Djer (or Zer or Sekhty)[1] is considered the third pharaoh of the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt in current Egyptology. He lived around the mid 31st century BC[2] and reigned for c. 40 years. A mummified forearm of Djer or his wife was discovered by Egyptologist Flinders Petrie,[3] but was discarded by Émile Brugsch.[4]


Iti, cartouche name of Djer in the Abydos King List.

The Abydos King List lists the third pharaoh as Iti, the Turin King List lists a damaged name, beginning with It..., while Manetho lists Kenkenês. Jürgen von Beckerath in the Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen (1999) translates the hieroglyphs of the name Djer as "Defender of Horus."[5]

Length of reign

Although the Egyptian priest Manetho, writing in the third century BC, stated that Djer ruled for 57 years, modern research by Toby Wilkinson in Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt stresses that the near-contemporary and therefore, more accurate Palermo Stone ascribes Djer a reign of "41 complete and partial years."[6] Wilkinson notes that years 1–10 of Djer's reign are preserved in register II of the Palermo Stone, while the middle years of this pharaoh's reign are recorded in register II of Cairo stone fragment C1.[7]


Djer's queen's bracelet is the only surviving royal jewellry of the early dynasty period of Egypt. It bears his royal serekh or name.

Djer's reign was preceded by a regency controlled by Neithhotep, possibly his mother or grandmother.

The evidence for Djer's life and reign is:[8]

The inscriptions, on ivory and wood, are in a very early form of hieroglyphs, hindering complete translation, but a label at Saqqarah may depict the First Dynasty practice of human sacrifice.[14] An ivory tablet from Abydos mentions that Djer visited Buto and Sais in the Nile Delta. One of his regnal years on the Cairo Stone was named "Year of smiting the land of Setjet", which often is speculated to be Sinai or beyond.

Manetho claimed that Athothes, who is sometimes identified as Djer, had written a treatise on anatomy that still existed in his own day, over two millennia later.[15]


See also: First Dynasty of Egypt family tree

Stone vase bearing the serekh of Djer, National Archaeological Museum (France).

Djer was a son of the pharaoh Hor-Aha and his wife Khenthap.[citation needed] His grandfather was probably Narmer. Djer fathered Merneith, wife of Djet and mother of Den. Women carrying titles later associated with queens such as Great One of the Hetes-Sceptre and She who Sees/Carries Horus were buried in subsidiary tombs near the tomb of Djer in Abydos or attested in Saqqara. These women are thought to be the wives of Djer and include:


Tomb stela of Djer

Similarly to his father Hor-Aha, Djer was buried in Umm el-Qa'ab at Abydos. Djer's tomb is tomb O of Petrie. His tomb contains the remains of 318 retainers who were buried with him.[19] At some point, Djer's tomb was devastated by fire, possibly as early as the Second Dynasty.[20] During the Middle Kingdom, the tomb of Djer was revered as the tomb of Osiris,[20] and the entire First Dynasty burial complex, which includes the tomb of Djer, was very important in the Egyptian religious tradition. An image of Osiris on a funerary bier was placed in the tomb, possibly by the Thirteenth dynasty pharaoh Djedkheperu.[20]

Several objects were found in and around the tomb of Djer:[21]

In the subsidiary tombs, excavators found objects including stelae representing several individuals, ivory objects inscribed with the name of Neithhotep, and various ivory tablets.[21]

Manetho indicates that the First Dynasty ruled from Memphis – and indeed Herneith, one of Djer's wives, was buried nearby at Saqqara.


See also


  1. ^ Trigger, Bruce (1983). Ancient Egypt: A Social History. Cambridge University Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0521284271.
  2. ^ Grimal, Nicolas (1994). A History of Ancient Egypt. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 528. ISBN 0-631-19396-0.
  3. ^ W. M. Flinders Petrie: The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, 1901, Part II, London 1901, p.16-17
  4. ^ Salima Ikram and Aidan Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity, Thames & Hudson, 1998, p. 109
  5. ^ Beckerath, Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen (1999), 38-39, 3:H
  6. ^ Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt: The Palermo Stone and Its Associated Fragments, (Kegan Paul International), 2000. p.79
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt, p.258
  8. ^ King Djer page from digitalegypt.
  9. ^ Saad 1947: 165; Saad 1969: 82, pl. 94
  10. ^ Kaiser 1964: 103, fig.3
  11. ^ "King Djer". Retrieved March 16, 2024.
  12. ^ Petrie 1925: pl. II.8; XII.1
  13. ^ tomb 461 in Abydos, Petrie 1925: pl. III.1, IV.8
  14. ^ Rice, Michael The Power of the Bull Routledge; 1 edition (4 Dec 1997) ISBN 978-0-415-09032-2 p123 [1]
  15. ^ "Manetho, with an English translation by W.G. Waddell". 1940.
  16. ^ a b c W. Grajetzki: Ancient Egyptian Queens: a hieroglyphic dictionary
  17. ^ a b c Dodson and Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004
  18. ^ W. M. Flinders Petrie: The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, 1901, Part II, London 1901, pl. XXVII, 96
  19. ^ Thomas Kühn: Die Königsgräber der 1. & 2. Dynastie in Abydos. In: Kemet. Issue 1, 2008.
  20. ^ a b c Baker, Darrell D. (2008). Encyclopedia of the Pharaohs Volume 1: Predynastic to the Twentieth DYnasty 3300-1069 BC. Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. p. 93.
  21. ^ a b B. Porter and R.L.B. Moss. Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings, V. Upper Egypt: Sites. Oxford, 1937


Media related to Djer at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded byNeithhotep(regent) Pharaoh of Egypt Succeeded byDjet