Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Ancient Egypt

Kemet - 'Black Land' (soil around the Nile)

Deshret - 'Red Land' (sand in desert)


Egyptian culture was well established in the Nile valley by 5000 BC with Neolithic farming villages. The kingdom of Lower Egypt (the Delta) was united with his own kingdom of Upper Egypt by Menes c 3200 BC. The Old Kingdom reached its height c 2600 BC under the Fourth Dynasty kings who built the pyramids at Giza. Unity was lost towards the end of the period but was restored under the Middle Kingdom c2200-1800. The invading Hyksos people established a kingdom in the Delta around 1730 but were evicted. The 18th Dynasty established the New Kingdom c1580, reaching a high point of culture and civilization, but this declined after the rule of Ramses III and power passed from the pharaohs to the priests of Ammon. During the Late New Kingdom, the country was divided between several dynasties with the nobles virtually independent.

Kings from Nubia ruled briefly in the C8th and 7th and the Assyrians under Ashurbanipal occupied Thebes in 666 BC but Psammetichus I restored Egyptian independence and unity from 663-609. In 525, Egypt was conquered by Cambyses and became a province of Persia. There was another period of independence from 405-340 but was conquered by Alexander the Great in 332. After the division of his empire, Egypt went to one of his generals, Ptolemy, whose descendants, the Macedonian dynasty ruled until the death of Cleopatra. Egypt was conquered by the Roman Emperor Augustus and became a province of the Roman Empire.

Royal Names

The king, or Pharaoh, was the supreme authority and the Vizier (tjaty) was his chief minister. Further officials who were in charge of the treasury, agriculture and other state concerns used the title of Scribe (sesh). Pharaoh (Egyptian 'per-aa' or 'great house') was considered to be the incarnation of the falcon god, Horus.

After about 2500 BC, the Pharaoh had five names.

1 Horus name written inside a symbol of the palace (serekh)
2 Nebty (Two-ladies) linked with the patron goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt
3 Bik-nub (Golden Falcon) doubtful significance
Cartouche (shenu) names

4 Prenomen given on accession 'Nesu-bity' (King of U + L Egypt) or 'Neb-tawy' (Lord of two lands) followed by name of sun god, Re
5 Nomen or birth name with titles such as 'mery-Amun', (beloved of Amun), or 'netjer-heqa-Waset' (divine ruler of Thebes)

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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