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(UNEG or WENEG)
[Horus Wnegsekhemwy or Horus Za ?]
- Wneg was perhaps the fourth king of the second dynasty.
- This king's Nebty-Neswt bity name is attested on 11 inscriptions: from the Djoser Step Pyramid (7 stone vessels), from the unpublished tomb S3014 (Saqqara, 1930-31 survey by C.B. Firth; 3 inscriptions) and one unprovenanced (Kaplony, BK 1973, nr. 27) [but also cf. the notes].
Further stone vessels inscriptions (these ones in ink) dated to Ninetjer' s reign name a Wr M33w Wadjnes (or Wadjsen ?) who could have been the future king who succeeded Ninetjer according to Helck's opinion. (For the Horus Za see below).
- Kaplony read the name of WNG as Seshen-'Lotus flower'. (I.A.F. I p.638; Helck 1987 p.103; PD IV.1 n.101-107, PD IV.2 p. 50-53, PD V pl.11).
- D.Wildung and more recently W. Barta (cfr. bibl. below) associate Wneg - Wadjnes to the Horus Sekhemib known from the Umm el Qaab tomb of Peribsen seal impressions. As J.P. Lauer noted (in Orientalia 35, p.22) no sealing shows Sekhemib's Horus name beside Peribsen's one: thus nothing proves that the former is the same as the latter or that a Horus name change was made by Horus Sekhemib who would have become Seth Peribsen (as for Khasekhem, Monthuhotep and Amenhotep IV).
- Nonetheless the Sekhemib-Wneg identity is unproved and therefore completely hypothetical; the three rulers in question could also be distinct persons at all.
- Furthermore Wneg-Wadjnes is chronologically (and archaeologically) closer to Ninetjer whereas Sekhemib and Peribsen are more related to Khasekhem(wy), even geographically.
J. Kahl has recently (2007) proposed an interesting theory for the identification of Weneg with Horus Nebra (cf. Update below).
W. Barta's reconstruction of the Annals (Z.A.S. 108,1981 p.11 ff) gives c. 5 years of reign to Sekhemib-Wadjnes; this is a fairly possible time length.
- A famous article on the thinite epigraphy by B. Grdseloff (in A.S.A.E. 44, 1944 p.279-306) devoted much attention to the topics of the 'sethian anarchy' period of Sekhemib-Peribsen as well as to the Wneg name variants.
- The latter question is easy to explain: the flower sign (Kahl S.A.H. m4, p.586) original reading WNG was mistaken by the new kingdom scribes with the Gard. M13 (W3DJ) papyrus sign, very similar to it in cursive script ; possibly the phonetic determinatives n+g became n+s in the new kingdom (or the phon. det. 'g' became 'ns') so that the word 'ns' originated ; Wadj-nes means in eg. 'Fresh of tongue' and this was translated by the greeks in ougot-las from which comes the Manetho name 'TLAS' of this king .
- The name Wadjnes would hence be a New Kingdom reading error and so it shouldn't be associated with Weneg (as in Barta cit.). But there's a further hypothesis : the reading could have been originated by a further name of the future king Wneg who, as told, could be the Wr (or Hr) Maaw Wadjsn or Seshen (Kaplony) of some Ninetjer reign vessels inscriptions; but the Gardiner V7 sign interpretation by Kaplony (cit.) with the hieroglyph for 'Tree' is not convincing for the phonetic det. s+n are posticipated to the V7 : in case of a reading 'Seshen' the phonetic determinatives would have been sh+n while here we have a 'S' which follows the tall hieroglyph resembling wadj for a reading 'Wadj.sen' or just Wadj-nes as on the king-lists.
Most important, Wneg is also the name of a deity cited in the Pyramid Texts (§ 607d, 952 'for I am Weneg, son of Ra, who supports the sky, who guides the Earth and judges the gods' Faulkner A.E.P.T. p.164) in connection with the god Ra of whom Weneg is "son" or "follower" (cfr. P. Kaplony, KBIAF, 204 n.340; J. Kahl, »Ra is my Lord«..., 2007, 13ff).
