Did you know the first Pharaoh of the united Egypt was killed by a hippopotamus?

| Updated: February 11, 2023 18:01:42

Did you know the first Pharaoh of the united Egypt was killed by a hippopotamus?

We are all fascinated by ancient Egypt and the tales of the Pharaohs. There were about 30 dynasties of Pharaohs.

The first or early dynastic period started more than 5000 years back, and legend says the first Pharaoh of the long line of Egyptian Pharaohs started from the first king of that period.

Many ancient historians believed he was the one who brought upper and lower Egypt together to form a united Kingdom.

There's a lot of debate about his name. According to Manetho, an ancient Egyptian historian, he is called Menes. Herodotus named him Min, and in a later list of Pharaohs, he was referred to as Meni.

Modern archaeologists also called him Narmer or Aha. Manetho, however, claimed Narmer was actually a successor of Menes.

There are only a few records of Menes in ancient texts. There is no mention of him in the seal found in the necropolis of Umm el-Qaab in Abydos, which listed the names of several early first dynast rulers.

Many scholars believed that Menes could be either Narmer or Aha, listed as the first and second kings of the first dynasty. The majority believed Narmer was the one, and Aha was his son. But not everyone agrees.

For example, famous Egyptologist Flinders Petrie argued that Menes is basically not a name but a title held by Narmer. He and Menes are essentially the same person.

If Menes is a historical figure, then he was probably born in Thinis or Hierakonpolis. His rule happened somewhere between 3100 to 3000 B.C.

Many credit him for joining upper and lower Egypt in a single state. A combination of political and military means probably achieved this.

Legend also mentioned a marriage between him and a princess of the opposing royal family. Since then, the Pharaohs started to wear two crowns to indicate unification.

The current view is that the unification of Egypt was not achieved in the lifetime of a single Pharaoh. Rather it was the result of a concerted effort over several generations.

They point to the name Menes, which actually translates into 'He who endures.' This school of thought proposed that Menes is a symbol of all first-dynasty pharaohs who successfully worked or endured to create a single kingdom.

Mythologically, Menes received the throne directly from the god Horus. So he was the first human king of Egypt as well. He could be viewed as the founding father of Egypt, much like Romulus and Remus of Rome.

Ancient writers said that he introduced Egyptian to the gods and encouraged their worship. He also initiated the sacrifice and other religious rituals.

Pliny, the Roman author, even attributed the discovery of written scripts and papyrus to Menes. Greek historian Diodorus Siculus honoured him as the first Egyptian lawmaker. He was celebrated as a fierce warrior by Manetho, who expanded the kingdom. Menes was said to initiate Egyptian military presence in Canaan.

Herodotus also spoke about Menes. He credited Menes with the construction of Memphis by creating a dam and diverting the flow of the Nile. Menes built the city on reclaimed land; it became the seat of power for the first dynasty.

However, archaeological excavations unearthed evidence that other kings visited Memphis before the period of Menes, so the story of Menes building the city probably needed to be more accurate.

It is believed that Menes, if existed, ruled for over 60 years. According to legend, he founded the city of Crocodilopolis dedicated to crocodiles since one of them carried him to safety when his own hunting dogs chased him.

His death was, in short, quite horrible. Manetho and some other ancient writers claimed a hippopotamus killed or devoured him. In ancient Egypt, this was one of the worst ways to leave the world. His was probably entombed in the Saqqara necropolis in Memphis.

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