2023 . Aug . 15

King Menes - The Unifier of Upper and Lower Egypt

Menes, the unifier of Egypt, the first King who created the first dynasty, the one who changed the course of the Nile in Lower Egypt and created the ancient capital Memphis. He is the legendary King and might literally be a legend, a mythical culture hero, and not a real King? This topic is one of the most debatable in ancient Egyptian history, it is hard to know facts from that long time with so little evidence, but we can share with you the most common theory regarding the legendary King Menes.

In ancient Egyptian history, Menes was the legendary figure who united Upper and Lower Egypt, establishing the foundations of one of the world's most renowned civilizations. Menes, also known as Narmer or Aha, played a pivotal role in forming ancient Egypt, leaving a lasting legacy that shaped the country's political and cultural landscape. This article delves into the life and accomplishments of Menes, shedding light on his reign, the city he made the capital and the impact he had on ancient Egypt.

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How did Menes become pharaoh?

Menes was the first human ruler to Egypt; he inherited the throne directly from God Horus after Egypt was only ruled by Gods and Demi-Gods as believed. He created the first dynasty after the victory of the battle that unified Lower and Upper Egypt.
King Menes ruled for 62 years; it was considered a golden age; Egypt was so prosperous at the time that the later writer Diodorus Siculus claimed that Menes invented the notion of Luxury. The Egyptians had several hobbies for the first time, such as sports, brewing beer, carving, sculpting, and many others.

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Menes Meaning

There is actually no evidence of a King with the name Menes. The Egyptian Historian Manetho of the 3rd century BCE called him by that name, but the 5th-century Greek historian Herodotus referred to him as Meni. Some theories suggest that Menes, which means “the one who endures,” wasn’t a name just like a title.

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Who is “Menes”?

The question has several answers and many theories; the three main theories link Menes to one of three Kings, Scorpion, Narmer, and Aha; most of the evidence pushes toward King Narmer.

Menes is credited as the first pharaoh of ancient Egypt and is renowned for unifying the two separate regions of Upper and Lower Egypt around 3100 BCE. Upper Egypt referred to the southern region then, while Lower Egypt encompassed the northern Nile Delta. By bringing these regions together under his rule, Menes laid the foundation for the prosperous and long-lasting civilization that would follow.

What did Menes do?

King Narmer was known to come from the city of Hierakonpolis; he married princess Neithhotep of Naqada to consolidate his power. He became the King of Lower Egypt and defeated the King of Upper Egypt to unify Egypt as he commemorated on the Narmer Palette.
He was known for developing and maybe inventing the art of writing and diverting the course of the Nile in Lower Egypt. One legend said that he rode on the back of the crocodile while escaping from rabid hunting dogs, which led to founding the city of Crocodilopolis.
King Narmer faced a gruesome death, as he was killed by a hippopotamus, which was considered the worst death in Ancient Egypt, as it was one of the most feared animals.

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Narmer Palette

The Narmer Palette was discovered at El Kom El Ahmar about 22 Km East of Cairo; it depicts the victory of King Narmer in the battle that unified Egypt. That is the strongest evidence that proves that King Narmer is Menes. There was a mention of King Scorpion along with the palette when it was discovered, but the main was King Narmer.


King Aha

There is also King Aha, who was known for unifying Egypt, so how come many kings are identified with it? A theory suggests that the unification was done over several years; that’s why there is more than one King associated with it.
A legend or not, Egypt was unified by who exactly we can’t be really sure; that’s the thing about history, you can’t be sure of anything; it is all based on theories and the evidence we find.

Workers Strike

During the reign of Ramses III, Egypt recorded the first workers strike in the world over back pay. Egypt must have been really economically exhausted that they did not even pay the workers at the royal tombs in Thebes during his 28th year.

The City of Memphis (Capital of Egypt)

After uniting Upper and Lower Egypt, Menes established the city of Memphis as the capital of the newly unified kingdom. Located near the Upper and Lower Egypt border, Memphis became a symbol of the united kingdom and a center for political, economic, and religious activities. It remained a prominent city throughout ancient Egyptian history, serving as the capital for several successive dynasties.

memphis ancient egypt.webp

Menes' Contributions to Egypt

Menes' reign marked a crucial turning point in Egyptian history. He introduced a centralized government and implemented administrative reforms that laid the groundwork for the pharaohs who followed him. Menes' unification of Egypt brought stability and facilitated the development of a distinct Egyptian culture, including the iconic pharaonic institutions and religious beliefs that endured for centuries.

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Length of Menes' Rule

The exact duration of Menes' reign remains uncertain, as historical records are scarce. According to some sources, he ruled Egypt for approximately 62 years. However, due to the limited available information, these estimates may vary.

The Legacy of Menes

Menes' achievement of uniting Upper and Lower Egypt and establishing the first centralized government earned him a respected status among the pharaohs. His reign set a precedent for future rulers, and he is considered the founding pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Menes' legacy also includes the creation of the double crown, symbolizing the union of the two lands, which subsequent pharaohs would wear.


Menes, the legendary figure known as the first pharaoh of ancient Egypt, holds an important place in history. His unification of Upper and Lower Egypt and established "Memphis" as the capital laid the foundation for the prosperous civilization that followed. Menes' reign began a centralized government and administrative reforms that shaped Egyptian culture and institutions. Through his accomplishments, Menes left an indelible mark on the history of ancient Egypt, setting the stage for the glorious dynasties that would unfold in the millennia to come.


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