- W. Helck has proposed (Thinitenzeit p.103) that the Horus name of Wneg could have been Sa (Hrw Z3; PyrDeg V pl.6-7):
- stone vessels inscriptions from beneath the Djoser' s pyramid (east galleries) name a 'Hwt-k3 Hrw S3' that for Helck should be placed after Ninetjer (Horus Za has certainly nothing to do with Sanakht of the third dynasty).(Helck Z.A.S.106 p.129 ff).
- I think that this Horus Za cannot be one of the followers of Qa'a with Sneferka, Ba/Bird (?): these latters' inscriptions' epigraphy seems to exclude that they could have reigned after Ninetjer; the Horus Za stone vessels inscriptions naming his Ka- house are similar to those of Hotepsekhemwy which name the Hwt-Ka of this ruler: but 'Za' must have been another ephemeral sovereign who briefly reigned in Memphis after Ninetjer or Sened demise; infact the 39 inscription are mostly coupled with the name of Khnemwenii, suggesting that the Horus name could have been Wneg's or Sened's own one (cf. T. Von der Way, Zur Datierung des "Labyrinth-Gebaudes" auf dem Tell el-Fara'in (Buto), in: GM 157, 1997, 107-111) if not that of a completely different sovereign.
Another inscription of Hwt Ka Hrw Za, like those from the Step Pyr complex, has been found in the 1980's within the area of the tomb of Maya (J. van Wetering, pers. comm. 2002; id., The Royal Cemetery of the Early Dynastic Period at Saqqara and the Second Dynasty Royal Tombs, in: 'Proceedings of the Krakow Conference 2002). This could also indicate that the Royal tomb recently found thereby and reused by Meryra-Meryneith in late 18th dyn, might have been that of Horus Za (see below).
Peter Kaplony (in 'Steingefasse...' 1968 p. 67 n.135; Excursus I and II) writes he thought to identify the possible Horus name of Wng on the recto of Cairo 1 fragment of the Annals: in the line 4,9, over the IIIrd year-space, he would read Wngsekhemwy (Unegsekhemui); this would solve the problem of Za, to be collocated elsewhere (if it was indeed a king's name; cfr. below), and it would clarify the previously unknown Horus name of the follower of Ninetjer.
The fact that the Horus name on the Cairo stone would lie above the 3rd year, means that the reign couldn't be longer than c. 10-12 years, but, at the same time, it wouldn't be very short too: in case of a reign of c. 5 years the king's titulatur inscription would have begun already upon the 1st year of reign. (But we don't know how the Annals would report the titles and king's mother's name when that king reigned only 1 or 2 years, too short a space for a complete titulary display).
I could not verify Kaplony's reading: I haven't good photos of Cairo 1 fragment (in the Museum it lays with the verso upward).
Another hypothesis of Kaplony (R.A.R. I, 1977 p. 146-155; cfr. table in my Third dyn. page) is to equate Horus Za with njswt-bity Wr-Za-Khnwm (I.A.F. p. 380, 468, 611) as Djoser's father and predecessor (interregnum of 2 years and 23 days).
In this case Za would be a Third Dynasty king.
It can be excluded that a further possible Horus name to be ascribed to either Wneg, or Sened, Nwbnefer, Neferkaseker, might be that of Horus Bird, for this should date immediately post Qa'a (and Sneferka/Neferkaes) and less than ever the Horus Ba of Swelim (Third Dynasty).
- It must be stressed that most of the 7 iscriptions of Wneg from the Step Pyramid galleries, were made "auf Rasur" (cf. PD IV.1 plates 19-20 and Helck, in: ZAS 106) and this is an important aspect to be investigated also with other vessels inscriptions as thos of Qaa and Hotepsekhemwy, Nebra, Njnetjer which would need closer examination and newer photographs than the one available in older publications plates and drawings (cf. Lacau-Lauer, PD IV 2, 31, n. 3).
