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Ancient Egypt
1. Introduction
2. People
3. Life styles
4. Culture
5. Education and Science
6. Society
7. Economy
8. Government
9. Cities and Villages
10. Language
11. Religion
12. Kings / periods
13. History
14. Map

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Open map of Ancient EgyptAncient Egypt / Predynastic Period /
Other spellings: Min; Mena; Meni

Bust of King Menes.
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Bust of King Menes.

King of Egypt, ruling sometime between 3150 and 2925 BCE. According to Manetho, Menes ruled for 62 years and was killed by a hippopotamus. The latter information may be purely legendary, the hippopotamus often representing the god Seth.
Manetho defined Menes as the first king of a united Egypt, in which he as the king of Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt. Manetho indicate that he ruled from Thinis (some kilometres north of Abydos). He may have changed capital at some point, being the legendary founder of Memphis. Still, at Memphis, the oldest grave has been identified as belonging to Aha.
Later research has cast much uncertainty on him, suggesting both that either Scorpion, Narmer or even Aha was the king unifying Egypt, or that Menes is another name for one of those, perhaps even that all 4 names relate to the same king.
Menes is mentioned a few times with contemporary material, but always indirectly. On an ivory plaque from Naqada, he is mentioned together with Aha, but how these two names relate is hard to deduct. On jar-sealings from Abydos he is mentioned together with Narmer. Both forms of evidence may suggest that Menes was one of the other, or just that the later kings linked themselves with the first king of the unified Egypt. The link between Menes and Scorpion is made from material of Narmer, where similar confusion of names also occur.
Since these theories are based on extremely little evidence, this encyclopaedia chooses to keep Manetho's chronology, placing Menes' reign as early as the period 3150-3100 BCE.

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By Tore Kjeilen