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ab. 3050 B.C. till ab. 3049 B.C.
2. Pharaoh of the 1. Dynasty
Pharaonic names:
Nesw-bity: early pharaohs had none
Horus: Hor-Aha (Serekh name)
Nebty: Ity?
Golden Horus unknown

Dating Hor-Aha

Now that's a real problem with those early kings. The lists of Manetho indicate, he ruled for 30 years. However, his successor Djer ruled for 40 years and his predecessor Narmer for about 50 years and all of them in about the same century. Lets just say, archaeologists have to do a little work on that. What we know, hoever, is the order Narmer to his son Hor-Aha to Djer.
Well, I may should have written, what we assume, based on archaeologic evidence. Because due to the many names, those pharohs bore as part of the royal titulary, there is still some discussion, even it appears, from a rather logical point of view, clear. See Pharaoh Narmer for more information.
However, seals from Umm el-Qua'ab found by G. Dreyer from the burials of Merneith and Qua'a, one the consort or wife of Pharaoh Djer, the other one another pharaoh of the first dynasty, acknowledge Hor-Aha as the second pharaoh of the first dynasty.

Interior policy and other anecdotes

As it appears, Hor-Aha has conducted many religious activities. A visit to a shirne of Neith in Sais is recorded on several tablets. Also, the first depiction of the sacred Henu-barque of the god Sokar was found on a table celecrating a certain year of his reign, indicating a connection also to the Sokar cult.
Considering, that Hor-Aha ruled over a kingdom that had just been unified since a generation and probably not in a peaceful way, religion would have been a good political way to drive forward an inner unification. Sokar was technically a falcon god from Memphis. Only later, he was often put in a kind of triple deity as Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. Now, Osiris, who started his career originally rather as a fertility deity was on the way to become God of the Dead. In a way, he was non-localized. But Ptah was the main deity of Memphis. Memphis as in capital of lower Egypt. And Neith, the other deity, honored by a visit of Hor-Aha, originated from Sais. Far lower Egypt! Now, Thinis, even archaeologists still search for the ruins of the city, is well documented as bordering to the kingdom of Thebes, later the fourth nome of upper Egypt. In other words, Thinis, the place, the king grew up and became king in the first place, knew like nothing about Neith or Sokar. He went and honored the deities of the defeated and force-united former enemy. It'S very hard, not to see the political calculation in this acts.

However, there is a little more to it. Neithhotep, as the evidence looks, his mother and his father Narmer's wife, died during the reign of Hor-Aha and he arranged for her burial in a wonderful masataba ... in Naquada! Now Naquada or as it was known by the people then, Nubt, was North of Thinis, but not that much. Technically, just enough North of it, to be exactly the first part, counting itself to lower Egypt. In other words, she came from the frontlines of the unification war. That paints an interesting picture, because if she was the wife of Narmer and the mother of Hor-Aha, she was either seen as a traitor by their own people in a war, they lost or, more likely, Narmer had married her just after he conquered her home province. Significant is here, that the main deity of Naquada was Seth, the God of chaos and occasionally also war. In a way, the one, who had been the strongest of all lower Egyptian deities.
So when Hor-Aha, with mighty pomp, gave back Neithhotep to Naquada, instead of burying her in Umm el-Qua'ab, where his family had their burials, he set another political sign. He buried the queen in her old home province, demonstrating, Naquada was now an equal province of his united kingdom, a worthy place for a royal woman to rest. So there were connections between Thinis and lower Egypt as well, also before Narmer force-united them. And Hor-Aha, his son, honored those connections. Again, it is hard to ignore the political implicetions.
A third piece of evidence supports this theory and one big piece it is! The oldest mastaba in the necropolis of Saqquara, dates from the reign of Hor-Aha. This is a sign of the growing importance of Mamphis during his rulership. This tomb belonged to an important local administrator, it wasn't a royal tomb. But as it was custom back then, this adminstrator had to be a relative to the king and as the size of the tomb (bigger than Pharaoh Narmer's tomb for example) indicates, a close and important one. Putting all of this together, it appears to me as if Hor-Aha was already about to build up Memphis as a second capital which of course, would have gone a long way to make the lower Egyptians more comfortable with the unification.
Anoher detail is interesting, when it comes to Hor-Aha. While there are, due to the long time, not many surviving artifacts, those few, copper axe heads, an ivory box, inscribed marbles and fayence vessels, show a high level of craftsmanship, kind of a technological leap in more than one technique. Such a jump wouldn't be local. In other words, similar wares were traded and as we know, trade and production are pillars of a flourishing economy. Thinking on a behavioral level, and my readers know, I do that always, that paints the picture of a very busy and smart king, who knew about the powers of religious manipulation and economical success. And given, that none of his activities is documented outside of the Nile Valley (opposite to Narmer, who had trade relationships to the Levante for example), it appears, as if Hot-Aha's focus was his own people, he had to mentally unite after his father united them formally by the force of his weapons.

Trade and War

Inscriptions on a year tablet suggest, Hor-Aha led also a military expedition against Nubia. One year table calls that year explcitly the "Year of smiting the Nubians". So it was more than just a little border skirmish. Now, the situation at the Southern border had always been a littl iffy since the Nubians had some attitude of coming over the border to plunder and, as some findings indicate also make slaves. Which of course drew some amnger from the Egyptian side. Now, the Egyptians had always some special attitude to war. They led wars, a lot of them. But typically, they had also a tendency to burn down some towns and after that, to go home again instead of occupying the conquered lands. So also in this case: Nothing indicates, that Hor-Aha added with that expedition any provinces to his kingdom. But what he actually did there, and we know no details, convinced the Nubians to respect that border for decades to come.
And there was trade. Traditionally, at least in the times of his father Narmer, there were long distance trading routes. Jars from southern Canaan, wood from the Levante and whatnot. In Hor-Aha's times, the focus shifted more to inland trade. The stronger the trade connections between the two parts of his kingdom, the stronger the integration, the mental unification. As a consequence, the trade with distant locations like the southern Levante declined. Still, the trade never stopped and archaeological finds in his tomb include products from Egyptian settlements along the Lebanese coast. So trade and crafts were much stornger as in Narmer's time, but the domestic economy had some priority.