- [Update Aug/2007]: A very intriguing theory about Weneg's identity has been recently put forward by Jochem Kahl. This theory remounts at least back to 2004, when the German Egyptologist held a lecture in Italy about the origins of the cult of the god RA, a lecture which I was lucky to attend (at Imola, C.I.S.E., May 21: tit.: "Searching for Ra"; I was honoured to discuss with Jochem Kahl in that occasion and during the following day, for which I must immensely thank the friends at CISE). This has been later developed into a 80 pages monographic booklet (J. Kahl, »Ra is my Lord«. Searching for the Rise of the Sun God at the Dawn of Egyptian History, Wiesbaden, 2007). Apart from the religious conclusions about the worship of the sun god early in the archaic period, what has to be remarked here is that, on the basis of the study of superimposed inscription on the London BM EA 35556 "volcanic ash" stone vessel, Kahl builds up an original chronological hypothesis for the Second Dynasty. The author (op. cit. 2007, 12) points out that Ninetjer's name was incised over a previous one, which in his opinion was Weneg's. Consequently Horus Raneb and Nswtbity-Nebty Weneg would be the same ruler. Indeed there isn't yet any certain Nswt-bity Nebty name which may be attributed to Nebra, as well as no Horus name undoubtedly relateable to Weneg.
However there are some possible inconsistencies which I am summarizing here (mostly after a detailed e-mail I wrote to Kahl on May 24, 2004, plus some new ones). But first of all I want to precise that, although I am not yet totally convinced about the identification of Wneg with Nebra, I agree with the general conclusions that Kahl draws about the cult of the sun god Ra, which emergence is evident in KN, PN, and other Early Dynastic sources, beyond the chronological implications for the Second Dynasty succession. This religious transformation had already been noticed -or better to say, hypothesized- by past scholars both on Second and Third Dynasty materials (Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, 1999, 293), although Kahl's work is the first coherent attempt to consider all the available evidence for such a development as early as the Second Dynasty.
Moreover, it is also to be remarked that Kahl is surely right when (op. cit. 13ff.) he writes about the caution to be needed in trusting later sources data (particularly when scholars propose possible transformations of the original Egyptian king name through misinterpretation of hieroglyphs, hieratic signs or Greek translations).
The BM 35556 stone vessel seems to show a very complex pattern of superimposition of incised inscriptions over more or less partial erasures.
This fact is an obstacle to the understanding of the purpose of the vessel as from its own inscriptional evidence (cf. F. Raffaele, Stone Vessels in Early Dynastic Egypt, CCdE 7-8, 2005, 47-60) and probably also challenges any attempt to extract useful chronological informations.
J. Kahl (op. cit., 8), states that Ninetjer Neswt-Bity Nebty name is facing the name of Raneb and of the latter's palace (Hwt Za-Ha).
My analysis of the photograph [in: Tiradritti - Donadoni Roveri (eds.), Kemet. Alle sorgenti del Tempo, 1998, 251, cat. 230] suggests that on the right we have only one tall building which makes up the: Hw.t Za-Ha Hrw Nb-Ra [Horus name in the serekh, with very faint pannelling beneath it].
As is the case for Hwt-Ka (Ka-houses, shrines) of kings, even royal palaces (?) named after a certain Horus name can be found inscribed both beside the same king's royal name and with that of a follower. Kahl is right in pointing out the fact that the two main inscriptions face each other (Cf. Raffaele, op. cit., 53), thus it is not about a succession of consecutive rulers names; but the column on the right (Nebra's building) has various degrees of difference in inclination in comparison to the central and left hieroglyphic columns (this might depend on the vase wall convexity, and is however seldom found, e.g. PD IV.1, pl. 16, nr. 78, Ninetjer).
It is therefore dangerous to draw any conclusion on the basis of the relationship of the central-left columns to the one on the right.
A (non in depth) epigraphic and palaeographic analysis gives no useful clues: it confirms the datation of the inscriptions in the range of late/or after Qa'a's reign to before Peribsen (I consider Sekhemib a successor or perhaps a later name of Peribsen).
