenzeit' 1987 p. 165); Year 10 : Shemsw Hor ; Fifth occurrence of the census . Year 11 : Appearance of the King of Lower Egypt ; Second time of the festival of the Bark (of Sokar) . Year 12 : Shemsw Hor ; sixth cattle census . Year 13 : First occasion of the feast 'Hr sb3 pt' (Horus the star of the sky) (or also First voyage to the [building] 'Hr dw3 pt') ; foundation of the domains 'Shem R' and Mehwt' (The sun has come and The Northern). Some scholars (from the publisher Schafer in 1902 up to the recent Wilkinson's 'Early Dynastic Egypt, 85) have proposed to read the second part of this entry as 'Attacking the towns of ....'; but although the hoe 'mer' hieroglyph is commonly employed with the meaning of 'destroying' (as on the Libyan Palette) the rectangular enclosures on the Palermo Stone appear to be related to buildings, palaces or funerary domains. Alternatively they could represent fortified (foreign?) towns; and it is tempting to link this attestation to the possible civil warfares which seem to have characterised the middle Second Dynasty and which the Annals might hint to according to a different reading of this passage (W.B. Emery, Archaic Egypt, 1961, 93).
About the first part of this year' s entry there' s another problem: Helck (op. cit., 66) reads it as a voyage to the King's funerary domain; the bark hieroglyph is different from the determinatives used for the Shemsw Hor or other ceremonies (so it could indeed mean 'to sail') but the funerary domain name should be encircled into some kind of rectangular sign, which lacks here...(Note : on the archaic inscriptions the funerary domains -like 'Hor sba Het'- are written inside a circular (sometimes crenellated) line while the royal estates are in a simple rectangle (T. Wilkinson op.cit.1999 chapter 4 fig. 4,1 and 4,2).
Continuing the translation we find, in the Year 14: Shemsw Hor; Seventh occasion of the cattle census . Noteworthy in this year is the Nile inundation height : only a cubit (and the following years' average remains low); this trend could be indicative of the kind of problems that the following sovereigns would face and so a possible cause of the apparent crisis of the state.
Year 15 : Appearance of the King of Lower Egypt ; Second occurrence of the race of the Apis bull . Year 16 : Shemsw Hor (Followers of Horus); Eighth cattle enumeration. Year 17 : Appearance of the King of Low. Eg. ; Third celebration of the Festival of the Bark (Sokaris ? cfr. Kitchen-Gaballa in Orientalia 38 p. 13) ; Year 18 : Followers of Horus ; ninth occasion of the census ; Year 19 : Appearance of the King of Low. Eg. ; Sacrifice for the King's mother ; feast of the eternity (djet) (Helck cit. 166) ; I think that a reading like 'Maa (n) Mwt-Neswt djet' referring to the demise of the King' s mother is fairly more probable a reading : The King's mother sees (knows, gains) the eternity (but the determinative under the djet group is not that of 'eternity' but that of feast !) J.D. Degreef (pers. comm.) interestingly pointed out that Djet could here be linked with the Papyrus [W.B. V, 511] and the sentence refer to the 'Cutting of the Papyrus', a later Hathoric festival. Year 20: Followers of Horus ; [Tenth enumeration of cattle].
Two inscriptions on stone vessels have been found at Abydos : One incised with Nebra' s estate 'Hwt-Ha-Sa' reinscribed by Ninetjer with "Iz i'a ra-neb Neswt-bity Nebty Ninetjer" (Personnel of the daily purification of N.); another ona has the king's Neswtbity-Nebty name over the sign of a boat (these two are from Peribsen' s tomb P cfr. Petrie R.T. II pl. VIII, 12 and 13).
Six pieces (listed in Kahl's corpus) : Kaplony 'Steingefasse' 39 (17) ; id. I.A.F. III, 862 ; id. M.D.A.I.K. 20 p. 26 n.50; id. I.A.F.Supp. 1074; id. K.B.I.A.F. 1137; Helck Z.A.S. 83 p. 94.
