Cartouche of King Nekau II, Dyn. 26

Cartouche of King Nekau II, Dyn. 26
Period:Egypt, Late Period, Dynasty 26, Necho II/Wehemibre
Dating:610 BC–595 BC
Origin:Egypt, Lower Egypt, Sais
Material:Faience (all types)
Physical:6.8cm. (2.7 in.) - 37 g. (1.3 oz.)

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Links to others from Dynasty 26

Amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 26
Amulet of Shu, Dyn. 26
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Psamtik I as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Psamtik I as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze statuette of Bastet, Dyn. 26
Djed pillar, amulet of powers, Dyn. 26
Face from a sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 26
Face from a sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 26
Faience shawabti of Hekamsaf, Dyn. 26
Falcon sarcophagus with Osiris mummy
Glass necklace terminal, Dyn. 26
Horus-the-Child, heir to the king, Dyn. 26
King Ahmose II (?) as Osiris, Dynasty 26
King Nekaw II as Horus-the-child, Dyn.26
Large wooden Ka statue, Dyn. 26
Light blue faience shawabti, Dyn. 26
Osiris with Djed pillar on back, Dyn. 26
Sarcophagus and mummy of Taosir, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Admiral Hekaemsaf, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Hor, son of Rurer, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Hor-sa-Iset-Mut-f, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Hor-Wdja, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Khonsu-Hor, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of King Psamtik I, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of King Psamtik I, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of King Psamtik II, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of King Psamtik II, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of King Psamtik III, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Mery-Seth-Hor-Mes, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Mery-Seth-Hor-Mes, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Neith-M-Hat, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Prince Horiraa, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Prince Horiraa, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Prince Horiraa, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Prince Ir-Irw, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Prophet Wahibre, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Prophet Wahibre, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Psamtik-mry-imn, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Psamtikmeryptah, Dyn. 26
Shawabti of Royal Prince Ahmes, Dyn. 26
Staff finial, Thoth as a baboon, Dyn. 26
Two-fingers mummy amulet, Dyn. 26
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 26
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 26
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 26
Upper Egypt crown amulet, Dyn. 26
Wooden sarcophagus lid, circa 650 BC
Wooden sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 26

Links to others of type Seal

Lapis seal of King Ramesses II, Dyn.19
Seal of Queen Maa-writ-nefrw-ra, Dyn.19
Stone seal of King Mentuhetep II, Dyn. 11
  This small faience item bears the cartouche of the throne name of the King Nekau II of Dynasty 26. The hieroglyphs read: whm-ib-ré.

The Five Names of Pharaoh
Like every Egyptian, a future pharaoh was given a name at birth, and that name sufficed for a man—even a man of royal descent. But the coronation of a king of Egypt was viewed as a metamorphosis where a mere mortal was recognized as a pharaoh, a son of Ra, a living god (or, more accurately, the embodiment of the god Horus). And on that day, with that new identity, he needed a new name—a royal name.

As Egyptian history unfolded, the royal naming tradition evolved from a single royal name into a “classic titulary” comprising five names in the following sequence:
Horus Name
Nebty Name (preceded by “He of the Two Ladies”)
Gold Name (later preceded by “Horus of Gold”)
Throne Name (preceded by “He of the Sedge and the Bee”)
Birth Name (preceded by “Son of Ra”)

It all started in the first dynasties with the Horus name, which clearly remained the only proper way to refer to a king throughout the first three dynasties. This name was displayed in a rectangular frame, called a serekh, depicting the paneled facade of an early royal palace. This serekh was surmounted with the image of a falcon. The name inside the serekh (“Powerful in Heart”, “Pleasing in Powers”, “Cobra”) did not refer to Horus. That the falcon indeed represents Horus, god of order—and not just any falcon—became clear when King Peribsen had the falcon replaced with an image of Seth, god of chaos. As a graphic device, the serekh clearly sets the king's name apart from any other text, which both reinforces the status of the king, and aids in reading a language devoid of punctuation.

The title He of the Sedge and the Bee, sometimes abbreviated to He of the Sedge, was the Egyptian way of saying “King of Egypt” (the sedge is a rush-like plant that grows in marshes). Contrary to popular belief, “Sedge” and “Bee” did not initially represent Upper and Lower Egypt, but rather were an expression of the duality so dear to Egyptian thought. The title by itself first appeared during King Den's reign (Dynasty 1, circa 3050 BC) , but it wasn't yet associated with a name. Twenty years later, King Anedjib first used He of the Sedge along with an alternate name for himself, but the use of this new throne name remained limited to special occasions for the next few hundred years.

With the end of Dynasty 3 (2613 BC), the Horus name suddenly started losing importance. Egyptians invented a new graphic device to contain and set apart a second name for the king. This new symbol, a carefully plaited and knotted loop of rope elongated as needed to accommodate names of varying length, is the cartouche design so familiar to us as ensign of Egyptian royalty. We do not know whether the cartouche initially contained the king’s throne name or his birth name. But we can tell that this “cartouche name” forever replaced the Horus name as the usual way to refer to the king.