Against the identification of the WNG hieroglyph and royal name under the NTR sign:
1) the top of what would be the blossom is fairly visible, whereas its base and the stalk are not (the stalk should stay slightly right of the nTr stick, according to the position of the vertex of the supposed wng bud).
2) the top of the wng hieroglyph is always very close to the ideal line which connects the bases of the Nebty baskets; about half of the times, the blossom is placed even higher, wedged in between the two baskets. The position in which we find it here, is some mm (half a glyph block) too low to be the top of a vertical glyph.
3) the "sun rays" around the wng sign in the other known example (PD IV, nr. 104, cf. image on top-left of this page) are three (''' | '''), whereas we have only two in the BM inscription ('' | '').
I proposed the identification of the sharp sign (which seems indeed a triangle) as the loaf of the Htp hieroglyph. This is an horizontal sign, which is generally placed more distant from the Nbty-baskets than the top of vertical signs like nTr and wng. Contrarily to what Kahl states (op. cit., 12) the loaf placed upon the matting to form the htp sign, are by no means always "thicker and rounder" in this period: there are various examples of Hotepsekhemwy's Horus- , Nebty- and Ka-Houses- names in which the loaf atop the Htp-hieroglyph is a sharp triangle (although there is considerable variation, and there are also oval, rhomboidal, or semicircular loaves shapes).
However also the identification of the Neswt-Bity Nebty Hotep (or Hotep Nebty) has some problems (to have to explain the two pairs of "rays"); yet, contrarily to Kahl, I can see the mat rectangle on the right below the Nekhbet basket, and the one below the Wadjit's (where indeed there are many horizontal strokes which are erasure attempts).
On the left there is the original (?) inscription (W3djtyw phyle) above which, carved more in depth and with elegant lines as in the central column, the 'abw ra nb js (daily cleaning of the chamber). In my opinion this upper column has nothing to do with the Phyle, which stays in a more rightward position, below what seems to have been an effaced square hwt sign (see my reconstruction of BM 35556 in the link above).
As I have stated above, it's difficult to reconstruct and even to imagine the history of inscriptions which might have alternated on this vase (my reconstruction in the photo is only indicative). For this reason I find it somehow daring an attempt at a chronological revision on the basis of this sherd inscription only.
[End of Update]
The most probable locations of the tomb of Wneg are in the area east of Sekhemhet' s Step Pyramid complex or in the Djoser complex north west area (northern court galleries) but both the areas are at present yet unexcavated and uncleared.
It has been also proposed the area of the NK cemetery south of Djoser's complex, around the tomb of Horemheb.
The galleries of the 18th Dynasty tomb of Meryneith-Meryra, High priest of Aton at Memphis and Akhetaton (Akhenaton's reign), proved (after Dutch excavations, early 2002, co-directed by Dr. Raven and Van Walsem) to be a reused Second Dynasty tomb substructure, probably of the period of Wng and Sened; perhaps it was just the tomb of one of these two kings (Sened in my opinion).
The unpublished Saqqara tomb S3014 from which some inscriptions of Wneg come is located in the central mastaba field where other later tombs S3012, 3009 (IInd-IIIrd dyn. inscriptrions of Khnwmhotep, Pyr Deg V, 5 fig. 10-11) abound; it's c. 75 m. south west of S2405 (Hesyra) (see pl. 18 in Emery J.E.A. 56, 1970; cfr. also W.Helck in Lex. Ag.V,1985, 399; Quibell 'Archaic mastabas' 1932 pl. I, II; Mariette 1889). Its fragments don't preserve the name of the tomb owner.
- Note: The location of tomb S3014 should be possibly immediately east of the S3019, in the group of tombs placed west of the Hesyra's one (supported also by the article of Helck ZAS 106, 127) or rather and more probably between S3010 and S3020 (as stated by Reisner, Tomb Development, 1936, 385-386 "group c", mostly of 3rd Dynasty).