One inscription (Goneim 1957 pl. 65 a) is perhaps of a dignitary of Ninetjer (no name preserved) (Kahl corpus n.2822). (See also Goneim I , 21 tav. 25a ; Helck Z.A.S. 106 p. 125,130).
Tell el Fara'in - Buto
Inscriptions of Khnwmenii (Ij-n-Khnemw) and Renwty have been found at Buto (P. Kaplony 'Archaische Siegel und Siegelabrollungen aus dem Delta...' in Van den Brink ed. The Nile Delta in Transition, 1992 p. 23-30; T. van der Way, 'Zur Datierung des "Labyrinth-Gebaudes" auf dem Tell el-Fara'in (Buto)' in G.M. 157, 1997 p.107-111).
This site yielded, from the end of the 1920s (Gunn A.S.A.E.26 and 28) to the fifties (Lacau-Lauer 'La Pyramide a Degrees' vol. IV, 1959-incised inscriptions- and V, 1965-ink inscriptions) more than 20.000 fragments and hundreds of inscriptions.
They are one of the most important tools to understand the administration system function in the 'Frühzeit'.
A scrupulous listing of them appears in the corpus of Kahl (1994) of the 0-3 dynasties; those of Ninetjer number from n.2104 to 2821 (the whole Ninetjer's are from Quellen 2097 to 2848); of the Step Pyramid 717 inscr.,only about 20 have the King' s name, the other c. 700 have been dated to his reign by Helck (Z.A.S. 106, 1979 p.120-32 expec. p.130).
It's impossible here to draw,even in the general lines,a picture of the many aspects of this corpus; suffice here to say that many administrative titles, topographical, Estates', Domains' and dignitaries' names (Khnwmneferhotep, Khnwmenii) are here attested as well as obscure Kings, palaces, gods and feasts.
They can be tentatively ordered in a chronological frame by the paleography and expecially by the recurrence of some royal institution's names . Their massive production in the reign of Ninetjer witnesses a great prosperity and a sharply ordered state bureaucracy, more in line with the reigns of Den and expecially of Qa'a than with those of the immediate predecessors.
Strangely, no indication of a Heb-sed jubilee is reported on any incided inscription of Ninetjer (who should have celebrated at least one jubilee), but some ink-inscriptions that Helck dated to the second half of Ninetjer's reign (the official Khnwmenii) mention a Heb Sed, although not directly linked to the King's name (Pyr.Deg. V n. 273,4; cfr. Helck op.cit. p. 128).
Many of these vessels, mostly of First Dynasty kings/date, would be given by Ninetjer as a royal gift to some high officials; a few of these vases have the ink-inscriptions with these officials' names written inside the vessel where older Ist dyn. inscriptions are incised on the outside (PD IV 22, 30, 41, 97).
The complex history of the inscribed Stone vessels discovered in the Djoser's complex (Pyr.Deg. IV-incised royal names- and Pyr. Deg. V -ink inscribed private names) was reconstructed in 1979 and reported in the quoted Helck's article (ZAS 106, 120ff.). He supposed that at least three groups of vessels would be involved: the main one, first gathered in the second half of the reign of Ninetjer, was subsequently recollected (probabily from his Saqqara tomb storerooms or superstructure magazines) under the reigns of Peribsen and then by Khasekhemwy; finally - and definitively - Djoser appropriated of the great part of these objects to place them in the East galleries under the Step Pyramid (in the first part of his reign, before the accomplishment of the M2) or elsewhere into his funerary complex.
