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Queen Mereneith rose to the throne after King Den during the middle of the first dynasty. Mereneith meant the beloved of Neith; she is believed to be the first female ruler in Egypt. But whether she reigned individually or along with her husband is still uncertain. The queen is referred to as the king’s mother on a seal impression from the reign of Den.

Queen Mereneith is believed to have two burial sites; the first tomb was found at Saqqara, where artifacts naming Seshemka, a high court official, were found. The second tomb was at Abydos in the royal complex along with the many kings of that dynasty. The second tomb at Saqqara portrayed an early fusion of Northern and Southern styles which led to the development of the stepped pyramid complex. The tomb also contained stone vessels and seal impressions that bore her name, confirming her status as a queen; also, a stela containing her name in archaic form was found. The stela also bore the crossed arrow of the ancient Egyptian goddess Neith.

Queen Mereneith is believed to have been the daughter of Djer and was the wife of Djet, who died after a short reign, but not much information remains of her. Her name is in the famous Palermo Stone which states the list of kings of early Egypt, confirming her status as a queen or pharaoh of Egypt.


Queen Mereneith

Mereneith's name isn't inscribed on a serekh, as the names of other kings, even though she is believed to have been a pharaoh. This somehow signifies that she must have been a regent who ruled on the part of her infant son Den. Her rule as a regent explains the long reign of Den, who celebrated two Heb-Sed jubilees, which is only possible when he was considered a ruler as soon as his father died.

However, in the list of kings who ruled Egypt during the new kingdom, the name of Mereneith is missing and her son Den was considered the actual ruler. The name Mereneith meanwhile meant the beloved of Neith, who was an ancient Egyptian goddess popularly known.

The tomb

The tomb of Queen Mereneith is large in size, indicating that she might have been the ruler, even though it was for a short time. The tomb lies in Abydos in the area of Umm el Qaab and lies west to the tomb of Horaha. The tomb\s size is big, making it fit for a ruling king. The queen also had subsidiary burials, just like the kings before her - 41 in all. These are believed to be her servants, confirmed by the objects found in these tombs.


Many of her tomb's seals show the name Den. Also, seal impressions as the serekh of Djer and a serekh-like impression with the name of Mer-Neith. Also found in the remains was an interesting stela fragment at the Louvre Museum with Merneith's name as well.

Her tomb, like most tombs, was plundered in antiquity by tomb robbers.

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