With Neferirkare, third king of Dynasty 5 (2744 BC), a second cartouche name appeared. We believe that as long as the king reigned over the country, Egyptians used his throne name (first cartouche), but when he died (and was therefore no longer king), they reverted to his birth name (second cartouche). A little over a hundred years later (Dynasty 6), Egyptians started using the king’s birth name during his reign. Hence, the birth name of the king, which had been of little importance in the first two dynasties (indeed, we have no knowledge of the birth names of these kings), became an intrinsic part of his royal identity.

Even though cartouche names were popular, until King Mentuhotep of Dynasty 11 (2060 BC), the Horus name remained the truly unique name of a pharaoh. Kings sometimes changed their throne names to advertise changes in political orientation, but would never have considered changing their Horus name. In a marked departure, Mentuhotep, who ushered in the Middle Kingdom by reunifying Egypt, marked the progression of his 50-year reign with evolving Horus names: first “He who Gives Heart to the Two Lands”, then “Lord of the White Crown”, and finally in year 39 “Uniter of the Two Lands”. From then on, it was the cartouche names and not the Horus name that expressed the unique identity of a king. This switch probably reflects a profound change in the religious character of kingship. The king had become first and foremost King and Son of Ra, and secondarily the Living Horus.

The Gold and Nebty names, whose origin can be traced to Dynasty 1, did become an integral part of the “classic titulary,” but remained of marginal use.

The gold sign first appeared next to the serekh of King Den of Dynasty 1. Eventually, it became a title introducing an alternate name for the king. King Snefru of Dynasty 4 first combined the gold sign with the falcon, and his successor King Khafre furthered the idea and coined the titled name “Gold, Horus the Powerful”. But it is not until Dynasty 13 that “Horus of Gold” became an immutable title.

The title He of the Two Ladies was first used by King Semerkhet of Dynasty 1 as part of a name introduced by He of the Sedge. The “two ladies” in question are Goddess Wadjet and Goddess Nekhbet, later attached to the northernmost and southernmost cities of the kingdom. With King Senusret II of Dynasty 12 (1897 BC), “He of the Two Ladies” clearly became a title introducing a separate name.

With Senusret II, the “classic” five-name titulary took its final form. The Horus, throne, and birth names remained the only names set apart from regular text by graphic elements. And although the five names rarely appeared together after the occasion of his installation, the original sequence (Horus, Nebty, gold, throne, and birth) endured throughout the remainder of Egyptian civilization.

Dynasty 26
Born in times of weakness, when Egypt was regularly invaded and generally controlled by the Assyrians, Dynasty 26 (‘the Saite Dynasty’) was installed at the head of the tiny kingdoms of Sais and Athribis in the Delta by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. This turned out to be a bad move for Assyria. Within 12 years, in an astonishing reversal of fortunes, the Saite king Psamtik would reunify Egypt under his crown and liberate his nation from Assyrian domination.

Weaving the clear threat of his military power with extremely agile diplomacy and carefully orchestrated ideology, Psamtek brought about the political reorganization that had eluded his predecessors for four hundred years. At last, Egypt was once again led by a centralized authority—an all powerful king, a guardian of order, a living god. It was a true rebirth for Egypt, with a once again thriving economy, a recovered sense of national identity, and a new-found opening to the outside world—most particularly to the Greek World. Under Psamtik’s agile leadership, Egypt was simultaneously moving forward and drawing strength from its glorious past—most particularly that of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. This was particularly manifest in the arts. Craftsmen of the Saite period aspired to equal, and hoped to surpass, their Middle Kingdom predecessors, while adhering closely to the classic canons of aesthetic tradition—a scenario that would play out again 2200 years later when artists of the Italian renaissance sought to rise to the standards set by their Ancient Greek predecessors. Managing their new prosperity with great skill, while keeping the Babylonians at bay, the Saites embarked on an ambitious program of building, restoring, and embellishing. Commerce flourished under dedicated military protection and ambitious public works projects, such as the digging of a canal from the Nile to the the Red Sea—2500 years before the Suez Canal.

Although brilliant by its achievements and the remarkable period of peace and stability it carved within the context of an increasingly turbulent Mediterranean world, the Saite Dynasty was somewhat short-lived (139 years). Its increasing reliance on foreign mercenaries caused tensions, and eventually infighting within the military establishment. Militarily weakened, Egypt became easy prey for the Persian juggernaut. In 525, Persia took over Egypt, putting a sudden end to the Saite period. Egypt would never again shine so brightly.

Bibliography (on The Five Names of Pharaoh)

Clayton, Peter A.
1994 Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, UK.

Quirke, Stephen
1990 Who Were the Pharaohs? A History of their Names with a List of Cartouches. Dover Publications, New York, NY.

Rice, Michael
1991 Egypt’s Making: The Origin’s of Ancient Egypt, 5000-2000 B.C.. Routledge, New York, NY.

©2004 CIWA, All rights reserved.