The famous Heb Sed alabaster vessel from Djoser's complex (Cairo Museum JdE 64872; Firth-Quibell, Step Pyr., 1935, 135, pl. 104) contains part of a fainted ink inscription referring to the fourth feast of Sokar (cf. Palermo Stone for the previous ones) while another stone vessel has a better preserved inscription with a year of the Shemsw Hor, 17th census (cattle count), indication of the Wadj-Hor phyle and of the Inj-Setjet (cf. under Peribsen) [Lacau-Lauer, Pyr. Deg. V, 274, fig. 153]. Although no royal name is reported, everything seems to indicate that those inscriptions and the vessels originally belonged to this king [A.M. Roth, Egyptian Phyles...1991, 223; D. Gould, in: Bickel-Loprieno (eds.) Aeg. Helvet. 17, 31]: the phyle name, 'year-events' and other epigraphic and stylistic considerations, the shape of the latter vessel (similar to the one-handle alabaster specimen with Hotepsekhemwy's name, cf. PD IV, nr. 50).
UPDATE 05/2006 - In the context of an ambitious major project (started in 2002) of investigation of all the objects from the Early Dynastic Royal tombs of Abydos kept in the Brussels Royal Museum of Art and History, new researches have been conducted (Hendrickx, Van Winkel, Bull. MRAH, 64, 1993, 5-38; Hendrickx, Bielen, De Paepe, in: MDAIK 57, 2001, 73-108; S. Bielen, Unpubl. MA Thesis; S. Bielen, in: S. Hendrickx et al. (eds.), Egypt at its Origins, 2004, 621-635).
Six private tombs, Umm el Qaab V and the Saqqara (B) royal tomb have yielded seal impressions of Ninetjer.
Those in private tombs Saqqara 2171,2302,2498,3009; Giza tomb ; Helwan 505 H 4 will be discussed below ;
the seals from the tomb of Ninejer at Saqqara weren't published by Hassan (A.S.A.E. 38, 1938, 521) but some are in Munro S.A.K. 10, 1983 p. 279. About the model from the tomb V of Khasekhemwy on the Umm el Qa'ab (Abydos) we must say that only the sign 'Ntr' can be seen of the Horus name and ,beside, 'Baw Pe' ; indeed this piece could also be of Netjeryhet.
The Tomb of Ninetjer at Saqqara (B)
The immense set of galleries forming the substructure of the tomb of Ninetjer was found almost forty years after that of Hotepsekhemwy (A); S.B. Hassan was studying the beautiful representations in the Unas complex causeway and he noticed with few lines at the end of his article (ASAE 38, 1938, 521) that another tomb, similar to that found by A. Barsanti in 1900, was located some distance to the east, under the mentioned causeway. The stairway entrance started under the VI th dynasty mastaba of the vizier Nebkawhor (circa 150 meters from the entrance of the Hotepsekhemwy tomb) and, after a straight course, blocked by portcullis, it curved towards the west expanding in the first groups of magazines and adjoining galleries of the antechamber section; three principal galleries formed the main axis of the subterraneans and from these long passages spread like in a vast labyrinth before finally reaching the south-westernmost funerary chamber; the ceiling of this latter had collapsed for later pits which had been dug on it, as in the western tomb, in saite and persian age but also by the poor quality of the rock in this part of the site (Dodson in KMT 7:2, 1996 p. 19 ff); for the same reason the plan of the galleries is far from being with square rooms and sharply straight corridors (as can be seen in a detail of the only north west part in a plan published in GM 63).
The researches in these galleries were restarted only in 1980 by Scottish and German Universities' archaeologists; it had since thought that the area they covered was similar to that of tomb A but recent explorations revealed that further 5000 s.m. of surface would make Ninetjer tomb B much larger than the other one (which is however still to be demontrated).
In recent years G. Dreyer has moved from the work at Umm el-Qaab, to the ED Royal Necropolis of Saqqara; apart from hints in a lecture "Aufgaben und Forschungsschwerpunkte der Abteilung Kairo" for the 175th DAI Anniversary (Nov. 11, 2004) nothing has been hitherto published.
[Also cf. J. Van Wetering, The Royal Cemetery of the Early Dynastic Period at Saqqara and the Second Dynasty Royal Tombs, in: Hendrickx et al. eds., Egypt at its Origins, 2004, 1065f.].
