Menes was the king who unified Egypt around 3100 BC to establish the First Dynasty. During Menes’ rule for more than 60 years, the life of the Egyptian people was always guaranteed with an abundant food source and a relatively stable society.
Just like the story of the twin brothers Romulus and Remus who founded the mighty Roman empire, the ancient Egyptians also had a legendary figure who united Upper and Lower Egypt to become the first king. of the First Dynasty – King Menes. And like the Roman twins, there are many legends associated with Menes. He is the subject of many debates. Scholars have sometimes questioned whether his real name was Menes, and even doubted his existence in real life.
In addition, reliefs in the temple of Pharaoh Ramesses II in Thebes also refer to Menes as the first king of Egypt. Menes ranks first on the Abydos King List – a list listing the names and dates of 76 ancient Egyptian kings carved on the wall of Pharaoh Seti I’s temple in the city. Abydos.
Menes has many different nicknames. Although he still appears as Menes in the chronicles of the 3rd century BC historian Manetho, his name is written as Meni in two 19th Dynasty king lists of Egypt. Some of his other names include Min, Manas, and Minaios [as called by the Greek historians Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and the Jewish historian Josephus in their writings, respectively].
Many modern scholars even argue that Menes is not the name of a specific individual, but rather a common name for all the first kings who were credited with unifying Egypt. Others identify Menes with Narmer, the First Dynasty pharaoh. This conclusion is based on the Narmer tablet discovered by James E. Quibell in the city of Hierakonpolis in 1898. The content of the drawings on the stone tablet shows that Narmer was the one who unified Egypt. Two seals excavated in the necropolis of Umm el-Qa’ab, Abydos also record him as the first king of the First Dynasty.
Due to the lack of archaeological evidence, we have very little information about King Menes’ life. However, ancient Egyptologists generally agree that Menes was born in the city of Hierakonpolis (Nekhen) or the city of Thinis around 3100 BC. His rule lasted 62 years.
To unite Upper and Lower Egypt, Menes employed a variety of political strategies and even force. The most prominent of which was the fact that he married a member of the royal family in the southern land of Egypt to further consolidate his power. During his rule, he always endeavored to maintain peace and bring order to his kingdom. He played an important role in the construction of early Egyptian culture, including the introduction of the custom of sacrifice and worship of the gods.
According to the contents of the papyrus documents kept at the Egyptian Museum and the book “History” of Herodotus, Menes built a large dam in the Nile to divert its flow through the city. Memphis aims to provide water for the people and develop irrigation. Memphis later became the capital of Egypt due to its strategic location and fertile soil. It was also the largest city in the world at that time with a population of about 30,000.
During Menes’ rule, the Egyptians’ life was always guaranteed with an abundant food source, and the society was relatively stable. In Memphis alone, Menes built many magnificent palaces and taught the people an elegant and luxurious lifestyle. They often cover beautiful, lavish fabrics on tables or chairs for decoration. They don’t have to work as hard as before, so they have more time to spend with their family and personal hobbies such as sculpture, playing sports, brewing, gardening, etc.
Among the myths about Menes, we cannot ignore two stories related to the king and the iconic animals of the ancient Egyptians, the crocodile and the hippopotamus. The first story tells how Menes built the city of Crocodilopolis [the city of crocodiles] in honor of the animal that saved his life. During a dog attack, Menes escaped by climbing on the back of a crocodile in Lake Moeris and moving to safety.
The second story tells about the death of Menes. The historian Manetho writes that Menes was bitten to death by a hippo in an accident. Since then, the hippopotamus in Egyptian culture was a fearsome creature that was frequently hunted down and destroyed. The death caused by the hippo is also considered one of the worst deaths in ancient Egypt.
In addition, hippos are closely related to the chaos god Set, who killed his brother Osiris and was defeated by Osiris’ son Horus. The protector Taweret, Set’s wife, is often depicted as a woman with the head of a hippo. The nature of the two gods Set and Taweret stems from Egyptian observations of hippos: females are responsible for protecting and nurturing their young, while males are more aggressive and destructive.After his death, Menes’ body was buried in a mausoleum at Saqqara – the necropolis of the city of Memphis. Djer, son of Menes, became heir to the throne. Because Djer ascended the throne at a young age, Menes’ wife (Queen Neithotepe) was regent, assisting her son in handling the court affairs.