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Ancient Egypt - Pharaoh Khasekhemwy

Updated: Nov 5, 2020


Khasekhemwy was the last Pharaoh of the 2ndDynasty. Most Egyptologists believe Khasekhem changed his name to Khasekhemwy when he reunited Upper and Lower

Egypt after a civil war between the followers of the gods Horus and Seth. As a result, he ended the infighting of the Second Dynasty and reunited Egypt.

Khasekhemwy is unique in Egyptian history as having both the symbols of Horus and Seth on his serekh. (A serekh was a royal crest that accentuated and honored the name of the pharaoh). Some scholars believe that this was an attempt to unify the two factions; but after his death, Seth was dropped from the serekh permanently.

Portraits of the King

He was one of the earliest Egyptian kings known to have built statues of himself. A limestone statue, restored from fragments at Hierakonpolis was discovered by the Quibell and Green excavations in 1897-98.

The king is shown enthroned wearing the White Crown, the symbol of Upper Egypt, and the close-fitting jubilee robe. His right hand is drilled for insertion of a separate object, probably a flail or sceptre, and his name is scratched on the base within the early 'palace facade' form of a cartouche. This statue, together with another in green siltstone, almost identical and also from Hierakonpolis, is the earliest surviving example of royal sculpture from Egypt.

The base of the statue records a military campaign of the king against the inhabitants of the Delta, symbolized at the front right by a group of papyrus springing from the head of a bound figure being struck by a mace. The rest of the base is inscribed with the bodies of slain enemies, with the total - 47,209 - given on the front panel.

(Tomb V)

He built a unique and large tomb at Abydos, known as (Tomb V), the last such royal tomb built in that necropolis. The trapezoidal tomb measures some 230 ft in length and is 56 ft wide at its northern end, and 33 ft wide at its southern end. This area was divided into 58 rooms. Prior to some recent discoveries from the First Dynasty, its central burial chamber was considered the oldest masonry structure in the world, being built of quarried limestone. Here, the excavators discovered the king's scepter of gold and sard, as well as several beautifully made small stone pots with gold leaf lid coverings, apparently missed by earlier tomb robbers. In fact, Petrie detailed a number of items removed during the excavations that included flint and copper tools, vessels filled with grain and fruit, and a large quantity of seals among other smaller objects.

Shunet ez Zebib

Khasekhemwy built a funerary cult enclosure at Abydos called the Shunet ez Zebib. Originally thought of as a fort by earlier archaeologists, the structure is one of Egypt’s oldest standing royal monuments and one of the oldest preserved mud brick buildings in the world. The two-part funerary complex, consisting of the

underground tomb and the above-ground enclosure, is of great architectural importance, as it portrays the earliest stages of the evolution of the pyramid. The structure includes two concentric rectangular enclosure walls. Most of the inner wall is intact while only part of the outer wall remains. The enclosure walls stand 35-40 feet high in some places but suffers from structural instability due to the elements of nature.

The Great Enclosure

Khasekhemwy also built the Great Enclosure, one of the oldest known stone structures in Egypt. Located at Saqqara, this structure was also called the Gisr el-Mudir, which is Arabic for 'Bridge of the Chief'. The structure consists of a rectangular wall oriented north-south and measuring about 2100 x 1150 feet. The style of construction suggests an original height of around 33 feet. This pattern recurs in the larger funerary complex of Djoser's step pyramid. The walls were probably completed, but no remains of a construction have been found within the center of the complex and the monument remains somewhat of a mystery.


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