The superstructure has been investigated at the beginning of the nineties: such a vast substructure couldn't be entirely covered with a mudbrick mastaba for it would have involved huge quantities of material.
Dr. Munro's team of excavations evidenced that at least two different areas formed the floor of the monument, one in the first 20 m. to the north was coated with compact clay (perhaps it was an open court placed after a northern entrance); after a step one meter high coated with local limestone masonry, there began a second longer area placed on the taller terrace on which it could perhaps have been some kind of mastaba or other structure; this southern part was perhaps logically linked, with its hidden and thus sacred aspect, to the corresponding subterranean sector below it, where the burial chamber and model apartments were found.
No trace of an enclosure wall has been found around but it's noteworthy the presence of a 'dry moat' as Dr. N.Swelim called it or a long rock cut trench which runs from west to east, just between the Unas causeway and the Djoser's southern wall; this artificial work has good chances to be related to the two Second Dynasty tombs and must, in this case, have been ordered for the monument of Ninetjer who decided to create some sort of division which included the superstructure of his grandfather (or father?) Hotepsekhemwy (inspirator of his own tomb model) to create a very impressive monument.
A very interesting fact is that, if this hypothesis was correct, the northern area of this complex at its time corresponded to the more profane rooms of the galleries placed below it (the storage rooms): the open court could therefore have been a space destined to ceremonial usage, the same suspected for the great enclosures ('Talbezirke') of Abydos and those at Saqqara and clearly evident in the Djoser complex buildings.
The royal tomb was going to becoming one with the complementary cultic functions once practised in a distant monument (but again splitted in structures apart during with Peribsen and Khasekhemwy at Abydos); also the private tomb was soon to become a space also for the living not only for the dead: the example of the ideal path which can be accomplished in a mastaba as that of Hesyra (S2405) where the visitor is led to the offering place through a serie of accompanying representations on the walls, can be compared with the contemporary one, though more complex and on larger scale, from within (and beneath) the Royal monument of Djoser at Saqqara.
Religious beliefs' changes but also more practical factors (a tomb was safer from robbers if it was crowded than if remote and unfrequented) brought these developments of the concept of how a tomb had to be built and what had to be made within it.
What must be remarked is also the fact that the superstructure of tomb B might hint at an unexpected early evolution of funerary royal complex: the union of ritual areas and burial apartments which was thought to have been achieved only in Djoser's reign, would have a precedent in the Early Second Dynasty royal tombs at Saqqara, located few meters south of the Step Pyramid Complex. On the other hand no one can tell what this latter monument might have obliterated, e.g. structures connected with Hotepsekhemwy, Ninetjer's and other royal tombs [cf. J. Van Wetering, op. cit., 2004; D. O'Connor, in: Pyramid Origins: a New Theory, in: E. Ehrenberg (ed.), Leaving No Stones Unturned. Essays ... in Honor of D.P. Hansen, 2002, 169-182; W. Kaiser, Zur unterirdischen Anlage der Djoserpyramide und ihrer entwicklungsgeschichtilichen Einordung, in: Grammer-Wallert, Helck (eds.), Gegengabe ...., 1992, 167-190; P. Munro, SAK 10; P. Munro et al., DE 26, 1993, 46-58].
For an account of the datation of the inscribed material from the reign of Ninetjer see Helck Z.A.S. 106, 1979 p.120-132.
The Mdjh Gnwty Ruaben belongs to the first part of the reign of Ninetjer, followed in charge by Nihptyptah and, in the last part of the reign by Khnwmneferhotep (Nfr-htp-Khnemw) and Khnwmenii (Ji-en-Khnemw).(Helck cit.; Kaplony I.A.F. I).
For a possible prince of Ninetjer named on Pyr.Deg. V n.13-15 as Wadjnes (the future Wng ?) see Helck cit. p.128 n.5.
