The Beginning of the Pharaoh Empire

Ägypten in der Antike (c) Jeff Dahl

The Egyptians called their empire Kemet, which translated to “black land”.  They meant the black alluvial sand of the Nile River, which, in the midst of the desert, created the most fertile fields of the Earth. They called the desert Deshret, the red land. Around 5000 BC, more and more nomads settled in the fertile Nile Valley. Thus, the first settlements originated, which, thousands of years later, little kingdoms formed. Around 3000 BC, the many little kingdoms had united into two kingdoms, the kingdom of Upper Egypt in the Nile Valley and that of Lower Egypt in the Nile Delta.

The Vulture and the Snake - the Totems of the Empire

The kings of Upper Egypt wore a white crown with their totem animal, the Egyptian vulture. It symbolised the goddess Nekhbet and the empire of the airs. The crown of Lower Egypt was red and decorated with the head of a Uraeus snake. The cobra symbolised the goddess Wadjet and the empire of the earth. Throughout the three-thousand-year sovereignty of the Pharaohs, these two goddesses remained the patrons of Upper and Lower Egypt. Both empires battled each other again and again, as both of them wanted to enforce supremacy. Eventually, one king planned to unite both empires, for he wanted to become the most powerful ruler in the world. Who was this man, who is regarded as the founder of Egypt?

The unification of Upper and Lower Egypt

Narmer (c) Keith Schengili-Roberts

For a long time, King Menes was regarded as the founder of Egypt. The legend says, that he waged many wars before he was able to unify both empires. Both of the crowns were connected to a double-crown, a pschent, vulture and cobra were now alongside one another. Historians today doubt whether this king Menes actually existed. Some assume that King Narmer, who is on the left in the image, was the actual founder of the empire. He is often depicted as warrior, cleaving his opponent’s head. That is why he was called “head-cleaver”.  ‘Memphis’, the capital of the unified empire, was named after king Menes. Memphis was founded on the place, where the Nile fans out into the arms of the delta. The Egyptians called the city the “balance of the two lands”.