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Menes is the name of the Egyptian king credited with founding the First dynasty, sometime around 3100 BC. Menes was seen as a founding figure for much of the history of Ancient Egypt, and was possibly a mythical founding king similar to Romulus and Remus for Ancient Rome.Manley, Bill. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt. p.22-23. 1997 ISBN 0140513310

Ancient Egyptian legend credits a pharaoh by this name with uniting Upper and Lower Egypt into in a single, centralized monarchy. However, his name does not appear on extant pieces of the Royal Annals (Cairo Stone and Palermo Stone), which is a now-fragmentary king's list that was carved onto a stela sometime during the Fifth dynasty. He typically appears in later sources as the first human ruler of Egypt, directly inheriting the throne from the god Horus.Shaw, Ian and Nicholson, Paul. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. p.218. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1995. ISBN 0-8109-9096-2 He also appears in other, much later, king's lists, always as the first human pharaoh of Egypt. Two king's lists of the 19th dynasty (13th century BC) call him Meni, the 3rd century BC Egyptian historian Manetho called him Menes, and the 5th century BC Greek historian Herodotus referred to him as Min. Menes also appears in demotic novels of the Graeco-Roman Period, demonstrating that he even that late was regarded as important figure.

Menes is also credited with the foundation of Memphismarker, which he established as the Egyptian capital. According to Manetho, Menes reigned for 62 years and was killed by a hippopotamus .

Archeological evidence

The discovery of the Narmer Palette in the late 19th century depicting the hitherto unknown pharaoh Narmer, possibly pre-dating Menes, wielding the symbols of both Upper and Lower Egypt, cast doubt on the traditional account. The general scholarly consensus is that Narmer and Menes (or his successor Hor-Aha) are in fact the same person. Others hold that Menes inherited an already-unified kingdom from Narmer; still others believe that Menes completed a process of unification started either unsuccessfully or only partially successfully by Narmer. In any case, while there is extensive archeological evidence of there being a pharaoh named Narmer, the only indisputable evidence for Menes is an ostracon which contains his name under the Nebty symbols. There is a general suspicion that Menes either was a name of Narmer, Narmer's predecessor, or of Narmer's successor, Hor-Aha.Some people also believe that this may have been a legend created by the Egyptians to tell what happened. Others think that Narmer may have been the father of Menes.

See also


  1. Herodotus, Euterpe, 2.4.1 and 2.99.1ff.
  2. Kim Ryholt: Egyptian Historical Literature from the Greco-Roman Period, In: Martin Fitzenreiter (editor), Das Ereignis, Geschichtsschreibung zwischen Vorfall und Befund, London 2009 p. 231-238 ISBN 978-1-906137-13-7
  3. cf. Herodotus, Euterpe, 2.99.4.
  4. Archibald Henry Sayce, Edward Gibbon, Ancient Empires of the East vol. 1 (Philadelphia: J. D. Morris, 1906), 15.
  5. Gardiner, Alan. Egypt of the Pharaohs. p. 405. Oxford University Press, 1961

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