There are five elite tombs in the Northern cemetery of Saqqara with material dated to the reign of Ninetjer.
S 2171 (Quibell 'Archaic Mastabas' 1923 p.30 pl.XVII,3 ; P.M. Top. Bibl. 'Memphis' 1974 p.436; Kaplony I.A.F. III,748) one seal impression with Ninetjer Horus name, Grgt Nekhbet (town name) vineyards, a standing anthropomorphic goddess with ankh and wadj sceptre , 'Hwt-[Hor]-wa-Pe' royal estate and Per Desher of this latter (Kaplony I.A.F. I p.151-3).
This tomb is located immediately west of slightly smaller S2185, near the eastern escarpment. As this latter it was built under Djer's reign in the first dynasty but then S2171 was rebuilt under Ninetjer' reign for an unknown official of this king (Sect. E1).
The superstructure of this tomb is a mudbrick mastaba with two niches on the east facade, the southern more complex and with a particular plan (see Vandier 'Manuel d' Archaeologie Egyptienne' I p. 695-6, fig. 457 n.132); the tomb lacks the outer thick mudbrick wall that usually surrounds the other contemporary mastabas.
The substructure is partly excavated in a sandy rock which in this area covers the plateau limestone . The stairway is straight as in some Ist and IIIrd dyn. tombs substructures, descending from North to South and reaching,after c. 10 meters, the portcullis; few meters before this there are four little storerooms (two on the west and two on the east); other two couples of storerooms are in the main corridor, at some distance from each other; after a brief passage the corridor enlarges to form a final chamber with two storerooms on the east, a roughly dug appendix on the south, and the burial chamber on the west (Vandier op. cit., 663).
S 2302 (Quibell loc.cit.; Kaplony I.A.F. I p. 151-3 ; II p.834-38; P.M. loc.cit.; Emery 'Archaic Egypt' 1961 p. 94-5) belongs to Ruaben (Niruab) (Helck Z.A.S. 106, 1979) . This is one of the greatest private mastabas of the North Saqqara archaic mastaba field. It has produced 8 inscriptions with the names of Ninetjer and Ruaben (also the title Hrp-neby and the Royal Estate 'Hwt sentjer netjerw'; a 'marbled limestone' vessel (Kaplony I.A.F.S. p.34 fig.1076) has a title of Ruaben '[Medjeh]? -Qestyw (or Gnwtyw) (Overseer of the Sculptors) Ruaben. (See also Kahl S.A.H.1994 p.732-gnwty- and p.353- sources-)).
The huge S2302 lies c. 100 m. west of the escarpment and c. 80 m south east of Hesyra' s S2405; immediately east there are other IInd and III rd dyn. mastabas and c. 80 m. south east there' s S2171. (S2302 is in sectors G2-F2).
Description (Vandier Manuel I p. 661; Emery loc.cit.; Quibell loc.cit.; see also Helck L.A. V, 1984 p.387 ff.):
The superstructure (58 x 32,64 m) is built in mudbricks filled with a very compact black mud; an external revetment surrounds all the perimeter of the mastaba leaving a narrow corridor between the two internal walls; both the inner and the outer facades are plain except for two niches on the east side, one near the northern corner and another, more complex, near the southern: these niches are doubled by similar ones in the internal facade (see fig. below) . (Vandier 'Manuel' I p.695-6)
The substructure is of the Reisner Type IV A (1) (cfr. Vandier op.cit. p. 661-2) : the descending stairway starts from the east side c. 6 meters within the wall and, as all the substructure, is entirely dug in the ground's limestone rock. After c.10 meters the stairway meets to the north and west some chambers and to the south,after a brief stair, a first huge blocking stone (portcullis); the corridor goes on southward after two storerooms (one on each side) and reaches another portcullis beyond which there are two storerooms on each side and the last blocking stone ; then, few meters south, the corridor enlarges and three storerooms open on its western side (on the right), three to the west; the southernmost of these latter communicates with the central one by a further room and, through a passage near its entrance, with a complex of bathroom-storeroom and latrine . This latter room is also accessible from the main corridor which further enlarges to form a true central chamber ; in front of this there' s a set of 3 rooms, the southernmost of the substructure, while on the right (to the west) there' s the funerary chamber with an oval hole of few more than one meter which had to house the coffin. The rooms are from 1,4 to 1,8 meters high and some have traces of door jambs and of chalk lining; the complex of latrine and washing- room (with a water-jar hole on the ground placed in a sort of niche formed by two facing pillars) is commonly found to the south or south east part of the tombs substructures of this age, forming a kind of small scale imitation of the palace apartments ( A.M. Roth JARCE 30, 1993, 40); the royal tombs of Hotepsekhemwy and Ninetjer also have one.