Death of a pharaoh

We don't know how Hor-Aha died. There is the story, Manetho told, that he was carried away by a hippopotamus. Which sounds at the first moment a little surprising, since the Menes legend includes, also Menes was killed by a hippo during a hunting trip. But then, back then, the Assuam dam wasn't built and corcodiles as well as hippopotami roamed freely all the Nile Valley. Eaten by y crocodile or killed by a hippo was back in the days a very natural death, like driving and texting today for example.


Hor-Aha ahd at least four sons: Djer, who became the next pharaoh, Rhejet, Heti and Saiset. All their names appear in tombs at Naquadam Abydos and Saqqara. We don't know about daughter or other princes, but can't also dismiss the idea of their potential existence.
Hor-Aha's senior-wife was Benerib, whose name appears directly next to his name on sevaral inscriptions. However, she wasn't the mother of his successor Djer. Djer's mother was a secondary wife named Khentap who is mentioned as the next pharaoh's mother on the Cairo Annals Stone.

Tomb and human sacrifices

Hor-Aha's tomb is part of the Umm el-Qua'ab necropolis. It consists of three large chambers directly adjacent to Narmer's tomb. Basically, the structure is traditional Thinis style than a real mastaba style as was used by Hor-Aha himself when he buried his mother in Naquada.
In a way, his tomb is spooky. May one can count it as another sign of the enormous age of these burials, leading back in a dark past. But maybe, there is a little more to it. Hor-Aha's tomb is the first in ancient Egypt, that also contained members of the royal household. This is the begin of what is known as retainer-sacrifice. Servants, consorts and whatever the king may would need in the afterlife (later also other nobles were buried with such human sacrifices), was killed and buried with the dead king to serve him in the Lamnd of Osiris.
Now, that's spooky and grizzly and for sure, some people will say, the rich take everything. But, lets think about this for a moment. Why? A king like his father Narmer was also important, also mighty and for sure, he wasn't poor. Why hadn't he dead servants in his tomb?
The answer is in the behavioral science. Narmer was a human king! Hor-Aha wasn't anymore! It'S no big mystery. We know, later pharaohs were worshipped as gods. But where did it start? Where and how did the first king claim godhood? Or were there others doing it for him? What would one need to make a king a god? Mostly one thing: A position above and beyond normal human rules. Human sacrifices did the job. In all ancient cultures, we find the same in Sumeria a mellienium earlier. And as usual, if you have a pile of bodies, you can assume, not all of them, probably none of them went entirely voluntary. So the usual question with a pile of dead bodies is, who do we miss in that pile? We have young lions, we have dead servants, consorts and concubines, dwarfs and his hunting dogs. So what is missing ... oh wait ... priests! Funny thing, that a king who was so religious and so equipped with afterlife servants shouldn't have at least one priest slain in his last resting place, isn't it? And to be honest, the idea of stylizing a human ruler up to godhood is in a way deeply priest-ish. Not necessarily religious, but in it's nature fanatic and pragmatic at the same time. Here we see a mindset, that sets religion equal with political power and doesn't care for human lifes. It's just a suspicion, but worth to think about it. And the longer that, what started here went on, the more it became part of religion, of ritual and of power games. Till people accepted, that their holy rulers sometimes needed some human sacrifices.

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

Daniel Lee Siebert
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Fri, Dec 18, 2015
12:00 AM CT

Christman Genipperteinga
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Thu, Oct 22, 2015
12:00 AM CT

Gerard John Schaefer
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Thu, Sep 24, 2015
12:00 AM CT

Royal Russel Long
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Mon, Aug 17, 2015
12:00 AM CT

The Wyoming Rodeo Murders
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Wed, Jul 15, 2015
12:00 AM CT

Joseph Vacher, the French Ripper
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Sat, Jun 20, 2015
12:00 AM CST

No new addition in June
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Sat, May 16, 2015
12:00 AM CT

The Beauty Queen Killer
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Thu, Apr 16, 2015
12:00 AM CT

Burton W. Abbott
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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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Affaire of the Poisons
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Mon, Dec 8, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Joseph Bryan
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Fri, Nov 7, 2014
12:00 AM CT

The Trailside Killer
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Tue, Oct 7, 2014
12:00 AM CT

The Vampire of Duesseldorf
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Fri, Sep 12, 2014
12:00 AM CT

The Grim Sleeper
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Thu, Aug 14, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Michael Lee Lockhart
... and with a little delay, another serial made it into the serial killer collection. Michael Lee Lockhart, not so much interesting for his "achievements" but because his case appears as if he became a psychopath only after a serious head injury.

Tue, Aug 12, 2014
12:00 AM CT

A Game of Daggers
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Sat, Jul 5, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Ivan Hill
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Sun, Jun 8, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Raya and Sakina
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Thu, May 1, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Dagmar Overbye
The infamous Danish baby farmer has been added to our Serial Killer Collection.

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

Manson Family
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Fri, Feb 7, 2014
12:00 AM CT

Hans van Zon
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Mon, Jan 6, 2014
12:00 AM CT

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
A garden variety sexual predator, notable only because his existence shows, how wrong the idea of 1 monster at 1 time in 1 area is.

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