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ab. 3100 B.C. till ab. 3050 B.C.
1. Pharaoh of the 1. Dynasty
Pharaonic names:
Nesw-bity: early pharaohs had none
Horus: Hor-Narmer
Nebty: Menes?
Golden Horus Hor-Narmer-Tjai

First king of the first dynasty

Not much is known about Pharaoh Narmer. A palette, found 1898 in Hierakopolis shows his name and himself, wearing the crowns of both upper and lower Egypt, indicating, he may have united both ab. 3100 B.C. or at least made that claim. We know, Egypt didn't stay together, because a later pharaoh, probably Khasekhemwy had to do it all over again during the late second dynasty.
In fact, Narmer's time is so early, that we have not much information about Egypt in that time at all. A bigger number of egyptologists identify Narmer with the legendary King Menes grom Manthos' work, but this claim is by no means universal accepted. This has implications on the way the very early history of ancient Egypt is seen by different experts. Some claim for example, that Narmer would be Hor-Aha, the second pharaoh of the first dynasty and that he had inherited an already united country from his father. Of course, there is no evidence for that, but evidence against it, since Narmer wore already both crowns and the little sources, we have about his father doesn't include any royal insignia other than the insignia of the City of Thinis (his name started with Ka-, so we don't even know his complete birthname or any throne name), indicating, he wasn't even a pharaoh over Egypt but rather a city ruler.
Others claim, Narmer started the process of unification but didn't finish it. But we know from the king lists, Narmer's sucessor is always displayed with both crowns, indicating, there had never been a time during Hor-Aha's rulership, in which Egypt wasn't united. Which brings us back to Namrer, who wore both crowns as well, which would have been virtually impossible if he wouldn't have been king of both parts. But those who claim, Narmer didn't finish the job, found an easy way around, by adding a King Menes before Hor-Aha and after Narmer, who, in their version of the story would have finished the unification. Unfortunately, there is not one shred of archaeological evidence for that. While Narmer appears also on the Abydos seal in conjunction with the gameboard hieroglyph for "mn". So, in other words: The experts struggle over something, they don't have in the first place.
More over, two king lists found recently in the tombs of Den and Qua'a, two other kings of the first dynasty, acknowledge Narmer as founder of the first dynasty, followed directly by Hor-Aha. The name Menes doesn't appear at all, because in those lists were usually the horus names used, while Menes is a personal name. So, technically, the discussion should be over, but then, egyptologists are used to longer time periods than most normal people, so we probably have to give them just one or two centuries more time.
His wife is thought to have been Neithhotep (Neith is satisfied). She is also mentioned as Hor-Aha's mother in his tomb.

The tomb and other artifacts

Narmer's tomb is located in the Umm el Qua'ab graveyard, near Abydos. It consits of just two chambers and appears, compared with tombs from the mauch later pharaohs in the Valley of Kings, rather modest. Still, given the technical abilities during the time of the first dynasty, it's not out of the order.
The only other notable tomb in the neighborhood is the tomb of Ka, probably his father, who ruled Thinis before him. This indicates, Umm el Qua'ba was rather the traditional royal burial ground of the rulers of Thinis than kind of a national capital burial ground.
The identification of the tomb was made by members of the Nahal Tillah expedition, who dicovered a ceramic shard in 1994, bearing the name of Narmer, the same individual as known from the palette, in conjunction with a serekh-sign (basically the oldest formal way to mark a king's names, it should take still a long time till the cartouches would become popular). The shard was part of a wine jar and we know, that Narmer had in Tel Arad, Ein Habesor, Rafah and Tel Erani, all in southern Canaan, the same kind of wine hars produced, all nicely stamped with his name. So, this is only a partial prove of identification, because in fact, there were a lot of those jars around, back in Narmer's days. However, there are not many other possible suspects for that tomb anyway.
Another noteworthy artifact is of course the afore mentioned palette. This one shows Narmer with crowns, lots of slaves or prisoners, in short: It's a nice piece of early Egyptian artwork. However, this proves his existence, but not much else. So bottom line is, there is still a lot of work to do.

Anything else?

There is not much else, we know about Narmer. We can assume, he had to be a pretty strong king if he ruled that long as he did over a freshly united kingdom in which the people hated each other. And an even stronger military leader, because it is hard to believe, the unification of Egypt happened without some degree of military violence.
But we have no detailed reports about military campaigns, we don't know much about his economic policies (yes, they were back then as important as today).
We know a little bit about his family. His wife was probably Neithhotep, a princess of Northen Egypt, but from where there remains a mystery, and he had a son named Hor-Aha, or at least later named Hor-Aha, when he became pharoah after Narmer's death. We can assume, there would be more siblings, but their traces are lost in the dust of the millenia.

... back
Tue, May 17, 2016
12:00 AM CT

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Fri, Dec 18, 2015
12:00 AM CT

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Thu, Oct 22, 2015
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Thu, Sep 24, 2015
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Mon, Aug 17, 2015
12:00 AM CT

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Wed, Jul 15, 2015
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Sat, Jun 20, 2015
12:00 AM CST

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Sat, May 16, 2015
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Thu, Apr 16, 2015
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Mon, Mar 16, 2015
12:00 AM CT

Darren Deon Vann
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Wed, Mar 4, 2015
12:00 AM CT

Due to technical problems, the March article was up late. Take my apologies for this glitch.

Mon, Feb 16, 2015
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Mon, Dec 8, 2014
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Fri, Nov 7, 2014
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The Trailside Killer
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Tue, Oct 7, 2014
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Fri, Sep 12, 2014
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Thu, Aug 14, 2014
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Michael Lee Lockhart
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Tue, Aug 12, 2014
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A Game of Daggers
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Sat, Jul 5, 2014
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Ivan Hill
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Sun, Jun 8, 2014
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Thu, May 1, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Dagmar Overbye
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Thu, May 1, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Pharaoh Djoser added to the Egyptian Collection
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Fri, Apr 4, 2014
12:00 AM CT

The Green River Killer
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Tue, Mar 4, 2014
12:00 AM CT

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Fri, Feb 7, 2014
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Hans van Zon
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Mon, Jan 6, 2014
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The Syracuse Dungeon Master
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Thu, Jan 2, 2014
12:00 AM CT

The last of the 2nd dynasty pharaohs, the man who re-united Egypt, is now also in the Egyptian collection.

Thu, Dec 12, 2013
12:00 AM CT

Pharaoh Sekhemib added to the Egyptian Collection
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Tue, Dec 10, 2013
12:00 AM CT

The Riha disappearance
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Mon, Nov 4, 2013
12:00 AM CT

Richard N. Clarey jr.
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Wed, Oct 2, 2013
12:00 AM CT

Now in the collection: William E. Cosden
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Copyright if not otherwise mentioned Peter and Diane Brendt 2010-. All copies, also in parts, demand the written consent of the copyright holders