S 2498 (Quibell op.cit. 44-5; P.M. op.cit. 440; Kahl op.cit. p.353; Kaplony I.A.F. I p.153; I.A.F. II p. 838) 4 inscriptions from this Mastaba (seal impressions): one with the probable name of Ninetjer only, and three other ones with a longer inscription where a possible name Nikara can be read . (Kaplony I.A.F. II ,838)
The tomb (in sect. H2) is less than 150 m. north of Ruaben's S2302; it's the smallest of the four here treated. The substructure can be entered by the usual east-west stairway which, after a portcullis, leads to the main corridor, indeed a large room, with north south axis, three storerooms (one on the east side and two on the west) and a southern brief passage; this latter accedes into a room entirely to the west, at the end of which there's the funerary chamber place. (Vandier op. cit. p. 663) .
S 3009 (Third dynasty ?) (Kahl. op.cit. 353-4; Pyr.Deg. IV vol.1 pl. VI,8 ; id. V p.5 fig. 10,11) 3 inscriptions;
This tomb is dated to the third dynasty by Helck (L.A. V,1984 p.399) and Reisner (Tomb Dev. p.386) whereas in Pyr.Deg.V p.5 its datation is IInd dynasty. Helck notices (Z.A.S. 106 p. 127) that the S3009 is near the S3014(of the Wng reign) but this information is probably incorrect because S3014 is c. 100 meters west of the sorth west corner of S2302.
S3009 is located (H3) in the central field (c. 60 m. west of Hesyra's) in the centre of a group of other II-III dyn. mastabas.
On one stone vessel the name of Ptahenhpty (Ni-hpty-Ptah) (Helck op.cit. 127) has been found as well as that of Khnwmenii (Jj-n-Khnmw, see below).
In S2429 (IInd dyn.), some meters southwest of S2498, ink inscriptions of Khnwmenii/Jienkhnemw/InjKhnum were found on an alabaster vessels.
This individual had an outstanding importance in the period and many other vessels bearing his name in relation to the Heb-Sed fest have been found in the complex of Netjerykhet. Some ink inscriptions with his name were also found in the mentioned S3009; in the so called Labyrinth of Buto (GM 157, 107ff.) his name has been found on seal impressions. He probably gathered many stone vessels inscribed with Ist Dynasty kings' names from the other private tombs of Saqqara, the same ones which were later grouped in Djoser's galleries VI-VII (and in Sekhemkhet's complex: cf. Horus Sekhemkhet, 21, pl. 65).
It must be noted that I. Regulski (cf. supra) finds in this tomb some archaeological support to her hypothesis of later datation of the Step Pyramid Complex ink inscribed inscriptions on Stone Vessels. In her opinion the more probable date to the late IInd Dyn. - Early IIIrd Dyn. for this tomb, would make the official Ji-en-Khnum a contemporary of Khasekhemwy probably died in the reign of Netjerykhet or of Sekhemkhet (cf. Khasekhemwy for this discussion).