However a S3014, apparently few more than a pit, can be seen on the fig. 97 of the K. Bard ed. Encyclopedia of the Archaeology ...1999 p. 701, some 100 m. west of S2302 belonging to Ninetjer's official Ruaben (article by A. Tavares). We know of at least one case of an identical number given to two different tombs S3518 (while on the other hand no tomb had been assigned number 3512) so I think this case might be a number reduplication or an error in the location of S 3014 in Ana Tavares' plan (?).
S3014 number is never observed on N. Saqqara plans (other than Tavares' one): cf. A.J. Spencer, Orientalia 43, 1974 figure inset, G.T. Martin, JEA 60, 1974 (my 3014 / pencil E of 3019) and other North Saqqara maps.
J. Kahl (1994) lists 14 "Quellen" sources for Weneg, for a total of 11 different objects (actually three of them, Quellen 2856-58, are the stone vessels with incised Nesut-bity/Nebty name from S3014 in Lacau-Lauer, PD IV.2, 53; and further three ones, 2859-61, are ink inscriptions with numerals/measures on the same three vessels).
Lacau and Lauer, (PD IV.2, 50) name seven vessels from the Step Pyramid (and they are all published on plates) but few lines below the number is raised to twelve (and T. Wilkinson, 1999, 88, refers this second amount) which must be erroneous.
It should also be noted that the drawing of the vessel published in 1961 by Lacau-Lauer, loc. cit., fig. 5b, does not fit the one from the same period's publication by P. Kaplony (ZAS 88, 1962, nr. 6)* who used a sketch made available to him by W.S. Smith (Kaplony, op. cit., 16). Could this be a different inscription from a fourth schist (?) vessel from S3014?
*In Kaplony's paper drawing: (1) the t is just below the nsw sign, whereas it is farther to the left in Lacau-Lauer; (2) the blossom of the wng sign is roughly triangular rather than pointed oval; (3) the two Nebty on the right are on a slightly higher position and not smaller in size that those of the king name on the left; (4) the right column Nebty baskets are connected with the jz and hwt signs atop which they are inscribed, whereas they are not in Lacau-Lauer (where the Hwt also has two Khekerw); (5) the orientation and ortography of jz and hwt is completely different in the two drawings; (6) Wadjt's basket in the king's name has 2 lines within it, which are not drawn in Lacau-Lauer.
This can only be explained with the presence of a 4th vessel or, less probably, hypothesizing that W.S. Smith did sketch the inscription very quickly or by heart.
Also note that I. Regulski studies on E.D. stone vessels could shed more light on the date of the ink inscribed stone vessels from Netjerykhet's Step Pyramid complex and perhaps at least partly correct Helck's 1979 theory.
- B. Grdseloff in A.S.A.E. 44, 1944 p. 288-91; W.Helck 'Thinitenzeit' 1987 p. 103,126,198; id. in Z.A.S. 106, 1979 p.120 ff. (esp. 123-124, 128); Edwards C.A.H. I,1 p.31.
- Fragm. from S3014: Lacau-Lauer Pyr.Deg. IV p.53 fig. 5a,b,c; id. P.D. V fig. 37.1,2,3; inscribed stone vessels: id. P.D. IV pl. 19 n.105, pl. 20 n.101-7;
- wr maaw: id. P.D. V fig. 20, pl. 11; id. Pyr.Deg. III p.16, 20 ,74, pl. 19 n. 3,4.; P. Kaplony I.A.F. p.638; id. Z.A.S. 88, 1962 p.5-16; id. M.D.A.I.K. 20,
- 1965 p.1 ff.; Junker in 'Giza II' p. 133; J. Kahl 'Das System der ägyptischen Hieroglyphenschrift...' 1994, p.354-5; D. Wildung 'Die Rolle ...' 1969 p. 44-45;
- P. Kaplony 'K.B.I.A.F.' 1966 p. 204 n. 340; Barta in Z.A.S. 108, 1981 p. 19. Horus Za: Helck cit.; Lacau-Lauer, P.D. V pl. 6,7; Gunn A.S.A.E. 28...
- by FRANCESCO RAFFAELE
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