[Plans and location in Quibell, Archaic Mastabas, 1923; Reisner, Tomb Development, 1936; Emery J.E.A. 56; Martin J.E.A. 60; Vandier, Manuel I.2; Helck op.cit. p.387; A.J. Spencer Or. 43; Stone vessels with inscriptions: Lacau-Lauer, PD IV,1-2; id. PD V; for Khnwmenii see also Helck, loc. cit.; T. von der Way, Zur Datierung des "Labyrinth-Gebaudes" auf dem Tell el-Fara'in (Buto), in: GM 157, 1997, 107-111; Kaplony, in: van den Brink ed. Nile Delta in Transition, 1992, 23-30. For slightly later tombs see Wneg (S3014) and the 2002 Dutch excavations at Saqqara beneath the NK tomb of Meryneith].
Five different inscriptions on 11 jar sealing impressions were discovered by Petrie in a tomb in the South field of Giza (Kaplony, IAF I, 151-3; id., IAF III, pl.124-5; Petrie, Gizeh and Rifeh, 1907, 7, pl. V) and others were discovered by Z. Saad in the tomb 505 H4 at Helwan (1951, 17). No dignitary name is preserved by these two categories of seals impressions but on the Giza's appear the 'Hwt senter netjerw' , the Per-Desher and Grgt Nekhbet; on the Helwan examples an eastern Delta estate (unpreserved name) is documented (see Kaplony, IAF II, 838).
(On the inscriptions from Saqqara, Giza and Helwan see Kaplony, IAF I, 150-3; id., IAF II, 834-8; for the Giza tomb see also G.T. Martin, in: OrMonsp IX -Fs Lauer, 1997, 279-88 where the L. Covington's 1902-3 South Giza map has been published).
It is still very difficult to try to establish the course of the events immediately following the reign of Ninetjer up to the age of reprise in Khasekhem's reign.
Apart from the mere doubtful identities of kings like Za, Wneg, Sened, Nwbnefer, Neferkaseker, Peribsen and Sekhemib, it' s still object of debate whether or not a division of the two lands truly occurred, with contemporary sovereigns reigning in Memphis and Abydos.
For now, the reality of that historical period can only be hypothesized; each newly found monument or inscription could shed light on this question. Modern archaeological excavations at Saqqara and Abydos are certainly the primary sources of data from which it can be expected that, somewhere in the future, a number of problems will find a solution.
We have mentioned the great prosperity that the egyptian state seems to go through at the time of Horus Nineter: the sheer abundance of inscriptions (if they are to be dated to his reign), his large tomb and the three Mastabas at Saqqara seem to support this impression of an age of order and efficiency.
Then what might be the reason the apparently repentine change to chaos and degradation from the subsequent reign on? We have seen that the Palermo Stone indication of the Nile flood level records a sensible debate at the beginning of the second third of N. reign; could it be that the incapability of the successors to manage such a difficulty caused a drop in the effective welfare of the state, which is 'echoed' in the nearly absolute silence of the archaeological sources?
I am inclined to think that the religious indicators (Seth and the like) are the effect of something else that lies in the political or economical sphere; neither rebellions nor civil wars are documented for at least the first half of the Dynasty. Only Khasekhem looks like having been military involved in the North (but precisely against whom it's not very clear).
Hierakonpolis (the settlement of Nekhen) might throw some light on the facts, but its involvement with the Second Dynasty seems to be limited to the reign of Khasekhem (early Khasekhemwy's phase) in the Fort and mortuary areas.
See the books and articles quoted in the text and in the Second Dynasty Introductory page. In particular see Munro, Kaiser and Stadelmann's articles for recent archaeological surveys of Saqqara Tomb B. Also cf. the recent: D. Gould, in: S. Bickel - A. Loprieno (eds.), Basel Egyptology..., Aegyptiaca Helvetica 17, 2003, 29-53.
For general recent surveys of the reign: T. Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, 1999, 85f.; J. van Wetering, Vereniging van de Beide Landen en de vroeg Egyptische Staat, 2004, 74f. (PDF).